How to Choose the Right Curtain Rod Colour

Unsure which curtain rod colour you should choose? Here’s a guide to help you choose the right curtain rod, whether you want to frame your room perfectly or have the curtain rod disappear in your room design.

And before you purchase a curtain rod, read this post to make sure you measured them correctly.

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?

Curtain Rod Colour

Decor Pad

Curtain rods can either frame a room or they can be made to visually disappear. Generally speaking, they should be chosen with contrast in mind. Think of your curtain rods like eyeliner: they are there to frame the room and give it depth, but not to command all the attention for themselves.

How to Choose the Right Curtain Rod Colour

Choose the darkest colour in the room

Look at the dark furniture in the room when choosing a colour for your rods. In the room shown below, the beams, accent chair, and the base of the lamp relate to the espresso rod colour.

Curtain Rod Colour DarkSource

Here again in the bedroom below, the thin, dark coloured rods are repeated in the canopy bed and the bedroom accent furniture.

Bedroom Curtain Rod Colour

Curtain rod matches bed frame

House of Turquoise

Choose a curtain rod colour that makes them disappear

The curtain rods appear to be white in the bedroom below. This helps to make the curtain rods almost disappear in this mostly white bedroom, instead of drawing unnecessary attention to them. The curtain rods do not need to be the star of the show in this light and airy bedroom design.

White Bedroom Curtains

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Choose a curtain rod colour that relates to the metals in the room

Brushed stainless rods coordinate nicely with the light fixture and grey tones in this Manhattan apartment interior.

stainless grey curtain rods

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Brass curtain rods are a great choice for this room because they relate to all the varying gold tones in the living room decor and accessories. A darker bronze curtain rod would have also worked in this room as it coordinates with the sofa and fireplace.

brass curtain rod colour

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Although this room below is lovely, there is very little brass or gold in this room to relate to the curtain rod (maybe in the picture frame?). In this room, the curtain rod colour is a statement all its own. I think a brown rod would also look nice to tie in with the accent furniture.

Bright Gold Curtain Rod Colour

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Hanging drapery on a track works if you want a clean look and don’t have too much space above your window. Because these are doors, they are taller and don’t leave too much space between the ceiling and the top of the window. I think this look would have been much better if the track was either painted the same colour as the ceiling or black.

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

In my living room, I opted for brushed stainless rods because I already have lots of contrast with my pink colour blocking curtains and didn’t need to add more by detail by introducing black rods. My curtain rods also relate to the stainless steel legs of my white chairs.

Pink Colour Block Curtains

Choose the Right Curtain Rod Size

To my eye, slim rods look better than fat ones, so I always look for drapery rods that are close to 1″ in diameter. Rarely should you go thinner than 1″ curtain rod. Often, that’s when it usually looks cheap and like you bought them from IKEA. So, just buy the 1″ rods at IKEA instead. There’s nothing wrong with buying your rods there – just get the right size!

The rods in this bedroom below would look better if they were closer to 1″ in size, and better still if they were black to coordinate with the ottoman legs and picture frames.

Bedroom Curtains

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Sometimes, a full-length rod is unnecessary. Below, there is a panel only on 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.

Short Curtain Rod Look

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Curtain Rod Finials

I have crystal finials on my rods because they work with the glam feel of my living 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.

Maria Curtain Rods Crystal Finials

Timeless or Trendy Curtain Rods

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”?)

Curtain Rod Material

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.

How to create flow in your rooms with curtain rods

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-like. The more obvious separation there is between rooms, though, the less you need to be concerned with coordinating rods between them.

Read more: Ask Maria: How to Transition Paint Colours in an Open Concept Home

In a house I recently decorated, we 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.

Brass Curtain Rods

Interior Design by Maria Killam

espresso curtain rod

How to ruin your perfect curtain rods

If you are selecting curtain rods for your home, make sure you read this post on how to measure for a curtain rod. So many people get this part wrong, and it ruins the final effect.

I’d love to know 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

If you want to transform the way you see colour become a True Colour Expert.

“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

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    • 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!

  4. 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. 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.

  6. 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!

    • @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-

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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 !

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

    • 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!

  15. 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?

    • 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!

  16. 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.
    -Brenda-

  17. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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-

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

    Thanks.

  22. What do you do in a kids room, or any other room, that will change over time? I was going to relate it to the floor color.

  23. This is the best post on choosing drapery rods…especially useful: “Look at the dark furniture in the room when choosing a colour for your rods” and “look for drapery rods that are close to 1inch”, along with the crystal-clear photo examples. I’ve now come back to consult this post twice when ordering rods.

  24. HI! Thanks for this helpful post. I have a question, actually 2: should the grommets match the rod? Based on your article I’m convinced I should have a dark rod but almost all curtains I find and like have stainless still grommets.
    Another question: All the doorknobs in my house are dark. If I have a room with a dark doorknob, could I go with a stainless steel rod?
    Thank you so much!

    • The colour of your curtain rods don’t need to relate to your door knobs at all. It has to do with what is the finish in the room? Do you have silver lamps for example? Then you might choose silver rods. Do you have navy blue or black accents in the room? Then you might choose a black rod.

      Yes the grommets need to match the rod if you want it to look more custom and less like you picked up some curtains at bed, bath and beyond. Hope that helps, Maria

  25. Maria, my curtain panels are a tan / khaki color but the grommets are brushed nickel. Furniture in room in dark. Headboard is about same color as the curtains with dark antique gold nailheads. Walls are linen white. I was going to use a brown / cocoa colored rod. Would this be the right choice? Im questioning it because the grommets are brushed nickel. Thank you . Gail

    • If the grommets don’t match the rod, they will look like you bought them from a big box store instead of having them custom made. Nothing wrong with that, but technically that’s the look you’ll end up with. However, I agree that the rod should be dark. Maria