How high above a window should you hang curtains?

How to Mount the Curtain Rods

When selecting the right curtain rod, go for one that is a bit wider than the width of your window. This will allow whatever curtains you chose to cover the window at all times. Go for a curtain rod that is between eight and 12 inches wider than your window, as it will give the illusion that your window is larger than it is. This is just one idea for how to make a small room look bigger.


Width Considerations

Use these tricks to make the drapes a standard width and to create the illusion of wider windows:

  • The standard distance from the window casing to the end of the curtain rod (excluding finials) on each side of the window should be four to 10 inches.
  • As a general rule, drapes will be open during the day, so make sure the curtain rod extends at least four inches on each side of the window’s inside frame.
  • To create the illusion of a wider window, extend the rod up to 10 inches beyond the window's frame.

Illustration: The Spruce / Emily Mendoza

Visual Effects

Hanging your curtains at ceiling level maximizes the light that shines through your window and it makes the room feel larger because the walls look taller. This works well in a small space, but may not be ideal in a room that is already too large. Placing the curtain just above the window trim allows you to use a shorter curtain or to allow the fabric to pool at the floor, which can create an appealing effect. To do this with ceiling-mounted curtains would require longer curtains than you’re likely to find at a store. Hanging the curtains at ceiling height, on the other hand, can be a useful technique for balancing a room with windows of different heights or sizes.

2. Hang them wide

When you open your curtains, you want the panels to just “kiss” the outside edge of the window frame rather than obscure any of the glass window pane. This simple trick allows the maximum amount of light to come through, and it has the added benefit of making your windows feel wider. Aim to hang the curtain rod brackets approximately 6 to 8 inches beyond the window frame so when the curtains fall naturally, they won’t block the light.

How to Hang Curtains

Hang the curtains using this simple two-step process once you have panels in the correct width and length.

What You Need

  • Curtain rod with brackets
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Wall anchors (optional)

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains Credit: Brie Williams

Can You Hang Curtains From The Ceiling?

Yes, curtains can be hung from rods attached to the ceiling. If you decide to go this route, you will need to account for the extra height the curtain will stretch to reach from the ceiling.

This look is another way to create interest with your window dressings, and the height makes both the room and windows seem taller than they are. This may not be a possibility for homes with very tall ceilings since curtain heights are limited.

Amazon Basics Ceiling-Mount Brackets

These brackets mount to the ceiling and allow you to use a curtain rod of your choice. Click here to see these on Amazon.

Can You Use Long Curtains On Short Windows?

Yes, using long curtains on short windows creates the illusion of a larger window. This will help the room, and the window feel taller and brighter. If you have different size windows in the same room, use the same size curtains on all of them to make them proportionate and create harmony throughout the space.

What is the Proper Length for Curtains

Interior designers note the bottom of your curtains should fall to the floor, and you can even let them “puddle” a bit. However, if you don’t want your curtains to drag on the floor when you open and close them, let them stop about an inch from the floor, but no more. If they do puddle at the floor, you can wash your curtains as needed.

When it comes to the width, your curtains should be at least two times the width of the window.

How to Measure for Curtains

When figuring out how high to hang curtains, the first step is measuring. You need to know your lengths before you even purchase your curtains, so this is a very important step. Before measuring, figure out where you want your curtains to fall. This means before doing anything, you need to choose one of the options above: apron, floor-length, or puddle.

Measuring is actually quite simple. If you have a measuring tape, you are good to go! Measure from the floor to where the rod will be. To make sure you get them long enough, I would add a couple of inches onto your measurement. This will assure that the curtains will not fall too short. There is nothing worse than high water curtains. And you can always mount your curtain rod a little higher to make sure the bottoms of your curtains hit where you want them to.


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