A pretty room with poorly hung curtains is like a beautiful, pulled-together lady wearing way ‘too-small pants’. It cheapens everything else, stands out in a jarring way, and just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. A few years back we decided to combat the problem by going through some of the biggest mistakes people make when buying and hanging curtains and with many a homeowner (and disgruntled curtain) in need we figured it was time to update the post with some new tips, as well as pull together some of our ready-made favorites in a massive roundup.
In case you missed the other design mistakes: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood Finishes | How To Hang Curtains | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | Who Pays For Design Mistakes | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them | When to Hire vs. DIY
So, let’s start with the curtains mistakes.
I used to do this, I hung my rod just slightly above my window frame mostly because I would buy the wrong length of curtain then as I was trying to avoid the too-short curtain (see below) I was forced to hang it lower. Now, it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be 20″ above your window, literally just under the ceiling, but go at least 1/2-2/3 the distance towards the top to help your ceilings look as high as possible. It’s not just the better way to hang your curtains but at this point we have a ‘cultural height’ of where your curtain rod line should be, the height where we as a collective people are used to seeing it, and if you get too close to the window sill, and if you have a lot of space to play with, it just stands out in your room. Lift the rod, which lifts the eye which makes your ceilings look higher and your space bigger.
What I do love, however, is how that white pillow is styled on that chair in the above/right shot. It’s all WHUT, I’m not just a pillow, I’m a diamond. And I get ladies.
Meanwhile, the most common curtain mistake is just painful to look at – the ‘too short’ curtain. The waiting for a flood curtain. It does EXACTLY what pants that are too short do – it cuts off your room (leg) in a really jarring way, making it look feel short/stubby and awkward. You have three other options – all good/legal ones to avoid this look:
1. The slight float – Less than an inch above the floor. If you want to hang your curtains without any break at all, so they hang totally straight then the float is the best option for you. It doesn’t touch the floor, but only just barely.
2. The kiss – It barely touches the floor. This is the hardest one to pull off as you need to measure SUPER accurately from the rod (and making sure to include in your measurements the rings/clips or s hooks). It is my favorite as it looks the most custom and intentional, but it is the hardest to accomplish. There is often a tiny break/bend in the curtain when it’s open that I’m totally ok with.
3. The puddle – Where it does just that, it puddles all over the floor. This is best for you romantics out there, or for those looking for a more feminine, old-world, European feel. Marie Antoinette puddled hard all over that villa, dripping with her cakes and sapphires. We just installed a couple of puddles in a baby girl’s ultra-feminine nursery and it looks BEAUTIFUL. It’s especially a good idea if/when your fabric is really high quality – either washed linen or velvet, because the more it puddles the more you can see the beautiful texture of the fabric that you probably splurged on. It should be thick and grand, not dinky little cotton curtains that will simply look accidental and way too long.
Another common mistake is not having the rod wide enough, on both sides of the window, so that your curtains are forced to be hanging partially in your window, blocking light and making the window look smaller (thus making your room feel smaller). Extend the rod at least 6-10″ on either side of the window frame (if you have the space) so that when the curtains are pushed totally open you can see almost all of the window.
The height above your sill can be similar to the space on either side of the window sill – lift and widen where you put the rod so that the window frame feels as big as possible and allows for as much light in as possible. Remember natural light is your best accessory, so let it…shine…
If you have a big window make sure to have double-wide panels on both sides of the frame. Say your window is 100″ wide and your panels are 54″ wide (standard), then SURE when they are closed they will technically block the light, but they will be taught and won’t have any softness in them. Additionally, when the curtains are open they will look really dinky and disproportionate to your grand window. You may have to buy four panels (2 on each side), we do that often. You can either have your tailor/dry cleaner sew them together OR just hang them as-is and often you can’t see the break because now they are so full and billowy.
Now with all that said, you may be asking your self how do I not be the girl wearing the too-small pants? With the help of illustrator Jonna Isaac, we have created this handy guide to hanging your curtains the very best way possible. You may have to invest in longer curtains or even more panels if you have a larger window, but otherwise hanging a curtain the right way actually costs the same as the wrong way. So please, follow this guide and save everyone the discomfort of the ‘too short’, ‘too low’, ‘too thin’ and ‘too narrow’ curtain.
But where do we buy these?
Well, we’ve pulled together a roundup of our favorite readymade long curtains for you. There are very few houses that only need 84″ high curtains. It’s like the housing and curtain industries had lunch, got drunk and one of them said ‘we’ll make the standard height of newly installed windows around 6′ or 7′ high so you just go ahead and only manufacture curtains around 84″ high and they’ll all buy it and we’ll all become millionaires’. But 84″ is almost always not long enough. Annoyingly 95″ can often be too long if you have 8′ ceilings but it’s better to buy the 95″ and have them hemmed to around 90″ (which is what we usually do in that case) than to go for the 84″. Of course, I’m hoping that the heads of the world’s curtain senate are reading this post and will start implementing change, making a 90″ length as a standard size. And if you still make 72″ long curtains, go ahead and press pause on that mission. It’s a failed one and you are doing more harm to society than good.
On to my favorite long/affordable/readymade curtain options (in a variety of styles to satisfy many of you) that will hopefully solve all your problems.
1. Ivory Embroidered Adara Sleeve Top Curtains Set Of 2 | 2. Natural Tan Basketweave Panel | 3. Priya Tab Top Light Filtering Window Curtain Panel | 4. Pinstripe White/Black Curtain| 5. Suzette Velvet Solid Semi-Sheer Tab Top Single Curtain Panel | 6. Alix Peekaboo Knotted Window Panel | 7. Exclusive Fabrics Heritage Plush Velvet Sing Curtain (1 Panel) | 8. Limu-Limu Leaf Jacquard Light Filtering Curtain Panel Gray | 9. Chambray Stripe Curtain Panel Faded Blue | 10. Kira Herringbone Absolute Zero Blackout Window Panel | 11. Blackout Curtain | 12. Brighton Windowpane Plaid Blackout Window Curtain Panel | 13. Preston Plaid Faux Leather Tab Top Room Darkening Curtain Panel | 14. Crushed Velvet Window Curtain | 15. Belgian Flax Linen Curtain, Ebony 50 x 96″ | 16. Linen Embroidery Tassel Window Curtain Panels | 17. Crushed Texture Anti-Dust Solid Sheer Rod Pocket Single Curtain Panel | 18. WONTEX Blackout Curtains
A lot of those are sold per panel so just make sure that you buy at least two if you need.
For those of you who don’t mind spending more here is a roundup of our favorite ready-made curtains over $50.
1. 2 Pack Velvet Curtain Panels | 2. Thea Print Linen/Cotton Rod Pocket Curtain | 3. 2 Pack Blackout Curtains | 4. 2 Pack Linen Blend Curtains | 5. Velvet Curtain Panel | 6. Seda Chai Team Dupioni Silk Curtain | 7. Velvet Louise Curtain | 8. Organic Cotton Double Weave Quiet Grey Sheer Curtain Panel | 9. Mali Silk Viscose Curtain Panel | 10. Emery Linen Pinched Pleat Curtain | 11. Viscose Dark Grey Panel | 12. Maiko Jacquard-Woven Curtain | 13. Noelle Curtain |14. Textured Upholstery Velvet Curtain, Golden Oak, 48″x84″ | 15. White And Tan Diamond Cotton Sleeve Top Curtains Set Of 2 | 16. Custom Size Solid European Flax Linen Curtain with Blackout Lining | 17. Arches Cotton Sleeve Top Curtains Set Of 2 | 18. Antique Stripe Print Linen/Cotton Rod Pocket Curtain
There needs to be a whole rod/ring conversation but I’ll just say this right now – when in doubt go simple (white, black, brass or silver), stay away from crazy curly wrought iron stuff unless you live in a Scottish Castle (or an old Hollywood home) and fancy finials are only your friend if the style of your house can handle it.
In case you missed any of our posts from our Design Mistakes Series/PSA’s, check them out here: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood Finishes | How To Hang Curtains | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | Who Pays For Design Mistakes | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them | When to Hire vs. DIY
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp |From: Portland Project Primary Bedroom
Your best series ever! Such great advice and definitely what your blog should be all about!
This guide is perfect – just what I need right now as we are finishing up our baby’s nursery. Thanks for pulling all this together!
It’s taken me years to finally hang curtains correctly. I have so many holes above my windows but I finally have a wonderful float happening in my house now. The worst part is when you do everything right and then your rods aren’t level, oohhhh the insanity!! This is a great post.
I struggle to deal with the horizontal short windows in our mid century ranch house. I am sure that Roman shades or something along those lines would look good… Cafe curtains are not really my jam. The two rooms that I have this issue with the one window in the room is also off centered. Can I do long curtains? How do I make these windows look good?
I would ask the same question. Emily what are our options here?
yes! This is my question as well. We have the horizontal short mid-century windows in all of our bedrooms. I just hung long curtains, high and wide, like I would (per your instructions) anywhere else, but they look so heavy against the windows.
I was planning to hem them shorter to see how that would look, but I am a little scared cause you can’t really go back once that is done.
I was thinking that maybe blinds are the way to go, but I need blackout for the bedrooms and blinds are never as good as the curtains.
What are your thoughts?? PLEASE, PLEASE.
Maegan, For 17 years, I had short windows in all bedrooms. I hung our curtains, high & wide, and then used shades (matchstick, bamboo, rice paper, fabric) to create the illusion of a taller window. You hang shade as an “outside mount” with the top of shade, level with the curtain rod. I once used two shades on a window: A matchstick blind with a (white) “black-out” liner, behind it–the 2 shades worked independently. It worked. Sometimes, placing furniture beneath a short window or between windows helped with balance. (Way back, I used a valance/cornice/pelmet between ceiling & top of the window.) Hope this helps!
Oh I’m having SUCH a hard time adusting to the ‘new’ height of drapery hardware! I ALWAYS did thin, plain, matte black rods I thought I’d go out on a limb and get thicker (3/4″) rods in brushed steel – because I’m all open concept, into the kitchen with s/s appliances. I never went too low but everyone says go WAY up! Really? Is it too far?
Also curious about this.
Ditto — would LOVE to hear your take on this. In two of our bedrooms we have one long, short window and one narrow, tall window. Floor length look fine on the tall window but weird on the short one since there’s so much wall visible underneath — but I think curtains of differing lengths would look just as odd!
Good question. Add me to the list of people with this same dilemma!
I had the same question! Mid-century house with long windows But short from top to bottom.
Me, too! Me, too!!!!!
Yes! I have this same question about our mid-century home — those awkward window sizes. Emily, please help us!
I also would like to see a post with pictures for short mid-century windows. We just bought a house with this set-up and I’ve been debating what to do. Especially in situations where we will need to place furniture beneath the windows. I’m afraid “high and wide” will look weird tucked behind a dresser. Help Please!
Add me to the Midcentury short-but-wide window dilemma. We have them in our bedrooms, kitchen and dining room.
Yes! I have some windows that are like 6-8 feet wide, but only like 3 feet tall, higher up on the wall. Seriously confusing but I love the look of curtains. Help us, Emily!
This is so helpful! Just moved into our new home and am in process of hanging curtains in my daughter’s nursery as we speak. Now I know how to do it right… I do have one more question for you – curtain RODS! The ones installed by previous homeowner’s are so flimsy (and ugly) and ready to fall down. I’d like to invest in new ones but I also don’t want to break the bank. Any recs on ready-made rods that you think are good quality? Thanks!
My advice would be to invest in good rods. The best you can afford. In my case (I don’t have a million dollars to spend), I have purchased most of mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond. You can get very nice, simple ones, and if you use the 20% coupon, the price is not too bad.
I have also purchased a few at West Elm on sale (which made the price not too bad). The quality is VERY good.
For a budget option, IKEA has basic rods in black, white, or silver. We got the thicker sized rods and they look good. We also used their curtain rings, which made a big difference in how the curtains hang.
These rods are FANTASTIC and very reasonably priced. I’ve bought curtain rods from a host of places for 5 houses over the last 15 years, and these are by far the best I’ve found. Their extra-long rod is outstanding – very sturdy and doesn’t have the smaller insert piece in the middle that’s a different size from the rest of the rod. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9QCX9N?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details
Thank you! I have had such issues finding affordable long curtain rods !
Ikea has one set of curtains (the RITVA) that is 30$ for 2 panels, which, at 15$/panel, is about as cheap as you’re gonna get.
Tip: their offered colours are, shall we say, limited. Get the white ones. They’re 100% cotton and respond really well to RIT dye. 15$ curtain panel + 3$ dye packet = super-cheap blush pink curtains, which is what we currently have in my daughter’s room.
Other tip: 15$ curtain panel + 10$ of edging ribbon + a half-hour either sewing or iron-gluing it on = black-edged curtains for the dining room.
Final tip: when hemming them, seriously, spend the extra time to either put curtain weights or pennies into the bottom seam. The extra weight helps them hang and swing well, and the fall of the fabric looks so much better.
We have these everywhere in our house and have customized each for the room they are in. Such a great buy!
Ros, I would love to follow your tip and add edging ribbon. Can you share where you’ve bought your’s? Thanks so much!
Emily- any recommendations on where to purchase simple but “nice” curtain rods? The selection at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, etc. leaves me wanting.
Lisa–I liked this rod at Home Depot (I just looked at it about an hour ago) http://www.homedepot.com/p/Home-Decorators-Collection-66-in-120-in-Telescoping-3-4-in-Curtain-Rod-Kit-in-Brushed-Nickel-with-Modern-Cylinder-Finial-DHU-BN66120MD020/203717552 Also, Emily linked some curtain rods from World Market in the post on the E-design winner (and they’re on sale right now with free shipping).
I’ve bought mine at Home Depot. Stylish and very sturdy at an ok price!
Also look at Home Goods, Ross, TJ Maxx, etc….
Agreed!! I would also like to know what kind of curtain rods to use when you have a mid-century ranch with 4 ganged windows that add up to 16′ wide. Every time you add a rod support, it blocks your ability to pull curtains across and I keep reading that 6′ or so is max unsupported.
I commented above, but THESE: . https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9QCX9N?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details
Fantastic quality, especially for the price. Definitely the nicest rods I’ve ever bought!
Love this post! Thank you!!
I love the look and style of the long floor length panels, but my HVAC ducts are right below almost every window throughout my mid-century house. So when the curtains are closed it blocks the AC/ heat. Any advice?
I have the same problem! Radiators under most of the windows in my home so I don’t want to block the heat with long curtains!
I have this same issue — every room in my house has a radiator underneath a window. And the other windows in the room don’t. Which means that at least on the radiator window you can’t have the curtains floor length. So do you have them all match at the same height? Or differently in different windows depending on what is below?
YES!!! I’m in a house where all my HVAC vents are next to the windows. PLUS, I have a cat who will pee on any fabric that’s on the ground, sigh. Right now my living room has the rod up at the ceiling and the draperies end just past the windows, about 8″ from the floor. I’m wondering if I’d actually be better with draperies that truly just cover the windows – maybe a couple inches above and a couple inches below.
I love your help on curtains! I have used your old post on it so many times…
Unfortunately, it doesn’t address the problem I’m having in my house in almost every room. I have enormous windows which I love, there’s room above the windows for me to place the curtain rod where needs to be, I can leave room on each side for the curtains, but in one window in every room, there is a steam radiator in a box underneath the window. During the summer, I can totally use long curtains, since I won’t be using the radiator, but during the winter I can’t use my black out curtains for fear that the steam will discolor them and that the hot air will not enter the room. So far that means that during the winter I use shorter curtains that hang to the top of the radiator box. But that is so ugly! Help help help!
I do not have radiators so I may be missing something important…. but how about a double rod (you can get these anywhere, even Lowe’s) with a shorter blackout curtain on the back rod and longer panels on the front rod. Then, the short black out curtains could be hidden behind the longer ones. But when it’s time for lights out, you could pull the black outs and block the light without interfering with the radiator. I have a double rod system with sheets hanging in back and side panels on the front rod. I think this system could really work for you!
That’s sheers, not sheets!
I prefer bamboo shades and curtain panels on each side. Nice and full, but non functioning. Doesn’t help the cost, but does beat the radiator situation and can work for some baseboard s.
This isn’t fancy, but put a throw pillow on the ground near the vent to push the curtains to the wall.
I suffer from the “too narrow” curtain in my living room. In my defence, I recently moved on my own and I had to buy a lot of stuff, so I couldn’t afford tailor-made curtains.
Any suggestions for how to handle a really asymmetrical window placement? I have a wonderful, huge group of three windows in my living room – they’re grouped together into a single large opening, so they definitely want to be treated like one big window with a single curtain rod across the soffit above. The tough part is that there’s about 2′ of wall on the left side, and absolutely no wall on the right – the window opening goes right to the corner, so any curtain panels that get pushed to the right are going to block a big chunk of window. Is it too weird to run the curtain rod all the way across the entire wall, and push all the panels (white sheers) to the left side so only a couple inches of window get covered? Or should I put one or two panels on the right to balance it out (even though it’s really obvious they’re covering a window)?
Great post! Thank you! I showed my husband (who just hung our master bedroom curtains this weekend) and he said, “I think ours are tonguing the floor.”
This is hilarious, exactly what my husband would say as well! 🙂
Thank you thank you thank you! All this work is hugely appreciated by this reader! We just bought a house and it is overwhelming! I know rods merit a separate discussion but could you maybe just give a favorite source for buying them?! I need something to hang the curtains I am about to purchase from 🙂 thinking 9 and/or 13 might make it into my house!
Love this series so so much. This one especially came at a great time, since I’m pretty sure I made all of these mistakes when we first moved in. Now that I’ve lived with them a while, I see the error of my ways, and as I’m painting a few rooms, I can take the rods down and fix my mistakes! Thank you.
I have been waiting/requesting this post! Thank you!!!!!!!! Now let’s talk about pinch pleat like in the first photo! Maybe inexpensive sources or even diy! Also to clip or not to clip pinch pleat (below the rod).
Perfect timing as I’m just about to hang bedroom curtains and wasn’t sure about how high to put curtain rod. This is one great post.
What do you do when you have baseboard heaters? We don’t have curtains at all because I don’t know what to do!
This is my question too. The house came with short-ish curtains (a few inches below the window), which doesn’t look terrible, but….
Me three! Do baseboard heaters mean you are stuck with roman shades??
For all those of us who don’t enjoy LA weather all year, please let us know your thoughts… (Emily and team) I do not have one window in my house without baseboard heaters below it, and they get hot! not even sure, really how to buy or style Roman shades, so instead we just live in a fishbowl… Please help!
I also have baseboard heaters under all of my windows. The windows are short windows too! If you hang the curtains so they “float” on top of the baseboard heater, like you would on the floor, then the curtain itself holds in the heat and doesn’t let it heat up the room. As far as I can figure out, you have no choice but to have them fall just past the window sill so the heater can do its job. Emily, do you have any suggestions? Maybe you can post pictures of what you have done in this situation?
I have exactly the same problem with heaters below the windowsill and if I have long curtains drawn and the heating on I end up heating the window and not the room! Would be interested in hearing of suggestions to resolve this!
This is me going three years. PLUS- we had beautiful new mullioned windows put in and I have NO Idea how to cover them. Luckily our privacy trees are growing fast, but would love some ideas for a covering solution!
Karen – I have had good luck with plain silhouette honeycomb blinds from blinds.com. We don’t have any curtains on our windows – in our living room and master bedroom we have fancier custom shades because they are at the front of our house, but in the back we have simple blinds. The windows are pretty and I don’t like to cover them up, so the honeycomb blinds work well for privacy and to block the sun.
My husband is very handy so he installed them, but you can have someone install them if necessary!
Nope? No help for those of us cursed with baseboard heaters? Any solutions from the peanut gallery?
In my last apt I just bought curtains I liked (which were hella long), but I was too terrified to hem them because they cost bills and I might move in 8 months to a place that would be able to use a reasonable length. So instead of anything decent looking, I safety pinned each corner around 2ft down from the top of the curtain, creating a weird bubble-skirt situation.
Three years later, I finally moved, and yes, baseboard heaters everywhere, especially under windows. I give up. 🙁
I purchased heater diverters to put over my heaters so it wouldn’t blow up the back of all my curtains. found this post because I have ranch windows too. got the diverters at home depot. poorly made diverter so had to duct tape them as the magnets fell off. not pretty. maybe will permanently super glue them on. still working on a solution
Hi! What are diverters? I did a search on the Home Depot web site and couldn’t find anything. Thanks!
Hi fellow baseboard heat sufferers. The diverters are technically called, “magnetic vent covers”. I found them after a 3 year struggle with tacky high water drapes. Any hardware store should know that term. When I asked for them the clerk knew exactly what I meant and chuckled like, all roads lead to vent covers. When my husband saw them his response was ” this is not going to work. I am not getting involved”. They are strange and plastic but thankfully clear. The shield pushes the heat out of the very bottom and protects the drapes from getting burnt or blown about.
I’ve had baseboard heat in every house I’ve ever owned, and finally came to the conclusion that I was going to have my curtains “kiss” the floor regardless. I very rarely close them, and I don’t think that covering a couple of feet of a long baseboard heater with curtains makes a big difference in how well they heat. My husband was initially concerned about fire risk, but I extended the mount for the curtain rods as far off the wall as it can go, and it seems to hold the curtains far enough out that they’re not tangled in the baseboards. I’d probably feel differently if I kept the curtains closed all the time, though.
I second this! I’ve put the curtains floating above the baseboard but HATE IT!!!
We live in MN and we ended up adding 2 inch faux wood blinds to all of our windows so we can have privacy at night, and the curtain panels on each side just stay where they are as decoration. The look of the blinds works because we have a small cottage and all of our trim is white too. However,my parent’s house across the street we had no choice but to buy shorter curtain panels because their heat source runs the full length of the window wall, they are elderly and need heat. In their dining room, we had to just use blinds in the windows and no curtains at all because the baseboard heat runs the full length of each wall. I sure would love the team to chime in and tell us what would be better.
Any tips/resources for finding curtains that are even longer than 96″? We live in a 113-year old house with huge windows and high ceilings (11 feet). We love how open the house feels, but have pretty much struck out everywhere on finding panels long and/or wide enough. I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re just going to be stuck with having to pay for custom, but I’d love to hear any thoughts you have! 🙂
Sarah@802 Park Project: It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I noticed that Restoration Hardware seems to have a lot of extra-long options — just double-checked and, yep, 108″ and 120″ long options. Pricey, but beautiful, and, if you can do it, hopefully you’re buying them only once. Otherwise, yes, purchasing fabric and have tailor sew — an option we thought about. If you’re good at light DIY, Young House Love blog has good primer on how she used iron on hem thingy. Hope that helps.
We have 11′ ceilings in our family room and I found curtains that were 120″ (I think) from Macy’s website. They are sheer, so definitely decorative vs. light-blocking.
Ikea! You can get 118″ length in some of the styles. The simple ritva is only like $35 per pair for the longer length. You can’t even buy fabric that cheap. Its a heavyweight 100% cotton that dyes beautifully. If you don’t live near one, drapery is one of the things you can buy online on their site.
I found long silk curtains from Pottery Barn, I’ll put the link below. They go as long as 124″ and you can get them double wide which is what I needed in a few rooms! Quality is good but if you’re like me, wait for a coupon to purchase and you’ll feel a lot better 🙂
A great option could be to buy extra panels (as needed ) and sew on the length you need adding a trim on the seam. Or buy a coordinating fabric to add on to bottom…or top or in the middle, your choice and have a simple but custom look. I’ve done it and TV designers do it all the time. Definitely can look stunning. Don’t sew? find a friend or glue. Google DIY hacks and you will find lots of simple instructions, even if your not a great seamstress.
This makes me want to cry! I just got some amazing long curtains on sale and i hemmed them Emily! I hemmed them! As soon as I hung them up my brain went click and I couldn’t believe what i had done. This post just reinforces my terrible mistake. I still love them but I will never be 100% satisfied now!. Waahhhh! 😉
Aw I’m sorry! I feel your pain. Next time, just fold and don’t use scissors and then whip out your seam ripper if they are too short! The extra fabric tucked in should just make them hang nicely.
they can be saved, add back the fabric covering the seam with ribbon or trim.. see above.
I *just* finally pulled the trigger and bought curtains last night, and I have been looking at them since last September – no joke. This is perfect timing; thank you! Any advice about when to use solids vs. with stripes/other decoration, please??? We have a bedroom that’s all white/ivory (came that way), with texture on the wallpaper to make it look stripey (medium-wide), and we looked at solids but got really pulled toward a vertical stripe. horrible, or maybe ok idea? Welcome anyone’s thoughts…
I would say if the stripe is a different width or in some different stripy pattern you should be OK. If it looks like you were trying to “match” the wall but failed, that might not look great.
Such a helpful guide! I’ve been struggling with curtains for my living room for a while. I’ve got a big built-in for my radiator under my windows that extends out on either side, so there’s no way for them to touch the floor. Any advice on length for those curtains?
Quick and easy guide – How to buy the right curtains and measuring your drapery size.
I think my curtains are hung a bit too tight to the window in the living room, but I try not to complain because my dad surprised me by putting up the curtain rod for me when he was working on my house. However, in the drawing, the “correct” curtains seem hung WAY too high. I’m sure they look great when the curtains are closed, but when they are open, it looks awkward.
Thank you so much for this series! It’s really great. x
wonderful guide – my favorite of your series!!! I can’t wait for a part 2 (hint hint) about roman shades and similar and getting them made yourself – what to ask/tell the seamstress. And part 3 about matchstick blinds and what to look for. thanks emily and team!!!
Do you have recommendations for pleated drapes? I know they are less popular but our home is pretty midcentury and pleated just makes sense. Mostly I am seeing only custom though and they are super pricey.
How many panels would you suggest for a bay-type window? We have two windows that angle off the main wall at a 45 degree angle, they meet together with about 3-4″ on either side (they are not symmetrical unfortunately). Currently I have it styled with a single panel at the center tied together. I would love something more substantial, but I feel like there is not enough room between the two windows for a full 2 panel per window look.
Thank you for sharing this post! I’ve always tried to be conscious of how our curtains are hung, although I’ve never been 100% satisfied. Now I know my mistakes to fix! Keep the advice coming 🙂
Thank you so much! Great tips! What curtain rod height do you recommend with vaulted ceilings? I hung them high and it makes my bedroom feel like a deep cave.
Great post! My question is also about rods. I usually hang my curtains higher so my windows look larger, but the rods always have that center support that sticks out like a sore thumb. Any advice how to conceal that?
And I noticed none of your example photos have it? I feel like it’s a must on bigger windows? Am I wrong?
This is the kind of post where you wish the blogger had a little paypal button installed so one could make a donation of thanks. All the work that went into this lovely how-to and all the researched links to make it easy to follow up and get those curtains we all need and want but have been putting off b/c we’re just not sure how it all works. LOVE! And THANK YOU!
good to know! i’ve never purchased curtains. i have those plastic blinds in my rental and i was thinking of covering them up! the old rod holders are still there on the window frame…… too low! 🙂
Thanks for the tips! What would you suggest for a bay window with a window seat? I already have UV-blocking window shades installed, but would love to add curtains for some colour and texture – I’m just not sure how to hang them!
This post is my everything. And now I need to get some curtains.
Emily – Great post! What do you recommend if you have a wide set of windows and the width of most curtain panels is not quite big enough? We have two linen window panels that just barely meet in the middle when closed. I know there needs to be a little more fabric on either end of the panels, but can’t find anything wide enough.
Emily said you should use two panels per side. If they hang well, you might not even need to sew them together, because the extra fullness hides the edges. I think the reason the panels are so narrow is because decor fabric comes in a standard width of 54 inches.
This is such great advice – thank you! But what about curtains for sliding glass doors?? Extra wide panels?
Ok — question! How am I supposed to hang curtains with arched windows? I’ve got a bedroom with standard rectangle windows but then immediately above each one is an arched window. (So there’s maybe 6″ of wall between the top of the window and the bottom of the arch part.) What do I do? I feel like hanging either above or below the arch will look weird either way!
I’m joining the chorus of grateful readers. This is indeed a marvelous series–thank you. I’m painting a room now and looking forward to choosing curtains. This post will be a tremendous help. (ps I can’t believe some of those cute Target curtains for so little moolah.)
You hung short curtains in a nursery once I think, right? Maybe Oh Joys? So what’s the deal with that? I have a window in my daughter’s teeny bedroom with a shelf underneath, where long curtains would functionally be a PITA, but I’m still not convinced about going shorter…
Growing up, my room had a weird window. My mom attached a fun Marimekko fabric to a basic roller blind. It looked great.
#13 is calling my name!
I definitely could’ve used this tutorial a few weeks ago, my curtain rods are too short and my curtains are too short as well. Haha. Boys just shouldn’t measure things..
Josh | The Kentucky Gent
Hi Emily, I don’t know if this has been mentioned but as a decorator who sees the sins of the short drapes all too often, I will add a coordinating color or pattern by way of color blocking in order to save those darn 84″ drapes and raise them up! I only go to the trouble if they are good quality and their only offense is being too short. Cheers!
Awesome post. And the white pillow…lol.
Fantastic post! But now tell us how you measure to hang curtains. Any tips and tricks? I always have the hardest trouble measuring!
This is great, and settles many of the curtain-hanging arguments that have been going on between me and my fiance since we’ve been redecorating (in my favor, thankyouverymuch). But we still have one question: I think that the curtain rod needs to be hung with a level and be perfectly level no matter what. But in our 1920’s Spanish bungalow, not all of the windows and walls are perfectly level and my fiance insists that we should be measuring from the ceiling to hang the rods parallel with the top of the wall. Help! Who’s right here?
The rods should be level, so that the curtains hang straight and move properly.
Let’s say one of the bad curtain examples is an image from your friend’s blog… what’s the diplomatic way to bring the issue to her attention? 🙂
That’s funny! In your friend’s defense, I don’t think you can really argue that those examples are “wrong”, it’s just a preference thing. If you click through to say Urban Outfitters curtains from one of her links above, you’ll see their own photos break most of Emily’s ‘rules’.
I think IF you want your walls to look taller, hang the rods higher, but we don’t all want that, or want wider. It just depends on the room. I have vaulted ceilings. It would look ridiculous to hang my rods 2/3 up the wall. I’m also in Phoenix and have tons of windows. We don’t all need to maximize our sun by having every entire, giant window exposed when the curtains are pulled open. Some homes lack wall space instead.
Thank you Mary for bringing things back to reality. I also have vaulted ceilings and hanging them further up the wall would look ridiculous. I had to find living room panels that would coordinate with the valances in the kitchen since it’s a great room. They share a wall on one side of the house. I found patterned ones which break the rule about being too short, but my living room is not “formal” and the windows are in the back of the room-not the front. I added a block of color to the bottom of them to make them longer, didn’t like the change, and removed them. I really love how they look and coordinate with the kitchen valances. I think you have to to do what you think is best for the room and your budget.
Hi Emily! This post could not have come at a more perfect time! My fiancé and I just bought our first house and were debating curtain rod placement just last night! I’ve been struggling for weeks to decide on curtains for our bedroom which is painted Aloof Grey by Sherwin Williams. What color curtains do you recommend for grey bedrooms…. I feel like white is so boring and safe?!? Yet you don’t want something that is going to clash with your duvet or sheets. Thank you for this post!!!
I love this post! My house is a 1930s craftsman style with thick moldings on the windows. I see screw holes on the actual moldings where previous owners have hung curtains. Should I also hang the curtains from the moldings? Or hang the rod higher and wider (covering some of the pretty molding)? Any help would be appreciated!
Hang them high and wide, so when the curtains are pulled back you can see the moldings. I can’t believe some people screw into beautiful old moldings. I’ve definitely seen those holes of travesty in some of my previous apartments.
@Julie Rose, don’t feel obligated to follow high and wide if you are trying to for a period or period-compatible look in your house. I live in a 1910 Craftsman, and the datum line of the tops of the casing from window to window to doorway is an important horizontal line that defines the architecture of the room. Curtain hung close to the ceiling would obscure that (the holes you see are original- high and wide didn’t exist then!). As someone who deals with historic interiors professionally, I hope that the 2% of people for whom that ubiquitous rule may not apply will observe and listen to their houses. I attached my rod across the middle of the broad top of the casing, but I didn’t attach it to the wood (I attached it wider, on the wall, which avoids screwing into the wood if you want to avoid that) in order to allow the curtain to clear the window to the sides when open. You have to make some adjustments, of course.
I have these LENDA curtains from IKEA
they are super long, 118″, come in white and beige for $35. I’m not sure if I’m totally in love with the hanging tab things but for the price, they are pretty good.
The post is really helpful! I love these textiles you picked. The challenge with curtains is how to match them to the overall design of a room, and it might prove quite tricky to match it with the rug. http://www.dorisleslieblau.com/blog/
This is so helpful! What would you suggest for a wall that has 4 individual windows spaced about 6 inches apart from each other? Should you treat them as individual windows or as a large group?
These tips are great and I’ve see a few other tips for how best to hang curtains (yes, I understand “high and wide”) but I’ve never seen anyone address what to do with curtains when you have picture rail between the tops of your windows and the ceiling (but no crown molding). I’ve taken to using cheap tension rods inside/below the window frame but I’m pretty sure I’m short-changing my windows. Also, what’s the best way to hang curtains in a bay window where there isn’t a lot of spacing between the windows for extra billowy softness?
They do make special rods for bay windows, which may help. Also, though Emily didn’t address this, a valance or cornice that covers all the windows will tie them together. That would be a more traditional look. A more modern look would be to use Roman shades on the windows.