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The Question of Curtain Panels

Have you ever wondered whether or not you should add curtain panels to your windows? Maybe you don’t actually “need them” but maybe you aren’t even sure whether you want them. Maybe you just wonder what your style really is, or if it is “in” or “out” or “appropriate” for your particular house or situation.

When we first moved in to this house, I wondered whether or not we should add curtain panels in our main rooms. I wasn’t sure if I wanted them, and we didn’t really need them (since we added woven window shades for sun control!).

Privacy wasn’t a big issue and with a great view out the back of the house, it almost didn’t seem necessary to dress the windows at all. So many modern spaces seem to look so light and airy and clean with nothing at the windows, so I kind of wondered if we should do without, too? Is that the look I wanted for OUR HOUSE or just a look I loved in other houses?

The struggle to make a decision on curtain panels for my own home clearly wasn’t all that significant in light of more serious concerns in the world, I know. But still, it was a thing. I like to take a simple non-fussy approach in many ways with my decor, but was less fabric at the windows going to be more of what I wanted in this house or was less fabric not enough to make my home feel cozy? Decisions, decisions. 

The Question of Curtain Panels

Every house is different and everyone’s style and needs are different, so as I often say, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. What looks good in a photo or in someone else’s space isn’t necessarily what is going to work in your own home. I knew I would just have to live here for awhile to determine what was going to be best.

We live in Seattle so I want as much light as possible coming in, but since we have plenty of cool dreary days I also want to feel snug in my house. Our window shades were hung so they don’t block the light unless I pull them down, and curtain panels could be hung the same way (outside the window, not covering it) so light wasn’t really an issue I factored in.

While I do believe less can be more, in this case I eventually decided that less around the windows just felt to me like the room wasn’t quite finished or as cozy as I wanted it to be so I wanted to give panels a try.

The Question of Curtain Panels

Night Flight Curtains

Originally I showed you guys the white sheer Target curtain panels I was looking at, but in the end they didn’t work out (at least yet! Note, you can find some others I like in a graphic, below). We only could find three panels in stock and the fourth panel I ordered was cancelled as out of stock (ack!). While I was trying to find an alternative, I stumbled upon these curtains in navy.

If you have followed me for long, you might remember from my old house that I love having some subtle whimsy in our home. You might not even realize it at first when you look at my house since it isn’t super “in your face” quirky, but if you were here long enough, you might start to realize I have quite a few funny little animals in the house (not just real ones, but here and there on artwork, fabrics, and accessories!).

As I was looking at the barn owl curtains, I realized they would be a fun addition to our house. We needed some whimsy! From a distance they almost look like just an interesting pattern, but once you get up close and realize they are QUIRKY OWL CURTAINS, you can’t help but smile. :) I’m definitely not a glamour girl, and don’t take design too seriously, so these just seem to suit me.

The Question of Curtain Panels

Besides the quirky pattern, I fell in love with the deep navy color. While we have a simple color palette (Benjamin Moore Simply White walls) in our living room and dining room, I do love color. One of the decorating lessons I learned early in our my home-making experience was that if you repeat a color throughout a home (especially when the home is small!), the repeated color begins to make your home feel more peaceful and cohesive.

With the navy dresser and pillows in the adjoining room, the bold navy fabric in this room brought the color scheme together and unified the spaces. Though we love the navy curtains and the statement they make in the dining room, we can easily change out the panels for the seasons or if we want to have a different look.

Here’s something interesting I didn’t fully realize until after we hung the panels. Suddenly it became much more obvious why I actually needed curtains. It wasn’t just that I needed color or pattern, they added a necessary layer of texture that changed the feeling of the room.

Even though I’m still planning some updates that will update and impact this room, the panels already made such a difference in how the space feels to be in it. Less fabric at the windows left the space feeling a bit colder, and actually even louder, I just didn’t realize it. More fabric brought a sense of peace, quiet and softness to the space. Less fabric didn’t feel as snug or cozy. More fabric helped the room feel better to be in it, and made it feel more pulled together.

The Question of Curtain Panels

Emery Linen/Cotton in Gray

Once I got the dining room curtains hung and loved the look, we knew we wanted to go ahead and add panels to the living room as well. I really hadn’t planned on panels in the living room, but then again, after hanging them they ended up being game changers in how the space felt. The soft gray linen panels help to frame and soften the large windows, but also help to define that side of the room and the corner as a special cozier destination for our daybed.

The Question of Curtain Panels

Curtains DaybedRug / Woven wood shades in Bali Abaca –NOTE: If you place an order for ANY window coverings from Select Blinds, be sure you use my special link HERE for the best possible discount! Plus if also put in my code INSP1RE5  you’ll receive an *additional* 5% off the very best price offered anywhere!

The gray linen coordinates well with the dining room panels. I didn’t want them to match. The linen panels are lightweight enough to feel breezy (linen is a great fabric for year round) but weighted enough to not feel wimpy around the large expanse of windows. We used the same narrow black rod in both rooms for consistency and a touch of black.

I find that every time we make a decision to impact how our home feels to us, rather than just making changes based on what’s popular or trendy or what I thought was the “right choice” (for whatever reason, design-wise or opinion-wise) I find we fall more and more in love with our home! It’s a slow process, but I love the direction we are headed.

We are getting more snug and cozy this fall in our small house and that makes us very happy. :)

Now I’m convinced that even if you don’t think you want curtains and you are perfectly happy without them, you might be surprised at how much better your room will FEEL with panels. If you want a softer, quieter or more peaceful room, I’d say it might be worth it to give curtain panels a try.

Stay tuned for the next updates in these rooms! If you missed our fall house tour (with more angles of these rooms and others in our house), you can see that here.

Below you’ll find a round up of great curtain panel options from several sources. Enjoy!

The Question of Curtain Panels

Anthropologie Curtains: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // more

The Question of Curtain Panels

World Market Curtains: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // more

The Question of Curtain Panels

Pottery Barn Curtains: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // more

The Question of Curtain Panels

Target Curtains: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // more

The Question of Curtain Panels

Ikea Curtains: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // more

NOTE: If you place an order for ANY window coverings from Select Blinds, be sure you use my special link HERE for the best possible discount! Plus if also put in my code INSP1RE5  you’ll receive an *additional* 5% off the very best price offered anywhere!

PS. This Friday night, October 14th, I will be doing a book signing at the Redeemed Revival Fall Vintage Market in Bremerton, Washington! The market is from 3-8 PM Friday and also 9-4 on Saturday, but my girls and I will be there only Friday from 5-8 PM at the “Found” booth. We will have books for sale, but feel free to bring your own for me to sign. We’d love to meet you there! Tickets are $5 at the door. You can find more information about the event times and the location here.


  1. Cathy

    I love how the curtains make a room feel cozier. Sometimes a room with very modern decor is good without them, but I think they enhance the mood of your traditional, cozy home. Thank you for compiling such a great resource for others who may be shopping!

  2. Jann Newton

    Melissa, I’m a big believer in curtains and draperies. I think windows look cold and sterile without them, and warm and cozy with them. Like you said, they don’t have to block the light from the windows if they’re hung outside on the walls. I love the owl panels – the perfect way to add some color and whimsy to the room!

  3. Taste of France

    Curtains add drama and soften noise. They also can insulate (against cold and heat).

  4. Angelle

    Please share the source of those fabulous deer antlers that are a part of your dining tablescape. Love!

  5. Carol

    What a difference. I’m thinking about adding curtains to my living room now!

  6. june

    GREAT POST! They truly do make a room feel cozier and more finished.

  7. Michele @ Moonfield Interiors

    Oh my gosh, those owl panels are darling! Are they lined? It doesn’t say on the site so maybe not. They look perfect in your dining room :) I usually vote “yes!” on the drape question. The PB linen drapes are such a great alternative to custom drapes. The length options and quality can’t be beat.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you, Michele! They are really nice!
      I’m loving them. The PB ones are lined but the owl ones are not. The owl panels are a nice weight even without a liner but if we were going to shut them I would consider adding one.

  8. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    I know that tension, Melissa, of wanting to enjoy every little bit of light and yet wanting to add another layer of warmth to the room. Usually, I end up ditching the curtains/drapes after living with them for a period of time so that I can enjoy more natural light in the end. Maybe my next go around I’ll place them at the outside of the window and see if that works for me in the long term. Yours are gorgeous and your living room definitely looks super cozy and inviting.

    Thanks for diversion. My heart is so heavy over country and her future.

  9. Sue Davies

    I totally agree that curtains give a home a cozier feel. I have curtains at all our window. We live in Florida so we have lots of sunny weather. I love Ikea curtains in white. Mine are light weight and rather see through with a subtle pattern. I have them at our French doors in the living room that go out to our lanai and they add a softness to the room. I also have a different pattern in our spare bedroom where we have blinds. They help to take away the harness of the blinds that we keep closed in there most of the time. Another nice thing about Ikea curtains is that they are extra long and come with an iron tape so you easily hem to the length you want. In the winter I change out our living room ones for some pretty plaid one I bought from Country Curtains. I also find that Home Goods has been carrying some really pretty curtains at a good price. I picked up a pair of those for my husbands office that are almost the same blue grey shade he painted the walls. The just seem to soften the room without being too feminine. Love your blue owl ones!

  10. Joni

    Hello! Do you recall the source/maker of the white ceramic bowl with dark interior that sits on your shelves? It’s beautiful and just what I’m looking for!

  11. Melinda Young

    Thanks for sharing your process picking panels. Our spaces need to feel comfortable and what makes them feel good to us, not necessarily having each room match exactly the same. I appreciate your input.

  12. Lisa Z

    I love the curtains! I have this same dilemma, always trying to decide between a minimalist, open look and the cozier feel of fabric at the windows. Thank you for shedding some light and insight on the subject. We are moving soon, and I’m going to try panels on most of the windows in the house. It’s rare for me to do that, but I think our newer, more open house is going to need the cozy factor.

    Also, this post speaks to what I love about your decorating style (and why yours is one of the few decorating books I’ve ever actually bought, much as I like to peruse them all at Barnes and Noble). Your style is not so much trendy and “cookie cutter” as so many others’ styles are. You truly do what feels right to you, and that comes through in your homes. I love it!

  13. Julie

    Curtain panels were a great solution to our large window that lacks any trim. Sure, we *could* have added trim, but it was easier to hang non-functioning curtain panels to give the appearance of an even larger room without blocking any light in the north-facing room.

  14. Jo Jo

    In our newly built home we currently have only blinds (white wooden 2 1/2 inch slats) on every window in our home and that was the plan as we live near the ocean and we wanted a very airy, open coastal look. We love it! However, since I’ve begun our Fall nesting here (our first Fall in this home) I’ve been entertaining putting up curtain panels in our living room. Like you, I’m considering the cozy factor…though I wouldn’t be addong a patterned panel, just solid and probably linen. I’m still on the fence, but the hubby is saying NO. Hmmm…guess I’ll need to show him these inspiration photos! lol. Thanks for the photos! Not sure I’ll do anything yet this Fall…but it is a temptation. Yours look great!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you. My husband didn’t seem to care either way until we hung the first panels in the dining room. Suddenly he wanted curtains everywhere! It takes time to decide what’s best and wood blinds are wonderful even on their own! It’s wonderful you installed them first. Happy nesting! :-D

  15. Patty

    I love your curtain panels. I feel like there are very few windows that look dressed without panels up. I would love to be able to just have sheers up but because of the way the sun comes in our windows we have to have drapes plus this house was built in the 70’s and the windows are not energy efficient so they help keep the cool in during summer and the cold out during winter. We are hoping to get new windows soon tinted with built in blinds, then I can have pretty sheer panels.
    I guess I’m just old school, but I feel like panels help pull a room together just like a painting on a wall they can be a piece of art, they can cozy up a room just like a beautiful throw, and add texture, they add so much to a room.
    That’s just my opinion, but anything you do I’m sure will be beautiful, you have such wonderful taste.

  16. vonda hutson

    I love the look is panels. Just in the last few years, I’ve added some and love the look, and feeling. And I love the navy ones

  17. Debbie

    A window without curtains of some sort just does not work for me – the cottage lover in me needs that softness!

  18. Jean |

    Melissa, I love curtains, and my particular home would not look good without them. Must say, though, that I’ve enjoyed greatly simplifying my window treatments over the years. And I’ve found that choosing function over “looks” actually looks better to me than the fussier windows I used to have.

  19. Karen Jeanne

    Oh, man, I wish those owl curtains came in other colors! It looks like your curtain rod covers a lot of space… we have a very long wall of windows and I am looking for simple curtain rods that will cover the length of it, can you tell me where you found yours?


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