Base them on your lifestyle
Your choice of living room curtains will be heavily influenced by your family's lifestyle, and how you use your living room.
Often the living room is one of the largest rooms in the home, with windows to match.
A large window give you the chance to use the welcoming effect of fabric to full advantage. You can achieve both a luxurious and cozy effect simultaneously. It's also the room which may be in constant use, during the day and especially in the evening.
So one of your aims may be to allow as much light in during the day as possible, while in the evening to have a room which is inviting and comfortable.
Large windows give you more choices. Would you want some form of valance or cornice box (pelmet) above the curtains? What about swags, jabots (tails) etc? If so, is there enough room above the window(s) so the fabric doesn't come down too far below the top of the window?
You can have the curtains hanging straight down naturally, or tie them back in a gentle curve.
How about lining and interlining your curtains and drapes? This will give them added body and a more luxurious look.
If you're wondering what colors to use, the living room colors page has more information.
You could have them finish just below the sill if you need to keep them clear of the floor. This might be advisable if they are above a radiator or other heating method.
Or have them finish half an inch or so above the floor. You could take this a stage further and have them 'puddle' on the floor by making the curtains extra long.
Would you have them on pull-cords, or just draw them by hand? If different people (of all ages) will be moving them, it's sometimes better to have a very simple hand -drawn system.
What about using a pole - wood, metal, or painted wood finish to match the fabric?
Make sure you allow enough room for the fabric to hang either side of the window so they draw back and don't block out too much daylight. This means fixing the track or pole in the correct position.
Put enough fullness in your living room curtains - a minimum of double fullness is a good guide, otherwise they'll look flat and skimpy.
(If you need help with deciding on what shades to use with your living room curtains, then go to the window shade page.)
(If you're looking for some practical advice on curtains - tracks to use, cornice boxes, where to place curtains in relation to the window, etc. - then go to the home window treatments page. Here you'll find help and advice on some of the more practical decisions that have to be made.)
Some more guidelines...
Pick out your colors
If you use patterned fabrics for your living room curtains, you can 'tie' the room together by using vases, flowers and pictures to bring out the accent colors in the fabric.
The influence of lamp light
Do you like the effects of floor and table lamps at night, the way they create areas of light on walls and ceiling? If so, then think about using top drapes with your living room curtains. Lamp light on the deep folds will produce shadows and depth. Be sure to have a good amount of fullness in the curtains to match the top drapes.
Minimalist or austere?
One of the marks of today's fashion is for sparsely furnished rooms, with natural wood floorboards, plaster effects on the walls, and with interest provided by items of color such as ornaments, pictures and flowers. If that's your living room, then consider using lots of sheers at the windows in soft colors. Even have them cascading onto the floor - they'll add softness and vitality to the room.
Don't think luxury means ornate
All this doesn't mean that you need a busy, traditional room. You can still use luxury living room curtains with a simply furnished room, which may at first glance seem quite plain.
For example, if your furniture has simple modern lines, then plain living room curtains trimmed along the edges in a suitable contrasting color will compliment your room and be totally in keeping with it.
Afraid of overdoing it?
We often find people who want to use a traditional style for their curtains, but are afraid they will completely overpower the room and make themselves appear ostentatious. You can get over this by using pale monochrome or two tone colors in the room. You'd be amazed at the rich but restrained effect you can get from using light colored (such as cream) silks or taffetas.
(If you want to refresh your memory on color ideas such as monochrome, then go here.)
What's the rest of the room like?
Does your living room contain some of your most prized furniture - family heirlooms, antiques, expensive couches and sofas, valuable framed pictures, or collections of china? If so, your living room curtains could well be luxurious, formal arrangements, using expensive fabrics like silks or damasks, with trimmings to match.
But take care, because the various items in a room should be related. Expensive, professionally made curtains and drapes would look out of place against a cheap carpet, badly painted walls and threadbare upholstery.