• The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam

    {via pinterest}

    One of my lovely readers recently asked if I would write about curtain rods. What size, what colour, which finials? Trendy or timeless? Wood, metal, or something else?

    Rods can frame a room, or they can be made to visually disappear. Generally speaking, they should be chosen with contrast in mind. Think of them like eyeliner: they're there to frame the room and give it depth, but not to command all the attention for themselves.

    To my eye, slim rods look better than fat ones, so I always look for drapery rods that are close to 1". Rarely should you go thinner than 1", that's when it usually looks cheap and like you bought them from IKEA. Just buy the 1" rods at IKEA instead. Nothing wrong with buying your rods there!

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    These rods would look better if they were closer to 1", and better still if they were black to coordinate with the ottoman legs and picture frames.

    Look at the dark furniture in the room when choosing a colour for your rods.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    The beams, accent chair, and the base of the lamp relate to the espresso rod.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria KillamHere again, the thin rods are repeated in the canopy bed and the bedroom accent

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    These rods appear to be white, which works in this mostly white room.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria KillamBrushed stainless rods relate to the light fixture and grey tones in this interior.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    These brass rods relate to the gold tones in the room.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    There is very little brass in this room to relate to the rod. The rod would also look nice in brown to tie in with the accent furniture.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    Sometimes, a full-length rod is unnecessary. Above, there is a panel only the right, and it cannot be drawn closed. There's probably a matching window out of frame on the left to make this asymmetrical treatment work. Notice the rod is gold, which picks up the accessories and mirrored frame. Perfect.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria Killam{via Pinterest}

    Hanging drapery on a track works if you want a clean look and don't have too much space above your window. It would have been nice if this track was painted the same colour as the ceiling.

    The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods | Maria KillamIn my living room, I opted for brushed stainless rods because I already have lots of contrast and didn't need to add more by introducing black rods.


    I have crystal finials on my rods because they work with the glam feel of this room, but nine times out of ten, I will choose a simple ball finial. I'm not usually looking to draw attention to the finials, although a lot depends on the way the interior is decorated and how important the window treatments are to the final look and feel of the room.


    Which rods are the most timeless? Go for simple and slim, and your rods will look timeless. Go flashy, chunky, and attention-grabbing, and they'll be as trendy as anything else in your house that can be described the same way. (Did you really think I would say anything other than "simple"?)


    I always use metal over wooden rods. Little-known fact is that wooden ones have to be turned occasionally so they don't bow, and really, do you want to add that task to your to-do list? Neither do I.


    Should adjoining rooms have the same rods? It depends. If you can see all the windows at the same time, then yes. You might even need the same drapery between rooms if your home is very open concept. The more obvious separation there is between rooms, though, the less you need to be concerned with coordinating rods between them.

    In a house I'm decorating right now, we have introduced brass pendants in a kitchen that adjoins the living room. The two spaces are separate enough to allow for different rods and drapery treatments, so we will install gold rods in the kitchen to repeat the colour of the pendants, and espresso rods in the living room to repeat the colours of the floor and millwork.


    If you are selecting rods for your home, make sure you read this post on measuring. So many people get this piece wrong, and it ruins the final effect.

    So tell me about the drapery rods in your home. What do they relate to? Please share; I'm sure you'll have ideas I haven't covered here!

    Related posts:

    All About Curtains

    How to Measure for a Curtain Rod

    Easy Way to Create Drama with Curtains

    I've just launched 3 dates for my next Specify Colour with Confidence Training, we'll be in Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver this Spring, you can register here.

    "Maria Killam's course was the best design course I have ever taken. Her hands-on approach and practical methodology lead me to quickly understand so much of what I had been missing about color in the past. The top two things I learned were:

    1. How to differentiate between clean and dirty colors

    2. How to determine the undertone of neutrals.

    I can never look at design the same way again and I am amazed that so many designers miss these crucial steps to introducing color in their design work."

    Jennifer Johnson of Jennifer Louise Interiors, Oahu, Hawaii


    47 Responses to The Best Way to Choose the Colour of Your Curtain Rods

    1. anne says:

      i just finished the install of pure white linen (heavy!) custom draperies throughout my house. pinch pleats. they start at the ceiling, not the window top. the rods are identical — white wood with white wood loops and ball finials. the draperies in the bedroom have blackout lining and they're traverse style. the draperies in the other rooms are not full width as i have custom white linen roman shades. yes, it's a whole lot of white. i agonized about the choice. but the open concept california ranch with soaring ceilings needed something very plain. it's the outside i care about. but now, in addition to exercising the linen (true!) i will have to turn the rods! funny — it's like having a new pet!

    2. Janice says:

      This may be a serious decorating faux pas but I have cats to deal with. Ergo-not a drape in the house. Plantation shutters or 2 inch wood blinds. All white to go with my all white trim. I tried a few valances and to me the 'look' was worse. It may look uninspired and lazy but snagged drapes covered in cat fur have yet to become a trend ;) Great post Maria. Every example was spot on and easy to see your point. I had a friend ask me about rods just the other day and will pass this post along. Thank you!

      • Phyllis E. says:

        We trained our kitties not to climb the drapes with a squirt bottle of water; the first time they tried to climb the drapes, I was ready with the squirt bottle and let them have it! They never even attempted to climb the drapes a second time!
        So if you want to give drapes a try, I'd suggest hanging them on a day you (or someone else in the family) can devote to sitting in that room with a squirt bottle in hand and an "eye" open for the kitty cats! They will never know what "hit" them, LOL!

        • Phyllis E. says:

          And yelling "NO" loudly at the same time also helped, I'm sure. The old saying "scaredy cat" is so true!

          • Geoc says:

            I have 3 cats and they never have bothered my curtain panels which are all over the house!

    3. As usual, great advice Maria :-)

    4. Nicole says:

      I have a house that has a living room that is open to a dining room which then opens to a family room. They are separated by wide archways so there is some separation between the rooms, but you can still see the other rooms when you are sitting in one. The rooms don't have to be decorated exactly the same, but I try to make sure there is flow by repeating a few elements. Using black accents throughout (frames on artwork, some accent furniture, etc…) including curtain rods, is one way I tie them together. I also wanted to make sure the curtain colour flowed so I installed grey curtains in the family and dining rooms and in the living room they are mainly white with 1" bands of alternating black and grey running horizontally. I think repetition is one of the most important principles of design. I've seen too many homes where the owner feels they have to do something different in each room to make their home interesting and their home ends up looking schizophrenic.

    5. Great post again Maria! I just used these rods in a home that was getting ready to sell. The windows went right to the walls. I'm talking no room for any finials. I was a bit worried as I have never used them before, but they ended up looking great. https://www.bouclair.com/11359-Curtain-Tension-Rod-Diameter-16-19-mm.aspx#.VPjSP2R4qm0

    6. Kim M. says:

      Awesome post Maria! I learned a lot from it. Loved Janice's post above about not having drapes due to having cats. Ditto for me. Just blinds throughout.

    7. Phyllis E. says:

      Maria, thank you so, so much for this wonderful, informative post about selecting curtain rods! This is very timely for me, as I am about to finalize my purchase of curtain rods for the main living areas of my home, and I could not find this kind of information online before. I was the one who originally had asked if you could write about this subject; thank you so, so much for doing so and for doing it so soon, too! You answered all the questions I had been wondering about, too–plus more!
      As usual, you explain the concept and reasoning behind the decorating decisions so well; I especially love your analogy comparing curtain rods to "eyeliner"–something most of us women can relate to! That really helped me understand the concept.
      I also love how you showed various examples, of not only ones that you think were done well, but also which you would change to improve, as you did with the second photo. You have such a knack for making great decorating seem, if not exactly easy, at least not quite so mysterious and unobtainable! I think you are a born teacher, as well as decorator, Maria!
      After trying numerous rods (and returning them–story of my life) I was actually leaning toward a 1", dark metal rod with a ball finial; I am so happy to read that is often your first choice of rods, Maria! That gives me the confidence to forge ahead!
      By the way, I would love to see photos of the home you are currently working on, which you mentioned in the post above, when it is finished!
      Thank you so much, again!

    8. Liz says:

      Oh, curtains are a real question for me! Sliding doors, what do you do about sliding doors?

      • mrsben says:

        @Liz: You can treat your door using one 'outside' mounted rod (in other words, not mounted within the window frame). Dress it with one large panel to expand the stationary portion and one narrower one for the slider which will eliminate repositioning the entire window covering each time the door is in use. The heading style of the panels will dictate what method you will use to hang them from the rod. Hope this helps. -Brenda-

    9. Stacy says:

      I am not a fan of the rods that don't cross the whole window even if the window panel is stationary. It screams "FAKE CURTAIN" to me and it's unbalanced. Right now I am loving the decorator traverse rods that look like poles with rings. Functionality and style. Add that to pleating the curtain to the pattern properly and it is a gorgeous look. Looks like the blue medallion panels above are not pleated to the pattern, so the room seems off and it takes a minute to figure out why.

      • teresa says:

        I agree with every point made, especially regarding the half rod. Curtains should at least LOOK like they could function. I don't mind a cutain hung only on one side, but feel the rod should extend across the window.

        I also feel that larger than 1" can work depending on the height of the ceiling and the general style of the room. Very tall ceilings cam make a 1" seem skimpy. Maybe it just need to look like it's 1" even if it's larger. Slimmer seems more contemporary.

    10. Great post! I still remember when you told me that I needed white and not stainless curtain rods in my daughter's room. At the time it was impossible to find anything else. Guess what, I finally spray painted them and they turned out great!

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    12. Debbie says:

      I have very thin rods over my French doors which open to my huge yard. The doors have sidelites as well so I have plenty of light . I used very skinny rods because the drapes are sheer and light weight with small clips and rings. I didn't want to block my view of the lovely yard or block any light. The sheers are mostly to frame the door and give a finished look. In summer I open the French doors and pull the sheers so they act like screens to keep bugs out. Looks nice too when the breeze blows.

    13. Debbie says:

      I have many friends who use ikea to furnish and decorate their homes and they don't look cheap if done right. There is a place for ikea for those who want nice pulled together homes but have small budgets. It might not be quality however not everyone can afford quality. I'm thankful people have affordable choices to furnish and decorate their homes. Stop sounding like snobs !

      • Maria Killam Maria Killam says:

        HI Debbie, Perhaps I did not say it clearly enough. You can buy 1" rods at IKEA all day and all night, that's what I am recommending. I love cherry picking IKEA, I of all people am not a snob about that!

        • LaJuana says:

          It seemed quite clear to me.

          And on the subject in general, while I'm quite handy around the house, I "hate" installing curtain rods so I'll use what I have up for as long as earthly possible. ;)

    14. Nancy says:

      Maria great post made me think.
      Have a large window in great room 8 ft by nine ft
      Has cutom shutters . Do u think that should have drapes on each side?

    15. Debbie says:

      I want to add that I have a second home that I furnished with thrift store finds. The whole house is done with second hand furnishings and decor! Not one thing is new. It's very polished and everything flows nicely. I get compliments from everyone that comes to visit. Lovely spaces don't have to be high end to feel pulled together. The less fortunate can and deserve a home that makes them happy when they walk in the door too.

    16. Anne says:

      I too prefer narrow rods for lightweight drapery but for heavyweight drapery such as velvet I use a wider rod because to my eyes it has a better scale with the visual weight of the drapery.

    17. Debbie says:

      Sorry Maria …I was referring to the link to the post on measuring for rods. You had made the comment that a flat panel without the fullness looks like IKEA and to me it suggests IKEA looks cheap. I love your blogs and have learned many helpful things from you. You give wonderful advice and have great insight. Your comment just hit a nerve I guess because I have many friends who shop there and their spaces look fabulous.

      • Maria Killam Maria Killam says:

        People 'get it' when I say IKEA, because so many people have curtains from there. Buy two panels from IKEA instead and then it won't look like you've hung a sheet up to dry! That's all I'm saying. Certainly do not mean to offend!

    18. Debbie says:

      I agree with Anne . The fabric should be considered when choosing rod size.

    19. Maddie says:

      hi Maria, I have inherited plantation shutters and wonder what you think about them. They are hung above the window, a curtain rod would have to sit ~2 inches from the wall for curtains to clear them. They are painted white to match the trim. Do you think they are dated?

      • Maria Killam Maria Killam says:

        They are not dated but are usually installed in a contemporary house instead of drapery. If the room calls for drapery, you could still install side panels but maybe take the shutters down as it might be too much to have both? The do cut out the most amount of light, which might not be a bad thing in a hot climate!

    20. Lucy HAINES says:

      Good post as usual Maria. I like that the rods are hung higher now. It certainly gives the room more height if the ceilings are 8 or 9 feet. I use to think that it left too much space between the window casing and the ceiling but now it seems to look normal. Also I have painted wooden rods the same color as the wall to make them disappear. It works in some cases.

      So glad to hear that you will be in Chicago for your class. Now if only I could afford to go to Chicago. Anyway I am so happy that you will be teaching in the states.

    21. Melanie says:

      Thanks for the great article. This is one topic that has always seemed to stump me.

    22. Mary-Illinois says:

      Hi Maria,
      Change the batteries in the smoke detectors & turn those rods people!

    23. mrsben says:

      Excellent article, Maria. As a hobby sewer who does most of my own window coverings I do have to agree with those who feel that a curtain rod dimension should be in scale with the type of fabric being used (weave, weight and nap) and shall also add that their overall style (fullness/heading) should also be taken into consideration when choosing a rod. For example; in my Solarium I use clear small inside mounted rods to accommodate flat panel, pocket heading gauze-like curtains; mounted from the window sill and half way up to accommodate (seated) privacy but lets the sun shine in as well. That said; they really do not have a colour but in other areas of the house the type, colour/finish and diameter of rods do vary and are in accordance to the pointS I made above.

    24. Loribeth says:

      You didn't give any advice for grommet curtains, which are my favorites for transitional rooms, because they give a tailored, yet casual look. For grommet curtains your rod should be 1/4 inch smaller in diameter than your grommet. This allows the curtain to glide over the rod. If you go with a smaller rod, the grommets will pull at an angle and your curtains will not open and close as easily.

      • Maria Killam Maria Killam says:

        I was talking about the colour which is why I didn't get into different kinds of rods. Thanks for adding this to the conversation!

        I would add, NEVER let a grommet drape puddle, even restoration hardware shows them that way and that is just BAD. They probably do it because they don't hem their drapes in order to take a photo but it's not helping anyone. Grommet drapes are contemporary and should NEVER puddle.

        • mrsben says:

          On the subject of Grommet curtains ( sometimes referred to as Eyelet), agree with you Maria that due to their style they really shouldn't puddle and even more so if they are constantly being opened and drawn. (Same rule IMHO also applies to Back Tab and Wave curtains.) Also, in respect to the colour of rod used for the Grommet style ; I have found the most pleasing to the eye is a co-ordinated colour match/finish of the Grommet and Rod … but then again 'to each their own'. ☺ -Brenda-

    25. sandyc says:

      What an informative and fun post, Maria. I love all the pics and the way you commented on each one, indicating what worked and why and what might have been better.

      I have 8’ wide LR and MBR windows with a slider on either side of a picture window plus two patio doors (LR and kitchen/breakfast area) and 6’ wide double mullioned windows in the guest bedroom. Because all my windows are dark-framed, I chose dark rods for these windows. The oddball windows are 2 mullioned windows in the D’office (DR turned office) which are narrow (32” and 35” wide) and placed at an angle (a sort of loose half bay). Original choices were no window treatment or verticals. Original owner chose nothing. Second owner put up skinny rods which ended up at different heights and different widths past the windows. (This window arrangement seems to want a custom angled rod which looks kind of formal and not my thing.) I had grommet panels and had to search but finally found dark shower stall tension rods to match the windows. Recently realized the dark rods stood out too much and didn’t fit with my silver/nickel office accessories (lamp bases, table desk legs, etc.) or with my new curtains, so I switched them out for brushed nickel ones with happy results.

      Great confirmation that the choices I made were good ones.

      Fun reading about different readers’ solutions too. Re the kitties, I have three but happily they’ve never been inclined to go up the drapes. Now climbing the screens in the patio to get to an errant bird is another thing.

    26. Pam says:

      This is so timely,after 13 years here with only white plantation shutters on every window, i just hung curtains in the family room and they look wonderful. I used black metal rods based on pics from you and pinterest and your "eyeliner" remark is spot on. I was trying to decide what to do about the dining room and your article has helped me make up my mind. Thank you!

    27. GiniB says:

      This is really helpful information! What sort of treatments would you recommend in a large bay window, where there is no wall at all above the windows, and they are just flush up against the ceiling? We have several bay windows on each floor of our house. There are no window seats in the bays, and one is almost the full length of the room.

    28. Mariann says:

      What are your thoughts on short rods on either side of a window Maria? Yea or Nah?

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    30. Susan says:

      Your thoughts on short rods that frame a window?

      • Maria Killam Maria Killam says:

        I've seen times when this has worked but it's a custom situation and not for everyone.

    31. Maureen says:

      I loved all the info on the subject of choosing the right curtain rod. My drapes have grommets. Do I match the rod to the grommets or to some other element in the room?


    32. Tonya says:

      I've been awaiting a response and now my post isn't here. Wondering if I did something wrong?

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