Every designer knows that a good pair of drapes can instantly take a room from blah to beautiful. Drapes add impact through the use of color, pattern, texture and decorative details. And when hung right, they can give the illusion of height in a room, visually widen a window and let in huge amounts of light. You don’t have to be an expert to know how to hang drapes. Get the basics with our easy tips below.
First you’ll need to take a few measurements to determine the size of your curtain rod and panels. Generally, it’s more visually appealing to hang the rod on the wall above and outside the window molding. Drywall is also easier to repair and paint than wood molding should you decide to change the look of your window down the road.
Using your tape measure and the suggestions below, you can measure out and up from the window frame, making light pencil marks to show where you want to hang your rod.
Width: To make the window feel grander and to let more light in, add 3 to 6 inches beyond the window frame on each side.
If you plan on closing your curtains, choose a panel width that is two to two-and-a-half times the width of your window. A lightweight sheer fabric might require more fullness, while a heavier fabric like velvet or chenille might require less fullness (no more than twice the width of your window). However, if you’re hanging drapes just to frame the window, you can round down one to one-and-a-half times the width.
Length: To draw the eyes upward and to give visual height to a room, add 4 to 6 inches above the window frame. Or, you can measure halfway between the top of the window and the ceiling.
To determine what length panels you need, measure from the floor up to where you plan on hanging the rod (your pencil mark), then round up to the closest panel size. It’s better to have to hem them a bit than to have curtains that are too short — the fashion equivalent of wearing high waters.
Drapes that just hit the floor or hover above no more than a half inch creates a crisp, classic look. For a slightly more casual feel, let the drapes float down past the floor 2 to 3 inches. However, if you’re going for all-out romance that also reads more formal, you can puddle your drapes on the floor; just add 4 to 6 inches to your measurement. Of course, if you’re hanging café curtains in a kitchen, bathroom or child’s room, measure from the bottom of your windowsill up to your height mark.
Once you’ve determined how high and wide you want to hang your rod, use a level or measure up from the floor on both sides to ensure that your pencil marks are level. Then you’re ready to install your curtain rod hardware and curtains using the manufacturer’s instructions.
Much like jewelry, you can use decorative rods with finials, brackets and tiebacks to dress your windows up or down. Changing your accessories and experimenting with different looks is a budget-friendly way to update your style. For example, using tiebacks can help bring lots of light into a room while creating a swooping effect with the panels pulled to the side. Rope tiebacks introduce natural texture while a simple ribbon tieback can add a pop of color. Just remember, if you use a wall mount tieback or rosette to tuck your curtains behind, install it on the wall two-thirds of the way down the window — and match the finish to your hardware.
Drapes are more than just window coverings. You can always repurpose old curtains or get those new ones you’ve had your eyes on and use them in another way.
If you struggle with a small storage space in a bedroom, office, kitchen or bathroom, take the door off and hang a pair of curtains instead. Café curtains hung from a tension rod are great for concealing an under-sink cabinet. For a closet or pantry, drapes mounted slightly wider than the door make the space look big and offer easier access to every shelf. An added bonus? You get another opportunity to inject your space with a fun graphic print or color.
Bring a more formal look to a bathroom while concealing the bathtub by hanging a pair of drapes up high in place of a shower curtain. We just used this trick in the Bosch Model Home in Serenbe, Ga., (furnished by Ballard Designs.) With a 9-foot ceiling, our stylist hung 108-inch drapes from just below the molding to create a sense of height. We recommend hanging a clear shower liner behind the curtain.
Of course, curtains are perfect for defining spaces and creating privacy in large rooms, like a loft or even an outdoor porch, while still letting light filter through. Get creative by hanging drapes from a DIY wire or jute string, or you can install a metal curtain track.
Have your own ideas on how to hang drapes? Please share them in the comments below. And for even more ideas and inspiration, check out our Drapery board on Pinterest.