When properly hung, the right drapery will make an interior feel complete — not only do they provide privacy and regulate sunlight, but they create the illusion of a larger space and add a dose of texture. Finding the proper size curtains and hanging your curtain rod at the appropriate height is crucial for both aesthetics and function. “If the height of drapes is not maximized, it can make a room look shorter than it actually is — creating a feeling of compression in a room,” says Ashley Macuga, principal designer of Collected Interiors.
We understand there’s a lot that goes into hanging curtains, from measuring your window to installing curtain rod brackets into drywall. That’s why we’ve written this easy-to-follow guide, broken up into two parts: How to measure for curtains and how to hang curtains. We tapped into designer Ashley Macuga for her expert advice, so you can hang curtains just like a pro.
What You’ll Need
How to Measure for Curtains
✔️ Calculate the width of your window. Your curtain rod should extend past the window on both sides by at least 8 to 10 inches. To create the appearance of a larger window, your rod should be a total of 16 to 20 inches longer than your window.
✔️ Consider the size of your drapery stack, which refers to the amount of space the curtains take up when they are fully opened and pushed to the sides, says Macuga. “Personally, I like to have a curtain stack on each side that is at least half the size of the window for a more elegant and full look when the curtains are drawn.”
✔️ Calculate the height of your window. To make a room feel taller and more grand, hang your curtain rod a few inches (about 4 to 6) above your window. “The most common mistake is hanging curtains too low,” says Macuga.
✔️ Measure from the top of your window frame to the floor. This measurement will determine how long your curtains should be — and don’t forget to add a few inches, since your curtain rod will be hung above the window. Curtains should just about reach the floor. “We aim for 1/4″ if there are no pets in the home, and 1/2″ if there is a risk that pet hair might accumulate and adhere to the bottom,” says Macuga.
Designer advice: When in doubt, size up. If you’re worried about puddling on the ground, hem the curtains or bring them to your local seamstress.
How to Hang Curtains
Once you’ve purchased the right size curtain rod and drapery, it’s time to break out the drill. While some people may prefer to hire a handyman or a TaskRabbit, it’s simple enough to do it yourself. Follow these step-by-step instructions to hang curtains with ease.
- Use a pencil to mark drill holes for your bracket. Once you’ve determined how high and wide to hang the curtain rod bracket, mark the wall with a pencil. Use a level to ensure your markings on each side are even.
- Screw in the brackets for the curtain rod. Drapery is heavy, which means you’ll probably need wall anchors unless you’re able to locate studs on the wall. (Tip: Use a stud finder to determine if you’ll need wall anchors.) First, drill guide holes then fasten the brackets to the wall using a drill or screwdriver.
- Hang the curtains. After you thread the curtains onto the rod, hang the rod in the brackets. Use a level to ensure the curtains are hung evenly. Then, open and close the curtains to ensure they’re working properly.
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Quick tip: Before putting your drapes onto the curtain rod, test that your brackets are sturdy enough to support the rod alone and that it appears even.
Associate Lifestyle Editor
Alyssa Gautieri (she/her) is the associate lifestyle editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers all things home and interior design. Prior to joining GH in 2022, she wrote for publications including ELLE Decor, Chairish, BobVila.com, Unique Homes Magazine and LODGING Magazine, in addition to crafting product copy for home brands like BrylaneHome and VIGO Industries.