The Best Velvet Curtains Are Anything But Stuffy
All the drama and none of the draft.
Updated Jun 16, 2022 10:21 AM
We’ll get right to the point: Velvet is luxurious. This luscious, luminous fabric can be found hanging in the grandest of spaces—think: Versailles and Windsor Castle—but our style director, Naomi deManana, stresses that you don’t have to live in a palace to adorn your windows with the best velvet curtains. In fact, velvet is deManana’s go-to textile trick for a bit of visual flair. “You can accentuate tall windows and archways or simply bring a little drama to a space with velvet,” she explains, and points out that it does well with all sorts of styles, not just the traditional sort. “Velvet works well with mid-century furnishings and accents like brass and marble,” she adds, and it can look sumptuous or streamlined, depending on the color. “A slate gray, for instance, can look modern,” she says.
And although deManana admits that velvet isn’t the most practical of materials—it’s not her first choice for a bathroom or kitchen, where spills, splatters, and moisture can make a daily appearance—it is inherently great at blocking out light and keeping a space warm, ideal for a bedroom and living room. If this material sounds like just what you need in your space, read on for deManana’s favorite velvet curtains.
- Best colors: CB2 Velvet Red Curtain Panel
- Best variety: Barn and Willow Blue Velvet Curtain
- Best two-tone: West Elm European Flax Linen and Velvet Curtain
- Best pattern: House of Hackney Florika Velvet Curtain
- Best splurge: Perigold Eastern Accents Velvet Curtain Panel
- Best trim: Threshold Marlow Velvet Trim Curtains
- Best matte: Anthropologie Matte Velvet Curtain
- Best texture: Cotton Velvet Darkening Curtains
Best Colors: CB2 Velvet Red Curtain Panel
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches, 48-by-20 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Bold, vibrant color
- 100 percent natural fiber
- Only includes one panel
Why we chose it: Darken your room with a deep red.
While there are seven other colorways available, deManana’s favorite has to be the red. More of a dark, moody burgundy than a brighter, sassier scarlet, this is the velvety hue synonymous with royal thrones. Although soft in texture, the color demands attention and is definitely the top choice if your room is in need of regal-level elegance.
Best Variety: Barn and Willow Blue Velvet Curtain
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: 60 percent cotton, 40 percent polyester | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Multiple pleat styles to choose from
- Customizable dimensions
- Over $200
Why we chose it: From the fold to the color to the fabric, this drapery is almost completely customizable.
Whether you like a more traditional pinch pleat or a softer, billowy top, Barn and Willow’s velvet drapery is a design-it-yourself dream. After picking out your fold style, choose from an array of velvets, including warm neutrals like beige and pearl, a tempting teal, and deManana’s suggestion: saturated sapphire. A measurement calculator will provide you with the ideal dimensions (no math required!). Last but not least, you’ll just have to decide whether to line your fabric for extra privacy and light-blocking capabilities or let the velvet do its own thing with the unlined option.
Best Two-Tone: West Elm European Flax Linen and Velvet Curtain
Available sizes: 48-by-84 inches, 48-by-96 inches, 48-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Linen; border is 60 percent cotton and 40 percent viscose | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Modern color-blocking
- Sold individually or as a set of two
Why we chose it: Double the fun.
Not only is this curtain a mashup of colors, it’s a marriage of fabrics. Champagne-colored European flax linen meets a rich golden velvet bottom with a bit of shine, thanks to a high-sheen finish. Despite the light linen feel, the panels are still opaque, obscuring any view from the window when drawn. These curtains would add an elegant touch to a warm, neutral living room. Optional: Elevate the luxe vibes with neighboring brass light fixtures.
Best Pattern: House of Hackney Florika Velvet Curtain
Available sizes: Customizable | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Large pattern repeat
- Each item sold enables the company to purchase and protect 35 square meters of forest in partnership with the World Land Trust
- Returns not accepted
Why we chose it: Go all in on maximalism with this paisley print.
If you’re looking to channel a French parlor or the swanky vibes of an English sitting room, then you’ll want a pattern that packs a punch, and House of Hackney can always be trusted to bring the glam. DeManana is enamored with this floral motif not only for the intricate woven details but the placement of warm accents against a cool teal backdrop. So yes, even though this fabric ships from the U.K., we promise it’s worth the wait.
Best Splurge: Perigold Eastern Accents Velvet Curtain Panel
Available sizes: 20-by-84 inches, 20-by-96 inches, 20-by-108 inches, 20-by-120 inches, 40-by-84 inches, 40-by-96 inches, 40-by-108 inches, 40-by-120 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Made in the U.S.
- Free shipping
- True color is darker than depicted
- Narrow width
Why we chose it: The lofty price tag speaks volumes about this curtain’s handcrafted details.
Made in Chicago, Perigold’s velvet curtains with strong pinch pleats are a nod to American craft—and the fabric is as soft as it looks. Many of the reviews note that the panels are narrow; they’re sold in 20- and 40-inch widths, whereas the standard is 48 inches, but that doesn’t make them any less lovely (perhaps just not the most ideal if your main purchasing purpose is privacy or blocking out light). The elegant pinch pleat in a warm rosy pink oozes luxury; they’re everything you’d want in statement-making curtains.
Best Trim: Threshold Marlow Velvet Trim Curtains
Available sizes: 50-by-63 inches, 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-108 inches, 50-by-95 inches | Fabric type: Cotton | Machine washable: Yes (but air-dry)
What we like:
- Wide widths
- Rod pocket and back-tab compatible
- Fast shipping
- Sold individually
Why we chose it: Elegant yet light and airy.
If you like the look of velvet but still want to bathe your room in natural light, these cotton curtains might be your ideal middle ground. The lightweight fabric lets in some sun and is bordered by a slim, decorative velvet trim in warm caramel or navy blue. But perhaps the best part is the fuss-free aspect: Unlike a completely velvet curtain, the panels can be tossed in the wash come laundry day.
Best Matte: Anthropologie Matte Velvet Curtain
Available sizes: 50-by-63 inches, 50-by-84 inches, 50-by-96 inches, 50-by-108 inches | Fabric type: Cotton, polyester | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Rich colors (and plenty of options to choose from)
- Easy returns
- Cotton lining
- Velour-like feel
Why we chose it: Block light in every color of the rainbow.
Amethyst, opal, emerald, sapphire: Name the jewel tone and you can probably find the shade in this line of velvet curtains by Anthropolgie, but in a subtle matte finish. The same fabric we’ve come to know and love in the brand’s upholstered furniture can also grace your window frames, with slight less sheen but just as luxuriously. We see these panels doing well in an eclectic, colorful room. Pro tip: If your panels arrive wrinkled, let them hang or give them a quick steam.
Best Texture: Cotton Velvet Darkening Curtains
Available sizes: 52-by-84 inches, 52-by-96 inches| Fabric type: Cotton, polyester | Machine washable: No | Dry-clean only
What we like:
- Rippled surface
- Plenty of color options
- Rod pocket and back tabs
- Limited sizes
Why we chose it: A tufted, fuzzy alternative that’s less silky in appearance compared to typical velvet.
Much like your favorite pair of corduroy pants, these curtains will make your home feel comfy and cozy—literally: The thick fabric will help keep drafty windows in check. Although there’s a wide color range, it’s really the textural depth of these curtains that won us over. The only downside? The panels are superlong, so unless you have incredibly tall ceilings or windows high up on your walls, these might not be the best curtains for you.
How We Chose These Products
We tapped our in-house style guru, Naomi deManana, to search for the best velvet curtains. She prioritized natural materials; sourced from brands that are trusted by our discerning editors; and added in a few unconventional, unique styles to prove that velvet curtains aren’t just for stuffy, formal dining rooms. Choosing the right color or pleating style, she argues, can help this material that’s largely thought of as traditional feel more modern, even contemporary.
Our Shopping Checklist
Velvet actually refers to the fabric weave rather than the material, and it can be made from natural fibers like cotton and linen as well as synthetic ones, most popularly polyester. Velvet typically fetches a higher price tag, as the weaving technique is complex, bringing two fibers of the same thickness together. (If you’re super budget-conscious, try velour.) That’s part of the reason why this fabric is great for blocking light and providing greater privacy, and it also means that velvet curtains can be insulating, making them a great swap-in for the colder months.
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 slightly gather at the bottom? “There are generally three different styles for curtains: at the windowsill, just below the sill, or at the floor,” explains deManana. “This is a personal choice and can be determined by the style of the room or window.”
For velvet, though, deManana recommends allowing your curtains to kiss the floor, a look she generally prefers for bedrooms and living rooms. “How wide is all about personal preference,” she shares, but she’s an advocate of extending your curtain rod past and above the frame by 4 to 6 inches (or simply to the middle point between your window and ceiling) to create the illusion of taller windows and a larger room. A return rod is best for blocking off as much light as possible, part of the allure of velvet curtains. Just be careful to check the weight capacity of your chosen rod: Velvet is a heavier fabric, especially compared to sheer curtains, and will likely require something a bit more sturdy.
Care and Maintenance
Contrary to popular belief, velvet doesn’t require much extra care when it comes to general maintenance. Like all other curtains, velvet attracts dust, so be sure to give your panels a good shake or brush them down now and then (darker velvets, too, will more easily show buildup). When it comes time to wash (we recommend giving your curtains a deep clean about twice a year), be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions. In most cases, velvet is a dry-clean-only situation; otherwise hand-wash this material with warm water and a gentle detergent.
Q: Are velvet curtains a practical window covering?
Yes! Velvet can provide your home with more than just a luxurious detail. This fabric is inherently good at lending thermal insulation and blocking light and sound, too. Live on a noisy city block? Putting up velvet curtains can help dampen the intensity of car horns and sirens. We’d also recommend bringing out velvet curtains during the snowy months. The thick weave can help keep cold winter winds from seeping past your windows and into your home.
The Last Word
Velvet is the textile to tap if your room is feeling a little lackluster. But as luxurious and elegant as it is, deManana points out that the best velvet curtains are also practical if you’d rather not commit to blackout or soundproof window coverings. Lush and light blocking: Velvet curtains might just be the key to maximum coziness.
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