Yes, the Best Thermal Curtains Can Actually Keep Your Room Cooler
They aren’t just for trapping heat.
Published May 25, 2022 7:15 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
Say you live in a poorly insulated apartment building and frequently fumble in the dark for extra blankets when temps start to dip (watch out for flailing arms, that carafe of water, and stacks of books). Maybe you’re looking to cut down on energy use. Or your bungalow-style home just has older—okay, ancient—windows. Enter: thermal curtains. They’re not exactly blackout and they’re not necessarily soundproof either, though they tend to have qualities of both. Thermal curtains are specifically created with an extra layer of lining intended to keep chills from drafty entries at bay or super-hot rays of sun from making things too toasty. In that way, they also help conserve energy, making them a sustainable choice.
And you can ditch the idea that they’re frumpy or dated (we’d understand why you’d go there, though, since the name isn’t so exciting). We asked Domino’s style director, Naomi deMañana, to round up a few of her favorite picks—all stylish and cocooning. From heavy velvet to lightweight linen (shocking, we know!), here are the best thermal curtains on the market.
- Best value: Target Heathered Thermal Curtain
- Best wool: AmoreBeaute Double Layer Wool Felt Curtains
- Best detail: Urban Outfitters Pom Pom Curtains
- Best cotton velvet: West Elm Cotton Velvet Curtain
- Best velvet: DKNY Modern Slub Velvet Curtains
- Best linen: CB2 Natural Linen Blackout Curtain
- Best custom: Shade Store Custom Drapery
Best Value: Target Heathered Thermal Curtain
Available sizes: 63-by-42 inches, 84-by-42 inches, 95-by-42 inches | Fabric type: Polyester | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- On-trend blush pink and charcoal colors
- A steal for thermal insulation
- Room darkening, not blackout
- Synthetic materials
Why we chose it: They’re $12, room darkening, and thermal insulated. Can you really go wrong?
It’s hard to argue with sub-$20 curtains. If you’re seeking a quick and easy solution to keep your apartment or house a little warmer, these Target essentials will definitely get the job done. We especially love the slight dimension from the heathered fabric and are particularly fond of the blush pink and charcoal color options. “Such value for cute curtains that will keep your room pretty and warm!” shares deMañana. To note: If you’re building your dream home and scrutinizing every material choice, we might suggest scrolling down to more investment or custom options. And don’t expect a full-on blackout effect. This fabric, though thermally insulated, will let some light in.
Best Wool: AmoreBeaute Double Layer Wool Felt Curtains
Available sizes: Varies | Fabric type: Wool felt | Machine washable: No
What we like:
- High-quality wool
- Customizable options
- Cost will vary depending on your heading choice (leather tab, wool tab, eyelet, or single pleat)
Why we chose it: A heavy wool felt that isn’t rough? Sign us up. These are soft, warm, and made by hand.
It’s always a win-win when you can support an independent craftsperson and receive a high-quality product that perfectly completes your space. These curtains are made from two layers of supersoft, heavy wool felt and come in a variety of colors (we’re partial to the mustard and dark green hues). “They’re well crafted, they add warmth, and they bring major hygge vibes,” notes deMañana. Just what you need for cozy times at home during chillier days. Plus this Etsy seller is a treat to work with and very open to certain customizations.
Best Detail: Urban Outfitters Pom Pom Curtains
Available sizes: 52-by-84 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: No
What we like:
- Pom-poms = fun!
- Desert color palette
- Room darkening, not blackout
Why we chose it: Whimsical details and bohemian colors that are perfect for kids and teens.
We could not resist the rich sunset hues—lavender, honey, and rose—of these panels. Though pom-poms may not be the most sophisticated of design details, we love them for the whimsy and affable fanfare they bring to a space. And we think they’re especially fun for livening up children’s and teen’s rooms. Though they may not be true blackout curtains, they will keep the majority of light and drafts out. (Let’s be real: What teen doesn’t love sleeping in on a Sunday morning?)
Best Cotton Velvet: West Elm Cotton Velvet Curtain
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- Consciously grown materials, certified by the Better Cotton Initiative
- Soft, stonewashed velvet
- Lightweight yet opaque
- More color options listed under separate product pages
Why we chose it: A more casual and lightweight take on velvet available in warm earth tones.
If you love the look of velvet but aren’t so into its heavy stiffness, you’ll adore West Elm’s cotton velvet. “It’s a relaxed version of velvet that is soft and matte,” explains deMañana. Unlike thicker velvets, the material these curtains are made from is much more versatile—it can adapt to many different interior styles without the drama and opulence often associated with the fabric. They also boast a seasonless quality, allowing them to feel equally as natural during the summer months. We lean toward the dark horseradish color for its mid-century flair, but you can’t go wrong with any of West Elm’s rich earth tones.
Best Velvet: DKNY Modern Slub Velvet Curtains
Available sizes: 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Cotton-and-polyester blend | Machine washable: No
What we like:
- Soft, subtle sheen
- Weighted bottom lets draping hang evenly
- Heavy fabric, little movement
Why we chose it: A lot of look (re: bold and luxe) for a great price.
Now if drama happens to be more your thing, these DKNY curtains are for you. They offer beautifully opulent draping in a variety of stylish neutrals (think: mocha, champagne, and charcoal). With a price tag under $150 for even the largest size and the softest hint of sheen, you’re getting quite a lot of bang for your buck with these panels. We love the idea of them in a romantic bedroom, paired with deep colors and loads of texture. They’ll keep you warm and immediately set the mood.
Best Linen: CB2 Natural Linen Blackout Curtain
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches, 48-by-120 inches | Fabric type: Linen | Machine washable: Yes
What we like:
- 100 percent pure, natural linen
- Rare to find a blackout effect in such a fine fabric
- Limited color options (natural or white)
Why we chose it: Fulfill all your coastal grandma dreams, even if you live far from the beach and are always freezing.
It’s hard to find the natural linen look in thermal curtains. Since the fabric is known for being lightweight, the pairing is somewhat counterintuitive. But linen is a whole vibe, and sometimes you want that beachy Nancy Meyers aesthetic while still feeling snug and held. “These are clean, crisp, and lined,” says deMañana. “Like a button-up shirt with a cozy underlayer.” The best of both worlds, in our opinion. The pure French and Belgian linen creates an elegant drape for a sophisticated effect.
Best Custom: The Shade Store Custom Drapery
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: Customizable | Machine washable: No
What we like:
- Endless options
- High-end, designer quality
- A big splurge
Why we chose it: When nothing but the best will do, customize, customize, customize.
If your budget allows, why not go custom? It’s the best way to precisely tailor the look of your drapes to the overall space they’re hung. You can pull from colors and patterns you’re using elsewhere to create a cohesive theme with a just-right accent. The Shade Store offers three different types of linings for the majority of its custom drapery and roman shades—privacy, interlining, and blackout—all of which will provide some level of thermal insulation. You can’t go wrong with any of the fabrics, beloved by designers across the board. They’re definitely an investment, but one you won’t regret.
How We Chose These Products
Even more so than their regular counterparts, thermal curtains have the dual job of function and style: They should physically insulate your room and keep it warm, while looking nice and adding dimension to the design. For this story, we extensively researched the category, the market, and all the defining qualities that make thermal curtains really work. We took into account features like materials, price, brand reputation, aesthetics, and cleaning. DeMañana’s expertise when it comes to fabrics and textiles helped us unpack the varied differences between products and curate a list that prioritizes quality.
Our Shopping Checklist
Materials and Design
Choosing a material for thermal curtains is entirely dependent upon the look you’re trying to make happen; our picks feature several different materials with varying effects. If you want thermal insulation plus blackout capabilities, look for products that guarantee both. Remember that while some thermal curtains are inherently blackout and soundproof, not all are. Heavier fabrics like velvet or wool will typically deliver the warmest (and therefore, most energy efficient) results, though thermal-lined linen is a great option for a breezier look.
And though sometimes synthetic materials are unavoidable (especially on a budget), we always suggest seeking out high-quality natural options like cotton, linen, or wool when possible.
Care and Maintenance
Care varies by fabric and brand, so the number-one thing to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But if ease of cleaning is important to you, there are plenty of machine washable thermal curtains out there (and multiple on this list). Keep in mind that while some products may be able to go in the wash, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily machine dryable. Spot treating using a chamois cloth and hot water is another at-home option, and so is using a home steamer or a refreshing spray like The Laundress Fabric Fresh. When machine washing is off the table, we always recommend taking your thermal curtains to a trusted dry cleaner.
Installation and Hardware
Proper measurements are needed to determine installation and hardware needs. Most curtain panels do not come with a hanging rod included, so you’ll have to find your own that fits your space and aligns with your style.
Some curtain panels include a rod pocket that allows you to simply slide the fabric right through. Other styles might require a more involved hanging mechanism, such as tabs, fascinators, or eyelet cutouts. “I personally like when the hardware is hidden,” notes deMañana. “There’s something about hiding the mechanics that feels elegant to me. But it’s really just personal preference.”
Q: Are fully lined curtains thermal?
It depends if the lining is thermal insulated or not. There are some curtains that are fully lined but would not be considered thermal. This specific lining is really the only defining factor between thermal curtains and other types of lined curtains.
Q: What’s the difference between blackout and thermal curtains?
The goal of thermal curtains is to keep the cold, as opposed to light, out. But to achieve this, they tend to be offered in heavier, more opaque fabrics, similarly to blackout curtains. You’ll frequently find thermal curtains that are room darkening without the explicit guarantee of 100 percent blackout. But because of the product’s very nature, they tend to share overlapping features and functionalities with blackout and soundproof options.
Q: Are thermal curtains only for winter or colder climates?
Just as thermal curtains block the cold and keep a room warm, they can also achieve the same effect for blocking the sun’s heat and keeping a room cool. You might not want a full velvet curtain for your beach house, but if you choose lighter-weight fabrics, they can absolutely be used for all seasons and climates. Energy efficiency is a huge perk of thermal curtains—and a great strategy to sustainably keep your seasonal heating or cooling bills down.
The Last Word
If you’re struggling with temperature regulation in your bedroom, the best thermal curtains are definitely the way to go. Since they can be bought or made in a variety of different fabrics and styles, you can choose options—and benefit from all their cozy warmth—without having to sacrifice looks.