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Should Curtains Be Lighter or Darker Than Walls?

dark grey curtains against white wall

When it comes to creating a coherent décor, curtains would have to be one of the most important elements.

The right choice of curtains can really make a room look fabulous.

There's such a wonderful choice available too, a plethora of patterns, styles & materials to choose from.

Matching the style, as well as colour of curtains, is necessary to bring together a harmonious décor.

But so too is the right shade of curtain.

So should curtains be lighter or darker than the walls? They can actually be lighter or darker. A general rule of thumb is for curtains & walls to be one shade lighter or darker than each other, or be a complimentary colour to each other. Although light or dark curtains can influence the mood of a room, provided they match the colour, hues & shade of the walls, it will be a good choice.

Curtains are a wonderful opportunity to add design & colour to a space, but they also serve a practical purpose too.

As well as stopping nosey neighbours, they help retain heat in a house during the cooler months & block sunlight in the warmer months.

They also help to dampen a room's acoustics, especially with hard floors, curtains can make the room cosier.


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Choosing between dark or light curtains isn't black or white ( bad pun!).

It's all about shades, colours, tones & hues.

Matching Curtains To Wall Colour & Room Décor

Light or darker curtains each offer their own visual influence to a room.

So whichever you may wish to use, they'll need to compliment the existing décor & wall colour.

Your walls may be cooler colours such as blues, greens & even some shades of grey.

Alternatively they may be warmer colours like oranges, browns & reds.

Whichever the case, one option is choosing curtains of a similar tone to the wall colour.

The curtains can be lighter or darker, provided they are within about a shade difference to the wall colour.

Another option is to choose curtains of a complimentary colour to the walls.

Complimentary colours sit opposite each other on the colour wheel.

colour wheel

Here's a great tool from Canva that allows you to choose, & even enter your own colours, & find the corresponding complimentary colour or shade .. it's free to use too!

It also let's you find the monochromatic shades as well as analogous, tetradic & triadic colours.

I had no idea what those last 3 words meant!

Basically it shows you sets of 2, 3 & 4 colours that work with your primary colour.

Once you've determined which colour & shade of curtains you'd like, then you can decide on choosing either lighter or darker window dressings.

Light Curtains

As well as being a lighter colour or shade, sheer curtains are also available.

These can look good as well as being highly practical.

They allow you to see out during the day, as well as allowing light in whilst still retaining privacy.

This style of curtain can still bring some warmth or cosiness to a space, while at the same time keeping it light & airy.

Of course, heavier curtains can still be drawn over them at night, so you have the best of both worlds.

These 2 types of curtain can work well together.

Light coloured curtains can still be made from heavier materials.

You can have a light shade of curtain that still blocks out the light.

Or you could choose a darker colour or shade to sit over the sheer curtains.

This allows you to create one mood for the day & another for the evening when the curtains are drawn.

Sheer curtains come in various colours too.

By using 2 sets of curtains, you can get creative mixing & matching.

Lighter curtains can be a better choice if your walls are darker, although this isn't a hard & fast rule.

In the photos above, the curtains are about a shade darker than the already dark walls. The blue curtains tie in with the décor as well as creating contrast against the white sheer curtains. Although the grey against grey could become oppressive, they incorporate a light pattern which breaks up the colour.


Windows & window frames also come in different styles.

Some windows can have nice wood frames or a decorative quality.

Others can be very basic aluminium frames & look somewhat cold or uninviting.

Curtains made from lighter material tend to hang in a softer manner & when in a lighter shade, can help to soften the window.

The only disadvantage to light curtains is they can show dirt more easily.


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Light curtains can be dyed though, which means if you change your décor you don't need to buy new curtains to match.

Another plus to light curtains is that whatever shade your walls may be, they're more likely to look good either way.

Lighter curtains are generally more neutral, not being a bold colour means they're less likely to clash with the room décor & other furnishings.

Dark Curtains

There's a belief that dark curtains can make a space appear smaller.

This isn't necessarily true.

The existing wall colour & colour palette of the room plays the significant role in how a room can visually appear larger or smaller.

Dark & heavy curtains against dark walls may make the room appear to close in.

But a small room with very light or even white walls may benefit from dark curtains to add some relief & bring some contrast.

Darker curtains can also help a more spacious or voluminous room appear more cosy or intimate.

Handy tip: Hanging curtains up to the ceiling height can create not only the illusion of the wall being taller, but shrinking the space & creating a cosier feel.

Darker curtains are naturally more dominating, so matching them to the wall colour & décor is more important.

Darker curtains also won't show dust & dirt as readily.

As with lighter colours & shades of curtains, darker curtains can also be mixed & matched.

Darker shades of sheer curtains are available too, which means you can have lighter curtains to draw across or vice versa.

In a room with mainly cool colours & shades, darker curtains can bring some warmth & create a more inviting space.

With light walls, dark curtains are fabulous for introducing bold colours or patterns which may be overwhelming against darker walls.

For a great range of home accessories to match your curtains, check out Casagear's large product range.

Final Thoughts

There's many décor elements that are involved & need to tie together when decorating a room.

But certainly curtains are a vital component.

So curtain colour & style is probably going to play a larger role than whether they're lighter or darker than the walls.

Not that this is unimportant, as the shade of the curtains will influence the feel of the room.

Provided you choose the right shade & hue, you're able to experiment with lighter or darker curtains to achieve the mood & atmosphere you desire.

I hope this article has helped you in deciding which curtains you need for your particular décor, & please feel free to pass it along to anyone else who may find value in it.


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