Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Affordable blackout curtains: tips, round-up, and best sources

I shared last summer how we keep our home cooler in the summer using blackout curtains. It means the AC doesn't have to work as hard, and we avoid hot spots near windows! Check out that post for the process/tips we use. I also shared in that post how I hacked some affordable blackout curtains to custom length and a higher-end look.

Well, I've been developing my opinions (and knowledge) about curtains a lot recently and have even more tips to share now, plus the best sources for affordable blackout curtains, and my fave styles!

Affordable blackout curtains: Tips

Whether blackout or not, the best way to make any curtains look good is to get them big enough!! More style, less stuff--go bigger on rugs, curtains, art, lamps... the pieces that it's easy and tempting to buy in the cute, cheap style. The small versions only work in small spaces. For most living room or bedroom windows, you need to go bigger in both hanging height (=panel length) and hanging width (=panel width). Here's a good post illustrating why and how to hang your curtains high and wide.

I'll be brief here--what you're looking for in any ready-made curtain is adequate width and length. When you start to add in a parameter like blackout, your options become more limited (especially on the budget-friendly side). 

Curtain Length

For standard 8' high ceilings (96"), for most windows you won't need to follow the 2/3" between the window and ceiling rule and can just hang your curtains as high as possible (this doesn't work on super high ceilings). That means you'll want 95" long curtains (you may need to hem them if you use curtain clips). There is no use for 84" long curtains unless you're outfitting a low-ceilinged attic bedroom or something. They are the most common length but they are keeping us all down, design-wise! Disregard them and only shop curtains that come in 95" or 105" for a 9' (108") ceiling. (Taller than that and you may need custom or semi-custom.)

Curtain Width

I think the length message has hit home with most of us pretty well by now, but width is more complicated and there are even fewer options. I also think we all know to hang curtains about 8-10" outside the window frame, so that they don't block any light at all when fully open.

I've heard before that you want your curtain panels to be 1.5x the width of the window plus the 8-10" overhang. So for a 36" wide window with 8" on either side, you'd need 78" of curtain width minimum. You can easily achieve that with two standard width panels (50" wide). 

However, a lot of windows in main living areas and master bedrooms are much wider than 36". Once you get to more than 66" total (window plus overhang--so a 46" wide window or so) that 100" of curtains is not adequate. 

For wide, prominent windows, you almost always need double-wide curtains (or, if you know how to sew and don't mind a seam in the middle, four standard panels combined to make two double-wide panels). So many of my favorites below include extra-wide options!

Curtain Mounting/Hanging Method

I'll be brief on this, too. Avoid grommets or tabs. Pole pocket is also not great as it can really bunch up on a thick curtain (like a blackout lined one). Best is ring top, or hidden tabs that you can use clips with.

Affordable Blackout Curtains: Sources

Here are my favorite sources for affordable blackout curtains! Read the caveats, as not all will work for all windows!
  • Target is affordable, but they only have a couple with good hanging methods and nice-looking lining. This one is great for a natural linen, and comes in several lengths. This one works (we have them in Otto's room), but you'll have to use clips to avoid bunching at the top. Unfortunately I am not aware of any good options at Target that are extra wide, so these will only work for smaller windows. Most of their options are really cheap, like under $30 per panel.
  • This brand on Amazon has lots of choices, including extra-wide. I like this faux linen one a lot ($65 per extra-wide panel). This velvet one is also lovely, $128 per extra-wide panel.
  • You can search around on Amazon with search parameters (blackout, length, width, top) and you might get lucky, but there's a ton of options on there that aren't great quality. I recommend looking for a natural fiber (cotton or linen, most likely) for the outer fabric, and choosing a curtain with a separate lining layer.
  • Pottery Barn has some great quality classic curtains in many lengths, and some come in extra-wide. They are pricier, though they often have sales or you can use a coupon (20-25% off sometimes). Really nice quality materials, though; might be worth splurging and spending $200+ per extra-wide panel on some of these for main living spaces. 

Affordable Blackout Curtains: Faves

Check out my faves below! I've included super budget (the ones we have in our dining room and living room that I shared about last year--involved some sewing) ranging up to more expensive (good price for higher quality ready-made curtains).

I'll link these again, plus the substantial, affordable 1.5" modern black curtain rod I love and clips and hooks to use with it, below!

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