How To Hang Curtains The Right Way

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Last week a friend asked me for some help with her new apartment. She sent me a picture of her living room with a sectional sofa, a coffee table, a rug, and not much else. She wanted to add some accent pillows and an art piece, but when I asked about adding curtains, she said she did not want any because she was not staying in the apartment for long. What she said made me think that curtains are a hassle for many people, trying to figure out the length and the width, where to hang them, and what hardware to use can be a daunting task. I quickly convinced her that adding curtains is easier that she though when you follow a few simple design rules and that they will add some much needed finishing touch to her living room.


Here are some important rules to follow when choosing and hanging your curtains

Rule number one: go as high as you can with your curtains.

By going high with your curtain, you create a visual illusion of having a higher ceiling. Hanging curtains just above the window, as many people do, makes the room less spacious. This rule is especially important for rooms with lower ceilings.


Rule number two: measure your window wall accurately and choose the right hardware.

When it comes to figuring out the length of the curtain, you will first need to measure the window wall (floor to ceiling). Once you have the correct measurements, it is time to select the hardware. The two most popular curtain hanging hardware are curtain rods and tracks. I will list some examples of those below. If you choose to use curtain rods, you should deduct a couple of inches from the length of your curtain as rods usually sit a couple of inches below the ceiling because of the brackets used to install them. If you choose to use curtain rings instead of rod pocket or back tabs (openings at the back of your curtains where you place the rod), you will have to deduct a couple more inches from the curtain length. When using tracks and gliders, the height of your curtain will be the exact measurement (floor to ceiling).

Your next step will be to calculate how wide your panels should be. If your curtain panel is not wide enough, consider purchasing two or more panels to get the desired width. I like to use panels that extend 2 feet past the window on each side if space allows. That way, they will look substantial and not like thin straps of fabric hanging by the window. Take that extra space on each side of the window under consideration while selecting the length of your rods or tracks. The curtain itself should be 1.5 to 2 times wider than your window.

As for the depth, the curtains should hang about 4 inches away from the wall. The curtains should kiss the floor, avoid hanging curtains a few inches off the floor, which makes them look unprofessional.


Rule number three: keep it simple.

Keeping your curtains simple but stylish will make them timeless; I prefer curtains in neutral colors. You can use patterns, but make sure they correspond with the rest of your room.


Time to install the curtains.

Installing the curtain hardware is pretty simple, but if you do not feel confident, try and find a local handyman or recruit your friend, boyfriend, husband, or a handy wife, who can help you. However, if you are willing to attempt hanging the curtains yourself, by all means, go for it! Here is a list of items you will need:

If you are hanging light curtains, you will not need a stud finder; however, if you are going with heavy fabric like velvet, you should use a stud finder to make your curtains more secure.
Start by assessing how many brackets you will need to support your curtain rod. They should be spaced about 5 feet from each other. With your pencil, mark the position of your brackets. Install the brackets with a drill, make sure they are equal space from the ceiling and are level. Place the curtain rod in place and the curtains onto it. Good luck!


This is a single Ikea track with brackets, gliders and curtain hooks. Ikea curtains have the already sawn in curtain tape. 

This is a curtain rod with curtain rings

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