How to Hang Curtains Like a Pro + 3 Do's & 3 Dont's –

1. Hang them high


Especially in rooms with low ceilings, be sure to hang your curtain rod as high as possible. When your curtains go to the ceiling, this accentuates the height of the room and helps to draw the eye up, creating the illusion of a taller ceiling. Already blessed with high ceilings? In spaces with tall ceilings, a good rule of thumb is either to hang the curtain rod 8 to 12 inches above the window frame, or about halfway between the window frame and the ceiling.

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

Video

3. Hang them in the right length

Choose curtains in a length that will hang either

Choose curtains in a length that will hang either just above the floor, or just touch the floor. You can “puddle” the curtains on the floor for a more luxurious, bohemian look — but never, and we mean never, hang your curtains so they hover more than a couple inches off the floor. Where’s the flood?

DONT hang the brackets right next to the window

I said it once already, but it bears repeating – be sure to hang your curtain rods a good 10-12″ wider than the window itself. This allows the curtains to cover the walls when they’re open and not the window. It creates the illusion that the window is larger than it actually is and it also allows more light to flow into the room!

In a setup like ours in the bedroom, it’s hard to hang the curtains wide (since the windows are right next to the wall), but we did it as wide as we could – and sometimes that’s all you can do!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s chat about how to hang curtains!

This is really a pretty straightforward project – it only took me about half an hour to hang these curtain rods in our bedroom. But, there are a few tips and tricks that’ll make it easier (including a genius template that I love), so let’s dive into those details.

Hanging Curtains with Rings

If you love the look of curtains with rings, there are two ways to achieve the look! One, with drapery hooks. The other with ring clips.

Drapery hooks are little metal pins the slide into the backside of the curtain panels and provide a little hook for the rings to slide into. You can find these at local hardware stores or online. They’re my preferred way to hang curtains with rings.

Ring clips are another way to hang curtains with rings. They are curtain rings with clips pre-installed. The little clips are attached to curtain panels. This will give you a relaxed look. If I am honest with you, I think they look a bit unfinished.

Power Tools for Beginners Series

How to hang pencil pleat curtains?

You’ll hang pencil pleat curtains similarly to hanging pocket style curtains; however, I suggest having someone hold the curtain rod up into place with the rings and drapery attached to determine the *exact* placement of the hardware.

Generally, you want curtains to just barely kiss the floor (be about 1/4″ above the floor). This is very hard to calculate exactly without actually holding the drapery into place. Even if you’ve ordered a specific length, human hands make things, and very slight variances can occur. Better to be sure before drilling into your walls.

With pencil pleat curtains, there is some advantage because the drapery hooks can be adjusted slightly to get the height *just* right.

DIY Ikea Pleated Curtains from Grit & Polish
DIY Ikea Pleated Curtains from Grit & Polish

4 Tips for Hanging Curtains

Hanging curtains can be a relatively straightforward process provided you do some crucial planning ahead of time. Here are a few tips that can help you ultimately achieve the results you want:

  1. 1. Consider the material’s opacity. It’s a good idea to decide whether you want curtains that will black out any and all exterior light in a room (such as with blackout curtains) or just some of the light.
  2. 2. Determine rod placement with care. Rod placement can be the most challenging aspect of hanging curtains for the average DIY designer. You need to place the rod level, plumb, and at the proper height for your curtain to cover the top of the window. Certain curtain designs can change the required height of rod installation. For instance, a curtain with a rod pocket requires a lower installation than a curtain that will hang from curtain rings. Being off by even an inch could create a gap that allows light to pour into the room above the panels.
  3. 3. Ensure adequate fabric drape. The curtain length and width should adequately cover every side of your window, although there are different types of curtains and styles. When you’re taking measurements, keep in mind that you will want enough extra fabric to allow for some gathering. Long curtains should exceed the dimensions of the trim but not drag on the floor. Buying curtains that are too narrow or too short can be a frustrating and costly mistake.
  4. 4. Measure precisely for roman shades. Unlike traditional hanging curtains, roman shades—which you raise or lower vertically—consist of fabric cut to fit a window’s exact dimensions. For roman shades that hang inside the window trim in pleat folds, you can match the interior dimensions of the trim.

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3 CURTAIN HANGING MISTAKES TO AVOID

Now that you have all of the Do’s for choosing the perfect curtains for your room, review these Don’ts before buying those clearance curtains from TJMaxx. You’ll save at least $30 a window in mistakes, which adds up to at least half of the amount you should be spending on properly fitted curtains.

1. AVOID TOO SHORT CURTAINS

The most obvious mistake when it comes to curtains is buying curtain panels that are too short. This is the 84″ panel. DO NOT BUY IT. EVER. (Unless you live in a hobbit house).

The 84″ curtains will float almost a foot above the floor looking awkward and leaving a huge gap. You’ll wonder why the room looks off and until you pinpoint it, it can throw a perfectly styled room into a disaster.

But you won’t make that mistake, because I’ve already made it for you. Go for the 96″ or 108″ length since you have already measured the window height including the rod.

DO: Round up to the closest length. The curtain panel should slightly “kiss” the floor or puddle for a dramatic look. It should not float more than 1/2″ off of the floor. If it’s floating any more, the panel is too short.

2. BUY ENOUGH PANELS

How many panels do you need? This depends on whether you want to be able to close the curtains or they are purely decorative.

A standard curtain panel is 50″-54″. If you want to close the curtains you will need to cover 2x the width of the window. You will likely need more than 2 panels for each window.

If you want a fuller, formal look, you will want to add additional panels as well. If your only goal is to flank the window, one panel on each side should be fine so long as the scale of the room is moderate.

DO: Buy at least two panels per window. Buy more panels for a wider window or wall of windows. Formal = more.

DO: Remember to hang them outside the window molding to accentuate your window. Extend your rod anywhere from 6″ to 12″ beyond the window frame on each side.

3. DON’T HANG THE HARDWARE TOO LOW

Hanging the curtain rod too close to the top of the window will make the room look squatty.

Bringing the hardware up 10 inches makes the window look taller, the ceilings looks higher and maximizes light flow into the room.

DO: Hang the curtain rod 2″-4″ below crown molding or ceiling. For rooms with high ceilings, hang them 10″ above the top of the frame.

Finally, as promised, I have this awesome PDF printable worksheet to help you measure your windows for proper window treatment ordering.

FREE PRINTABLE WORKSHEET: HOW TO HANG CURTAINS + MEASUREMENTS

You are now a curtain hanging pro. You’re armed with all of the right tools to pick the perfect curtains for any room in your house and hang them with confidence knowing that your curtains will look like a professional installed them. Happy Hanging!!

What is the Proper Length for Curtains

Interior designers note the bottom of your curtains should fall to the floor, and you can even let them “puddle” a bit. However, if you don’t want your curtains to drag on the floor when you open and close them, let them stop about an inch from the floor, but no more. If they do puddle at the floor, you can wash your curtains as needed.

When it comes to the width, your curtains should be at least two times the width of the window.

Width Considerations

Use these tricks to make the drapes a standard width and to create the illusion of wider windows:

  • The standard distance from the window casing to the end of the curtain rod (excluding finials) on each side of the window should be four to 10 inches.
  • As a general rule, drapes will be open during the day, so make sure the curtain rod extends at least four inches on each side of the window’s inside frame.
  • To create the illusion of a wider window, extend the rod up to 10 inches beyond the window's frame.

Illustration: The Spruce / Emily Mendoza

Drapery Hardware

Drapery hardware is often the last step to pull the room together and allows you to complement the style of the room.

  • Curtain rods and finials should complement the drapery fabric. Heavier fabrics such as velvets and chenilles should be on large, somewhat decorative rods, while light cotton and sheer fabric can be mounted on lightweight, daintier rods.
  • The hardware should also complement the rest of the room. For instance, if you’ve got Lucite lamps or chairs, a Lucite drapery rod might work. If you have oil-rubbed bronze hardware in the rest of the room, a similar curtain rod may be the best choice.
  • Consider the finials at each end of the curtain rod. Finials are decorative accents that can have a surprisingly big impact on a room. If the finials are particularly large, take their size into account when determining placement.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

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