A Few Terms to Learn When Choosing Curtains for Your Home

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When you're ready to shop for curtains, it's good to understand the different styles available, so you can choose which ones work best in your space. Curtains that are too large for a small window can overwhelm the room, whereas curtains that are very small and undersized can seem out of proportion. Note a few terms to learn about different curtain styles so your shopping is faster and easier.


When you hang curtains and the fabric is so long that it spreads out on the floor, this is called pooling. This style is often used for large rooms, when you want the window treatments to make a statement. However, that pooling can be difficult to arrange properly every time you open the drapes, so it may not be the best style where you will need to close the drapes every day. Sheers are often installed behind these drapes, so they can be closed and the curtains themselves left in place.

Smaller, lightweight curtains

If you want to keep curtains more compact, look for panels rather than drapes. Panels are thin, lightweight squares that don't billow or pool; they will simply hang straight from the curtain tab, and they fit well in compact spaces.

Cafe curtains are also a good choice for windows where you want privacy as well as sunlight; these curtains sit inside the window frame, and their rod extends across the bottom half of the window. Cafe curtains then cover the lower half of the window, leaving the upper half open. This is good for rooms like kitchens or eating areas, where you need some privacy at eye level but still want lots of light to shine through the window.

Tab types

Note how curtains are installed on the rod. Eyelets are just that; holes in the curtains, covered by metal rings, which slide easily along the rod. Eyelets are good for curtains you will open and close often.

Tab top curtains have a bit of fabric that goes over and around the curtain rod. These provide a very soft look to the curtains; however, those tabs may not slide so easily along the rod, so expect a bit more effort in opening and closing these curtains.

Pleated curtains will have curtain rings attached to the top of the curtains, and the pleats of the curtain create a type of fold at the top of the fabric. The rings slide easily along the rod, so these curtains are also good for rooms where you will open and close them often.