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The Right Way to Hang Your Curtains - A Style Guide

Just like with other design elements, curtains are essential to creating a well-styled home. Curtains add style, texture, color, and warmth while completing the look of your space. They also offer privacy, block harsh sunlight, and keep out drafts on cold winter days. If hung properly, curtains can make your room and window appear bigger and more spacious. One of the most common design mistakes is improperly-hung curtains. With so many different types of window coverings and so many different types of windows, getting it right can be overwhelming. Hanging curtains can be tricky, but you can make the most of your window treatments and complete a room in style with the correct measurements and hanging techniques. Learn how to hang curtains or drapes properly with our simple step-by-step instructions.

Measuring to Find the Right Size Curtain Panels

Before shopping for actual window treatments, you must figure out the length and width of the curtains panels you’ll need for your window and what size curtain rod to buy.

1. How Long Should Your Curtain Rod Be?

For best results curtain rods should be installed 6 to 10 inches beyond the edge of the window frame on both sides. This allows extra rod space for the curtains to cover the walls and not the window when pushed open giving the illusion of a bigger window with as much light streaming in as possible. Your drapes should only cover the very edge of the window when they are fully open. If your windows are right next to a wall, hang the rod as wide as you can with even spacing on both sides of the window

When the rod is mounted, add one curtain clip to the outside of the hardware with the remaining clips on inside to prevent your curtain from being pulled all the way to the middle of window.

2: Determining The Length of Your Curtain Panels

For maximum style, the total width of your panels should be about two times the width of the window you are trying to cover. Even if you aren’t going to be closing the window treatments, they should be wide enough to theoretically cover the windows with fabric to spare if you did. For most windows, you’ll be choosing one panel for each side of the window and each panel should equal the width of your window, if it doesn't you will have to double up on each side.

3. How High Should The Rod Hang?

To give the appearance of taller ceilings and a more spacious room overall, aim to hang your curtain rod at least 1/2-2/3 the distance towards the top to help your ceilings look as high as possible. If your ceilings are extremely low (like 8-foot), hang the rod just under the ceiling to draw your eye up as far as it can go giving the illusion of more height.

4. How Do You Want Your Curtains to Hang?

The length of your curtain panels is determined by how far you want them to be from the floor or puddle. Before measuring, you’ll first need to determine how you want your curtains to hang.

Your curtains should reach or almost reach the floor rather than ending just under your window frame.

KISS THE FLOOR: For the ideal length, your curtains should just brush the floor, hovering 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch away. This is the most custom and professional looking method, but is the hardest length to pull off. You need to be incredibly accurate in your measurements to get it right. The best way to hang at this length is to order curtains longer than you need, install your rod and hang them, then pin the curtains while they are hanging to find an exact length that they’ll need tailored to.

Design by Amber Interiors. Photography by Tessa Neustadt

FLOATING: If you don’t like the idea of your curtains touching the floor or you don’t think you can be accurate enough when measuring, opt for hanging them about 1/2 inch from the floor instead. The look is still extremely clean and slightly less formal. Try not to go any more than 1/2 inch from the floor or your drapes will start looking like it was a mistake in measuring. This is the best option if you are opening and closing the drapes regularly.

Haley Weidenbaum

PUDDLE: You may like the more dramatic look of your drapes gathered on the floor. The amount of puddling you want will determine how long your drapes need to be. Keep in mind that the more you have resting on the ground, the more dust they will collect and often can become a tripping hazard.

Pottery Barn

5. Decide On The Length of Your Curtains

Measure from the floor to the rod where the panels will hang. Then subtract the distance you want them to be away from the floor (anywhere from 1/8” to 1/2”) or add how much of a puddle you want them to have. Premade window treatments come in common lengths like 84”, 96”, and 108”. The standard 84” is normally too short, even in a low-ceiling home. Choose the length closest to your measurement erring on the side of a few inches longer rather than shorter, then have them hemmed to the right length.

  • If you are using drapery clips, remember the curtains will hang a short distance away from the rod. You’ll need to measure the space between the bottom of your rod and where the clip will attach to the curtain to see how much longer the panel will hang.

  • Grommets are likely set 1” away from the top of a curtain, so they’ll hang about 1 1/4” shorter than the curtain length.

  • Wash and dry your curtains before hanging.

Use our quick guide for reference!

I hope this style guide is helpful for you for your next curtain purchase! It is designed to help you make the most of your window treatments and complete a room in style! If you have any questions or would like help on a new project please feel free to reach out!

XOXO - Cassy


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