If you’re ready to make your space feel expertly designed, and wondering how to hang curtains like an interior designer for the perfect window treatments, you’ve come to the right place!
Any interior designer will tell you: window treatments will dramatically enhance any space. Instantly! Hanging curtains is easier than you’d think, and getting the professional custom look is simple when you know the secrets designers swear by for all rooms of your home including the living room, dining room, and bedroom!
In this post, you’ll learn our expert step-by-step guide for perfect window treatments every time! Additionally, shop our retail favorites including the best Amazon curtains that look custom, but are a fraction of the cost!
How to Hang Curtains
As an interior designer, selecting and specifying window treatments is simply a part of my daily life. Over the years, I’ve learned some amazing tips and tricks for creating a high-end professional look. The good news? You can achieve this look on your own!
There’s no doubt, window treatments are expensive! It’s important to take the proper steps in hanging curtains to protect your investment.
While the materials, size, and type of drapery is very important – the installation is equal. I will tell you how to hang curtains below, but keep in mind it’s just half of the job. All of the other points about style, shape, and curtain length, and ceiling height, are just as important as how you hang them.
In this post, we’re breaking down exactly how to hang curtains the easiest way and the best way. I’m crossing my fingers that you’re reading this prior to ordering your curtains because the right length, style, and material matter almost just as much as how you hang curtains. That said, let’s get into selecting the right curtains to begin with.
Table of contents
- How to Hang Curtains
- Curtain Selection
- How to hang curtains in three simple steps!
- How high to hang curtains?
- How wide should curtains be?
- How long should curtains be?
- How to hang pencil pleat curtains?
- How to make curtains look good?
- Hanging Curtains with Rings
- Oddly Shaped Windows
- Curtain Hanging Mistakes to Avoid
- Where to Buy Curtains
- Where to Buy Curtain Hardware
Types of Window Treatments: There are many different types of window coverings available. In general, the most common in modern design are roman shades and drapery.
Roman shades are similar to blinds, but made of fabric. They’re a great option for kitchen windows or other spaces that require a shorter treatment.
Today, we’re talking about curtains or “drapery”. Which come in a variety of materials such as linen, wool, cotton, polyester, to name a few.
As a general rule of thumb, as a designer, I tend to stick with natural materials, primarily linen, cotton, wool, or silk. I select a material based on the style of the room.
A heavyweight linen is my go-to material, but I always consider the overall space and make a selection that is appropriate.
In addition to the drapery, sometimes a valance is added to conceal the hardware. In our design firm we avoid this unless the drapery has mechanisms that need concealing.
Prints vs Solids: Most people tend to opt for a neutral solid fabric such as flax or oatmeal. In general, I do not care for a white curtain. Instead, select a color that adds a bit of contrast to the space.
A print is a wonderful way to create character and depth in a space. For a timeless option, select a print that has historical significance – yes, even for a contemporary project.
Measuring Tip: Use a laser measuring tape for the most accurate numbers. Measure the interior width and height of the window at the top, mid point, and bottom of the window. This is especially important for inside mount roman shades, where 1/4″ accuracy is necessary.
How to hang curtains in three simple steps!
How to Hang Curtains
- Drill Bit
- Laser Level (best) or Level
- Measuring Tape
- Wall Anchors
- Drapery Hardware
- Curtain Panels
- Calculate Hardware & Material Needs: The rod length should extend beyond the window 8-12". So if you have a 9′ window, the rod should be about 11′ in length. Adjust this based on your window’s overall size and spacial limitations. Adding or subtracting to keep appropriate scale. You’ll install the rod about 8-12" above the window frame (size permitting) – so the length of the curtains should reflect that + any additional length for optional pooling. Order enough rings for each pleat, plus one for each end of the panel. You’ll also need drapery hooks if using pleated curtains. Custom drapery often comes with hardware – so double check before ordering.
- Install Hardware: Measure twice, drill once. Take the time to measure, and re-measure. It’s easier to spend the time prepping than fixing an incorrectly drilled hole. Take one of your brackets and place is 8-12" above the window frame, and 8-12" outside the window frame -> this should refelct the overall length you ordered. Use a pencil to mark where the screws will go into the wall, this is where you’ll install the wall anchors if needed. Repeat for the opposite side, and in the center (the center bracket will just go 8-12" above the window frame). Be exactly consistent in the height placement (ie: 9" above the window frame for all three brackets, or 11" above the window frame for all three brackets). Have an assitant hold the hardware into place and use a level to make sure the rod is perfectly level. If needed, screw in wall anchors, then screw each bracket into place.
- Put up Curtains: Slide the rod into the brackets and add the rings onto the rod (if using). Attach drapery hooks to each pleat of the curtain & each end of the curtain (if needed). Then slide the curtains onto the rod (pocket style curtains) or hook the curtains to the rings (pleated style curtains).
Here is a VERY helpful video on how to hang curtains from Everhem. They are a really neat company that offers custom drapery that comes with hardware! It’s an amazing company, and I highly recommend them.
How high to hang curtains?
You can hang curtains at many different heights. I like to hang curtains about 8″-12″ above the window frame whenever possible. This will give the appearance of higher ceilings and larger window and make your room feel more spacious.
How wide should curtains be?
At a bare minimum, curtains should be wide enough to cover the window size they are intended to when closed.
To achieve an elevated look, you’ll want to add some “stack width” to the window coverings. This will allow you to install the hardware about 8″ outside of the window frame to accentuate the window rather than cover it up.
Although the drapery is intended to cover the windows when closed, they shouldn’t cover up the windows when the curtains are in the open position. Instead, they should frame the window and elongate it both upwards and outwards.
Sometimes you will be limited with space – if this is the case, just go as wide as you can while keeping scale in mind.
How long should curtains be?
Curtains can be a variety of lengths. Before you determine what the length should be, you need to decide on the style you’re going for. Do you want them to puddle or just kiss the ground?
If you’re going for a puddle look take the distance from the curtain rod to the ground and add 4″-6″ to the overall length. So if the curtain rod is hung at 96″, purchase 100″-102″ long curtains.
For a just kissing the ground look, determine where the curtain rod will be mounted, then calculate the length to the floor. With that said, I like to slide the curtains on, hold the rod up with the curtains attached, mark placement (using a level and pencil), and then install the hardware to ensure the perfect placement. Avoid the rookie mistake of too-short curtains! This will make a room look unfinished.
How to hang pencil pleat curtains?
You’ll hang pencil pleat curtains similarly to hanging pocket style curtains; however, I suggest having someone hold the curtain rod up into place with the rings and drapery attached to determine the *exact* placement of the hardware.
Generally, you want curtains to just barely kiss the floor (be about 1/4″ above the floor) – my personal preference! This is very hard to calculate exactly without actually holding the drapery into place. Even if you’ve ordered a specific length, human hands make things, and very slight variances can occur. Better to be sure before drilling into your walls.
With pencil pleat curtains, there is some advantage because the drapery hooks can be adjusted slightly to get the height *just* right.
How to make curtains look good?
It’s simple to make store bought curtains look good with proper installation.
Be sure to follow our tips for hanging the curtains high enough, and purchase wide enough panels for a full look. Additionally, make inexpensive curtains look expensive by steaming them! This is a simple way to transform basic drapery. Buy: Best Amazon Steamer
Of course, custom drapery is going to look expensive, but you can create a beautiful window treatment even on a budget.
If it is available to you, mix high with low: opt for higher end hardware to compliment the budget friendly drapery. This will create a very nice look.
Keep in mind, pinch pleat curtains are beautiful and luxurious, but they are not inexpensive. I have linked some budget friendly options below. Ikea is a great way to get a luxe look for less because they have curtain panels that come with a pleating strip so you can easily DIY pleated curtains.
Designer Tip: Steam curtains before hanging them. Why? Because they will stretch a bit once relaxed with steam, and they could become too long if you install them first!
The drapery needs to be full enough if you want them to appear very luxe – order extra panels or extra wide!
Hanging Curtains with Rings
If you love the look of curtains with rings, there are two ways to achieve the look! One, with drapery hooks. The other with ring clips.
Drapery hooks are little metal pins the slide into the backside of the curtain panels and provide a little hook for the rings to slide into. You can find these at local hardware stores or online. They’re my preferred way to hang curtains with rings.
Ring clips are another way to hang curtains with rings. They are curtain rings with clips pre-installed. The little clips are attached to curtain panels. This will give you a relaxed look. If I am honest with you, I think they look a bit unfinished.
Oddly Shaped Windows
Bay windows can be approached two ways: with adjustable curtain rods or by opting for shades.
If there is room above the window frames, it’s easy to add adjustable arms to your curtain rods.
However, if there isn’t room for a curtain rod to be hung above the window frames, opt for shades. I love linen roman shades in bay windows. They give a more traditional look that maintain elegance and timelessness.
For kitchen windows, a great option that adds so much character is cafe curtains. Matter of fact, they are one of my favorite window treatments in kitchens!
To add curtains to arched windows, you’ll want to hang the curtain rod about 8″-12″ above the top of the arch, and treat the window as if it were rectangular.
If you have a set of arched windows at different heights, treat them as one large window and hang the rod 8″-12″ above the tallest arch.
Curtain Hanging Mistakes to Avoid
Curtains too short.
I’d rather have puddling curtains than curtains that are too short! My preferred look is curtains that rest about 1/8″ above the floor. However, puddling curtains are certainly luxurious and look fantastic!
Rod not wide enough.
I see this ALL the time. Where the curtain rod measures the exact size of the window frame. You want your curtain rod to extend 8″-12″ beyond the window frame on either side.
So if your window is 6′ wide, the curtain rod should be about 8′ wide.
Remember, curtains are meant to accentuate and frame the window as well as filter or block light.
Rod hung too low.
Usually if I see a curtain rod that isn’t wide enough, it’s installed too low. The curtain rod should be about 8″-12″ above the top of the window frame (unless the ceiling or crown molding prevents this – then just go as high as you can).
Fabric not full enough.
For designers, we talk in fullness and or stack width when it comes to drapery. There are so many types of curtains but this is a great rule to remember!
Standard fullness is 200%, meaning you need 2x the amount of fabric as curtain rod length. Extra fabric is pleated in some sort of decorative way to make the drapery appear more full and luxe. Drapery fullness details.
We also factor in stack width: this is the added width of a window treatment so that you can install the drapery slightly outside of the window frame so that it does not cover the window when the drapes are open.
At a bare minimum, the curtains should be wide enough to cover the opening they are intended to cover when closed.
Where to Buy Curtains
Curtains can vary in price form $50-$5000, no joke!!!
It all depends on style, fabric, and your needs.
Who would ever spend that much on drapery? Well, custom drapery is expensive, but it looks damn good. Keep in mind custom drapery is being handmade by an actual human, so there is a lot of labor cost involved. Plus linen fabric is not inexpensive. At $50/yard+ it adds up quickly.
If custom is your jam (it’s seriously beautiful), here are some options listed from most expensive to least:
- A local work room – provides the most customization.
- The Shade Store – makes a beautiful product!
- RH Custom – very high quality linen
- Everhem – highly recommend, they come with hardware and super easy instructions!
- Alva – a great product for a very good price!
- Blinds Com – most budget friendly custom drapery option.
If you’re hoping to get a custom look without paying custom prices, here are some good alternatives:
- Amazon 100% Linen – these are super narrow, but they come with a triple pleat and are 100% linen.
- Amazon Linen Blend – these are not as narrow and a bit less expensive. However, they are not 100% linen and they are a double pleat.
- Ikea (best budget option) – Comes with a pleating strip on the back for a DIY project. Check out my friend Grit & Polish blog post on how to DIY!
- Bed Bath & Beyond – These look pretty dang promising!
Where to Buy Curtain Hardware
I mentioned above, Everhem comes with hardware, I think it’s a really great price for the quality, customization, and hardware. However, if you’re going an ikea or amazon route, here are some fabulous hardware options as various price ranges from Pottery Barn, West Elm, and CB2 (my fave!).
How to open and close drapery without them falling off of the hooks? A drapery wand helps with that!