Tips for Choosing and Hanging Curtains

Curtains undeniably add beauty to the room. Like rugs, throws, and sheets, curtains are one of the most important textile elements in the home that needs consideration. When carefully considered, it can transform a boring window into a dramatic statement maker.

More than its decorative purpose, here are some other things curtains can do:

  • Provide privacy. Curtains function primarily to give privacy. You don’t want neighbors and people walking around to have a good view of what you’re doing inside.
  • Add warmth. Curtains also bring warmth to a room that seems to be lacking it. Adding some textile to the windows adds that homey and comfortable vibe, making you feel safe in your own home.
  • Serves as a finishing touch. Windows without window treatments simply seem to be missing something. It’s like walls without paint or a bed without sheets. Curtains are typically what the windows need to look complete.
  • Makes space appear larger. Curtains have the ability to transform a room and make it look grander by tricking the eye that the windows are larger and taller than it really is.
  • Unifies a room’s theme. Some rooms might lack balance in colors, patterns or texture. A good choice of the curtain can prevent awkwardness in design and make it coordinate with each other.

Curtains are available in many different types, colors, and designs. Here are some considerations to look for when choosing curtains and tips for hanging them:

1. Fabric

The first thing to consider when buying a curtain is the type of fabric that suits the mood and function of the room. Generally, a lighter fabric blends a more casual room, while denser and thicker fabrics give a more formal look plus the extra privacy.

There are curtains perfect for the mood of the room you want to achieve. For a casual vibe, pick linen draperies or polyester curtains. For a romantic look, choose silk. For an elegant look, choose velvet, heavy silk, cotton sateen, and silky rayon blends. For a more versatile option, pick cotton curtains.

When making a functional choice, consider if you need a lined curtain or not. If you need curtains that would provide privacy and total blocking of light, then opt for curtains with lining. If you simply need a decorative curtain that would also let in natural light, then choose an unlined curtain. Lined curtains are more expensive since it provides an extra layer of protection from sun damage and maximum durability. Linings also help fabric fall more elegantly.

hanging curtains

2. Colors, prints, and patterns

Your choice of color depends on whether you want the curtains to blend, complement or pop. To blend, choose curtains with the same tone as the wall, but a bit darker. Or you may pick a non-dominant, subdued color in the room and choose a curtain with the same color. Bold color can make the curtain pop and make a statement. Also, remember that in a space where the sun shines, the color of the curtains will infuse the room, so make sure you’d like it. Yellow can be too warm, blue can be gloomy, while pink can be cheery.

When dealing with prints and patterns, the rule is to keep balance with surrounding walls and furnishings. If you have patterned furniture, wallpaper, bedding or rug, then go for curtains with solid colors. If you have solid-color furnishings and textiles, then you can go for patterned curtains.

3. Curtain length

Generally, floor-length curtains are the way to go, unless it’s on a sink window in a kitchen, or a radiator or a deep sill is in the way. Having a curtain that is too short will just seem off and out of place. Measure from the floor to the top of the rod, then subtract as needed to allow for the hanging hardware. Here are some tips for a certain length that works.

A space a little under an inch from the floor (or the window sill) to the curtain is good, so that it would look like it’s touching the floor, but is actually leaving a space to keep them from getting dragged or getting dirty. This look is a classic and is good for curtains that you open or close a lot. It’s also great for short panel curtains that cover only the lower portion of the window up to the sill in kitchen and bathroom windows where floor-length drapes are not practical.

  • Puddling on the floor

For a stylish take, use curtains that extend to the floor by 1 to 2 inches. This approach is great if you have uneven floors. This length would help you achieve a romantic feel, especially for those interiors with feminine design, or even European, traditional and old world styles.

For more formal rooms and areas, allow an extra 6 to 9 inches in a puddle, tuck it underneath and poof it up. This only works for thick, heavy or lined curtains – the type of fabrics that you splurge on – so it would puddle beautifully. Otherwise, it would simply look way too long. Make sure that before you try this approach, you are ready for more frequent maintenance as curtains need re-fluffing every time you vacuum.

4. Hanging height

To create an illusion of a taller window, fix your curtain rod closer to the ceiling than the top of the window frame. The general rule is to position it around 4 to 6 inches above the window frame, or halfway between the frame and the ceiling molding. If you have a low ceiling, you can install the rod as close to the ceiling as possible to create an illusion of having higher walls. Making the windows look taller creates a more attractive and professional-looking window treatment.

5. Curtain and rod width

Curtains should be wide enough to fully reveal the window’s glass when opened. This would allow more sunlight to enter the room, help create the illusion that the window is larger, and prevent shadows from forming on the sides of the window.

The rule of thumb regarding curtain width is that if your curtains are only intended to frame a window and won’t be opened or shut, you only need 1 to 1 ½ times the width of the window frame. Meanwhile, if your curtains are meant to be closed, the combined width of the curtains must be around 2 to 2 ½ times the width of the frame so it would still look full. If you want to go for all-out fullness, choose curtains with three times the frame’s width. To achieve this setting, the curtain rod should obviously be wider than your window.

Generally, the rod should extend a minimum of three inches beyond the window frame on each side, up to 1/3 wider than the width of the window. For instance, a 63” window should have at least a 69” rod (63 + 3 + 3 = 69) up to 84” (63 x 1/3 = 21; 63 + 21 = 84).

6. Top treatment

The way curtains are hanged from the rod or any top hardware affects how they drape. This determines the curtain’s overall look, whether it’s casual or formal, contemporary or traditional. Here are the most common top treatments:

  • Rod pocket / Pole pocket

One of the most basic and common types of top treatment, rod pockets are a channel along the top wherein curtain rods are easily slipped inside. This makes a casual, gathered look, which is perfect for curtains that are bound to stay in place since moving the fabric back and forth can be difficult.

  • Rings or hooks

Curtains with drapery hooks or rings bring a more contemporary look. This also makes opening and closing the curtain easier as it glides smoothly along the curtain rod. It creates pleats on the fabric, making it look more formal than those with rod pocket headings.

  • Grommet

Grommets are eyelets placed in a hole, and curtains with grommets look stylish and casual. This makes curtains glide easier too, making it a great choice for windows that are often closed and opened. It also forms pleats that bring modern sophistication to the windows.

Curtains with tab-top headings have flat loops of fabric for hanging on the rod. Tie tops is a variation of this, as it uses bows instead of flat loops for a more feminine look.

  1. Rod type

The type of rod you are going to use will be dictated by your choice of curtains, especially their top treatments. It also depends highly on your purpose for the curtain – whether it’s decorative or functional. Here are some types of rods to choose from:

  • Classic rod

A classic rod is an adjustable pole, usually decorated with ornamental end caps or finals, and is attached to the wall using brackets or hooks.

  • Tension rod

It’s a type of curtain rod that fits exactly inside a window frame with no hardware for support. It can be used when dealing with plaster walls, or when you don’t want to make holes and attach brackets or hooks to your wall. Because of the manner, it is attached, it can only support lightweight curtains.

  • Return rod / French rod

A rod that has an adjustable curve shape screwed directly to the wall. Curtains can wrap or glide around the curved sides, allowing for more privacy and complete blocking of light. It can support medium to heavy panels and is also available in double rod styles.

  • Double rod

For layered curtains, double rods are the hardware to use. This is perfect for mixing and matching curtains and draperies of different types, colors, materials, patterns, etc. It also helps in keeping the room warm during colder months.

  • Track rod

A type of rod that can be installed on a wall or the ceiling. It has drapery hooks attached to pulleys inside a track, helping curtains glide effortlessly.