Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Find here the answers to the common questions when buying the next set of curtains for your home.

I have seen curtains that are just lined and others that include interlining. Could you tell me the advantage of purchasing those with interlining versus those without?

Interlining is the unsung heroine of the curtain world. It is a thin layer of material sewn between the facing fabric and the lining of a drapery panel. It not only protects the fabric against harsh sunlight, but it also has insulating properties that will keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And while interlinings play a supporting role to the more diva-like velvets, silks, and damasks, they are absolutely vital for a curtain to hang properly. Cotton and linen curtains benefit from being interlined. Truly, having a good interlining in your curtain is like wearing a good bra. Shy, one-dimensional panels become full-bodied coquettes with the right interlining. And should you desire even more body and lift for your curtains, select a thicker interlining known as a bump. Bump is the Wonder Bra of the curtain world.

I added a silk/cotton blend fabric to my coffered ceiling in the dining room and want to know how to make the room have a more casual feeling with my drapery. What is the best kind of fabric to use without being too matchy-matchy?

Try an earthier fabric in a simple shape. For example, how about nubby linen or raw silk in an earth tone, such as taupe or a light khaki, fashioned into streamlined panels or Roman shades? You want your ceiling and window treatments to complement (not compete with) each other. Is silk too formal?

I love the look of silk and the sheen that it has, but my husband thinks it's too formal for our bedroom. Are there any rules regarding the appropriate use of silk?

Silk is made in an endless variety of sheens, textures, and weights – suited both formal and casual décor. But if you’re still unable to convince your husband, meet in the middle and go for hybrid silk. It's a cross between a shimmery, finely finished taffeta and a slubby, textured dupioni. While it will provide some light-reflecting sheen to your boudoir, it will by no means look too shiny or formal. Also, consider using silk in a more casual drapery style, such as a grommet heading, and avoid fussier designs such as pinch pleats or ruffled pocket tops. As for “rules” about silk, or any curtains – we believe you should create the right look for your home. No one will send the curtain police after you, we promise.

Can my curtains be machine washed?

We recommend against this. Washing quality curtains, or getting them wet during extended periods such as wash cycles, can damage the fabric. Most fine curtains are also lined and interlined and each fabric, face fabric of curtain, lining, and interlining will react in a different way to washing and drying procedures often resulting in uneven finished products.

Dry cleaning and machine washing are not recommended. Are there any other options?

Yes, but the specific treatments depend on the curtain’s fabric. A fabric with a high cotton content or a synthetic, will, in theory, respond to stain removal. It is always best to test the fabric first on the reverse side, perhaps on the hem. In some cases, a commercial product, such as Spot Lifter, can be used, but the results vary enormously, and some products will make the stain spread. Light-colored solid silk is the most difficult fabric from which to remove a stain. Try a simple solution of warm water with baking soda. If that doesn't work, you may try following the instructions of a gentle soap such as Woolite®. If all else fails, you may resort to a high-quality dry cleaner or consult a professional. Also, you can call your local boutique, one of our specialists will be happy to help discuss the best solution.

Water was spilled on my curtains. Will this damage them?

This depends on the fabric. Water does not usually harm the curtains unless the curtains are in the water for extended lengths of time. If the spill on your curtains seems substantial, we recommend lightly blowing them with a hairdryer, set on low, until most of the moisture is removed. But be careful not to overheat the material.

My curtains have little bumps in the texture, how do I remove them?

These “bumps” you refer to are called slubs. A slub is a thick place in yarn or thread. They are a natural part of the weaving process and are not a defect.

How do I remove wrinkles from my curtains?

In most cases, wrinkles will “hang out” of a curtain — meaning, the weight of the curtain will remove the wrinkles. If, however, this does not work for you, a steamer may be carefully used. Yet please take precautions not to “wet” the fabric. In certain climates, the humidity will also assist in de-wrinkling curtains.

Should I dry clean my curtains? If so, how often?

It is not necessary to dry clean curtains; in fact, at The Curtain Exchange, we recommend against it. The chemicals in the dry cleaning process can affect our fine fabrics, often resulting in shrinkage or a significant change to the appearance of one or all of the three fabrics.

I love the look of window treatments but I am always afraid they will block my view of the ocean.

When the right fabric and hardware are selected, window treatments not only complete the look of a room, they serve as frames to a breathtaking vista. Keep everything as simple as possible to complete, not compete, with the view. Try linen in a very loose weave. Its sheerness never blocks light but filters it to stunning effect. If you want the curtains to retreat even more into the background, you can always match them to the color of the surrounding walls. The "frame" becomes purely textural as a result. Curtain rods should be equally simple, so skip the bulky sort. Install the thinnest rods and never forget tie-backs.

I'd love to put floor-length curtains in my living and dining rooms. Unfortunately, there are air conditioning/heating vents on the floor and I'm afraid the curtains will block the warm/cool air. What can I do?

There is a simple product available that will cover part of the vent and direct the air away from the curtains and into the room so as not to disturb your window arrangements. Some floor vent covers are made of clear plastic so that they are unobtrusive. Go ahead with your plans to hang full-length curtains at your windows!?

My living room is long; and despite its south-facing windows, it doesn't get much light. I want to use white linen sheers or white net sheers. The windows are 11' wide and 105” from curtain rods to floor, which is how I prefer them to make the ceilings look higher. Could the ceilings look taller with a top treatment? What kind of rods would you recommend?

In this case, sheers would need to be made custom in multiple widths to cover your windows. As for rods, I recommend a decorative traverse rod, which is simply a traverse rod but with a covering that conceals the track on which the sheers slide. If you want your ceilings to appear higher, try a rod in a lighter shade of metal, such as brushed nickel, that will blend in with the white and thus not create a visual break from the top of the sheer to the floor. Another option is to forgo the rods all together and install sheers on a ceiling-mounted track, which will optimize the verticality of the space. As for top treatments, they tend to make a ceiling look lower, so your initial instincts were right on when you hung the treatments as high as possible.

My bathroom has a statuary marble shower, floors in black and white, and Wedgwood blue shantung silk wallpaper. But it has the ugliest window! At 24" square, it sits an ungainly 13" from its top to the ceiling. Should I be considering a valance, or a curtain, or both? And what size would a valance be? or a curtain?

With either a valance or curtain, you run the risk of highlighting an architectural anomaly you should be downplaying. But a Roman shade, perhaps in crisp white linen, would not only add privacy if you require it, but also an elegant texture that wouldn't compete with your Wedgwood blue wallpaper.

I live in a high-rise condo and have recently hung a single-width pair of curtains. While they look fabulous, I can't help feeling that they are a bit skimpy. I am considering adding a second pair. Do I need to have them stitched together or can I just hang both single-width pairs together? How do you determine the proper width for curtains that are not designed to close, just to look full?

Adding another panel to each side is an excellent way to add volume. And no need to stitch them, especially if they are going to be stationary. If you ever move or decide to change up your look, you can always divide them up again and put them in other rooms. Adding panels is also the perfect opportunity for creativity. Rather than using the same color, try a different color. For example, a black and white combination is modern. Any complementary colors will work, from orange and hot pink to a more subtle gray and cream.

Determining the proper width will depend on how much wall space is available on either side of the window. I recommend the width of each panel be no less than 1/6 of the width of the window. Any less than that and your panels will look a little anemic. For a fuller look, choose panels that are up to 1/4 or 1/3 the width of the window.

I have two eyebrow windows with rectangular windows underneath on either side of the fireplace in my family room. How would you suggest I treat these windows?

I love a good curtain challenge. For this situation, you have more than one option. If you desire a clean, unified look, treat each eyebrow and rectangular window combination as one. Hang a rod at the top of the left eyebrow window and chose one fabulous drapery panel that flows all the way to the floor (or beyond, if you like a good puddle). The panel will cover both the eyebrow window and the rectangular window below it. To let in light (and add a bit of drama) tie back the panel to the left side. Repeat with the set of windows on the right, except sweep the panel to the right. This sort of look will draw the eye upwards and will visually heighten the room.

If you're looking to create a cozier space, or draw focus to a particularly elegant fireplace, treat the top eyebrow windows and bottom rectangular windows separately. This is a good idea particularly if the top windows are much higher than the windows below. I suggest adding an elegant Roman shade to each eyebrow window and then long curtain panels to the lower windows. (You should install the rod in the space between the upper and lower windows.) This look also allows you to have both privacy and sunlight at the same time. Just raise the upper shades but leave the bottom curtains drawn.

I have a large living room, but with a low ceiling – just 8’-3”. I am going to hang white linen curtains but don't know what rods to order. I want to do everything possible to create vertical lines to visually raise the ceiling.

You are on the right track as far as visually raising your ceilings. As for rods, here are two options that will maintain your elegant, streamlined look. Try simple steel rods with ball finials; or return rods, which curve at each end and literally return back to the wall. Both will support the lofty look you seek.