The Right (and Wrong) Way to Hang Window Drapery Panels

November 10, 2011

I had planned on sharing another part of my bedroom makeover, but I got tied up in other directions, and didn’t have a chance to complete my next reveal.  But stayed tuned, I hope to wrap it up very soon (see how I said hope – it doesn’t mean it’ll actually happen, but it’s wishful thinking)!

Instead, I have a great post for you that will be informative and eye opening.

Earlier in the week when I shared my newly made lined window panels, I started to ponder how others think window treatments should be hung.  I sometimes take for granted that homeowners know the tricks that are innate in my brain.  I saw this picture via pinterest, but created my own illustration to visually show the best way to hang window treatments to allow as much natural light to shine through and visually enlarge the space.

Do you see a difference between these two window examples?
(I hope you do)

Which would you choose to be the best way to hang a window drapery panel?  And why is one better than the other?

Well let me share my answer and why!

My illustration starts with two of the same sized windows.

Then we’ll add some window treatments.

On the left side are window drapery panels that mostly cover the window and are hung on a rod that is placed directly above the window trim.

On the right side are window drapery panels that extend out to mostly cover the wall, leaving only about 1-2″ covering the window.  They are placed on a rod that is half way between the window trim and the ceiling

Well if you haven’t realized yet, the right side is the right way to hang window drapery panels.

And this is why~

There is a HUGE amount of additional light that shines through when window drapery panels extend out and are mostly placed on the wall surface.  Here’s an illustration showing the amount of light entering the space (seen in blue) for each window example.

This illustration shows how much of the window drapery fabric is covering the window (seen in red).  Only a sliver of fabric covers the window on the right side, but a huge amount of fabric is covering the left side.

And here is an overall illustration of how the draperies look side-by-side.

Positioning window treatments more on the wall than over the window, not only allows for more natural light, but it also heightens the room and visually widens the window.

Take a look at some real-life examples.

Let’s first start with the WRONG way of hanging window panels.

The window hardware is smartly placed to bring the eye up, but the window panels cover the window WAY TOO MUCH – unless you don’t want to see your neighbors this is NOT the way to hang drapes. (via Southern Living)

In this example the drapery hardware is placed on the window frame, so the panels appear to be hovering over the door allowing only a small amount of light to shine through. (via ChicColes)

Now let’s check out the RIGHT way to hang drapery panels.

* Allow in a HUGE amount of natural light
* The higher placed hardware heightens the room and allows the eye to be drawn up
* The window feels wider

The window hardware is placed close to the ceiling allowing for the draperies to heighten the room.  This is such a well-designed space with the same fabric used on all of the windows, they are different drapery styles (roman shades and long panels).  (via Decor Pad)

Another well-designed space!  Even though the ceilings are high this room feels even higher with the long, luxurious window drapery panels positioned to allow as much light to shine through. (via Decor Pad)

How are the window treatments hung in your home?

I link my projects to some of these parties: Skip to My Lou, Dittle Dattle, Between Naps on the Porch, Today’s Creative BlogHome Stories A to Z, All Things Heart & Home, Savvy Southern Style, House of Hepworths, Finding Fabulous, Creation Corner, The Shabby Nest, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk, Under the Table & Dreaming


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Comments

  1. This is an excellent post! I’m sharing it on Facebook. :)
    Susan recently posted..upcycled luggage and a contest!

  2. So glad to see this post, Jenna. It always seems to be an issue for people. Your examples are so practical and helpful to remind us of how to make the most of the light, the windows, & trick the eye into thinking the ceiling is taller. Great post, thanks!
    Gracious Spaces recently posted..Shabby-Glam Bedroom

    • Thanks so much Jennifer. As a Designer, you know theses tips, but to any everyday homeowner, they might not! Thanks for the kind comment :)

  3. thanks for the tutorial. I tried to get my window guy to measure wider than the window to hang the drapes but to no avail. A man for you! Sometimes I persue things that aren’t right and other times I’m just too lazy and let it slide.
    Michele in IL. recently posted..Nightstand before n after

    • lol, very true Michele! Well if you ever redo the windows, you can show him this tutorial, and hopefully he’ll “get it”!

  4. What a great post. I had no idea there was a right and wrong way. We haven’t added draperies to our home yet and I’ll keep this in mind when we do.

    Thanks so much!
    Nicole Maki recently posted..Full of Smiles: Tube Fun

  5. Thanks for the tutorial. I will be rehanging my drapes immediately. In my living room I have a shorter window above a widow, what is the correct way to hang my drapes? I only put drapes on the bottom window.

  6. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. I had heard similar advice before but it’s helpful to see it all drawn out so specifically. My problem is that most curtains sold at the big box stores (which is my price range) are only 84″ long and would not touch the floor if I hang them up high. What should I do to handle this? They’re supposed to pool a little on the floor, right? Thanks!

    • A drawing tells a thousand words, right?! Yes, you are right that most stores offer 84″ long drapes only, but some places like Bed Bath and Beyond or Overstock.com offer longer sizes. At BBB you have to order them, but they’re the same price or slightly more for the longer size, but still very affordable. If you like to sew, another idea is to add a band of a solid color at the top or bottom to make them the length you need. This look is very “in trend” right now. ~Jenna

  7. That was wonderful. Thanks for sharing that. I had no idea but it is so obvious now:)
    Tanya recently posted..Pinterest Inspired Week #3

  8. thank you! i’ve got some bedroom curtains to hang-i need this!
    dawn recently posted..Last Day of Summer…..

  9. A picture is worth a thousand words! That illustration says it all! Thanks for sharing.

    Sharon @ mrshinesclass

  10. Happy Thanksgiving ! You showed the right and wrong way to hang curtains, I do not believe that there is a right or wrong way. I think that it is up to the person who is hanging them, they have to live with it.I did not like either way, so does that make me wrong?? I like my curtains with a valance, and pulled back. That is just my way to do it because I think it is a lot more becoming to my room. Im not being rude, I just think that you hang your curtains the way YOU like them, not some decorator says what is right. I have Never went and bought curtains. I look in books about curtains, or one showing rooms and curtains, I pick the ones I like, then I make them. I have plenty of light and I don’t have the gap between the top pf the window caseing to the rod. It just makes it look like the curtains are just there, Curtains are a huge part of the room, and they should do the job that they are there to do, and that is to make the windows become part of the room and inhanse the look of the window. Thank You, this is just what my thoughts are. You and yours have a wonderful Thanks Giving . Gerry

  11. Thank you for this great public service! Poorly hung drapes are one of my pet peeves!
    condo Blues recently posted..Make a Stenciled Bottlecap Bracelet

  12. Thanks for a great tutorial! I had heard this rule before but never knew the reasoning behind it! However, I’m dying to know what to do about other types of windows…I have a bay window in my bedroom that’s got me stumped!

    • You are very welcome Stephanie! Apply these same ideas to other windows even if you don’t use long drapes. Hang your valance as high as possible only to cover a small part of the window glass. Jenna

  13. Great post…Luckily I’ve already hung my curtains high enough, now I’ll have to go check how much window/light they’re blocking. I’m wondering if you have an opinion about roman shades. In one of the examples above there are roman shades hung at the ceiling and covering the whole window as opposed to hung inside the window frame which I’ve seen more often. Is there a “right” or “wrong” way to hang roman shades? Or maybe is there a reason why you’d want to choose one method over the other? Maybe one is more formal…or?

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for the comment. I would use the same rule of thumb to hang roman shades. Hang them as high as you can, so only a small portion cover the top of the window when fully up. Then you can adjust how much they cover the window from that point. Hanging them high, heightens the window more. -Jenna

  14. Wow, this tutorial is EXACTLY what I need right now! I am going to re-do my daughter’s bedroom and I have just started thinking about curtains. I have a question for you (no worries if you’re not able to reply; I’m sure you get a million of these from readers!)… For curtains that are closed each night, what width would you recommend (ie, 1.5x or 2x the width of the window)? I’ve seen several curtain-making tutorials and they are all over the map – from 1.5x up to 3x! Thanks again for the info!

  15. I think it really depends on where you live and the type of house you have.

    Where I live, light = a lot of heat, which we do not want. At least not in the summer (which lasts about nine months here!!) So we always have our blinds drawn, and 80% light filtering window screens. We don’t even have any curtains right now.

    I also have vaulted ceilings. If I did as suggested, the panels would be anywhere from ten to twelve feet long on some windows! Yikes. It would be worse in a home that is two stories tall and had a room with 20-some foot ceilings…

    Admittedly, in rooms with shorter ceilings, it does look a lot better. I just don’t think it’s the right thing for vaulted ceilings, at least not “half way between the window trim and the ceiling”, anyway.

    So what are the suggestions for rooms like that?

    • Yes, of course every window situation is different and like everything, a rule of thumb can’t apply to all, but at least the ideas (no matter what size or configuration window) will give homeowners ideas on how to decorate windows.

  16. Marie Fievet says:

    I just made curtains for my great room – 63″ long – 4 panels. Fabric blocks more light than I want and makes the room look smaller. There is some additional length so the rods could be move upward a
    bit. Not too much room on the sides for extending the width. Is there any solution to correcting this problem? I was wondering if using tie-backs during the day night help prevent the light blocking,
    but what about making the room look smaller? Any helpful suggestions? Many thanks.

    • If possible, maybe cut down on the width of the panel so they don’t cover so much of the window. Since you don’t have wall space to the side, this would really be the only solution to get more light in. If you have the option to set them higher, I would do that too.

  17. Jenna,
    I’m wanting to hang my curtains above my windows as you show; however, the space between my windows and ceiling is 31 inches. Should I still go all the way to the ceiling or divide the space somehow?

    • It’s not a must to hang curtains all the way to the ceiling plane – actually I don’t believe they should be, but instead lower them a few inches. I’d rather see the curtains touch the floor and fall where ever above the window (maybe 6″ above the window or maybe half way between the ceiling and the window). Instead of a typical 84″ (7′) high curtain, so for the longer lengths – 92″+. If the curtain bottom hits the floor and you’re still wondering where to place the top, I’d go anywhere from the mid-point of the window / ceiling to 6″ below the ceiling plane. I hope that makes sense, let me know! Best, Jenna

      • Good Morning,

        I am unable to make a decision. I have 9 feet ceilings in the bedrooms. The top of the windows is 7 ft (84 inches). Do I go with the 95 inch curtains or 108 inch curtains? With the 108 inch, hanging them down 3 to 6 inches from the ceiling (no crown molding), I will have 3 to 6 inches of puddling, which I don’t really want. Or, I can use that tape with heated iron to hem them up. I worry that the 95 inch curtains will leave too much space on the wall above the window to the ceiling (approx 13 inches). Will that look odd? Which is the preferred way to go with these curtain lengths?
        Therese recently posted..Desk Makeover using Make Your Own Chalk Finish Paint

        • Both would be a great look. As long as the panel sits higher on the wall, then you’re good. When it sits right at the window frame or just above, is when the window looks squat. The 108″ panels will really give the room drama, but yes, I would recommend hemming them or using fusable tape so you do not have a huge amount of puddling. Good Luck! Jenna

  18. Jenna,

    I recently found out my DH would like draperies in our LR. The kicker is this. We have 20′ ceilings and there are 8 bay windows, 4 on the flat side and 2 top and 2 bottom to the right and left of the bay.

    How to do nice looking draperies? I really DON’T want people’s eyes drawn too much to the ceiling due to the ‘popcorn’;p

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Cathy

    • I would look for 96″ high panels and set them 6″ or so above the window so the bottoms just touch the floor. This is really the best look! Good Luck.

  19. Thank you for this post (I know it’s old- but I just saw it). We live in a old home where nothing is quite straight. The top of the windows are not straight with the line of the ceiling. Should the rod be straight with the ceiling or the window?

    Thank you!

    • That’s a tough one and honestly without being in the space and seeing how off it is, it’s difficult to say. I would place it half way between in the window and the ceiling, then while someone is holding the rod, step back and look to see what’s best. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Old houses are often tricky.

  20. i always thought that my curtains looked off. now I know why! my question is: what if i have wide trim around the windows with a “Crown mold” at the top and sill that is several inches deep?

    • When there is heavier architectural detail around the window, you can either embrace it or ignore it. So basically, if you want to embrace and show off the detailing, a simple window treatment that is inside mounted into the window is a great direction. If you decide to ignore the detailing, then move forward with the same idea / direction as my post said, which is to go as high as you on the wall and let the moulding be what it is… Just some ideas and good luck!
      xo
      Jenna

  21. My husband and I are building a small hotel for our outdoor adventures clients in Mexico. One wall of each room is all glass with a sliding door in the middle. DH and I are debating about curtains. I say they must cover the whole window for when people want to block out the light. He insists that he wants to leave a gap at the top, for aesthetic reasons. I don’t get his point at all, but I’m wondering if you have ever seen anything like this or if there’s any way to make it look right instead of like you just didn’t have curtains long enough. These are huge windows, 12 ft high by 13.5 feet wide. Any advice appreciated!

  22. Need to Know says:

    I recently added ceiling beams that are 5″ deep to my 10′ ceilings in my kitchen & great room area. I plan to make some new curtains that are more full & hang them wider on the window as you have shown in this post. My question is how high should I raise them? I currently have 16 inches between the top of the window & the bottom of the beams. Currently my rod sits 12 inches below the beam with four inches between the top of the window & the rod.

    • Without a picture it’s difficult to say exactly. A rule of thumb to use would be to position the rod about half way between the ceiling and the top of the window trim. There is no exact measurement, but as long as the curtains are positioned higher, they will heighten the space. Also make it easier on yourself by choosing long curtain panels (96″ or 108″ are typical) and position them so you don’t have to hem. Good Luck!

      Jenna

  23. I have windows in my living room which are 13′ wide, and go almost to the ceiling (which is coved), and almost to the floor. I just want to hang two panels on each side of the window (4 panels total) for color. I have not been able to find a drapery rod long enough. Fourteen feet would probably be ideal. Any ideas? Also, I have seen in home decorator magazines in the past, short rods that are meant to be placed on both sides of the window, just long enough for a panel or two. I can not find them online or in the stores, probably because they are a specialty item, and I do not know what these drapery rods are called. Any idea? Thanks so much1

    • If you want to go affordable, I would look for wood rods that can be screwed together to make the length what ever you need. Rods like this can be found at Bed Bath and Beyond. You could also make your own rod with metal piping, but that would be a total DIY. As an alternative for shorter rods at the end of each side, look for the shortest length possible, usually around 18″ wide. Good Luck!

      xo
      Jenna

  24. Hi I am trying to figure out the best way to hang curtains in my apartment that has vertical blinds in living room and dining room. should the same rule apply? I love how they look hanging high above the window and of course i will use an extended bracket but will this look okay with vertical blinds, and if not is there a way to make the vertical blinds hidden?

    • Without a picture or being in the room, it’s always difficult to understand the space, but I’m wondering, are the vertical blinds within the window frame or on the outside? If they’re on the inside, that would be alot better so once completely open, the window panel can cover them. Is there a way to change them to a cellular shade that sits within the window or even a decorative and functional roman shade or bamboo shade – that would look really dynamic!

      Good Luck!
      Jenna

  25. Hi, I live in a small NYC railroad apartment (living room has moulding? frame that divides small living room in two) and while I put curtains on my window according to your suggestion (six inches above the window frame but not to the ceiling) the room feels a tad off, I think because the moulding frame that divides the living room (archway frame) now looks significantly lower than the frame created by the window curtains in green. Please help. Here are 2 pictures.

    • I think the space looks really good. How about trying longer panels? Installed higher on the wall, the panels really give a nice height to the room!

  26. Catherine Peters says:

    I’m wondering how you feel about those short rods on either side of the windows, as opposed to one long rod? Would you use them on certain kinds of curtains (grommets?) and not others? Are they for a certain “look”? I can’t decide if they look odd or not. My daughter feels windows look better when there isn’t a long rod going across the window, if panels are just for decorative purposes.

    • To be honest, it really depends on the window style and then the rod + window treatment that you use. I have all different situations in my home and it depends on the window height and configuration. I think if you have a super high window or a really wide window, shorter rods can work. At the same time, I also like the look of a long rod that covers two windows so it brings them together to look like one. Again, it really is a window by window basis. Just be open and go with what you think looks best! Trust yourself. Good Luck!

      Jenna

  27. I have a BIG problem in my dining room. I have two radiators below each window.
    The other window is fine. But the long curtains sat on top or would get ruined from hitting the radiators.
    I purchased short curtains so they sit above the radiator. It looks horrible.
    I know it does. Now what. :( My other issue is that I do not want people looking in.
    I heard you should not put blinds or sheers in a dining room.
    My room is also red, I love the color. Has a very country Pottery barn feel with a large farm style table.
    HELP :(

  28. Hi.I loved all your information, but my problem is a 9ft. 4in. high wall, with 2, 51in. tall x 35in. wide side by side windows that are 19inches off the floor. I bought 108 in drapes from BBB. They are beautiful, and look perfect in the room. My rod is 4 inches from the ceiling. But now I have approx. 30 inches of space between the window and the rod. What can I put in between this space so it doesn’t look so empty, or did I put the rod to high?
    It looked good in the model. Thank You

  29. Cindylouwho says:

    OK, I have 2″ wooden poles on brackets going all around the top of wall. The installer hung each end and pleat with drapery hook on rings. These are sheer 20″W (with 5 pleats) panels. Should you tuck the end around the pole rather than going straight across to finial? I think there is not enough material to do this install. We want to soften the edges of the windows. Do you put one ring between finial and bracket thus preventing the panel to move? Any suggestions? Would you want a neat ironed finish to each pleat or steam out pleat marks for more casual look? Gosh I hope someone is out there with suggestions….H-E_L_L_O!

  30. Love these ideas and have a question…If I have 8 ft ceilings and hang the curtains high and wide, where should I hang outside mount shades or blinds? Thanks!

  31. Thanks for these ideas! If I have 8 foot ceilings and hang my panels high and wide, where should I hang outside mount shades or blinds? Thanks!

  32. This is one of the best curtain rod hanging posts I’ve ever seen!
    Great examples of right & wrong. Thanks!

  33. Denise says:

    Thanks for this. I am custom sewing curtains for my newly remodeled living room and have been trying to figure out how high and wide to place the curtain rod. I am not sure if I will add crown molding, so I don’t want to go all the way to the ceiling (9’2″). I like your suggestion of going halfway between the top of the window trim and the ceiling. That leaves just enough space for me to add crown molding if I decide to. I had also planned to have the drapes lie completely off the window when open. I live in Seattle where every drop of light is a precious, precious thing at certain times of year. On the down side, I just realized that my drapes probably need to be WIDER than planned because they will have to spread further to close together when they are closed. But, I’m not an experienced seamstress and it’s just too darn convenient to have a 54″ window and the fabric is 54,” so two panels = perfect 2:1 ratio. Do you have any recommendations on HOW much wider than the window the drapery rod should be?

    • A 2:1 ratio seems ideal, so I would go with that. I would use your eye to determine what looks best for you for how much wider the rod should be off of the window. Plus it depends on how much fabric you have so most of it will sit on the wall instead of the glass. Good Luck!

  34. Tracy Bryant says:

    I have windows where the top of the window is 104″ from the ground. My ceilings are 12′. My windows are a craftsman style, with one panel at the top divided in thirds, one single panel below and then the remainder of the window with no panes. Suggestions for hanging panels? Most curtains I find are only 84″ and 96″ long.

  35. Thanks Jenna! I don’t know squat about curtains, and you just enlightened me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] magical curtains are.  At the SAS Interiors blog they have a whole post on this that you can read here. Below is a picture from the same blog that illustrates it perfectly. This is from them, not from [...]

  2. [...] to hang my curtains high & wide to give the illusion of an extra large window (it’s an interior designer trick I found over at SAS Interiors). Well, high and wide is great, but when your ceilings are 9 feet, a 92″ curtain panel [...]

  3. [...] The reason I’ve left them long is that this restyle is only halfway done. Stage 2 is to move the curtain rods up higher. Unfortunately that requires drilling so I need to vet it with my co-habitant. And then probably [...]

  4. […] Hang curtains high and wide to make the window appear bigger (click here for more about that). We couldn’t go very wide since the hearth butts into the left side of […]

  5. […] material so that the light extends and feels like it’s creating a halo around the window. Here is a very informative post about how and where to hang curtain […]

  6. […] Another way to draw the eye up is by hanging curtain rods near the ceiling. Here’s a great visual guide that shows the right (and wrong) way to hang curtains. […]

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