We’re Shedding Light on the Best Sheer Curtains (Including Printed Ones!)
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Updated Mar 10, 2023 2:49 PM
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There’s something about the soft glow of sunlight filtered through a panel of curtains that’s just like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses—harsh shadow lines are softened, bathing your space in a romantic glow. And the best sheer curtains bring a touch of ethereal whimsy, thanks to their translucent-like quality plus a warm, woven look and feel.
According to stylist and florist Naomi deMañana, this lightweight window treatment is having a moment. We’ve been obsessing over sheer and semisheer fabrics for more than a year (like these colorful beauties installed by Reath Design founder Frances Merrill), so if you’re also in search of dappled light, sheers are the way to go. To help you jump-start your shopping journey, check out deMañana’s list of favorites, from basics to prints, to hang up at home right now.
- Best linen: Quince European Linen Sheer Curtains
- Best basic: CB2 Linen Sheer Curtains
- Best pattern: West Elm Sheer Shade Dot Jacquard Curtains
- Best voile: Pottery Barn Classic Sheer Curtains
- Best texture: Opalhouse Zigzag Macramé Sheer Curtains
- Best print: Marigold Living Juhi Chevron Curtains
- Best kids: Treatmentex Pom-Pom Curtains
- Best mesh: RH Custom Mesh Drapery
Best Linen: Quince European Linen Sheer Curtains
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches | Fabric type: European Linen | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- Textured look
- Elegant pleating
- Only available in white
Why we chose it: A well-constructed window covering that’s comparable to pricier designs.
These white panels from Quince’s new curtain collection would be perfect for filtering light and giving your room an ethereal glow. And the quality is just as elevated as the look. Several reviewers remarked on the panels’ excellent construction, comparing them to more expensive brands. “I purchased two sets of different lengths for windows in our master bedroom. Both fit perfectly, wrinkles ironed out easily, and they are simple and stunning on our windows,” one happy shopper commented. “The quality is exceptional.” Do take note: Some customers encountered minor coverage issues based on the panel width, but easily remedied this by layering panels for a fuller look.
Best Basic: CB2 Linen Sheer Curtains
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches, 48-by-120 inches | Fabric type: Linen | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- 100% linen
- Free 2-day shipping
- Includes only 1 curtain panel
Why we chose it: A straightforward, soft panel design to add a wispy-like detail to your living room.
Layered up or draped alone, these sheer curtains exclusive to CB2 are as simple as the style gets, and that straightforward design is what earned them a top spot on our list. Whether you choose ivory or a classic white, the panels are a surefire way to bring elegance into your home. Keep things modern by pairing with a matte black rod, or go more transitional with a brass finish and sculptural end cap. The rod pocket is as whisper thin as the rest of the fabric—a nice touch that lets the curtain rod peek through.
Best Pattern: West Elm Sheer Shade Dot Jacquard Curtains
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Polyester | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Hang bunched with the rod pocket or pleated with the hidden tabs
- Purchase an individual panel or as a set of 2
- Synthetic fabric
Why we chose it: Strips of small lines come together as a subtle, modern dot motif.
With sheer curtains, deMañana suggests staying away from incredibly saturated or dark patterns, as they can come off harsh, defeating the purpose of their airy ambience. This ombré-like beige-and-cream combo, however, is much more forgiving, while still offering a semisheer level of privacy. A modern dotted pattern adds visual intrigue to these thicker sheer curtains, which deMañana notes can change dramatically throughout the day. In bright light, the shimmery pattern can blend with the view beyond your window but at night become more prominent while staying soft on the eyes.
Best Voile: Pottery Barn Classic Sheer Curtains
Available sizes: 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Company offers free design services
- Made in a Fair Trade–certified factory
- Only 2 color options
Why we chose it: Like a wedding veil for your windows.
Why voile? This fabric easily conjures up images of ballet tutus and wedding veils but is most popularly used for curtains. Unlike cotton, which is what voile is woven from, it feels a bit crisper in hand but isn’t scratchy, and it has a slight stiffness to it. This can make folded hanging styles a little more difficult to achieve, but purchasers can take advantage of these curtains’ three-in-one construction, swapping between a rod pocket, back tabs, and ring top at any time.
Best Texture: Opalhouse Zigzag Macramé Sheer Curtains
Available sizes: 50-by-63 inches, 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-95 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- Cutout pattern
- Designed by Justina Blakeney
- Sold as 1 piece
Why we chose it: A boho beauty pairs up subtle zigzags with fringed ends.
DeMañana defines this pick as the epitome of California cool. Not too frilly, the cutout zigzag pattern and fringed edge would complement the likes of rattan and cane, but they would also pair nicely with a superclean white sofa or a simple white living room looking for a textural touch. The best part? The heavier pattern is built using macramé construction, which brings in personality, of course, but offers a little more privacy, too, especially if layered underneath another curtain.
Best Print: Marigold Living Juhi Chevron Curtains
Available sizes: 45-by-84 inches, 45-by-96 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- Handmade block print
- Can tumble dry on low heat after washing
- Smaller sizing
“You wouldn’t necessarily think of it as sheer at first glance, but the voile material keeps it translucent,” shares deMañana. So if you’re looking for something more intriguing than sheer white, this pick from Marigold Living might fit the bill. The superthin, periwinkle chevron pattern of these voile curtains reads like a solid, which pleasantly masks their semisheer quality. But what deMañana really loves is the woodblock print found at the hem, featuring floral vines in coppery caramel and pastel purple hues.
Best Kids: Treatmentex Pom-Pom Curtains
Available sizes: 52-by-63 inches, 52-by-72 inches, 52-by-84 inches, 52-by-95 inches, 52-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Polyester | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- Playful spin on sheer
- Lots of size and color options
- Synthetic fabric
Why we chose it: A charming border treatment adds fun to a range of colors.
If you’re looking to add a playful touch to a youngster’s room while still keeping things sophisticated, deMañana knows just the curtains. When decorating, it’s always beneficial to opt for a finishing choice that will last through the toddler years, and these pom-pom–lined sheers are subtle but sweet enough to stick around even till kids reach their early teens. The impressive color range includes blush pink, lilac, and elfin yellow. And the darker shades, like a black and navy blue, still offer a wispy feel thanks to their linenlike quality.
Best Mesh: RH Custom Mesh Drapery
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: Linen, acrylic, and polyester blend | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Choose among 4 different lining styles
- Unique mesh look
- Can request swatch samples
Why we chose it: A stronger take on a typically softer style.
The mesh-woven detail of this drapery is what initially intrigued deMañana in the first place, who sees it suiting a more formal area like an office. With a straight hang, it keeps its crisp lines in a ripple fold rather than the more malleable, loose lay of most sheer curtains. The flax blend, made in Italy, offers a bit more heft, and darker color options—nickel, sand, mist—can play up the way light comes through.
It’s All in the Details
How We Chose These Products
We asked deMañana to search for the best sheer curtains. She prioritized natural materials and affordable price points; sourced brands beloved and trusted by our discerning editors; and added in a few funky, playful styles to prove sheer curtains aren’t always a plain white fabric (though we do love the simplicity of those options, too!).
Our Shopping Checklist
When it comes to sheer curtains, deMañana prefers to stick with natural fibers for stylistic and environmental reasons, though synthetic blends sometimes offer greater durability and easier maintenance. Sheer curtains come in a range of fabrics, even delicate silk, but her main go-tos are:
- Cotton. She says it will give you a simple, fresh feel. It’s a “sweet” fabric, by her standards, and she loves placing it in the kitchen for this reason. Cotton is a broader category, encompassing other natural fabrics like muslin and voile.
- Linen. On the other hand, she describes linen as being a bit earthier, since you can actually see the woven details, kind of like a thin gauze. “You have a really thin weave of linen, which will both filter and provide light,” says deMañana, but she stresses it’s the weight more so than the weave that impacts the amount of sun that trickles through. Take note: A 100% linen option has a tendency to react to humidity levels, which can cause the fabric to slightly shrink or grow.
- Polyester. A man-made fiber, polyester is derived from plastic, though there are some alternatives out there created from recycled materials. It’s typically blended with the naturals, listed above, to help cut back on cost and beef up durability.
Installation and Hardware
Getting your curtain sizing right doesn’t have to be a whole thing. Simply grab a measuring tape and jot down the height of your windows, then extend to see how far you’d like the fabric to fall. Do you want it to just brush the floor or start to slightly gather at it? “There are generally three different styles to dress your curtains: at the windowsill, just below the sill, or at the floor,” explains deMañana. “This is a personal choice and can be determined by the style of the room or window.” For a bit of drama, try elongating your curtains to the floor, a look she particularly prefers in bedrooms and living areas. In kitchens, ending at the sill is a more common tactic.
When taking measurements, be sure to factor your curtain rod into the equation. We almost always suggest going with a rod that can extend past your window frame, and sometimes even installed above it to really drive home the illusion of a taller ceiling and larger room (and block the most light). Outside mounting—anywhere from 4 to 6 inches above, or simply the middle point between your window frame and ceiling—is especially important with sheer curtains, since the fabric itself doesn’t block as much light. Another bonus with sheer curtains: You won’t have to worry much about the rod sagging in the middle, as this fabric is almost always featherlight.
Care and Maintenance
For the most part, curtains can largely be left out of your weekly cleaning routine, though as a fabric, they attract much of the same things other furnishings in your home do—odors, dust, you name it. About once or twice a year, we’d suggest taking your curtains down for a gentle wash cycle (but first consult the manufacturer’s instructions—some panels are dry-clean only).
Q: Is there a difference between sheer and semisheer curtains?
“Semisheer is a thicker fabric that lets in less light and is better for privacy and warmth, whereas sheer curtains are best for people who like light, airy spaces with minimal privacy or protection,” explains deMañana. “It’s about diffusing the light without canceling it.”
Q: Are you supposed to be able to see through sheer curtains?
Part of the fun of going with a sheer style is the change in appearance as the sun shifts in the sky from morning to night, though once the sun sets and the lights in your home turn on, the privacy factor has more or less gone out the window. In other words: Yes, sheer curtains are see-through. So if this is a concern, we advise going with semisheers instead.
Q: What is the best hanging style for sheer curtains?
Although partial to pocket panels, deMañana notes there are no right or wrong hanging styles for sheer curtains—just go with what you like. However, one of the benefits of sheer curtains is light play.
“You can add them as a layer with a heavier curtain outside so that you have different options of light blocking,” says deMañana. Or try mixing a few sheer fabrics in different hues for a modern, color-blocked effect, similar to window treatments by designers Merve Kahraman and Roksanda Ilincic (and Frances Merrill, of course!).
The Last Word
Adding a textural element to your rooms in the form of curtains will always bring a layer of sophistication to your space. The best sheer curtains will let in all the light, which is why we stuck to products that can offer a bright and airy ambience and are made with quality natural materials.