How High to Hang Curtains Above Windows, Solved!

How to Mount the Curtain Rods

When selecting the right curtain rod, go for one that is a bit wider than the width of your window. This will allow whatever curtains you chose to cover the window at all times. Go for a curtain rod that is between eight and 12 inches wider than your window, as it will give the illusion that your window is larger than it is. This is just one idea for how to make a small room look bigger.

Measure the length of the curtains

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

How to measure for curtains like an interior designer? First of all, bear in mind that you should always take several measurements of the length to allow for flooring that isn’t completely level.

Measure from the top of the rod to three-eighths of an inch (1cm) above the floor for floor-length curtains. Another 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8cm) added to the length will brush the floor, while an extravagant puddle requires adding 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30cm) to the rod to floor distance.

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How Do You Measure A Window For Curtains?

So long as you have a tape measure, this step in the process should be fairly straightforward. Place one end of the tape at the edge of the window’s outer frame, and then measure to the other edge.

Using the inner window frame is not recommended, as this can result in getting curtains that look too thin for the room.

For additional help measuring windows, check out this complete guide.

How Much Wider Should Curtains Be Than the Window: Remember The Rule

Now that you have the dimensions of your window, you can do the math to determine the ideal width of your curtains.

For those curtains you intend to use practically, multiply the width of your window by two or two and a half. Decorative curtains, on the other hand, can be as little as one and a half times the width of your window. Readjust as necessary to achieve the look you want.

2. Apron Length

1″ below the bottom of the window apron. Crisp and unfussy. These aren’t as popular as they used to be, but apron curtain lengths are still acceptable and undeniably practical. Your curtains won’t gather dust and dirt from the floor, and they’ll be easy to open and close.Where to use them: Windows where radiators or furniture would block full-length curtains.Tip: Apron curtain lengths run the risk of looking too short. To ensure they feel like an intentional part of your design, I recommend using them only if something prevents floor-length curtains—such as a window seat.

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Consider that the width of panels may be listed as the flat width or the finished width. Typically, grommet and gathered curtains are listed as flat width. Pleated panels usually are listed as the finished width.

How to Hang Curtains

Hang the curtains using this simple two-step process once you have panels in the correct width and length.

What You Need

  • Curtain rod with brackets
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Wall anchors (optional)

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains Credit: Brie Williams

Tips For Mounting

How you intend to mount your curtains will also have an impact on the width simply because the rod you get must be of complementary length. Make sure you get something wider than your window to accommodate your curtains. You can check out our guide on the different ways to hang curtains for more information.

Of course, knowing where to place your curtain rod has a bit to do with length, as well.

4. Trouser Length

2″ more than the length to the floor. Tailored and sophisticated. Like a good pair of pants, these curtains have a break at just the right place, which makes them look effortlessly chic. This looks especially good with crisp, thicker fabrics.Where to use them: Formal dining room curtains, bedroom curtains, or any room with less foot traffic where you want an elegant look.Tip: Traditionally, you’d mount your curtain rods one to three inches above the top of your window frame. But my favorite trick is to hang your curtain rod higher (a couple inches below the ceiling). It’ll instantly make the room feel taller and grander. You should also hang the rod wider than the window itself, so no fabric blocks the window when the curtains are open. This will let in the maximum amount of light!

Consider curtain length

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

Generally curtains should be floor length or longer for best effect. That’s even the case if they hang behind furniture as they should never look less than generous. Floor-length curtains are often preferred for living rooms, while those that puddle on the floor can be a good complement to a formal dining room, for example, and you might want to choose them for a bedroom, too. If you do want curtains that puddle on the floor, you can add between 1 and up to as much as 12 inches for a truly lavish look. 

Do bear in mind that curtains that puddle on the floor aren’t easy to open and close, so are best for dressing windows rather than creating privacy. They’re more inclined to gather dust, too, so do need more maintenance.

Curtains that finish at the window sill can be appropriate for a kitchen, for instance, where they’ll look awkward in living spaces and bedrooms.

Final Hardware Installation

If you don’t like the look of your curtain rod, there are more appealing hardware options. Decorative curtain rods are an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your window hardware. You can also hide the curtain rod with a DIY window cornice.

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