Curtains and draperies are chameleons. They work hard at blocking light and sound, heat and cold. They're also extraordinarily decorative and add enormous personality to a room.
What's the difference between curtains and draperies - and does it even matter? Traditionally, windows were treated to three types of curtains: a sash curtain (to filter light), a draw curtain (to block out light), and an over-drapery (which was purely decorative and is now just called a drapery). In very formal rooms (with sufficiently high ceilings), all of this was topped with a cornice or valance (to hide the hardware). This traditional treatment carries on today in period or very formal or dressy rooms.
The modern tendency is to think of curtains as sash curtains (often unlined and in a variety of lengths), and draperies (never drapes) as those that draw, completely closing off the window.
Another modern move is to drape and swag fabric loosely over a decorative rod or pole, in a nod to conventional valances and swags. Often, swags serve no function, but earn their keep by looking dramatic.
A Contemporary-style swagged window treatment adds to the air of elegant formality.
Read entire article at Using Curtains and Draperies in Your Home Decor
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