Curtains and drapes add so much to a room. They dress up an otherwise plain window and can add elegance, whimsey, or coziness to any room. It can be hard to decide what window coverings to choose - there are so many different lengths and fabrics and styles. If you don't know where to start, use this guide to help you choose the perfect window coverings.

Create a Budget

Window coverings can cost a pretty penny, so make sure to start with a budget and do your best to stick to it. Do a little research to figure out how much what you want generally costs and start there.

Decide if you want to go with a ready-to-hang version or order custom drapery. There are pros and cons to each. If you have an unusual-sized window or are going for a look that is hard to find, customized drapery is the way to go. On the other hand, custom drapery costs more than ready-to-hang drapery.

Choose a Style

What's the ambiance you want in the room? There are many different kinds of drapery, ranging from classic to contemporary, somber to playful. Long and lush curtains will add a look of luxury and drama, while simple and bold look more modern. Consider the style of your furniture and the general look you are going for and choose your curtain style accordingly.

Chose a Weight

Curtain weight is important as it determines a lot of factors. Are you planning to use the curtains just for decoration, or do you want them to keep out light or cold? Sheer curtains add a little bit of privacy without sacrificing sunlight. Heavier, lined curtains either completely or partially block light for sleeping or extra privacy.

Consider too how the fabric will drape. If it's too heavy it won't open in crisp folds, and if it's too light it may not drape well. When you're shopping for curtains hold them bunched up and see how they drape.

Chose a Length

Figure out how high above the top of the window you want your curtains to hang. Hanging drapes higher than the window makes the room look taller and bigger. Usually, professionals hang curtains about six inches above the frame. For a more dramatic look, go higher.

Measure from where your curtains will hang all the way down to the floor (or to where they will stop). If you want your curtains to puddle up on the floor (best for lighter fabrics), add a few more inches to the length.

Chose a Material

Curtain material is important, as your curtains or drapes will be exposed to the sunlight nearly every day. Sunlight fades fabric over time, so avoid bright colors in a window with high sunlight. Neutural colors fade at a slower rate, so they are always a good option. If you do want bright colors, you can opt for a lining in a neutral color.