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Monday, July 26, 2010

Drapery Rods: What's In Style?

Perhaps the short answer is everything!  I have noticed over the past few years that drapery rods don't seem to follow any specific trends. I recently began thinking about this again when a client requested help in selecting a new look for her master bedroom. Her only thin rods because she is worried they will look "cheap".  I don't agree with this correlation, but understood immediately what she meant. And, this really got me thinking and focusing on size and plenty of time spent pouring through shelter magazines. All images are from the past 6 months, unless otherwise noted.

Besides the style of the furnishings and the overall look trying to be achieved in a given space, there are 2 things I take into consideration when deciding on what size and material to use for the rod. First, is to consider what  architectural details are in the space. Will a certain rod distract or diminish from the existing details? Or will the rod give needed detail and possibly add balance to a window wall if there is furniture placed on the wall opposite? And, secondly what is the fabric?  Is a  more substantial rod needed for weightier fabrics? And, is the fabric casual or opulant-how wil the rod relate?

This image is from 2005.  I think it is an example of where a larger more substantial rod would have added warmth and balance to this side of the room.  And the velvet drapes would not appear as heavy as they do on this delicate rod.

In this bathroom the iron window is the focus and the thin silver rod used to hang the white sheers is perfect by not competing for interest with the window.

In these 2 spaces I think the thin rods are the only choice. Imagine if the rods were larger how much they would detract from the beauty of the beams and carved corbels. 

Generally, I don't care for overly embellished window treatments or ornate drapery rods. I prefer simple panels, roman shades, woven shades and wood blinds. Since window treatments are a substantial portion of the budget for any space, I gravitate towards designs that seem to me less of a trend and more of a nod to classic applications. In other words, longevity.

However, I think these 2 examples of more ornate styled rods are fantastic!

And, I have never cared for curtains that puddle. Pet hair, random Cheerios and loads of dust are just a few things I've seen lurking in those puddles!  Personally, I like my curtains to have a soft break, like a man's well tailored trouser, and for the curtain to just skim the floor. And, I believe the very ornate curtain hardware that in the 80's and 90's that once adorned puddled drapes, is no longer desirable. I think simple well made rods are beautiful.

The other observation I have made is that all types of finishes are still being shown. In wood, there is cherry, dark walnut, mahogany and painted white or cream.  Wrought iron is still very popular, but I also see a great deal of polished nickel. And now that brass is seeing a resurgence in popularity, there are some beautiful offerings.

This is from 2008. I have always loved the combination of elegant and casual details. The simple black iron rod picks up on the seats, fireplace and harlequin vase.  A gold rod would have been overkill.

I love how casual and cheerful this aqua room is and the beautiful coiffured ceiling.  The curtains are youthful and modern. But, I find the small puddles on the floor distracting.  A thin rod would have looked equally good here. 

Another question is about continuity.  Once a rod is selected, must the same style and finish be used throughout the house? I don't think so, but some may disagree.

Above  are 2 rooms from the same home. I think it makes a good case for mixing it up!

I am very interested in your opinions and observations, designers and enthusiasts, about the subject. So go yourselves!

Images courtesy of Elle Decor, Veranda, Traditional Home, BH&G,


  1. Perfect post! My eyes have been crossed these past weeks as I search (online) for curtain rods and curtains! Your pictures and post will help immensely as I try and navigate the right look for my projects!

  2. What a gorgeous post - so full of beautiful images that perfectly explain your ideas.

  3. I also use the analogy of well-tailored trousers to explain the proper length of drapes. I think it drives home the point of a crisp look in a way that anyone can visualize. Many in my area like them short, which I describe as a pair of "floods". :)
    Love the images too.

  4. I agree with the "puddling". Even without our dog, too many dust bunnies collect with the puddling. One of the items on my to do list is to raise my rods to do away with clean the curtains!

  5. Great post. I am not a fan of puddling at all.....but know some love it. Just my personal taste. I don't think that the rods need to match througout the house....but do think they need to be considered if another room is visible from the next. I've got thicker painted rods in my family room that has heavier draperies on a tall ceiling.....and thin pewter rods in my LR/DR. Take a look at the cufflink collection by Robert is my favorite at the moment. Simple in terms of look and price. Great photos here....bookmarking this post.

  6. These are great guidelines. Window treatments are very confusing I find. I do feel that super thin rods look cheap, but that rods that are too big and ornate look cheap in the tacky,trying too hard sense. When I redid my living room and dining room recently I went with dark pewter finish rods and light grey silk panels. I agree that simple and classic are better over the long haul. And add me to the list of people that don't like puddling. I own a white cat that sheds a lot-imagine drape puddles full of white hair balls-yuck!

  7. Great post, full of wonderful information. I'm not a fan of puddled drapes either. I have seen some that were really elegant and beautiful, but they are just no practical. They do have to kiss the floor or have a nice trouser break. There is nothing worse than drapes that are too short. I'm agreeing with you also on the styles of rod. My personal favorite is small iron. I'm really off of big fancy finials these days. The simpler the better. That being said they just have to be in keeping with everything else that is going on in the room. I saved several of these photos in my image files. You did some great research for this post. thanks!

  8. happy to read this blog.. makes me feel good about curtain exchange in atlanta.. had no idea there were so many choices when it came to "curtain rods" they are THE experts..

  9. I noticed that recently, that anything goes with rods. Personally I would love to have all the metals and woods matching, but honestly it ain't happening. I have too many little objets of various different metals and I have the same dilemma with picture frames - some wood, some white, lots silver. Argh.

    I do like a simple rod - the simpler the better but that seems to go along with simpler curtains I like. I do have heavy lined drapes in my bedroom that demanded a heavier rod just for the weight. Somehow I think they should match the visual weight of the drapes....
    But I like them clean and simple now...

    xo Terri

  10. What an extensive collection of curtains. One of my favorite rods, in a friend's exquisite home is a simple copper pipe, wall to wall, and grommetted curtains to create an intimate setting and a warm ambiance. I believe the curtains were velvet.
    My home is a no curtain place, 70% windows so my curtains from the city are stowed away, along with the mahagony dowels.

  11. I am in total agreement
    with you ~ window treatments
    are too expensive to go
    trendy. I love iron rods ~
    not too thick ~ and mainly
    have those in our home,
    although I do have a chunkier
    wood one in the more masculine
    lower level where we watch
    movies ~ it makes that area
    seem warmer. Thank you for
    all of your advice and rod
    guidance ~ great post!
    xx Suzanne

  12. I love the attention to detail here...literally! Like you, I prefer the less is more approach to rods and window treatments in general. I love the images you used here as examples! So great.

  13. What a great post. I loved how you guided us through your rationale and strategies.

    I tend to agree with you that simple is best, but that not all rooms may have the same style rod. I believe in a tailored approach where each room, window and house is dressed accordingly.

    As for material for the rod and the windows. For me it all depends on the setting of the house, the imposing or not imposing view outside, the amount of light available or required, as well as the general purpouse and desired feel of the room in question. Swedish at heart I always embrace rooms with a lot of natural light and have a tendency to shy away from heavy drapes. Like you I prefer simple arrangements.

    Thank you for this great post and for taking time to put it together. Great pictures to illustrate your points. Brilliant!

    xx Charlotta

  14. As with many things...I think it depends. I have rooms with bamboo blinds and no drapes. I have slim rods in another room and yet some wider wooden (not fancy though) rods in my LR and DR. Both have gorgeous cream silk satin (think wedding dress) with trim that suits that room. They more than kiss the floor....but no puddles. I think, as with clothing, tailoring drapes to fit makes all the difference. And the rod -- well....the view should be what's outside the window, right?! Love the post. xo Elizabeth

  15. You have chosen beautiful images. I think this is always a perplexing situation. I tend to go with something very simple but I have seen rooms with heavy rods that are gorgeous for that space. Great post and guidance.

  16. Gorgeous examples! And my heart skipped a beat when you said brass was making a resurgency in popularity. I love a little of its formal and traditional feel.
    How do you like plantation shutters?

  17. Yvonne, I love plantation shutters, always reminds me of Charleston!

    PVE, so true...often something unusual makes the perfect statement. And, I have seen many homes with no drapes and that look wonderful!

  18. no doubt about it.
    rods and rings are my thing.
    i use them on almost every installation i do.

  19. This is a great post! All of your examples are so helpful and you have made some excellent points. I do gravitate towards a simple rod and rings and simple roman shades. I do not condone the use of blinds unless they are wood :) I speak of them as if they are illegal drugs in most situations!

  20. There's only one thing I dislike- a thin rod with a big curtain. It looks cheap every time I think. Rings with the right size rod improve a room tremendously. But spending a fortune on rods in today's economic climate feels like wasting a budget. Inexpensive brands are getting so good!!!

  21. Love this post with so much great info. I tend to prefer the simpler thinner rod myself, but agree that might not work with all drapes. And I totally agree on puddling drapes...they are just dust collectors.

  22. Next time I purchase a curtain rod, I will be thinking of all your helpful advice and inspiration. Such lovely examples, thank you!

    Hoping you are having a great week? Hard to believe it's Friday tomorrow. Cheers xx

  23. Hmmm. Thought provoking post. I've been taking rods down of late. Just for a change. You've given me some great insight!

  24. This is a fantastic, comprehensive post!! I agree with most here. Less is more when it comes to rods. In general I prefer simple, thin metal rods that are elegant and don't compete with the drapes for attention. I don't like puddles either. The look is to frou frou for me. I do like a 1/2 to 1" break.

  25. I love to add eclecticism and whimsy in a room’s décor but not when it comes to the high-investment pieces. I rarely will do any rod less than 1-3/8”, unless for a contemporary/modern application. At the same time, I never suggest hardware that is beyond 2” in diameter. I do source wood, iron and beautiful decorative finishes. Weight and style of the treatment, along with the customers’ style are what determine the final selection. I always ask them, “what can you live with for 10 years?”…. beautiful, timeless and elegant will give you the biggest return on investment.

  26. Thanks for this discussion. I am going through the same process of covering 44 windows. I like the casual look of no valences. However, having just installed several windows, no one has addressed what happens if you actually want working drapes that you open/close. The rods without traverse inserts are a nightmare. I have some wood Kirsch rods and need a ladder to open & close them. Unfortunately I have 7 windows in the room. They look lovely, but operational? Forget it!

    On puddling--I don't like the huge puddles, especially since I have elderly parents visiting, I can see them tripping on the puddle and winding up in the hospital! However having the drape touch the floor, perhaps 1/2 to 1 1/2" long, seems to make the drapes "drapey" and show off the fullness of the drape.

  27. Thanks so much, A&A, for such a comprehensive post! It's exactly what I needed today. All the research you put into locating just the right images is very much appreciated. I know I will be referring back to this one!

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  31. We just moved into a new house and I want everything to be perfect, even the drapery rods. I really like the skinny ones, and I like how you put them all the way to the ceiling.

  32. My wife would love this site. She just made new curtains for our living room all by herself and now she's trying to find some drapery rods that will go with them the best. I bet she'll get some great ideas from this blog. Thanks!

  33. This is great! My wife wants to find drapery hardware for our new home, but hasn't found anything she likes yet. I'll have to show this to her! Thanks for sharing!

  34. This is some really nice drapery hardware that you used for these things.


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