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How High to Hang Curtains

The excitement of buying new curtains can quickly dissipate into utter disappointment when faced with curtain hanging challenges. While curtain hanging is a relatively simple process, there's a right and wrong way to go about it. Do it wrong, and your window doesn't look as good as you know it can. How high to hang curtains is one those puzzling questions that requires a detailed answer. Should a rod be placed right above the window frame or higher? Keep reading to solve this home décor mystery.

Measurements Matter

Measurements Matter

Numbers are important when it comes to curtains. Many curtain styles are offered in more than one length. This variety means it's much easier to find curtains you like in sizes you need. However, if you decide to take a guess at the size, you may guess wrong. Trying to make curtains that are too short or too long work for your window can be an exercise in futility. Instead, take a few minutes to measure the length and width of your window. With measurements in hand, you can then choose curtains that give your window a flattering appearance.

Curtain panel lengths range from 63 inches up to 144 inches. Tiers can range between 24 inches to 36 inches long. A valance may be 13 inches or around 15 inches, depending on style. Swags can measure from 36 inches to about 63 inches long. Knowing your window measurements before browsing for that cute set of country curtains helps you save time and avoid frustration.

How High Should You Hang a Curtain?

The rule of thumb is that curtain panels should cover the entire length of the window frame, plus continue down until they touch the floor. You can play around with length and fudge as much as 1/2-inch or so above the floor. But, beware of bottoms that end several inches above floor level. When you see a lot of wall space below curtains - they're way too short. The only way to fix this error is to lower the rod or swap the short curtains for longer ones.

While a 63-inch panel may completely cover a window, it may fall short of reaching the floor. Always consider the amount of extra fabric needed to avoid the unflattering too short look. Perhaps you'll need to choose the next size up to achieve full floor-length coverage. Want to show off that distinctive crown molding? You can claim creative freedom for this one, making height adjustments so curtains neatly align with the top of the floor molding. Breaking the floor-length rule is okay if the curtains come off looking classy.

How high to hang curtain

Rod Placement

Curtain rod placement is a main factor in establishing a base point for hanging curtains. The de facto positioning is just above the window frame top. Yet, this may just be your starting point. There's significant space between the window frame and ceiling, and all of it can be used for extending height. For instance, to create an elongated look for your window, 6 inches above the frame is a good position. You may have enough space to go higher.

You have a lot of wiggle room for determining how high to go. If you have extra-long windows and curtains, try positioning the rod between 6 to 12 inches over the frame. While making calculations for hardware installation, always keep in mind that you want curtain bottoms to touch the floor.

Alternative Curtain Bottom Placement

Long curtains look sophisticated when curtain bottoms just touch the floor. There is another option you can consider for longer curtains. You can choose to allow curtains to pool or puddle on the floor, creating a casually elegant look. This is a good option if your lightweight curtains are slightly longer than you expected, and you don't want to hem them. Short, café style curtains look best when their bottoms are near the bottom window sill.

Calculating Curtain Width

Once you determine how high you want to hang curtains, it's time to focus on width. The rule here is for curtains to expand at least two to two and a half times the width of the window. There's enough wideness for curtains to drape when closed. You can get away with a width of one and a half times for curtains that remain open all the time. Curtains with permanent pleats have plenty of fullness, so it's okay that they come close to matching window width.

What's the Best Rod?

The best rod to use for hanging curtains is mostly a matter of style preference. Although, some rods have practical benefits that go beyond mere looks.

Classic rod. This rod features an adjustable pole situated between two decorative finials. Curtains hang straight down, closing and opening with a good tug.

Return rod. This adjustable rod has U-shaped ends that give you more privacy than classic rods. Light blockage is maximized when used with blackout drapes.

Tension rod. This affordable rod is easy to find and often used for hanging curtains inside the window frame. You can adjust the level of tension until the rod stays firmly in place.