Shades vs. Curtains: Which One Wins in Style, Function, and Cost?

Choosing between shades and curtains can be a tough decision when it comes to decorating your home. While shades offer a modern look and better light control, curtains provide a classic touch and versatile style options. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and the needs of the room. To make an informed decision, check out this expert guide comparing the pros and cons of each option.

Shades vs Curtains

The qualities and purposes of treatment, as well as the requirements of our room, should be considered when choosing how to dress our windows. Of course, appearance is important as well, and both curtains and shades have advantages and disadvantages of their own. Let’s go through some key points that can assist you in choosing the best alternative for your windows.


Fabric panels, known as curtains, are frequently sold and hung in pairs. Many lengths, widths, fabrics, designs, and colors are available for curtains. They are a practical and well-liked option for every area in the house, including the bathrooms and kitchens. They can provide texture and color as well as soften a room.

A curtain rod hangs the curtains, which might be plain or ornamental. When closed, some curtains include a fabric pocket sewed at the top that may slide over the rod. Others have sewn-on cloth tabs or metal grommets that slide over the rod. Also, hooks or rings attach to the top of the curtains and clip to the rod.

window curtains

Because the material provides only a minimum amount of seclusion and light filtering, some curtains are called sheers. CafĂ© curtains, for instance, are the short, sheer curtains that only cover the window’s bottom half over a kitchen sink and are commonly matched with a valance over the window’s top.

Most light is blocked by other, heavier-fabric curtains that may be advertised as blackout coverings. For the best light blocking, especially in bedrooms, curtains can also be used in conjunction with shades.


  • Classic and elegant look
  • Variety of styles, fabrics, and colors available
  • Easy to install, many with blackout options for better light control


  • Can be bulky and take up more space than shades
  • Not as energy-efficient as shades


Shades are normally sold separately and come in various fabrics, though they can also be made of other materials like vinyl and bamboo. Unlike curtains hanging below the sill, they are linked to a rod or frame and tailored to fit inside the window frame.

It would be best if you raised the shade using a roller, cord, or other lifting device to allow in light and look outside. Based on the shade’s style, it either rolls or bunches when it raises.

window shades

As the name implies, straightforward roller blinds are cheap, and the material rolls around at the rod’s top. You can find a window shade to match any decorating motif, from casual to formal, thanks to the variety of styles, colors, and patterns available.

Although window treatments can be stylish enough to be used alone, many people use them in conjunction with curtains or a valance. Although shades alone can be effective blackout window treatments if they are constructed of a thick, lined fabric, this also enhances their light-blocking capabilities.


  • Modern and streamlined look
  • Various materials and light control options available
  • Energy-efficient, helping to regulate temperature


  • Can be pricey
  • Some materials, such as honeycomb, can be difficult to clean

Curtains vs. Shades

Cost and Ease of installationMid-price ranged, Easy to installCost is higher, Installation is tiresome
VarietyVarious options to choose fromVarious options to choose from
CareEasy to maintainComprehensive cleaning not required
SpaceThey take significant spaceThey perfectly fit to small spaces
Light screeningLayered treatment required for thisEffective in controlling light
Child or pet friendlinessIdeal for homes with pets and kidsNot recommended
Life expectancyLonger lastingSome might not last longer

Curtains or Shades: Buyer’s Guide

  • Bay Windows: What to prefer depends on the bay window’s size and foundation, but generally speaking, shades are advised. If there is a window seat, blinds provide privacy without taking up too much room. If the bay window serves as much of an addition to the room than a window, the suggestion is to use curtains. The appearance of curtains is preferable if the windows or wall reach the floor and there is at least 12″ of space inside the bay on both ends.
  • Space between the windows: Since so many variables are involved, it’s impossible to create a general rule that works in every circumstance. It is recommended to test your options and discover what feels best for your room because every home will be different. Shades would also be fantastic! Choose a fabric shade rather than a naturally woven one if you need to soften the area.
  • Windows with exceptionally small frames: In our home, a series of small windows are drowned out by curtains. There are no strict guidelines about the minimum window width for curtains, but shades may seem more appropriate if there is more fabric than the window.
  • Windows situated above ground level: These high-off-the-ground, short, broad windows are frequently found in bedrooms or basements. Because the window is so small, shades may obscure useful window space, so be aware of the valance height or the amount of room the shade occupies when it is fully up. The window’s height will determine whether or not this is a problem. If not, you might want to think about roller shades, which obstruct less of the window.
  • Patio doors: Curtains are preferred if the area permits. Don’t cut corners regarding the number of panels you utilize; hang them high and far. If you have enough fabric, it should still have some wave to it even when it is drawn closed. If not, keep adding panels until there is enough fabric to cover the doors completely.
  • Soundproofing: A particular type of curtains, known as soundproof curtains, helps reduce noise transmission, which can never be achieved with shades.


Combining blinds and curtains is a very practical and fashionable choice if you cannot make up your mind. For a fresh aesthetic and improved light control, for instance, hang mini blinds above the window in your kitchen. Whatever approach you select, remember that making mistakes is all part of the process.


  1. Are curtains better than shades?

It depends on personal preference and the specific needs of the room. Curtains offer more design options and better insulation, while shades are more practical and easier to operate.

2. What is the difference between shades and curtains?

Curtains are fabric panels hung from a rod, while shades are made from a single piece of material and mounted inside the window frame. Shades offer more options for light filtration and insulation.

3. Do you need shades if you have curtains?

It depends on the desired level of light and privacy control. Curtains alone can be effective, but shades may be necessary for additional light filtration or insulation.

4. Do people still use shades?

Yes, shades are still a popular choice for window treatments due to their practicality and convenience, and there are many styles and materials available to fit any design aesthetic.