How High to Hang Curtains Above Windows, Solved!

The Curtain Hanging Trick Thatll Save You Time (On Video)

Knowing the width (your desired distance from the window trim) and height (your desired distance from the ceiling) is what makes this easy trick possible. John demonstrates it all in this video below (also watch for my super cool footwear cameo). There are more photos after the video, but I’d strongly recommend coming back to view it when you can.

NOTE: You can also watch it here on YouTube.


Can You Use Short Curtains on Tall Windows?

Yes, to maximize the light in the room, short curtains like valances are a great option. They don’t do much in the way of privacy, so they aren’t always ideal for bathrooms or bedrooms. Valance curtains will make a room look shorter, so if you are working with a small space, you might consider other options.

This valance is available in twelve different colors, so you’re sure to find one to match your decor. Click here to check it out on Amazon.

3. Drill Pilot Holes

Load up your power drill with a small pilot hole bit (we used a 3/32″ bit) and hold your template above your window with the top edge flush to the ceiling and the side edge lined up with the outside edge of the window frame. Then you can just drill small pilot holes through your two template marks.

A note about keeping things level: CEILINGS AREN’T ALWAYS LEVEL (I’m looking at you, duplex) so using the ceiling as your guide might seem ill-advised.

What if your ceiling is sloped and your curtains end up being sloped too?!

Don’t panic! When you’re hanging the rod close to your ceiling, you actually want the rod to follow any slope in the ceiling! It will be your eyes’ closest reference point for a straight line, so it will likely appear level even if it isn’t. That’s why a level isn’t required for this process.

In fact, putting a perfectly level curtain rod next to a sloped ceiling could actually make the rod look wrong. Or emphasize that the ceiling is wrong. So yeah, using the ceiling as your guide actually works well for wonky ceilings (again, the duplex has plenty of those).


Now let’s talk about the curtains and what size of curtains you should get. The beautiful thing is that all the work you did before is going to make it simple when measuring for the curtains.

You have already determined exactly where the curtain rod will be placed and how wide it will be. 

Now, you need to decide how you will hang the curtains: grommets (eyelets), rings with clips, rod pocket, and tab top are the most popular. In this example, we are using rings with clips.

To determine how wide the curtain panel or panels will be, take the width of the curtain rod and double it. In other words, you want your curtains to measure double the width of the curtain rod.

SIDE NOTE: Ideally, you want the curtain to be 1.5 to 3 times wider than the curtain rod.

Then, divide that measurement by the number of panels you plan on using. This is how wide the measurement of each curtain should be.

SIDE NOTE: If the curtain is slightly smaller or larger, that will be fine.

To determine how tall the curtain panel should be, measure from the top of the curtain rod to the floor. This is at least how tall your curtains should be.

TIP: Remember, a longer curtain makes the room feel taller.

Ideally, you want the curtain to hang just above the floor or pool slightly at the floor. In some cases, you will need to hem the curtain.

See how to sew curtains and hem the bottom with this tutorial. Or see how Young House Love folds the curtain, so no sewing is required.

Should Curtains Touch The Floor or Window Sill?

You can hang curtains at different lengths to match the look you desire for the room. Curtains that touch the floor or hang just above it create a classy, elegant look, suitable for formal settings like the dining room.

For a cozier, more homey look, curtains should hang to the windowsill. This is a good look for kitchens. Either option is perfectly acceptable and contributes its atmosphere to the space.

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

Drapery Sizes

Consider the right size, length, and width drapes for your space. There are many store-bought options or your room may require custom-made drapes to meet specific heights, room, or window specifications.

  • In the majority of cases, the ideal length for drapes is long enough to just kiss the floor. Obviously where you hang your curtain rod will have an impact. If you’re purchasing ready-made drapes, it will be a bit of a balancing act to determine what length to get and where to hang the rod.
  • For a traditional, formal look, consider drapes that puddle a couple of inches on the floor. This look isn’t as popular as it once was but it’s inherently luxurious and can still work in formal spaces.
  • Do not allow your drapes to hang above the floor. When they stop a couple of inches above the floor, it can make the ceilings look lower.
  • For drapes to look full, the panels should have a combined width of at least double the width of the window. If you have two panels, each one should equal the width of the window.
  • Keep in mind that some fabrics hang differently than others, so light fabrics may require more fullness, while heavy fabrics may require a little less.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

How to Determine the Number of Curtain Panels Needed

Wondering how many panels to add? If you want the curtains to be functional, the rule of thumb is to get enough panels to cover space at least twice the width of the window.


Most people know the rod should be at least the size of your window. 

However, if you want the curtain to look expensive, the window to feel larger, and allow more natural light into the room, make the rod wider than the window.

It’s recommended that the curtain rod brackets be placed at least 6″ from the window opening but not wider than 12″.

TIP: Place the brackets 12″ away for a more dramatic effect.

For example, if the window is 36″ wide and you want to place the brackets 12″ away, you would add 12″ + 12″ + 36″ for a total of 60″ plus 1″ to 2″ more for an overhang, resulting in a total of 62″.

SIDE NOTE: If you want to save money, make your rod and brackets using this DIY curtain rod tutorial. It will cut the cost in half. The rod and brackets in the image were made using this tutorial.

How Height Impacts Curtain Rod Placement

Use these tips to make sure you place your rods at the right height:

  • For standard drapes that hang on either side of a window, the typical height is halfway between the top of the window casing and the ceiling. This applies if there are more than 12 inches between the window trim and ceiling. 
  • For cathedral ceilings, leave approximately four to six inches above the window trim as a guideline. 
  • No matter what the ceiling height, the minimum distance from the top of the window casing to the curtain rod is two inches.
  • To create the illusion of height, mount the drapery rods close to the ceiling. This is particularly important to do if the room has low ceilings.
  • Use these same rules when the windows are arched.

The Spruce / Almar Creative

How Fabric Impacts Curtains

Lighter fabrics, such as sheers, will help make the room feel airy as they let in more light. If you need to warm up a room, try denser fabrics or thermal drapes which will also give you more privacy. Winter curtains can stop drafts and save energy.

Final Hardware Installation

If you don’t like the look of your curtain rod, there are more appealing hardware options. Decorative curtain rods are an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your window hardware. You can also hide the curtain rod with a DIY window cornice.


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