Dark curtains vs light curtains

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Choose the right curtains and you can turn a simple room into something extraordinary. But what constitutes the “right” curtains? Here, we’re purely talking shade and tone, dark vs light colours; each offering it’s own unique benefits. The colour (and/or pattern) you choose will be driven by personal preference and the décor of the room they’re destined for, but the other things to take into account are the size of the room and it’s windows, and how much light comes in those windows. Let’s run through a few pros and cons of dark vs light coloured curtain fabric.

Light curtain benefits

  • A timeless look! Light coloured curtains, especially whites and neutrals, will never go (far) out of style.
  • Increase how big a space feels with lighter curtains.
  • Light coloured curtains are more likely to be made of lightweight curtain fabrics, which fall and flow beautifully.
  • Lighter colours are easily dyed a different colour should you want an easy way to change it up in future.
Things to consider:

More likely to show up any dirt, dust or stains they get so perhaps better in rooms without high traffic.

Cannes by Nettex in Pearl

Dark curtain benefits

Dark coloured curtains work very well in spacious interiors or high-ceilinged rooms to visually shrink the space and give it a cozier vibe. Use them to anchor the space without overwhelming the setting; repeat the colour of the curtains somewhere else in the room so they don’t look out of place.

Strike a balance between relaxing and romantic.

Dark curtains lend a sense of drama, contrast and elegance to a room and, when used right, can be very inviting.

Dark curtains don’t show dirt and dust like light coloured curtains will so a good choice for high traffic areas (if the size is right).


Dark-colored curtains work best against light walls (eg. warm white, cream, gray, light tan and even smoky blue walls). Dark walls plus dark curtains is too oppressive. ‘Dark’ doesn’t have mean black, brown or grey; dark curtains can also come in hip, modern colours such as blue or even certain shades of red or purple.

Abaca by Maurice Kain


Overwhelming in small rooms. Considered a riskier design choice. If you don’t get the colour right, because darker curtains are more visually dominating, it’s more likely to ruin the room’s aesthetic than a lighter colour that isn’t quite right.

How they function

Light curtains

Light coloured curtains are good for rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight as they’re less prone to fading from the sun. Dark and bright colours tend to fade faster.

Good summer options as a white/lighter colour is more likely to bounce the sun’s rays away keeping rooms cooler.

Dark curtains

They are simple to maintain and clean as stains and markings don't show all that much. They are also good for blocking light out of bedrooms for a better night’s sleep.


A north facing room getting direct sunlight all day needs thick, heavy curtains (preferably in a cool colour, eg. green, grey, blue). The east, west and south facing rooms that don’t get as much sun for as long during the day, you need curtains in warm colours (eg. yellow, orange, brown) that will enliven the light and create a nice ambience.

Things to consider:

Sunlight will fade dark curtains. If unlined, during summer, a darker curtain will absorb heat and radiate it.

Curtain Lining

This is where we turn all the above on it’s head. Well-lined curtains can block light from filtering through regardless of whether the curtain fabric is light or dark in colour. Lining provides an important extra layer to the fabric, which can act to reflect or retain heat and also protect the colour from sunlight saturation. Lined curtains will also hang well and be easy to manoeuvre.

Unlined curtains, while perfect in summer as they provide some sun protection whilst being light and allowing air to flow, may not be the best year-round choice. They are, however, very easy to clean in your own washing machine.

Types of lining:

  • Blockout - blocks the majority of sunlight from filtering through, also helps keep out cold
  • Polycotton – economical option, good at maintaining temperature in both warm and cold temperatures
  • Thermal – thick and designed to provide maximum heat retention (will also help keep a room cool in summer)

Matrix by James Dunlop in Ice

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. When it’s time to choose curtains for your home time to consider all the different options you have so that you end up with a look you’ll love for years to come. For absolutely everything you need to know about choosing the right curtains for your home, download our helpful guide.

Learn what to consider in picking the right curtains for your home

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