/ / Buying White Curtains or Drapes? Here is Your Guide!

Buying White Curtains or Drapes? Here is Your Guide!

Here is your easy guide to understanding the most important features, when buying white curtains or drapes. 

White curtains are the most ideal window treatment for any home!

They go with EVERY style and can be re-decorated around year after year.

However, the selection of white curtains online is endless and they ALL look the same in a picture.

I’m here to help you understand the differences between different types of curtains and drapes to help decide which white curtain is right for you!

The Difference Between Drapes and Curtains

Luckily, this is an easy distinction. Both typically hang on either side of a window from a rod, but there is one important difference:

  • Curtains are just the panel of fabric hemmed.
  • Drapes are a panel with an additional lining of thin inexpensive fabric to add weight and block a little more light.


The truth is everyone interchanges the words, so another way to distinguish is un-lined and lined.

If you are new to decorating, I HIGHLY recommend not investing in more than white curtains that are un-lined.

They will typically be less expensive which is great for the decorating budget!  

Not sure what your decorating style is? Start with white curtains and a natural fiber rug! 

You can create a wide variety of styles: 

  • Traditional
  • French Country
  • California Modern
  • Boho Chic
  • Swedish Cottage
  • Eclectic
  • Coastal

The options are endless and re-decorating is a snap with a neutral base on the walls and windows. 

Pin It for Later!


Post contains hand selected products, with some affiliate marketing links {full disclosure here} 

Most Important Features of White Curtains

Now let’s talk about what is important as you go shopping for curtains.

You need to read the specifications for each item you are searching for online to find out these three things:

  1. Type of Material
  2. Light Control
  3. Hanging Method

Common Material Options

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Polyester
  • Blend (Flax-Linen)
  • Silk

Most of the time people prefer white cotton curtains. They have a heavy feel and hang really nicely.

The white curtains in my home are all un-lined and 100% cotton: master bedroom, guest bedroom, man cave, and back porch. I LOVE the way they look!


If you want more shine or if you want them sheer a polyester is the best option.

Linen looks gorgeous because it adds a new texture, but they do wrinkle easily. 

Planning to open and close the curtains?  Cotton is a good option that will not wrinkle as easily.

Or find a blend of Flax-Linen or Linen-Cotton for a little heavier texture.

Pottery Barn Flax-Linen White Drape

On a personal note, I am completely obsessed with the look of this little office! It looks like I could drop it right into my home 😉

Light Control

This is where you need to think beyond curtains and look at drapes.

If you just want a white curtain to frame your window, then you really don’t need to worry about how much light it blocks.

BUT if you are adding white drapes to a baby’s nursery and want to close them while they are napping during the day, then light control becomes REALLY important.

Sheers of course block the least amount of light.

  • Sheer – low light filter
  • Unlined – medium light filtering
  • Lined – higher light filtering
  • Blackout – filters all light (like in hotels)

white curtains-how-much-light-do-they-filter

Hanging Method

What kind of look do you want? Most curtains/drapes come with a rod pocket, but it gets more complicated from that point forward.

READ the description to see how they are to be hung.

Here are the common hanging methods:

  • Rod pocket
  • Grommets
  • Hidden Tabs / Belt Loop
  • Tabbed
  • Rings with clips
  • Ring with pins

Literally all of these options I have in my own home!

The easiest way to hang a curtain is sliding the rod through the pocket or slide it through grommets.  

white curtains-hanging-types-defined

General Curtain Hanging Tips 

The way you hang the curtain will greatly affect the LENGTH you need to buy and at what HEIGHT you hang the rod!

  • When hanging on rings (like I did in my dining room) I typically add 1 inch to the length of the curtain to determine the height of the curtain rod. Same with the hidden tabs.
  • For curtains with grommets, I’ll subtract an inch from the total length to determine the rod height.
  • If they are tabbed curtains, measure from the top of the tab.
  • Rod pockets the rod is the same height as the length of the curtains.

Here are the drapes in my master bedroom hung on the inside tabs, which is like a rod pocket.


Then these are not white, BUT I wanted to show you what curtains with a rod pocket look like in a room.

In the master bathroom, are pretty floral drapes on rod pockets.


Hope that all makes sense!

Hanging Curtains with Rings

This is more helpful advice than anything and not related to choosing white curtains. 

Are you wondering how to space your rings?  Here is the simple math:

Width of Panel ÷ Number of Rings = Space Between Rings

Here is a real example:

54 Inch Panel ÷ 10 Rings = Space Every 5.4 Inches 

Most panels come 54 inches wide and rings typically come in packs of 10 to 12. 

An easy guide is the more rings the more pleats you will have! Hope that helps 🙂

Photo Credit: Pottery Barn

Shopping for White Curtains

Now that you are fully armed with great information!

I’ll narrow down some of the shopping process for you because I have some tried and true favorites in my home!

Favorite White Curtains & Drapes

Make sure to note if you are buying a pair of panels or just one panel.

Yep one time I ordered “3” thinking I was getting “6” and nope only 3 showed up.

I’m a BIG fan of the Pottery Barn brand as you’ll see 😉

They have NEVER disappointed and are the highest quality for the price!

Good luck in your shopping adventures and I hope you find something that makes you as happy as my white curtains do!

Another helpful buying guide you may be interested in is all about Natural Fiber Rugs. 

Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer


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  1. I would love to know the width of the panels and how many you used on your master bedroom windows. I love how full they look!

  2. I love the softness of the master bathroom. What make /color of paint did you use? It’s so light and fresh. Thank you, Bonnie

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