How to Hang Drapes

Blue and white living room

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.

Hanging drapery panels using pin hooks

Measure

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.

How to hang curtains and drapery

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.

Acrylic drapery hardware and rods from Ballard Designs

Accessorize

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.

Bold drapery trend from fashion to rooms

Get Creative

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.

Canopy-inspired bed created with sheer linen drapery panels

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.

Horizontal striped curtain panels

Browse our drapery panels, or pick our the ideal drapery hardware for your space.

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.

 

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

117 Comments

  1. Reply

    Nikki

    January 15, 2017
     

    Hello, I´m having a trouble with my curtains as my window goes from wall to wall and there is no chance that my rod would be wider, do you think it would be a big problem? Or could you please suggest any solution?Thank you
    photo of the trouble window https://i.imgsafe.org/b8e0f5e5bf.jpg

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 8, 2017
       

      Nikki,
      We would love to help you with this design dilemma! We offer a free design service in which our interior designers pick out furniture, fabric, and accessories. Just send in your question along with a picture of the space here, and a designer will reach out to you with your design solution!

  2. Reply

    Janice

    October 23, 2016
     

    What is the blue gray color on wall in living room??

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      November 15, 2016
       

      Janice,
      Which room are you referring to? The living room (the first photo) is Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.

  3. Reply

    Angela

    October 18, 2016
     

    It appears as though you have a choice of either hanging the Essential panel drapes with either drapery rings or using the rid pocket. Is that correct? I love the look if the drapery rings!
    Thank you!
    Angela

    • Reply

      How to Decorate

      October 19, 2016
       

      Angela,
      Our Essential Drapery Panels can accommodate either a rod pocket or ring CLIPS. There is no plastic thread along the back of our essential panels that work with drapery pins. However, you could certainly buy some pins to thread through the top of the panel. Does that make sense?

  4. Reply

    Kay lingenfelter

    September 17, 2016
     

    Looking for sheer white or cream color. Want 72in. Long

  5. Reply

    Libby

    September 4, 2016
     

    But I forgot to ask my actual question. I need help hanging drapes from the opposite perspective. Say I’ve bought several panels of your 84″ drapes. How do I figure out how high to drill the screws? I want the drapes to “kiss” the floor – not puddle, not hang a little bit above, but kiss. That’s some precise math, and that’s what I came to this page looking for!

    The information you’ve shared here is excellent, as usual!

    • Reply

      How to Decorate

      October 18, 2016
       

      Libby,
      You’re right, it can be tricky to measure just right. It depends what method you’re using to hang your drapes. Are you using ring clips? Are you using a rod pocket? That will change the length of your panels, as the ring clips usually add around 2 inches. Our best suggestion is to thread your drapery panels on the hardware you’re using, then hold the hardware with the panel above your window to see exactly where you’ll need to mount the hardware. Unfortunately there’s no magic trick — just math and measuring!
      Best of luck.

  6. Reply

    Libby

    September 4, 2016
     

    Ok, I’m going to need sources (links) for the first photo! Love the rug but can’t find it on this website. Also love the curtain/ottoman material! And would it be too much to ask the name of the fabric on the chairs?

  7. Reply

    Kelly

    August 24, 2016
     

    what fabric did you use for the white sofa in the first picture and then the white dining chairs?

  8. Reply

    Debbie

    July 17, 2016
     

    I am wanting to buy curtains for my master bedroom, which has 3 windows (middle 46 x 58 1/2) window on each side 22 1/2 x 58 1/2) with a 7″ sheetrock separation. I want to keep the curtains open with sheers in the middle, so 4 panels of curtains and 3 sheers. What style of curtain should I select? I like the inverted box pleat, but I think the windows are too small on the sides and those panels would cover the windows? Should I select 30″ or 48″ wide panels? Double Rod? I am considering Davidson Herringbone Toffee Nylon or Davidson Herringbone Pewter. With those colors, would you put a white or off white sheer? Plain sheer or one with a bit of a design? My walls are painted a leather/taupe color (brown family, but not sure of the exact color). I have some spa, moss green, grey colors in my bedding. My floors are wood. I have accordion style shades on the windows which I plan to keep.

    Thanks for your help

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 25, 2016
       

      Debbie,
      We would suggest getting a larger width panel as it usually looks nicer when the panels are more full and voluminous. We would also suggest a very simple white sheer with no design underneath your panel. Typically, we prefer a sheer to be simple when it’s being layered underneath another panel.
      Best of luck!

  9. Reply

    Blanca Brandon

    June 28, 2016
     

    My windows are eleven foot high I was wondering if I were to go with shutters on the bottom part of the window and drapes on the top would that look good?

LEAVE A COMMENT