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Design Inspo

How High To Hang Curtains: Advice From an Interior Designer

Let’s get those windows dressed. Ask yourself these questions before hanging your new curtains to install them at the perfect height the first time.

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“How high should I hang the new curtains?” is one of life’s big questions, if not the biggest. We could make a case that it’s more important than “What’s the meaning of life” and “Where did I leave my keys?” — if you’re an interior design lover, at least!

Don’t ruminate on the purely-utilitarian window treatments of years past and the sad holes they left in your interior design dreams (and drywall). It’s time to say goodbye to curtains as purely practical features to maintain privacy. It’s also time to refuse to let the standard curtain lengths you find in stores automatically decide how high you hang them on windows. 

Such practices lead to episodes of hanging, then rehanging curtains (cue the eye roll-inducing spackling patches), and possibly settling on a curtain length that feels “off.” More thought must go into the process. Ask yourself the following profound questions as you consider your new window coverings, and you’ll be able to nail the perfect curtain height the first time. 

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How Wide Should Curtains Be?

Before we talk about curtain length, we should quickly cover curtain width because the two work together to give you the perfect window treatment. 

Create Space and Balance By Extending the Width of Curtains

Drapery extending well past a window's width can make a small space feel large. Balance tall windows by hanging curtains out further to the side. Curtains set at least eight to 12 inches from each side of the window give a well-proportioned frame that adds structure to the room. 

Make Sure You Have Enough Curtain Fabric

Measure the width of the window and double-check that the curtain panels are at least twice that width. Without enough fabric, curtains won’t be able to pleat and fold correctly for the graceful drapes we know and love.

Why Go Higher?

If you’re wondering why you should consider hanging your curtains higher than you normally would, ponder no more. We’ve got answers. 

Show Off Those High Ceilings

As a general rule, we hang curtains higher than the window frame to make a room feel taller. Every space can benefit from this enhancement, but when you already have high ceilings, you can use that wall space to magnify your room's dimensions. 

Today, anything above nine-foot ceilings may be considered high, but don’t be afraid to install your curtain hardware higher up the wall. 

Fake Those High Ceilings

When you don’t have the ceiling height you’d like but want to give the impression of extended vertical space, it’s even more important to hang window hardware higher than the actual window frame.

Whether the curtains are open or closed, your eyes follow the curtains upward, creating the illusion of larger windows and making the room look like it has higher ceilings than it does.

Allow Blackout Curtains To Do Their Job

For your blackout curtains to cover and block light from around your window, you’ll want to ensure they hang well above and below your window frame and hang them wider than the window. The only real drawback to hanging your curtains higher is that you may need long curtains to do this effectively, or you may need to hem them to the right length.

There are many different types of blackout curtains. Some might be only vinyl, and some might have a fabric layer to protect the vinyl. To help maintain the lifespan of blackout curtains, hang the fabric side facing the window to protect that sun-shielding coating. 

Why Hang Curtains Lower?

Hanging curtains halfway through the window frame or at the top of the window isn’t super common unless, of course, we’re talking about kitchens. Kitchen windows (especially ones above a sink) often have cafe curtains (more on that below).

Make Hard Choices With Existing Curtains

There are times of transition when you may need to “make do” with the curtains and window situation that you have. If you have curtains that aren’t very long, you have the choice of either:

  1. Losing the vertical height by hanging them at the top of the window frame so they can reach the floor.
  2. Hanging them higher but having them end inches before reaching the floor. 

Curtains that don’t reach the floor look awkward. There is a jarring break between the bottom of the curtains and the color of the wall that undoes the feelings of spaciousness and balance.

Opt for Cafe Style Curtains 

One instance where you would intentionally hang curtains lower is when choosing cafe curtains for the kitchen or dining room. The suspension rod is placed partway down the window frame, often holding sheer curtains.

You get the best of both worlds — the privacy needed to guard your secret recipes and the natural light needed to make your signature dish.

What’s Your Ideal Curtain Length?

Once you know how you’d like to hang your curtains, it’s time to decide on the length.

Kiss the Floor 

Kissing the floor means (almost) exactly what it suggests: The bottom edge of your curtains brushes the floor for a “just perfect” fit that makes the window look classic and intentional.

Puddle That Fabric

Puddling your curtains requires two to four inches of extra length that can gracefully gather on the floor beneath the window. High-quality textiles shine in the gathers and draping, making the room feel luxurious. 

Compromise With the Puddle Break

The break is less extreme than the puddle, requiring only a half to one inch of extra fabric. The puddle break is a happy medium between the indulgence of the puddle and the tailored look of the kiss.

Float Curtains for Practicality

If you have pets or children and don’t want your custom curtains to be a tripping hazard for little feet or a chew toy for your pups, float the hem no higher than a half inch above the floor. It has almost the same tailored look as the kiss without the potential headache.

Now, How Can You Hang Curtains Easily?

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of finding the correct height for window coverings. Just a few simple measurements, and you’ll know the exact spot for your hardware.

Measure From Your Windows to Ceiling

A solid rule of thumb is to hang curtains up to half to two-thirds of the distance from the top of the window to the ceiling. If you choose to go to the ceiling, hang your hardware a half inch from the bottom of the crown molding. 

Create a Window Hardware Template

An easy way to find the right spot for your curtain hardware is to create a DIY template of two pieces of cardboard taped together at a right angle. Cut your cardboard along the lines where your hardware height from the window and distance out to the side intersect. 

Set your template on the top corner of your window trim at each side of the window for an exact placement of the curtain hardware that you only had to measure and mark once. 

Or, you can avoid doing this work altogether by creating a mock-up of your space in Spoak's room visualization tool: No need to drill holes in the wall that you need to fill in later or order custom linen curtains you can’t actually use. No need to cut cardboard and stand on a stool to tape it to your freshly-painted walls. 

Measure Your Curtains Correctly for Length

When measuring the length of your curtains from the top to the bottom hem, only measure the parts that will actually cover the window for the right curtain height. For example, measure from the bottom of grommet holes, curtain ring attachments, tab tops, or the rod pocket to the hem. 

The Height of Style

With your correctly measured curtains, your hanging template (or better yet, your Spoak membership), and the collected wisdom of your soul-searching about curtain lengths, you’re ready to tackle those new window treatments like a pro. 

Photo Credit: (Left) Paper n Stitch Blog


13 Ways To Make A Room Seem Taller | Forbes

Ceiling Heights in Homes and Offices | University of Pennsylvania

What Side of the Blackout Curtain Is Close to the Window? | SF Gate

20 Kitchen Curtain Ideas You'll Want to Copy | The Spruce

Try mocking up your new window coverings with a Spoak trial membership

Date Posted
April 29, 2023



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