These terms are used to describe fabric that hangs loosely over an entire window from the top of the window down to the floor or covers an entire wall, including the window. Draperies are usually made of heavy or lined fabric and are used for living rooms, bedrooms and dens.
When measuring for draperies, there should be plenty of room on each side of the window to accommodate the fabric when it is pulled back so it won’t block out daylight. Draperies can hang to the windowsill or to the floor, or can “puddle” onto the floor for a sumptuous effect. Draperies look best hanging outside the frame rather than set inside the window frame.
Cafe curtains are often used in kitchens. They usually cover only the bottom half of a window and hang to the sill. A matching valance can be used across the top of the window. Curtains or drapes should be full rather than skimpy. The width should be at least double the measurement of the window.
I always tell first-home dwellers to buy inexpensive, plain white curtains, then customize them with ribbon or fabric trim, tie-backs or tassels to go with the colors in the room. This is another expedient and inexpensive solution for covering windows.
The top of the drapery that is attached to the rod is called the heading. This area can be pleated, and a special hook is usually inserted between the pleats and then attached to the rod. Drapery headings can also be attached to rings that ride along the rod. Other headings are designed to ride along a track that is attached to the ceiling or inside the top window frame.
The heading of draperies can be covered by a valance or cornice, which is an L-shaped box that can be painted or covered with fabric to match the draperies. A wooden valance is easy to make and will give your windows a formal custom look.
The hardware for holding your window treatments will depend on what type of covering you’ve chosen. There are standard rods, tension rods, adjustable extension rods, poles and brackets, traverse rods and all sorts of decorative finials that add to the look of your windows. Once you’ve selected your curtains, drapes, rods, blinds or whatever, you will be able to find exactly what you need to install them.
For a first home, tension rods will enable you to put curtains or draperies up instantly while shopping for the final hardware. These rods are made of steel, often with a white enamel finish, and have a tension spring inside. The ends are covered with rubber suction cups and the rod fits inside the window frame. It is the perfect way to hang curtains instantly without any hardware, tools or exertion.
If you don’t want to bother with window treatments right away, you might consider arranging potted flowers on your windowsills if the ledge is deep enough. Window boxes on the outside of the house can be planted with flowers tall enough to be seen from the interior and might be all you need.