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How to hang curtains on any window

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Do you know how to hang curtains? Are you throwing off a perfectly collected room with one mistake? Did you buy curtains that are too short?

You know, the 84″ curtains that fall about a foot from the floor, but they are the only ones that are in stock when you run to the store to add this finishing touch. We’re going to fix that with these curtain buying and hanging tips.

Don’t take offense, I’ve made the same mistake. I got excited and bought curtains just to get the room finished. I didn’t measure, find the best pattern or weight. The curtains went up on the wall only to find that the pattern was all too common, they were completely sheer, and they were floating in mid air.

Oops. Lesson learned. I’m here to help you choose and hang curtains properly so that you can avoid wasting money on the mistakes I’ve already made for you.


Before I show you how to hang curtains and drapery, I want to make sure you are purchasing the best panels for your space. You’ll want to consider why you are hanging them and the vibe of the room.


First consider what problem you want to solve with curtains? Is this a primarily decorative decision or do you need to modify the light entering the room?

  • Do you want to block light & add privacy? You’ll want lined curtains or a thick fabric and enough panels to cover the entire window.
  • Do you need to filter light, but keep the room bright? Choose a pair that will add texture to the room but can be stationary.


What type of room are you buying curtains for?

  • Is the room formal? Choose a traditional pattern like a greek key trim on a solid white or a velvet or silk in a solid color.
  • Is the room warm and relaxed? Think Pottery Barn. If you are going for the over stuffed comfortable room with neutral colors, choose linen curtain panels.
  • Is the room playful or you are looking to add a pop of color? Go for a pattern like an ikat or print with lots of color- floral, chinoiserie, palm; or go for contrast: black and white stripe.
  • Is it a powder room? I recommend installing a roman shade. It provides privacy, but can still add a decorative touch to the room.


Before you run out and buy curtains you need to properly measure the space. While you may be able to get away with putting up a standard length, you will need specific measurements for the width and height so that you purchase the correct hardware and number of panels.

Grab your measuring tape and measure the following:

  • distance between the ceiling and top of the window,
  • height of the top of the window to floor,
  • width of the window,
  • distance from the side of the window to the end of wall/window on each side.

Guidelines for correct sizing:

  • To determine the proper curtain length you will expect to hang the rod 4″ down from the ceiling in a standard (8ft or 9ft) room or just below crown molding. For taller ceilings, the rod should be 6″- 10″ above the top of window.
    • A 96″ curtain length should be the go to for 8ft ceilings. Spring for 108″ for a 9ft ceiling height and plan to either hem the bottom or puddle them slightly.
  • For the rod width, add 12″- 20″ to the window width measurement you jotted down. This will ensure the rod is long enough to extend 10″ past the window frame.
  • The caveat of extending the rod 10″ past the window frame side is if the distance to the wall from the window is less. In this case, go half way. If the gap is 8 inches, extend 4″.



The hardware you choose can say as much about the space as the curtains themselves. You will once again need to consider the style of the room as well as the size. You’ve already taken measurements of width, so make sure you buy the proper width curtain rod and one for each window in the room.

Buy the rod with the LEAST amount of extension, the longer the extension the greater the dip in the middle.

While we are talking about hardware- Don’t buy grommet panels. Just don’t. They are shiny, loud, and hang loosely. Opt for rod pocket, tab back (pleat), or clips and rings.

Favorite Places to Buy Curtain Rods

  • Drapery Rods Direct
  • West Elm
  • Pottery Barn
  • Target (Threshold brand)
  • Rejuvenation

Favorite Places to Buy Curtain Panels

How to hang curtains guide

How to hhang curtains on an arched window

How to hang curtains arched window 4


Now that you have all of the Do’s for choosing the perfect curtains for your room, review these Don’ts before buying those clearance curtains from TJMaxx. You’ll save at least $30 a window in mistakes, which adds up to at least half of the amount you should be spending on properly fitted curtains.


The most obvious mistake when it comes to curtains is buying curtain panels that are too short. This is the 84″ panel. DO NOT BUY IT. EVER. (Unless you live in a hobbit house).

The 84″ curtains will float almost a foot above the floor looking awkward and leaving a huge gap. You’ll wonder why the room looks off and until you pinpoint it, it can throw a perfectly styled room into a disaster.

But you won’t make that mistake, because I’ve already made it for you. Go for the 96″ or 108″ length since you have already measured the window height including the rod.

DO: Round up to the closest length. The curtain panel should slightly “kiss” the floor or puddle for a dramatic look. It should not float more than 1/2″ off of the floor. If it’s floating any more, the panel is too short.


How many panels do you need? This depends on whether you want to be able to close the curtains or they are purely decorative.

A standard curtain panel is 50″-54″. If you want to close the curtains you will need to cover 2x the width of the window. You will likely need more than 2 panels for each window.

If you want a fuller, formal look, you will want to add additional panels as well. If your only goal is to flank the window, one panel on each side should be fine so long as the scale of the room is moderate.

DO: Buy at least two panels per window. Buy more panels for a wider window or wall of windows. Formal = more.

DO: Remember to hang them outside the window molding to accentuate your window. Extend your rod anywhere from 6″ to 12″ beyond the window frame on each side.


Hanging the curtain rod too close to the top of the window will make the room look squatty.

Bringing the hardware up 10 inches makes the window look taller, the ceilings looks higher and maximizes light flow into the room.

DO: Hang the curtain rod 2″-4″ below crown molding or ceiling. For rooms with high ceilings, hang them 10″ above the top of the frame.

Finally, as promised, I have this awesome PDF printable worksheet to help you measure your windows for proper window treatment ordering.


You are now a curtain hanging pro. You’re armed with all of the right tools to pick the perfect curtains for any room in your house and hang them with confidence knowing that your curtains will look like a professional installed them. Happy Hanging!!

4 thoughts on “How to Hang Curtains + FREE PRINTABLE CHEAT SHEET”

  1. I need a professional. But csnt afford 4500 per window. That’s quote I got. So I will go it alone. Appreciate tips and suggestions.

  2. I have 11’ ceilings and I only want to put the panels on the side for decorative purposes. I like the look of those small rods on each side, but I don’t know what they’re called? How high from the ceiling should they be? Great tips! Thank you!

  3. oh that’s a tough one. Code would probably say 8″-12″ above for fire hazard, but I am not a contractor so don’t quote me on that. Design wise- maybe skip the sheers and do a roman shade instead so you don’t get that cropped look.

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