The Best Blackout Curtains Block the Light But Still Brighten Up Any Room
Including customizable options and chic fabrics.
Published Feb 8, 2022 3:00 PM
The benefits of sunlight are well documented (vitamin D, anyone?), but when it comes to getting quality sleep, give us all the shade, please. In fact, make that serious darkness, which the best blackout curtains can offer. They block more outside light and distractions from seeping in than sheer numbers or blinds, making them perfect for those with light sensitivity, day sleepers, or even parents who need to schedule midday nap time for little ones.
And phew! Domino’s style director, Naomi deManana, says it’s totally possible to find window coverings that are simultaneously light dampening and stylish. It’s all about selecting the right fabric choice, color, and pattern. Here are her favorite picks.
- Best check: Crate & Barrel Blue Buffalo Check 63-inch Blackout Curtains
- Best cotton-velvet: West Elm Cotton-Velvet Curtains
- Best velvet: Ballard Designs Silvery Velvet Drapery Panels
- Best white cotton duck: Cotton Craft Reverse Tab Top Curtain Panels
- Best natural linen: CB2 Natural Linen Blackout Curtains
- Best custom linen: Mia & Stitch Linen 100% Blackout Curtains
- Best silk ornate: Perigold Orchid Luxe La Palais Royale Panel Pair
- Best outdoor: Sunbrella Awning Stripe Grommet Outdoor Curtains
- Best with a ruffle: 3H Linen Ruffled Rod Pocket Curtains
Available sizes: 44-by-63 inches, 44-by-84 inches, 44-by-96 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- The classic pattern
- Versatile design
- Easy to maintain
- Limited color palette
Why we chose it: A lively pattern paired with a heavy-duty liner.
No one would guess that these blackout curtains were designed for a kids’ brand—the checked pattern would add personality to any window they adorn. “You can do a cottagecore or preppy look with that kind of check,” says deManana.
Their bright appearance is proof that discretionary room darkeners don’t have to be snoozy, and you don’t have to give up light-blocking capabilities and noise-reducing capacity for a good look. And sensible cotton fabric means you can simply toss them in the washing machine—just be sure to launder on a gentle cycle with cool water to prevent shrinking or tearing in the process.
Best Cotton-Velvet: West Elm Cotton-Velvet Curtains
Available sizes: 48 inches wide; various lengths | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Dual top options
- Generous pole-pocket diameter
- Sustainably sourced
- Only less-than-standard width available
Why we chose it: An opaque, velvetlike cotton choice with a rich, luxurious aesthetic.
Numerous details like the dual top options, insulation, soft material, and matte finish drew us to these refined West Elm curtains. Hidden tabs and 4.25-inch pole pockets let you choose which hanging position works best for your style, and we love the panels’ insulative properties. Plus “this sort of opaque, velvetlike material tends to block out most light,” notes deManana.
Have wide windows you’re trying to dress? Make sure to pick up enough panels for sufficient coverage.
Best Velvet: Ballard Design Silver Velvet Drapery Panels
Available sizes: 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Cotton-velvet blend | Machine washable: No | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Fully lined
- Versatile hanging options
- Rich color palette
- May need extra panels for wider windows
Why we chose it: This superb light blocker blends luxury and functionality.
DeManana cites “pretty, rich tones” as the reason why these blackout beauties deserve a spot in your home. The window treatments come in six elegant shades—gold, ink, oasis, sage, slate, and terracotta—that are perfectly primed for intense, moody spaces; plus they’re fully lined (which we love because it’s convenient for those who don’t want to make a separate purchase). Additionally, they can be hung with rod pockets or the included hanging pins, allowing you to make minor adjustments to the length without moving the rod.
This option also stands out for durability and a weighted hem that enhances the hang of the curtains. Bear in mind that a wider window may require extra panels to ensure ample coverage.
Best White Cotton Duck: Cotton Craft Reverse Tab Top Curtain Panels
Available szes: 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches; 2-pack: 52-by-63 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: Yes
What we like:
- Reverse tab top
- Great value
- Weighty, versatile material
- Not completely opaque
Why we chose it: This polished, reverse tab style has a thick weave that blocks light.
These panels caught our attention thanks to their heavy-duty, canvaslike material. “The thick fabric gives off a studio or artist’s loft kind of feel,” says deManana, adding that the sturdy cotton duck material could even be hand-painted. Tempted to put a signature stamp on your curtains? Go for it! (The material is prone to shrink in the wash, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
Additionally, we like the seamless reverse tab top, which adds a sleek, sophisticated decorative element, and at $33 a pair, they’re a steal for the quality. Just know that the material does allow a minimal amount of light and noise to come through, but they’ll still sufficiently darken a room.
Best Natural Linen: CB2 Natural Blackout Curtain Panels
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches, 48-by-120 inches | Fabric type: French/Belgian linen | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Overlock stitching gives tailored look
- Polyester lining insulates and prevents fading
- Easy to hem
- Rod pocket mounting only
- Color palette limited to two neutral options
Why we chose it: A pure linen front makes these panels a rare find.
If a refined, minimalist blackout window covering is what you’re going for, these 100 percent French/Belgian linen blackout curtains make the cut. “They are your standard, go-to natural linen curtains, and they’re thick enough to block light,” says deManana. There shouldn’t be much difficulty in choosing a color: The curtains come in natural and white. After laundering, give them a steam to smooth out the fabric (an extra step, yes, but the resulting look makes the maintenance worthwhile).
Best Custom Linen: Mia & Stitch Linen 100% Blackout Curtains
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: Linen | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Broad color palette
- Wide range of sizes
- Only available in solid shades
Why we chose it: Reasonably priced and easily shoppable custom designs.
It’s nice to have a hand in designing a home staple as visible as curtains, which is what makes these customized cuties majorly appealing. For less than $40, you get to choose details like pleating style, size, and color—and each panel also comes with a complimentary matching tieback.
The fabric is heavy (good for blackout purposes) and waterproof, so no need to panic if it accidentally makes contact with a wet floor or any other source of moisture. And if you’re a stickler for solids, there are 25 pattern-free options to choose from.
Best Silk Ornate: Perigold Orchid Luxe La Palais Royale Panel Pair
Available sizes: 42-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Silk | Machine washable: No | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Natural fabric
- Embroidered details
- Curtain header included
- Only one size available
- Dry-clean only
- Not lined
Why we chose it: Elegant embroidered panels with a grand feel.
One hundred percent silk taffeta, toile, floral embroidery: If you have been searching for a dose of maximalism in curtain form, you’ve arrived at your destination. These grand panels come in three color pairings: Louie/Mt. Vernon, an olive shade with brown embellishments; Bonaparte/Black, a shimmery cream hue with black accents; and Hapsburg/Louie, a brilliant blue and white combo. Each pair comes with a free tieback and header with rod pockets. Since they’re on the longer side, the curtains offer more privacy and sun blocking, but you’ll want to consider adding a liner to help them maintain their color and quality.
Best Outdoor: Sunbrella Awning Stripe Grommet Outdoor Curtains
Available sizes: 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches, 50-by-124 inches | Fabric type: Acrylic | Machine washable: No | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Can be used indoors and outdoors
- Wide range of colors
- Weather-resistant hardware
- Not lined
Why we chose it: A visually striking option that’s versatile and weatherproof.
These bold blackout curtains can easily withstand the elements, whether that’s surrounding a patio or a tiled sunroom. “They work well for an area that gets moisture,” says deManana of the window coverings, which also have weather-resistant nickel grommets. “Plus it’s a fun pattern that comes in a thick, durable material that still blocks a lot of light.” The striped fabric, available in eight colors, would add a statement to an outdoor gathering/entertaining nook while still keeping it cool and shielded from direct sunlight. Large curtain hooks make them compatible with various rod options, and they’re appropriate for indoor use as well. But note: They’re not lined, so if you do plan to bring them inside, you may find it necessary to purchase liners for extra darkness.
Best With a Ruffle: 3H Linen Ruffled Rod Pocket Curtains
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: Flax linen | Machine washable: Yes | Noise reducing: No
What we like:
- Custom sizing
- Stylish hem detailing
- Blackout lining available in three colors
- Small rod pockets
Why we chose it: A natural fabric with extra flair.
DeManana classifies this stylish pick as shabby chic, and with all the customizable options, you’ll find exactly the right combination for your space. Choose your preferred darkening level (an extra $30 gets you their most blacked-out offering); select the size (width is 53 inches; length ranges from 60 to 108 inches); and spring for an array of rich, nature-inspired hues such as moss green, sky blue, and stone gray. The polyester blackout lining comes in three colors: brown, white, or gray, depending on the linen color.
Unless you intend for your room to remain permanently dark, keep in mind that the small, 3-inch rod pockets could make opening and closing the curtains a bit of a challenge.
How We Chose These Products
Blackout curtains have their work cut out for them—blocking sunlight isn’t exactly the easiest task for a piece of fabric. Our choices stood out for a few reasons. We closely examined functionality—would these curtains get the job done?—and the additional lifting the buyer might have to do (think: purchasing liners, high-maintenance cleaning needs). Style was just as important, too. Overall, deManana’s expertise and knowledge of textiles and fabric led to a group of designs that span aesthetics, price points, and customization.
Our Shopping Checklist
Materials and Design
Function and design of blackout curtains are equally important, so it’s important to consider your choice from all angles. Pattern and style should balance the light-filtration properties, so ask yourself: Do I need custom measurements and lining options or do I want to buy off the rack? What materials do I want to incorporate into my space? How dark (or quiet or warm) do I really need it to be? While most blackout curtains are made from polyester, deManana recommends seeking out natural, eco-friendly fabrics like linen when you can. If you’re looking for a nontraditional size or multiple lining options, customization might be necessary.
Also, if you prefer to keep your curtains open when they’re not being used to darken a room, factor in the size of the rod pockets. The smaller they are, the more difficult it will be to open and close your curtains regularly. Curtains with large hooks offer more flexibility in movement, but unlike rod pockets, they don’t fully conceal the hardware. Additionally, keep an eye out for options that offer noise reduction, and stick to suede, tweed, wool, or velvet if you’re in the market for thermal insulation.
Care and Maintenance
The level of care and maintenance required for blackout curtains largely depends on the material. Cotton and linen can be hand- or machine-washed, and because they are wrinkle-prone fabrics, you’ll want to steam or iron the curtains afterward. For more delicate materials like silk and velvet (and brocade, in some instances), dry cleaning is the recommended method.
“Heavily pleated curtains should be dry-cleaned because, otherwise, they won’t keep their shape or pleats,” deManana advises. “And if you’re getting lighter colors, they may need to be cleaned more often, so I’d recommend getting something washable to cut down on professional cleaning needs.”
Installation and Hardware
Your personal style, the window type, and measurements all determine the installation process. After getting accurate width and height measurements, make your final selection based on the way you want the panels to hang—to the windowsill, below the sill, or to the floor.
Curtains that hang all the way to the floor (typically 108-plus inches long) can help elongate and elevate a space. “They tend to offer a more dramatic, elegant feel for a living room or bedroom,” says deManana, “but they might get messy in a bathroom or kitchen, where spills are more likely to occur.”
Prefer to hang heavier fabrics? A mounted rod works best. “Make sure the rod is mounted close so the curtain ends flush up against the wall,” explains deManana. Choose hardware that doesn’t allow for too large of a gap between the window and curtain to prevent unwanted light from seeping in.
Light and Privacy
All blackouts provide some degree of privacy, but tightly woven, opaque fabrics like cotton or brocade are notably sufficient at keeping people from seeing into your windows. However, there are varying degrees of darkness that people prefer, so decide your level of tolerance, then select materials and design accordingly. For instance, if you want to wake up in complete darkness, try the thickest material, suggests deManana. For those who’d rather not open their eyes to a completely blacked-out room, she recommends fabrics with a weave that allow for partial light blocking, like linen or velvet. “The weave is just tight enough that it will be light filtering.”
Q: Can I pair sheer curtains with blackout curtains?
Absolutely. Blackout curtains are known as functional pieces, but you can still accessorize and style them like any other curtains. Just make sure you place the sheers behind the blackouts, deManana says, as they’re typically the second layer when hanging window coverings.
Q: What’s the difference between blackout curtains and light-filtering curtains?
Blackout curtains are designed to prevent 100 percent of light from penetrating a room. Depending on the fabric you choose and the way you mount your curtains, blackouts will still allow for some light, but this can quickly be remedied by adjusting your hardware or adding a liner (if it’s not already included). On the other hand, light-filtering curtains are only meant to reduce the amount of light.
Q: Do I have to go with a dark color if I want blackout curtains?
Not at all! Some blackout curtains tend to have a darker color palette, but don’t rule out fun, bright shades and patterns, which happen to be among deManana’s favorites. As her picks indicate, the best blackout curtains are chosen based not only on functionality but character as well.
The Last Word
Blackout curtains will let you rest easier, but when you’re awake, don’t you want to enjoy the view? The best blackout curtains effortlessly combine form and function—so take stock of your room, budget, and preferences, and click “add to cart” confidently.
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