Curtain Panels vs. Sheers: The Difference & How To Decorate

Updated: May 31

Sometimes when it comes to drapery, the different terms can be confusing. Especially when terms (like curtains or drapes) can be used interchangeably. When it comes to the difference between curtain panels and sheers, two distinct elements determine which category the materials fall into the weight of the fabric and the opacity.


A sheer, as the name suggests, has a low opacity and can be seen through. It provides more privacy than a naked window but allows lots of light to still enter the room. From the outside looking in, you will be able to see movement and objects but not full details. A curtain panel is semi-opaque, or what we call light filtering, and will travel the spectrum all the way to opaque, 100% blackout. The intention of a panel is to filter out light and provide more privacy. The fabric weight, quality, and color will all play into how the curtain looks and reacts to hanging in your home.


How to decorate with sheer curtains only.

If the main goal is to allow as much light as possible and provide a minimum amount of privacy from the outside world, sheer curtains are for you. The more sheer panels you hang on one window the softer the light will be from outside. If you plan to open and close the sheer panels frequently or have a more modern aesthetic, grommets are the best solution. The sheer panels will slide open and closed on a decorative rod. If you are of the style set that you want the sheer to permanently hang over the window, a rod pocket is a great option. It will provide a gentle shirred look. This is a great solution if you want minimal privacy and lots of light.


How to decorate with curtain panels only

A window panel hanging on either side of the window is a quick and easy way to change the look of your room. When the panels are open, you have a clear view out the window. When the curtain panels are closed, they will obstruct the view from outside. However, the fabric and quality you select will determine how much can be seen. This is the option to use if you want to be able to change between privacy and full light.

How to decorate with both curtain panels and sheers.

Using curtain panels and sheer to decorate is what is called a layered look. Two curtain panels and one sheer panel can all be hung on one rod. So, the layout would be panel, sheer, panel. Because they are all on one rod, the top treatment needs to be the same. For example, they should all be rod pockets. This is a static look as the panels are not opened and closed. You can use this look in a living room, or other room that you don’t need full privacy. The sheers will soften the light and the panels will provide color and texture to your décor. If you have two rods, one or two sheer panels can be hung on a rod close to the wall and the panels can be hung on a decorative rod over them. For this look, the sheers should be rod pockets, but the panels can be any style you desire. This is a great option for rooms, like a bedroom, where sometimes you want a little privacy and other times you want the room to be as dark as possible.

At the drape, we offer two sheers: the linen blend sheer and the cotton sheer. We also have 5 different fabrics and two linings so you can create a curtain panel that is perfect for you and your home. Take a look for yourself and order 5 free swatches to get started.


If the sheer and panel combo is more aligned with the look you’re going for, check out the bundles. We do the work and put together the panel and sheer for you. If this is overwhelming, chat with us at info@thedrape.com. We are here to help and will consult with you to help you get exactly what you need.