Today, I'm sharing how to hang curtains properly. We'll discuss the do's and don'ts of hanging curtains and how avoiding some common mistakes can make your windows and your room look bigger and more put together. We'll look at how a room's purpose affects your curtain choices, which style of curtain pole is best for your room, how high and wide to hang your curtains and more!
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Don't forget to download the 'Curtain Design Guide' at the end of this post and pin this tutorial for later.
This post 'how to hang curtains properly' was inspired by one of my readers who answered my intake question when she signed up for my newsletter. Here's what she said: “ I hate hanging curtains, I can never seem to get it right. The room always looks 'off' when I've hung them and I have no idea why!”
I realise hanging curtains can be intimidating if you've never done it before but once you've read this post, you'll never be intimidated by it again. By the time we've finished, you will have learned, everything you need to know about hanging curtains properly.
This week I hung some linen curtains in the room that is my multi-purpose room makeover project. It didn't take me very long because I had already done all of the prep work in advance. I'm thrilled with the way the curtains have given this room a more finished and softer look and even managed to make the room look bigger than it is so that's a winner for me!
I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to document my process and pass it on to you.
I installed these curtains with a specific purpose in mind – to act as a light diffuser for my photoshoots.
How to hang curtains properly
The first thing you need to do, to hang curtains properly is to take measurements.
How to measure for curtains
Take measurements of:
a) Floor to ceiling
b) Window width
What is the proper height to hang curtains?
Curtain poles should be hung as close to the ceiling as possible or just below the crown moulding.
Where should curtain rod brackets be placed?
The curtain pole should extend at least 20cms beyond the edge of the window on each side. If you have a dormer room like mine, attach the curtain pole as far up to the ceiling as you can, still allowing for extra room to extend out at the side.
My room has a slanted ceiling on one side so I need to consider this when I'm measuring. Luckily, there will be 20cms on each side of the window for my curtain pole.
Should curtains touch the floor?
When hanging curtains, there are several lengths to chose from.
Here the curtains are left 4-8inches longer than the rod to floor-length so that they 'puddle' onto the floor. If you have pets that shed hair, I wouldn't recommend this option, the hair will get caught up in the puddle of curtain fabric.
Floor to ceiling
The curtains just brush the floor when they are hung – my favourite.
Read the post 'How to shorten curtains with a sewing machine' if you're looking for a beginner tutorial for hemming curtains.
Curtain lengths to avoid
The same length as or just below your window.
Curtains will never enhance windows or a room if you hang them so that they just come to the bottom of your window. This is an absolute no-no unless there is a counter beneath them but in that case, I would probably choose a Roman blind instead.
More than ½ an inch (2.5cm) off the floor.
This brings me back to my lovely reader's question and I'm wondering if this is the mistake she made. There is nothing that will give you the feeling that something is 'off' in a room more than curtains that are 'floating' at a strange length.
By 'strange length' I mean, a few inches off the ground or halfway between the floor and the bottom of the window.
The curtains in our lounge make a small 'puddle' on the floor. The curtains in our bedrooms 'kiss' the floor.
I want the curtains in my multi-purpose room to sit just slightly above the floor – almost touching but not quite.
How wide should my curtains be?
There is nothing worse than seeing curtains that are completely flat when they are closed. Worse still are curtains that do not quite fit across the entire window when closed.
To make sure your curtains still look lovely and full when they are closed, you need to make sure that each panel is at least two to two and a half times the width of the window.
The curtains in my multifunctional room are going to stay open for the most part because I also have vertical blinds. I'm only going to be closing the curtains if I need to diffuse the light for photography. In this case, it's OK if the curtain panels are not double the width of the window.
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How to hang curtains properly - style guide
Now that we've got the measurements sorted out, let's figure out how to choose our curtain poles and curtains.
Before you rush off and get your curtain poles and curtains, take a minute to think about the room and how it will be used.
The right curtains
When we lived in London, we had no shutters on our windows to keep out the light as is standard here in Germany. If you've ever tried putting little ones to bed in summer when it's still light at 9pm you'll know what I mean when I say, it's nigh on impossible to get them to settle.
Luckily, we had a fantastic fabric warehouse in our neighbourhood where you could also get curtains made. We solved our problem by having blackout linings made for the curtains in our son's room. As soon as they were closed, it was nighttime as far as he was concerned and it was a Godsend for us parents! No more waking up at the crack of dawn!
I already have Venetian blinds installed in my multi-purpose room but I'd like to hang some sheer curtains too. I'm planning on using this room for photography and I've noticed that the light coming through the blinds can be harsh at certain times of the day even when I angle the blinds upwards. Installing sheer white curtain panels should help to diffuse the light and make it softer.
You may not need to consider any of the above scenarios but taking the time to think through how you will use the room will help you avoid mistakes down the road.
Shop linen curtains
Here are some of my favourite linen curtains around the web right now. Click an image to see the details.
Hang curtains properly with the right curtain pole
The type of curtain pole you buy shouldn't just come down to price. You need to think about the style of your room and what 'vibe' you are trying to achieve.
Farmhouse style can mean buying wooden curtain poles in black, natural wood or white. Black metal also fits this style well. Ornate finials could be added to the end of the curtain poles to complement the Farmhouse Style.
Modern sleek room designs may benefit from curtain tracks or slim minimalist curtain poles in white or soft brushed metals.
My multi-purpose room is quite modern so I'm going for the minimalist look. I also need to consider the slanted roof and larger finials would take up too much precious space. I have chosen sleek curtain poles in white/aluminium. The finials are quite small, unobtrusive and take up little space.
Hang curtains properly with the right hardware
If your window is very wide, always try to buy curtain poles in one length and avoid poles with extensions if possible. Extensions for larger windows may mean that the curtain rod dips in the middle once your curtains are up. For smaller windows, extendable curtain rods will be fine.
If you can't avoid curtain poles with extensions, try to find one with an extra pole holder for the middle of the pole for extra support. Good quality curtain poles will already have these included if the poles are over a certain length but if they don't, it would be worth buying one extra.
Shop curtain rods
Here are some of my favourite curtain rod designs, around the web right now. Click an image to see the details.
Free Design Woksheet - Curtains
Now you know how to hang curtains properly but you need to keep this information tucked away somewhere for future reference. Otherwise, if you're anything like me, when you get around to doing this yourself you'll be thinking, "Now where did I read that awesome curtain hanging tutorial?" Before that happens, make sure to save and download my super handy design sheets.
I recommend buying a binder where you can add all your style guides and 'how-to' sheets for future reference. It will be more useful than you can ever know – trust me!
If you already subscribe to our newsletter, you can download this worksheet from the library. If you're not a subscriber but would like the worksheet, you can sign up for the newsletter below. The password to the library is at the end of every newsletter I send out.
Save it for later!
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Before you go, if you’re not part of our amazing creative community yet but would love to join us, you can sign up for the weekly newsletter through the form below – we’d love to have you on board. By signing up, you’ll also receive a copy of the free ‘Furniture Flip Checklist’ and gain to access to all the other printables, e-books and labels in the VIP Resource Library.
Carol Karl says
Great information in this post. Thank you for sharing it. I always struggle getting the length exactly right - they always seem to be either a little too short or a little too long.
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks, Carol! I know what you mean, my husband wanted to hang ours lower down towards the window. I had to sketch it out so that he could see the difference - he was amazed!
Great tips! This post is sure to help so many with curtain hanging. It's hard to get curtains to look just right and your tips will help anyone master that skill.
Jayne Westerholt says
Thank you so much, Paula!
I'm a huge curtain fan. I make new ones for every season and knowing how to hang them properly is so important. Great tips!!
Jayne Westerholt says
Wow, Kim! You make a lot of curtains! I love curtains too but I'm not sure I'd fancy making new ones each season. You must be an expert at it by now!
This is really helpful! The illustration is a great visual to show how much better the right way looks!
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks, Marie! I drew the illustration for my husband because he didn't get it at first, but he understood as soon as he saw it!
Great Post! I love a puddle, it makes all the difference in the world!
Jayne Westerholt says
Thanks, Melba! Yes, a puddle does look great!
Linda Johnston says
Good advice. brouught back memories when I sold drapery when I worked in Penney's during college.
Jayne Westerholt says
Ah, the good ole days!