Curtains may seem like a last-minute touch to a space, but in reality, they play a much more important role. Curtains determine how much light will get into your space, and their color and texture can either complement or detract from the style of your room. Your curtains should be hung correctly, and the way they are hung gives your space a more casual or formal vibe.
Before you get too overwhelmed with curtain-specifics, let's dive into the right way to hang curtains, and how the right curtains can make your space look better and brighter than it already is.
Step 1: Measure Your Window
Before you begin your curtain shopping spree, make sure you know how big your windows are! Measure their length and width, and don't assume curtains are a one-size-fits-all situation. Though most curtains are pretty adaptable size-wise, you don't want to be stuck with window coverings that are far too small or too large.
Additionally, make sure you know how wide the top of your windows are, where your brackets and rod will go. If your window has thick molding, include it in your measurements so that you purchase a rod that is wide enough.
Step 2: Find the Perfect Curtain
Time to head to the store and go curtain-crazy. While you're there, consider the type of curtain your room needs, and don't pick a window covering unless it will work.
"In selecting curtains, one should consider practical aspects first and foremost. I ask: what does my client want? Privacy, light, glare control, or simply aesthetic consideration?" interior designer Kathie Chrisicos of Chrisicos Interiors says.
Double-check the curtain's length and width, and remember that while a curtain can be hemmed, it's much harder to lengthen it.
Curtain color is important too—if you want your curtains to blend into the background, pick neutral colors or ones that match the decor of the rest of your space. If you're looking for something more eye-catching, play around with fun textures and layers.
Types of Curtains
We don't have to tell you that not all curtains are the same. Thanks to different materials and cuts, certain curtains do a better job at things than others. Here's a 411 on the different types of curtains and where they'll work best in your space.
- Room Darkening Curtains: These thick and often darkly colored curtains do a great job at blocking light and excess sound. They work well in rooms that need to stay quiet, like bedrooms and nurseries, but they also carry with them a uniquely utilitarian look. Thermal curtains and blackout curtains do similar things.
- Sheer Curtains: Often made of gauze or another semi-transparent fabric, sheer curtains help filter light while still letting in lots of sunshine—and maintaining privacy. These curtains are the perfect fit for rooms where natural light is important, like your living room or dining room.
- Cafe Curtains: Cafe curtains are charming mini-curtains that only cover the bottom half of your window. They're typically made out of semi-sheer fabrics and are pros at providing privacy where it's needed most. Cafe curtains work best in bathrooms or kitchens.
Step 3: Gather Your Supplies
Before you begin hanging your curtains, make sure you have whatever else you'll need. Aside from your curtains, you'll need some kind of curtain rod and brackets to install them. You'll also want any tools or hardware needed to install the curtains, and it may be helpful to use a level and a ladder, too.
Step 4: Install Brackets
Use a pencil and a tape measure to figure out where your curtain brackets should be—if your brackets come with instructions, now is a great time to use them. Use your level to make sure your brackets aren't crooked. Place your brackets a few inches outside of your window frames so that your curtains, when open, don't block any natural light.
If your brackets don't line up with any studs in the wall, install wall anchors before drilling any holes. If you don't do this, there's a good chance your curtains will fall out of the wall.
How High Should My Curtains Be?
Time to find the Goldilocks of curtain-hanging: not too high, not too low. A curtain rod hung too high will lead to too-short curtains, leaving an awkward gap at your floor. One hung too low will make your window feel smaller than it is and lead to an excess amount of curtain gathering on the floor.
Instead, aim for a curtain rod hung 4-6 inches above your window frame. And don't forget to buy a curtain rod that's a few inches wider than your window on both sides. Together, these design choices will make your window seem larger than it is and let plenty of light into your space.
Of course, you can get more custom with your curtains. Style by Emily Henderson has three great ways to hang curtains: the float, the kiss, and the puddle. 'The float' means you hang your curtains so they hover off the ground by an inch or so. 'The kiss' way of hanging curtains means that the curtains barely brush against the ground. 'The puddle' means that your curtains are hung so that they purposefully puddle onto the ground—this is a great choice if your curtains are made of high-quality fabric you want to show off.
Step 5: Finally, Hang Your Curtain Rod and Curtains
Once your brackets have been installed, thread your curtains onto your curtain rod using either grommets or clips. Make sure you have enough curtains too—though a 42" wide curtain will cover a 42" window, it will look stretched out and awkward while doing it. It's better to have two curtains per window.
"Be sure to always add at least 2x the width of the panel to create a sense of fullness," interior designer Kim Depole of Depole Design says. "There's nothing worse than skinny curtain panels on a long rod." You can do this by using custom curtains or multiple pre-made curtain panels.
Once your curtains have been attached to your curtain rod, hang the rod on the brackets according to the manufacturer's instructions. And with that, you have a perfectly curtained window.