Image: New Africa /

Window Treatments 101: How to Properly Hang Curtains

by Jody Scully
4 min. read

One of the most common design mistakes (apart from carpets that are way too small) is improperly-hung curtains. With so many different types of window coverings and so many different types of windows, it’s no wonder questions pop up when it comes to hanging window treatments.

If you’ve ever wondered how far above the window your curtains should be or what to do with a difficult-to-cover window, read on! Here are the answers to the top seven window treatment questions:

1. How High Should the Curtain Rod Be?

So often, you see curtain rods sitting directly on top of the window frame. But if you give your windows some breathing room, you’ll make both the window and the room look bigger. To create the illusion of height, your curtain rod should be a minimum of 4-6” above the window frame. If you have a lot of space to work with, the rod should sit half to two-thirds of the way between the frame and ceiling.

2. What is the Correct Length for Curtains?

Unless there are obstacles under your window, curtains should be floor length. Just how far above the floor varies depending on your style and commitment levels. For a simple, straightforward look, float your curtain an inch (or less) off the floor. For a more professional look, have your curtains just skim the floor. This can be tricky to achieve since you have to be extremely accurate with your measurements. For a formal or romantic space, let the material gather and pool on the floor.

3. How Wide Should Curtains Be?

The secret to full and voluminous curtains is to ensure the panels are actually wider than your windows. You want curtains and drapes to have folds when they’re closed and not lay flat and look stretched. To achieve this, measure the width of your window and add 12” (to account for rod overhang). Your curtains or drapes should be 2 to 3 times this width.

To achieve the right look and allow maximum light flow, your curtain rod should extend at least 6-10″ on either side of the window frame. This will let the curtains open fully and not block the view.

4. Do I Need Hooks to Hang Curtains?

Just as there are many different types of curtains, there are many different ways to hang them. Most formal drapes use traditional hooks, and some higher-end curtains require curtain rings with clips. But these days, many curtains have tabs, grommets or panels built-in for easy hanging.

Just make sure your curtain rod is the right diameter for the hanging mechanism. A thick curtain rod is best for grommet or tab curtains, while a thin rod works well for rod pocket and curtain clips.

5. How Do I Cover an Arched Window?

While arched windows are a beautiful architectural feature, they can be challenging to deal with when it comes to window treatments. In an ideal situation, you have enough room to hang curtains above and outside the window so that the entire window, including the arch, is covered when the curtains are closed.

If your arched window doesn’t have a lot of clearance around it (which is often the case), custom-made roman blinds with an arched top are a very attractive solution. Custom shutters with an arched top are also an option and will provide a clean, minimal look.

6. How Do I Cover Hard-to-Reach Windows?

If you have high ceilings or windows in out-of-reach areas and want the window coverings to be operational, you don’t have many choices. You can install shutters and set the louvers to an optimal angle. But that means you won’t be able to adjust them in the future easily.

Good thing that technology has given us the answer to this pesky problem. Motorized shades and blinds are the perfect solutions for those hard-to-reach windows.

7. How Do I Increase Privacy but Still Let Light In?

For windows that face a busy street or look into neighboring windows, privacy can be a real concern. You don’t want to keep the blinds or curtains shut all day and limit the natural light indoors. But you also want to avoid prying eyes.

Sheers are easy and low-cost solutions that allow maximum light filtration while still adding privacy. Alternatively, top-down shades lower from the top so you can let light in above eye level and still have full privacy.

Don’t let these common window covering conundrums keep you from having beautiful windows! Try out some of the tips provided in this article and let us know how it goes.

You may also like