How to hang curtains – with or without a rod

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Step 3

Next, measure the window height. Wall-mounted rods are usually installed four inches above the window. To find your ideal placement, measure down from the ceiling to the top of the trim at the left corner of your window; mark the midway point. Repeat this in the middle of your window frame and in the right corner, then check your markings with a level.

While measuring, keep in mind the length of your curtain panels. If you can avoid it, you don’t want to have to alter the hems once you’ve mounted the rod. You may need to adjust your penciled-in placement by an inch or two to get the panels to fall where you want them. Curtains that just graze the floor or sill appear classic and tailored, while those that break slightly at the floor (from one to three inches) are also on trend.

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To give the illusion of height in the room, mount the rod even closer to the ceiling. Don’t go higher than eight inches above the window frame; any more than that looks awkward.

If you plan to puddle your curtains for a look that is extremely formal, allow six to eight extra inches of fabric to fall at the bottom. Skip this style if you plan to open and close your curtains regularly, as the bottoms will dirty quickly from constantly brushing the floors.

How to hang curtains tips tricks

materials needed

Step one: Determine your measurements

We’ve already talked a bit about this, but the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out how high and how wide you want your curtains to be from the corner of your window.

For this, I just grabbed my first curtain rod bracket and held it up on the wall and played around with the spacing until I found something I liked. I knew I wanted the top of the bracket to be about 3″ below the ceiling, and in this specific space I wanted it to be as far away from the window as it feasibly could be. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to have the bracket somewhere around 10-12″ from the window (keeping in mind that the actual rod will extend another couple of inches past that).

Once you know where you want your bracket to sit, measure exactly where the two screws should be placed (how far from the window in both directions). You’ll use this to create your template. This is definitely the easiest way to do it if you’re new to hanging curtains or if you’ve got multiple windows to hang them on. If you’re working in a weird space like ours where the spacing isn’t the same on both sides, it may be easier to just measure and mark on the walls.

step two (Optional): Make your template

Once you know your measurements, you can make a simple template out of cardboard to make the rest of the job easier. Grab a rectangular piece of cardboard and draw lines across it for both the height and width measurements, then use your bracket to mark on the cardboard where your screw holes should be.

I don’t have any pictures of this because we didn’t do it for this particular curtain hanging project, but you can get a really good overview of what the process looks like on this post from Young House Love!

Whether or not you use the template, be sure to use a level when making your markings to make sure the bracket is hung nice and straight!

Step Three: Drill pilot Holes

Once you’ve marked your holes for the bracket (whether it’s by using a cardboard template or simply holding the bracket in place and marking with a pen), your next step is to grab your drill, insert a small drill bit, and drill pilot holes in your wall.

There are a couple of reasons for this – first of all, it’s much easier to drill your bracket into the wall if you’ve got some pilot holes for the screws to get started in, and it’s also a fool-proof way to see if you’ll need anchors. If you can feel that there’s no stud behind the drywall (meaning, once the drill bit goes through the drywall there’s nothing there), then you’ll need to use an anchor. If you feel resistance all the way, then you’ve hit a stud and you can just use a regular screw.

Step four: Add anchors (if needed)

Your curtain rod probably comes with anchors, so you’ll want to use those if you aren’t drilling into a stud.

Use the directions provided with your rod to determine what size drill bit to use for the anchors, drill a hole (right on top of the pilot hole you’ve already drilled), then insert the anchors and hammer them into place.

Step five: attach brackets

Now you’re finally ready to hang those brackets! Simply line the holes on the bracket up with the holes you’ve drilled in the wall (or the anchors), and use the provided screws to attach them to the wall.

You may need a middle bracket if your window is long – use the directions provided with your curtain rod to determine if this is necessary!

Step six: hang those curtains!

Once your brackets are all in place, you’re ready to slide the curtains on and put the rod up! You just hung curtains!

I’m obsessed with our new gold velvet curtains in here and, while I was skeptical of them at first, I think they were definitely the right choice.

One set of curtains down, about a zillion more to go!

Baby steps, no?!

5. Install Your Curtain Brackets To The Wall

The rest is pretty straightforward – hammer in your anchors and secure your curtain rod hooks to the wall using the provided screws. We do all of this in real-time in the video above if you want to see exactly how quick this whole things goes.

HOW WIDE SHOULD A CURTAIN ROD BE?

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.

A Few Other Things

By using Command Hooks to hang a curtain rod without drilling into the wall, you do have some flexibility. I experimented with hanging my curtains fuller and wider, and all I needed to do was simply extend my bar past the hooks. So far, my rod hasn’t sagged at all…but if it did, I could easily add another hook along the middle.

You will likely notice that I still used my gromme

You will likely notice that I still used my grommet curtain panels…they are just hung upside-down. I hemmed and hawed about whether I should “doctor” my photos so you didn’t see them, but I opted to keep it real instead.

In all honesty, I thought they would be hardly noticeable once hung and would even serve as curtain weights to keep the pleats looking nice. Although they seem fairly obvious in photos, I don’t even notice them when I’m actually in the room. I’m not sure I would do this in a space where we host guests; but for now, it’s just another example of “making it work.”

Our curtains have been hung for a few weeks now, a

Our curtains have been hung for a few weeks now, and I have the utmost confidence they will stay put for the remainder of our time here. However, I do want to point out that these curtains are 100% decorative. Thanks to the blinds on the windows, we never have to pull these curtains open or shut. If you need your curtains to be a bit more “functional,” I would suggest adding an extra hooks to the center of the rod to absorb some of that weight down the bar.

Although this was a project I really had to figure

Although this was a project I really had to figure out, I am so glad I took the time to work through it. We’ve never shied away from hanging curtain rods in our rental homes the “real” way; and I’m not sure we will abandon that method entirely. But it’s really nice to know we still have options should we ever find ourselves in a home where we can’t put holes in the wall. If you can’t or don’t want to add holes to your walls too, I hope this tutorial proves useful in getting some curtains up on your windows!

See You Soon! Megan

Warnings

  • Don’t hang curtains so they cover radiators or heat registers and don’t hang them so close to the ceiling that they are difficult to close and open.

    Thanks! Helpful 20 Not Helpful 22

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Measure for a curtain rod

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

If you are using a curtain rod to hang curtains, you’ll first need to determine the size of curtain rod required for the particular window. It’s preferable for curtains to hang from above the window and around it so they don’t cover the glazing when they are open, and the window looks larger. To achieve this, measure the width of the window and add around 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30cm) for each side of the window; that is, add 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61cm) total. 

Bear in mind that the rod’s width does not include finials, so check their dimensions individually. If there is insufficient space available on the wall either side of the window for the rod plus finials you prefer, you can add 4 or 5 inches (10 or 13cm) either side of it rather than the larger measurement above. 

Plan to hang the rod 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25cm) above the window. Alternatively, in a room with very high ceilings, you could place the rod some 12 to 24 inches (30 to 61cm) above the window, or fix it just below the crown molding. As a minimum, a rod should be 2 inches (5cm) above the window.

Knowing the width of the rod and the length from the top of the rod to the floor will enable you to follow the necessary steps of how to measure for curtains.

How to hang curtains without a rod

(Image credit: Future)

Wondering about how to hang curtains with or without a rod? There are a few reasons why you might contemplate the second route. For example, you might want a more slender option than a curtain rod, you might like an alternative look, or you could prefer not to drill into the wall. 

If it’s drilling you want to avoid, remember that a tension rod has a spring mechanism so that it will stay in place across a window, but otherwise these are the options:

Curtain wire can be fixed across the width of the window. This is easy to fix with eyes at either end of the wire attached to hooks fixed to the window and the curtain threaded on to the wire. This can work with sheers or lightweight curtains.

Rope is an alternative to curtain wire and can complement country or cottage style decor. It’s best teamed with curtains with grommets. Make sure you stretch the rope until it is taut when you fix it to avoid sagging.

Cabinet knobs can be used to hang tie-top curtains. Install them on the wall at the same distance as the ties. As you can’t move the curtains with this method, it’s best saved for sheers that stay in place across the window.

6 Pro Tips for Styling and Hanging Curtains

1. Fake high ceilings by hanging your curtains as high as possible.

If your apartment feels a little cavelike, try hanging your curtains closer to the ceiling. This will immediately create the illusion of more ceiling height.

2. Find a classic design that won't go out of style.

“Making a decision on curtains that are somewhat permanent is daunting,” says interior designer Melissa Warner Rothblum, who runs the L.A.-based firm Massucco Warner Miller with partner Julie Massucco Kleiner. The big consideration: finding a design that doesn’t feel fussy and won’t go out of style. “People assume drapes are old-fashioned,” says Kleiner, “but they don’t have to be. Sewing multiple fabrics together for a custom look or adding tape trim for a unique pattern gives them a modern edge.”

3. Opt for curtains that graze the floor.

Keep an eye on proportion—the length should just touch the floor. “The mistake done most often are drapes that are cut too short by a handful of inches,” says Rothblum, “and it doesn’t look like it fits.” Make sure the fabric just hits the floor or ends under an inch above. If what you need is in between curtain lengths available, choose the longer one. Your dry cleaner or tailor can always hem them if they are too long.

4. Do choose a fabric that compliments the vibe of the space.

Make sure the fabric matches the room. Sheer fabrics, such as linens, let in more light and feel more casual—perfect for spaces like living rooms. Heavier fabrics, such as velvets, will block light and provide privacy. If you live in a colder climate or an old building, heavier window treatments can also help block some of those pesky drafts.

5. Coordinate your hardware with the curtain fabric and the room’s existing metals.

Your rods and finials should complement your curtains. Heavier curtains call for more substantial rods, while sheers can be placed on slimmer rods. If you have metal accents elsewhere in the room, such as a gilded pendant light or brass-framed coffee table, consider a similar material or finish for the curtain rods or finials.

6. Order curtain fabric samples.

You always want to aim for fullness with a fabric that hangs nicely so the curtains don’t look lifeless. You can do this by holding the top of a fabric sample and seeing the kind of natural body it has.

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