Just like quality lighting and hardware are commonly known as the jewelry of a room, curtains are like the perfect blazer that polishes off an outfit. Without curtains, a room can feel unfinished and, dare we say, a little frumpy. That said, a window deserves more than simply a set of plastic blinds or ready-made window treatments. When it comes to curtains, customization is key, the same way a professionally tailored blazer makes all the difference in an outfit.
When it comes to hanging curtains and shades, there are a few basic rules to follow. Certain rules are well-known among the design community and even décor aficionados. For instance, we know that hanging curtains as high and wide as possible to make windows appear larger is a classic rule of thumb. However, each window is different and requires its own specific attention, and that’s when we come in with plenty of inspiration to help you navigate the world of window coverings. Keep scrolling for our favorite tricks for hanging curtains and shades.
Let the Light In
Unless you’re designing a bedroom, you probably don’t need blackout shades. Instead, pick sheer fabrics that let the light in and create a natural breezy look. Sheer Belgian linen is great to achieve this look.
Separate the Panels
How do you deal with multiple windows spread out across one large wall? I personally love the idea of extending an extra-wide curtain rod from wall to wall and hanging multiple panels, creating a softening repetition effect.
Adopt the Roman Shade
Roman shades are the perfect solution when floor-to-ceiling curtains are not an option (when windows are in front of a radiator or a bathtub, for example). My favorite type of shade is the relaxed roman. The result is always timelessly chic.
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Hide the Hardware
There are certain instances where curtains look better mounted on the inside of the window frame (particularly when large windows are concerned). There are other times when it looks best to conceal the hardware in the ceiling for a minimalist look. This small detail can have a huge impact on the look of a space.
Match Your Curtains to Your Walls
I’m rarely a fan of heavily patterned “accent” curtains because they can stick out like sore thumbs when not properly executed. On the other hand, curtains that match the exact color of the walls and blend in with the décor are foolproof.
Use Curtains as Walls
Think beyond the exterior windows when considering curtains because they also make clever space separators. Use them to separate two rooms or to define areas in a studio apartment.
Do Patterned Curtains Right
If you want to go the patterned route, hang curtains as high as possible and wide enough so they hang outside the window frame when opened. That way you’re not blocking valuable sun rays from streaming in. Pay attention to the weight of the fabric—I generally prefer heavier fabrics like velvets with blackout liners. Pro tip: You can also insert weights in the hem of the curtains to make them hang straighter.
Natural materials are fantastic for shades if you’re looking to layer them underneath curtains, or if you’re simply looking for a more rustic effect. They look great mounted on the inside of the frame, as opposed to roman shades, which look better when mounted on the outside.
Embrace the Pool
This rule is not for the neat freak, but for a more relaxed bohemian look, hang your curtains so they pool two to three inches on the floor. It can create a beautiful carefree effect.
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Next up: Nate Berkus sheds light on window treatments, once and for all.
This story was originally published on February 8, 2016, and has since been updated.