Decorating & Design

January 13, 2009

How To Hang Curtains

The height at which to hang a drapery rod depends on the style of window, window covering and the height of ceiling in the room.

How high do you place the rod?

For standard drapes that hang on either side of a window creating a frame, the typical height at which to install the drapery rod is halfway between the top of the window and the ceiling. This applies if there are more than 12 inches between the window trim and ceiling. For a cathedral ceiling, try to leave approximately 4 to 6 inches above the window trim as a guideline. If your ceiling is low, consider installing the rod as close to the ceiling or crown moulding as possible. In a small room, hanging drapery panels as high as possible will give the illusion of extra height.

Length of drapes

Most drapes should just touch the floor to create an elegant look. Where radiators are an issue, install roman shades for privacy and frame the window with floor-length drapery panels to achieve a “dressed window” look.

Width of drapes

“Fullness” refers to the width of the finished panel. For more traditional drapery, fullness of 2 to 3 times the width of the rod will result in billowy, pleated drapery. Keep in mind that some fabrics hang differently than others. A sheer fabric might require more fullness, while a heavier fabric like velvet or chenille will only require a width of 1-1/2 to 2 times that of the rod.

Half-height curtains

For café curtains, install a tension or café-style rod halfway up the window, making sure the rod is parallel to the fixed horizontal mullion. This style of drapery should be installed inside the window frame for a finished look and should just touch the bottom windowsill. For a more tailored look, purchase or make curtains with a width less than 1-1/2 to 2 times that of the window.

Round-top windows

For round-top windows, hang the rod just below the rounded part, leaving the upper section of the window uncovered to let in natural light. Or, hang the rod over top of the entire window to emphasize talls ceilings and “frame” the special window with fabric.

Drapery rod length

Since you’ll most likely want to draw drapes open during the day, make sure that your drapery rod extends at least 3 or 4 inches on each side of the window’s inside frame. If your windows are close together or placed near corners, use a shorter rod and capped ends instead of decorative finials.