Curtain Hanging 101

My mom seemed surprised to learn that I’m hanging curtains in the family room at 11 ft up – at the ceiling, instead of just above the first set of windows.  So, I thought I’d talk about how high to hang your curtains today.

Here is a great diagram that essentially sums up my thoughts on this topic.

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The key is, high and wide.  Why?   We want to draw the eye up and use the height of the room, as well as make the window look wider and more substantial.

Frame your window, think of curtains as artwork.  Use them to soften the space and make a design statement.

Though the two windows in the drawing are the same, the window on the right (#2) will look larger, provide more light, and look more custom.

So hang your curtains/ drapery close to ceiling height (on 8-9 ft. walls), and, out onto the wall area next to the window,

I like to extend the rod 12″ wider on either side of the window, (if room permits and other walls and windows don’t prevent that).  Cover a couple of inches of window with the curtain so that it doesn’t seem disconnected.  When hanging, don’t forget to allow for the height of the finial.

Let’s take a look at some examples so you can take special note of how these curtains in gorgeous rooms are hung.

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I like to keep draperies fairly simple. Simple straight hanging panels compliment any decorating style. For a slightly more custom and upscale look, I prefer a lined pinch pleat curtain hung with rings.  For a more casual feel, I love curtains with grommets.

With vaulted ceilings, hang curtains a minumum of 8 or 9 ft, but above the highest window if you can.

What gets me is that the majority of ready made curtains come in 84 inch length, which is 7 feet.  Too short! You don’t want high waters and you don’t want them hung too low.  Stores need to get with the times.  My favorite places that sell longer curtains are IKEA, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware.  What are yours?

kristysig

69 Comments :

  1. Great tips! I always tell people to do this too and they think I am a little crazy! I only have 8 foot ceilings, so it is easy to find panels long enough. Ikea is my usual go to though.

  2. I completely agree! Curtains can really make a room feel polished and cozy but if they’re hung wrong, or too short, or one of the hundred other things that can make curtains look wrong, then they just become a huge eyesore in the room!

    Laura
    http://www.HappyroostBlog.com

  3. I love Ikea because they make longer lengths. I hate to see too short curtains on a window.

  4. I love the look of hanging curtains higher, but unfortunately my husband hates it. I’m going to try to get away with it in our living room, but I have to choose my battles…

  5. I had to make all of mine! Stinkin 84″ L is ridiculous, who came up with that length in the first place!?

  6. True, true!!! People hang them high!!!! Couldn’t agree more!!

  7. Hi

    I agree that curtains should be hung higher and wider than the actual window. However, I personally do not like the look of them when they are at the ceiling. I think they look a bit odd that way. In my apartment, I have the curtain rods about one foot above the top of the window, which is about one foot lower than the ceiling. I like to see a peek of the wall color above the window frame, especially since I have white molding on my ceiling which is offset by the color of my walls.

    I also agree one of the above commenter about using IKEA as a curtain source. I looked around for a while at curtains, because I wanted a nice quality but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. IKEA won out, after searching through many different stores, and I was really impressed with how many different options they had, the price of said options, and the quality of said options. I’ve had them for over a year now and love them. I recommend IKEA as a curtain source to all of my friends.

    Love the blog! I don’t comment much on any blogs I follow, although I’m trying to change that, but I’m a big fan of what you do!

    • Great comment! I appreciate you commenting. Each situation had its nuances are is a little unique. For instance, if I hung my curtains a ft below the 11 ft crown molding, it’d be right across some small upper panes. It wouldn’t work. Yet, if someone else hung them snug to the ceiling, it may seem too snug and you may want to feel like it’s breathing a tad. So, you do it as the space allows, but these are some general tips to follow. I think the main thing to take away is just not too low, like the 84 inch panels would seem to dictate. I’m sure your curtains look fabulous~! I agree, IKEA has great curtains for the money. I bought my breakfast room panels from there and so far, I’m very pleased.

  8. That is my biggest grip with stores that sell curtains, and why I always just make my own ;) Great tips!

  9. Great tips and guidelines, thank you!! I’ve been quietly following for over a year now and love your style! Slightly off-topic but do you have any tips for how to treat functioning walkout sliding doors, like your third image example? I am STUCK on what to do with my sliders…they only get used seasonally but are in my living and dining rooms and I’m sick of the plain Jane, sliding bamboo panels! Thanks so much!!

  10. I totally agree with you about curtain height. JCPenney’s has a great selection and you can order from the store and they will send directly to your home. They had quite a few that had a lot of different length options!

    • We just moved in October and I finally got new cutnrias for my master bedroom a couple of weeks ago. (we live in the middle of 10 acres of wooded land and really don’t need them) I would like to make some for my kitchen window and those little grommets would look nice..

  11. Hi Kristy,
    What would your recommendation be for a height to hang a curtain rod in a room with 9 foot ceilings and a window height of 7 feet? Do I put the curtain rod near the ceiling and have a 2 foot gap between the rod and top of the window frame? Do I put the rod 12 inches up from the window and have the rod visually split that area in half? Or do I put the rod a couple inches above the top of the window frame? I don’t love the idea of any of my options:)…please help!

    Thank you!!
    Beth

  12. Buy drapery? No way! I have never purchased drapes. I make my own. If you can sew a straight seam, that’s all there is to it. I can get the style and length I want in a wider choice of fabric. I line them so that they have more body and aren’t so transparent. By shopping sales and online wholesale fabric sites, I save a ton of money. I made full length drapes for 3 rooms (a total of 5 windows–3 double and 2 single) in my daughter’s new house. Each room only costs about $80.00 each–and most of that cost was in grommets and hardware. It takes about 1-1 1/2 days per window to make a set of drapes. The drapes hang from just below the crown molding to the floor with 8″ ceilings. She gets tons of compliments on them.

    • Definitely the way to go if you can. Im not to confident in sewing straight lines yet. Haha. Do you live in Austin and want to come over to help? Haha. Lucky daughter.

  13. Hi Kristy!
    I have vaulted ceilings that are at a a 30-35° degree left angle, starting from around 12 ft. down to 8 ft. and 3 windows that are about 2 feet apart from each other, I love your ideas about hanging the curtains high above the windows but I don’t want my living room to seem like a theatre!
    Need help please!

    • Those are the trickiest. You pretty much have to hang at the tallest vertical height which sounds like 8 feet. There isn’t much way around it. Sometimes in spaces like that, it’s better to do window casings and nice bamboo or roman shades rather than curtains.

      • How wide do you suggest to go with a door width of 74″?

        • Depends on things like ceiling height, purpose of the curtain, surrounding things, and so on. But, in general, if the ceiling is 8-9 ft, half to 3/4 (towards ceiling) between the door and ceiling.

  14. I am trying to hang my drapery higher and wider than the window but am running into 2 problems. First I have old plaster walls and ceilings that I don’t dare attempt to place hardware into….have heard of brackets which install onto window trim and extend or adjust up higher above window, but have not been able to find them….any sources? And secondly, when extending the rods wider, thereby drapes not obstructing the glass, can’t pull drapes closed past the brackets which get in the way (mounted to the window trim). Any solutions?

    • They make bypass rods, but I don’t think that’d work in this case. I’ve never tried to hang curtains in a situation like yours. I’d try to call someone in this specific industry and ask their thoughts. Wish I could be of more help.

  15. Hi,

    I have 12 ft ceilings in a loft now and have 108 inch drapes, I have the rods placed just above windows so you can see the brick which worked perfect but I’m moving into a condo with standard 9 ft ceilings, what height should I tell the landlord to install the rods? I noticed there are no crown moldings at the top, we will have a juliet balcony with a bit of window above it in the living area and sliding glass doors in the master bedroom, can I still use my 108 inch drapes in those areas? And do you think the rods should always go to ceiling no matter where the windows are?? Also any recommendations on window coverings for garden basements? Thanks

    • Those are general rules, but all rules can be broken. The size of the windows would come into play, as well as the distance between the top and the ceiling. At some point it can get awkward.

      For what you describe, I would really need to see photos.

      In general, you’ll want all curtains in one room to be hung at the same height, if that helps. If they are 9 ft ceilings and the windows are within a couple of feet of those ceilings, I would consider hanging them about 8 inches from the ceiling and trimming the curtains a bit so they barely puddle on the floor.

      Garden basements… that can be a tough one. I do not always do curtains or window coverings for that. If you need a covering and will not rely on the window for light, you could consider fudging it a bit with a bamboo blind or roman shade mounted on the outside of the window and then flanked with curtains a little higher up. Hope that is helpful, but feel free to email photos.

  16. I have a question regarding drapery rods. I had some curtains made for my master bedroom sliding doors that are 12′ wide by 8′ tall. I just want a very simple iron rod but I cannot seam to find them that wide. Is there a trick to hanging curtains over very large areas? I also will be installing some over our large 20′ span of sliding door and I am clueless as to where to purchase that long of hardware that also looks good. Please help??
    thank you
    lauren scott

  17. Melissa Valdez

    What about 18 ft ceilings with stacked windows? I have honeycomb blinds only on bottom set if windows, but have 2 other stacked rows of windows above. Suggestions? Would love some tips. I could provide photos ;-)

  18. I have a question regarding rods , I understand to hang high and long but what if there is no space above but I have space to go long . Should i purchase to short rods and place them on the long sides or should I use something else all togather.

  19. Hi! I have run into an ‘issue’ at our new house. I want to hang curtains in this manner throughout the house, however in my son’s room, he has 2 windows on the one wall. One window works out fine, space-wise. The window on the right side, however, is all the way to the right, almost touching the wall. So there is not a lot of space for curtain rod with finials. I already had picked out his curtain rods (have a rounded almost pinecone finial). What can I do with this window? Hang the rod, but leave off the right finial and put some sort of cap on the end?

  20. Hi! I have 11′H ceilings in my family room. Should I place the rod at 8′-9′ H or go higher? I also have (3) windows side by side in the same room. Do I put (6) panels on the window or (4)? Thanks for your help!

    • I’d go higher, but if there is a space greater than 3 feet between the top of the window and the ceiling line, keep the rod about a foot from the ceiling line so the space seems a little smaller. You can do the curtain panels in either configuration. If the windows are within 10 inches apart (fairly close), I’d just do the side panels on each side. For a fuller effect, you can put two on each side. But, if they are further apart, then I’d do the six panels. Hope that helps.

  21. hi there,
    my name is marianne
    i have never written on a blog before… i am enclosing a picture of my living room.(sent via email) i have drapes as you can see but feel like they are not high enough and plan on getting new ones the same kind color as the wall as I like that look. How high would you suggest I hang them? the ceilings are about 10 ft high.
    thanks so much,

    Marianne

    • After seeing the photo (thanks), But, I’d move them up half way between the door trim and the ceiling. But, if there are other curtains within eye distance that are hung closer to the ceiling, I’d match that height so it’s visually consistent. Hope that helps!

  22. Have 8 ft ceilings with no molding on top. How high should I hang curtain panels? There is 12 3/4 between top of window frame and ceiling

    • Sorry for the slow reply. I would do them about 4-6 inches from the ceiling. That way there is plenty of room for finials. Hope that helps!

  23. What about drapes trailing on the floor a couple of inches longer than they need to be? Is that a good look or what does that do to the room? Is there a proper length for trailing curtains?

    • I refer to that as puddling. Ideally curtains are just touching the floor. But if the curtains are decorative only, puddling is fine. This is preferred over “high waters.” Similar to jeans. Hope that helps.

  24. Your tips are very helpful! One question I have is whether or not it’s okay to hang curtains on some windows and not others? I have one wall of three windows in my living area that would look great with curtains, as would the window in the dining nook which is adjacent. However, I have two windows on a wall between those two spaces that are tough! One is 6 inches from the corner of the wall & 8 inces from the gas fire place, the other practically touches the fire place mantel and is about 4 inches from the end of that wall. Would it be weird to hang them on two walls and not the other?

    • I’d have to see the space in order to answer in a certain way. It all depends. A quick answer would be that usually, unless you have some awesome window casings to show off, you want to cover all windows. A trick around corners is to take the finial off and butt the curtain up against the wall. Hope that helps!

  25. My living room and dining room are all in one long somewhat narrow space. My problem with curtains is that the ceilings are about 10′ but the windows are split horizontally – the regular windows have another set of windows above them with an area of about 12″ in between. The last homeowner hung the rods in the middle of the two sets of windows, which lets me use 84″ curtains, and leaves the top set of windows open. I’m wondering, though, if it wouldn’t look better if I hung the rods all the way at the ceiling, and made curtains that frame both sets of windows on the sides?

    • Yes, I’d hang them to the ceiling. From what you’ve said, they may be similar to the windows in my family room. Check out the Tour page to see if they are and if so, how I hung my curtains.

  26. Hi! Curtain question for you….I have 20 something odd foot ceilings with three “tiers” of windows if you will. Do I hang curtains above the second tier or third, waaaaay up by the ceiling? I feel like that would almost be a waste of fabric? I’d almost like to make the room look a little smaller and cozier so I was thinking above the second set of windows. Am I on track?
    Thanks!
    Deanna

    • Without seeing pictures, I do think you are on the right track. It’d cozy up the space a bit. The second set of windows is probably good so they aren’t too low. Hope that helps.

  27. Joanne Messerlie

    Just had custom drapes installed. They hung them two-three inches below molding
    I think they should have installed them right at molding. What is the correct method?

  28. I have a front room (informal sitting room) and a dinning room that are connected by a 6 ft wide doorway. The wall colors are similar and continuous carpet.

    The front room has 2 big windows and would look great with curtains. The dining room has 1 larger window and then 2 small (28 inch) windows and a large dining room set. My neighbor says you have to either do valences or curtains on all windows but never a mixture. My friend says she would so curtains in the larger open front room on the windows and then valences out of the same fabric in the dining room, as she feels curtains would overwhelm the room.

    The are used as separate rooms but definitely a continuous space.

    Thoughts?

    • If I understood everything correctly, she is right. I would keep it consistent. I’d consider doing curtains throughout, but I haven’t seen your dining room windows. It depends on how they are set up and what your curtains are like. But yes, she’s on the right track! Hope that helps.

  29. How do I keep my grommet top curtains from fanning out at the bottom?

    • Mine usually touch the floor and then I fold the pleated areas accordingly. That usually does it. If they don’t touch the floor, that could be a problem… in that case you could attempt safety pinning.

  30. I have so enjoyed your posts and wonderful information regarding curtains heights and widths. I am struggling with my great room windows. I have 16′ vaulted ceiling in my great room that come down to 8.5′ on the side walls at about a 40 degree angle. There is a large window with 4 panels that are 8′ on the bottom and three angled shorter panels(45″ at middle panel) on top which takes up most of the wall overlooking our pond. Additionally, there is a tall double pane windows on the right wall at baseboard to ceiling trim height and french doors on the left wall about a foot from the ceiling trim. Both side windows are about 5 feet from the large main windows. The problem is the angled ceiling 16′ to 8.5′ and uneven window heights on either side. I would like to put my curtains high on the main wall to show case the window and view but then they will be taller than the two windows on the side walls. Is it okay to have one taller set of drapes in a room or do they all have to be the same height. Also where should I place the drapes on the double windows? Can I send you a picture so you can view the windows? Should the rod go all the way across or just to the side and above the 4 tall window panels but not including the three windows above them? Really struggling with this!

  31. Hi Kristy,

    I have a small home with a large view. My windows are large,close together , and the top of the window is 32″ from the ceiling . What would be a good height to hang my curtain rods? My ceilings are 9 1/2 feet and I don’t have any crown moulding. I was thinking the material looked good at about half way between window and ceiling, but I just can’t decide,and I don’t want to screw it up. Any help you could give me I would appreciate.

    Thanks, Lori

    • Lori, Half way would be the absolute lowest that you would want to hang curtains. With that much space between the window and ceiling, though, I’d hang them at least 2/3 of the way up. Within 10 or so inches of the ceiling would look best. Hope that helps!!

  32. Hi Kristy,
    My wife doesn’t want our bedroom curtains handing to the floor (easier cleaning, etc.) and so we plan on buying 63″ long curtains (outer/heavier and inner/lighter/sheer) and hanging with a double rod.
    My windows are about 46 1/2″ long to sill and 50″ long overall. I have 11 inches to ceiling. If I hang the curtains about 6 inches above the window, that leaves them covering the window plus about 7 inches lower than the window. I’m not sure where 63 inch curtains are supposed to hang? If not going to the floor, does it matter?

    Also, I have just over 11″ on the left of one window and the right of the other window (corner windows). Is it OK for the rods to almost touch in the corner?

    Thank you.
    Axel

    • I understand. That’s a tough one since I don’t really ever do short curtains. It’s a rare thing for me. I’d say within 7 inches of the bottom of the window should be fine. You just want it to be clear that they are meant to be short (though are below the window frame) and aren’t high waters that were meant to be long. So, I think that should work. It’s fine to place the rods almost touching the corner. In fact, I’ve had to skip finials at times in order to get the actual curtains into the corner just right.

  33. Hi Kristy,

    Your site is so very helpful. Thank you. I’m conflicted on my curtain placement. My ceilings are 9 foot with a 4 inch molding. The window is a standard 6-7 foot window and I have about 20 inches between the top of the window and the molding. Where should I place the rod? Right at the molding, an inch down, or more like 6 inches from the molding? Thank you for any guidance you have.

  34. Thank you so much for the reply. To get the curtains to hang just below the sill, covering the entire window frame, would be hanging the rods just one inch from the ceiling. What do you feel would be reasonably close to the ceiling and not start to look odd? :) Glad to know you can hang them so they go below by 5-6 inches or so and won’t get that “high waters” feel.

    Thank you again,
    Axel

  35. Thank you Kristy. Guess a lot of people aren’t a fan of sill or just beneath sill length, but at least I’ll have room for my hamper below the window without the curtains getting in the way. :) I will try to give your social channels a Like and or Tweet. Best, Axel

    • Axel, if there is a lot of space between the window and ceiling, you could add bamboo blinds over the windows as a hack to make them look taller and then add the curtains. Just a thought. Best of luck!! Thanks!

  36. Help! We have a living room/dining room/kitchen combination in our new downsized home. Three of the windows are 12″ from the ceiling and I have put up curtain rods half way between the top of the window and the ceiling. Now I have to install the rod over the sliding glass door-the top of which is 15″ from the ceiling. Should I install the curtain rod at the same height as the ones over the windows (leaving a larger gap between the top of the frame and the rod) or again half way between the top of the frame and the ceiling-leaving the larger gap between the rod and the ceiling? I was going to put them at the same height as the windows but I am now thinking it will look too contrived or samey samey :) thanks for any wisdom you can give me!

  37. Sharmin Brenneman

    Hi Kristy!
    I’m trying to figure out what to do with my windows and I need your expertise. I have a vaulted ceiling. I’m wondering how high to hang the rod. The adjoining wall to the window wall has a molding about 3 ft above the window and a different paint color. Should I use this as the “ceiling” measurement? In that case, would the rod would be 1 1/2 ft above the window?

    Also, I have fabric for two panels. Would it look bad or unfinished if I put one panel to the left of the windowed wall, and the other to the right of the small window on the adjoining wall? If I did that, would I just use a short rod in both places? Or would you recommend putting a third panel on the right side of the windowed wall, and a long rod across the whole window?

    Thanks so much. A picture is in my dropbox cloud.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/hv0o56mucsuoizm/2014-02-26%2011.40.20.jpg

    Sharmin

    • Thank you for the picture. That totally helped! I would hang them half way between the lower molding and the window. I’d use long rods all the way around for continuity and put a third panel in the middle. That is going to look the best. Hope that helps!

  38. Hi Kristy,

    Still trying different colors and now wondering if since the 2 bedroom windows are corner windows with 11 inches each to the corner of the room, if it would look odd to have so much material hanging down vs. going with a panel on the left of one and the right of the other only? That’s the suggestion the store owner gave us, but picturing it in my mind it seems strange not to have anything hanging down on the other side of each window. Again, they’re standard 50 in long and 40 1/2 or so wide. 11 inches to ceiling and 11 inches on the left of the one on the right and 11 inches to the right of the one on the left, to the corner. We plan on double rods with sheers and panels.
    Best,
    Axel

  39. I have 10 foot wall on one half of room and 7 foot wall on one half if the room how high divi hang the curtain rod on the 10 foot wall ? Should it match the other side of room height wise ?

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