How to hang curtains - better homes and gardens

Properly hanging – never mind choosing – the right curtains for a room can make or break the space. After all, these often underestimated additions to an interior tend to frame the room they’re used in. Discover interior design tips on how to hang curtains, curtain styling, and beyond. Soon your home will boast perfectly styled window treatments in every space!

Prep for Hanging Curtains: The How-to-Hang-Curtains Basics

Installing layered curtains and shades - Lori D
Layered curtain styling by Decorilla designer, Lori D.

Much like how to choose a rug, learning how to hang curtains is an essential part of anyone’s journey into owning or renting property. Now, to hang curtains may seem like a simple job (which it is), but you have to know what you’re doing. For one thing, it helps to have the right tools. You’ll also need to get the measurements just right. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of installing curtains, the process will go far smoother.

Tools for Installing Curtains

How high to hang curtains - Smith Hanes

There are steps to take before considering how high to hang curtains: the most important is to have all the tools and materials you need on hand. Afterward, you can play around with drapery styling according to the latest interior design trends of 2022. Until then, get the following ready before you attempt to hang any new drapes:

  • pencil and notebook for noting down curtain lengths, width, and marking anchor points on the wall.
  • tape measure to measure the width and height of a window as well as the height of the ceiling.
  • sturdy ladder to reach beyond the top of windows.
  • A pair of safety glasses to protect your eyes from drill dust. 
  • drill, plus a suitable drill bit for the curtain rod’s anchor holes. 
  • stud finder to locate framing studs in wood buildings. 
  • Enough and a few spare wall anchors to secure the curtain rod to the wall. 
  • A level (laser or bubble can work) for ensuring the curtain rod is straight. 
  • Your curtains, the curtain rod, as well as any other drapery accessories.
  • clothing iron or steamer to straighten any kinks in the curtain fabric. 

How to Measure for Curtain Placement 


Before even looking into what drapes you like and curtain hanging options, be sure to take measurements. It’s important to double-check your measurements a few times before committing the drill to the wall.

  1. Start by measuring all windows that require drapery.
  2. In order to see how long a curtain rod needs to be, take the measurements of the window, then add 8 to 12 inches on either side. You want a curtain rod to extend beyond the sides of the window.
  3. To find how high you need to install the hardware, measure the space between the top of the window and the ceiling. The curtain rod should sit two-thirds to the ceiling and depending on the ceiling height, this can translate to between 4 and 10 inches. Sometimes crown molding or the ceiling may prevent you from hanging the curtains close to the ceiling. In these cases, place it as high as possible. For a more dramatic effect, get longer than necessary curtains to pool on the floor.
  4. Remember a curtain panel must be wider than the width of the window. So, when shopping around for curtains, pick a width of two to three times wider than the window.  

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Pro Tips on How to Hang Curtains

curtain rod height and ways to hang curtains by Arlen A and Berkeley H
Different curtain hanging options by Decorilla designers, Berkeley H. (left) and Arlen A. (right)

Curtains are far more than privacy-giving light blockers – they also add warmth, color, and texture to a room, amongst other things. In other words, drapes do a great deal more for your interior design than you may initially expect. Get the most out of your drapes with tips from the pros on curtain rod placement and how long to let curtains hang.

Curtain Rod Placement Hack for a Roomier Space

Installing curtains for dramatic effect - Darya N
How high to hang curtains shown by Decorilla designer, Darya N.

There’s more to curtain rod placement than meets the eye. Depending on the height it’s installed and where you subsequently hang curtains, it can create the illusion of a higher or lower ceiling. Interior designers recommend increasing the curtain rod height (i.e. installing it closer to the ceiling) for rooms that feel small. This particular placement makes the walls seem bigger, visually expanding the space.

How long should curtains hang?

Curtain hanging options - Emily Henderson
Three curtain styling lengths

For a classic yet practical look, opt for a curtain placement where the drapes only slightly kiss or hover just above the ground. Curtains should end less than an inch from the floor, as drapes that are too short by a couple of inches look tacky. Some puddling is ideal if creating a soft, romantic look. However, keep in mind that this will lead to the curtains becoming dirty faster.

Curtain Styling Advice

How to hang curtains for a living room - Rachel H
Curtain styling by Decorilla designer, Rachel H.

Before setting out to buy curtains and hardware for a room, consider tips from interior design industry professionals. After all, you want to enjoy the best results possible. Be patient in finding the right items, do your research, and your desired look will come together beautifully.

Take Your Time with Fabric Selection

How high to hang curtains depends on your ceiling height, example by Courtney B
Light curtain styling by Decorilla designer, Courtney B.

For those who desire tailor-made curtains, be sure to order samples of your favorite curtain materials. It’ll allow you to identify which fabric is best. Above all, you want your curtains to look nice and full, not limp and lifeless. Test your preferred fabrics by holding them at the top to see what body they have while hanging.

Ways to hang curtains - Chango

Also, make sure that your choice of fabric suits the intended space. Heavy fabrics are perfect for enhancing privacy, blocking light, and retaining heat. On the other hand, delicate materials allow more brightness and create a relaxed, cool atmosphere.

Pick Colors & Patterns Mindfully

Curtain rod height for outdoor curtains - Sonia C
Ways to hang curtains as a divider from an exterior by Decorilla designer, Sonia C.

Curtains are one of the more enduring additions to a space, which is why it’s a good idea to choose something classic. Anything neutral and in a solid color is likely to remain in style for a long time. Don’t rush shopping for drapery. Instead, keep looking until you find fuss-free, timeless curtains.

Curtain pattern hanging options
Popular curtain patterns ideal for decorative styling

Of course, you can hang colorful and patterned curtains – they’re just harder to pull off than neutral fabrics. Opt for bold colors or prints if you want the curtains to be a focal point. Although, many patterns can suit a wide variety of styles. 

Ways to hang curtains -The Spaces

Damask, fleur-de-lis, and Greek key motifs are great in luxe and formal interiors with a glam or transitional style. And for other casual styles, like boho or eclectic, chinoiserie, ikat, medallion, or paisley patterns are perfect. Even French Country or shabby chic designs can benefit from a pattern. Toile and florals are among the many motifs to fit these romantic interiors.

Choose Hardware to Fit the Room

How to hang curtains - Farzaneh K
Curtain rod placement and finish by Decorilla designer, Farzaneh K.

You want curtain hardware and accessories to not only go well with the space’s existing accents but with the drapery and its fabric as well. For example, sheer curtains pair well with slim rods, while heavy curtains pair well with thicker rods. Try to procure hardware in a similar material to any wooden or metallic finishes in a room.

How to Hang Curtains Per Room

Curtain placement for a nursery - Wanda p
Curtain styling in a nursery by Decorilla designer, Wanda P.

Curtain styling has a substantial impact on an interior’s overall look and feel. Apart from perfecting the curtain rod height, you must also choose the best style and type of window dressing per room.

Layered curtain styling - Mladen C
How to hang curtains in a formal lounge by Decorilla designer, Mladen C.

First, consider the following aspects: level of privacy, amount of light, temperature, and décor. Heavier drapes will ensure privacy, block out light, retain warmth as well as provide decoration. Lightweight curtains, on the other hand, are great for a warmer climate and to let in natural light. 

Curtain hanging options and window dressings - the spruce

Not all window coverings consist of soft material. Of course, blinds, screens, and shutters feature too, but for this guide, we’ll only focus on fabric curtains and hanging options. Less decorative and more functional options include roman and roller shades – great for kitchens, bathrooms, or as a base layer. 

Curtain Heading Styles 

Curtain placement for a living room - Shofy D
How to hang curtains just right by Decorilla designer, Shofy D.

Curtain heading styles include curtain rings, pinch and box pleats, goblet, eyelet, tab top, and tie top. Rod pocket is another curtain style that looks great but is less practical and best suited to small windows or in-frame café curtains. 

Curtain styling can make a room feel more stylish - Kasonndra L
How to hang curtains for a small window by Decorilla designer, KaSonndra L.

Armed with this guide, you can select different ways to hang curtains according to the room and look you want. For example, when looking for formal living room curtains, you can pick subtly patterned curtains in a luxurious fabric. After all, this is a room for socializing. In a bedroom, you may want to hang curtains that are dreamily soft and flowy. Either tied back or puddled will create a romantic ambiance. Another option is pinch pleat blackout curtains to ensure a great night’s sleep.

Curtain hanging options - Urbanology

However, it’s important to consider a room’s other furnishings when selecting curtains. Besides, you want the drapes to be flattering as well as practical.

Need help determining your perfect curtain placement?

Decorilla’s talented interior designers can help you determine how to hang curtains and so much more. They’ll effortlessly turn your vision for your home into a reality. Be sure to schedule a Free Interior Design Consultation to learn more today! 

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