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Design Inspo

How To Hang Curtains Like a Professional Designer

Is your home decor in desperate need of new curtains? Let’s review your curtain style options and learn how to hang them like a pro. 

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Nothing gives a space a makeover like new window treatments. If you’ve been meaning to flex your curtain-hanging skills, follow these tips to get designer-quality drapery that doesn’t require training or special tools. 

Let’s find the right curtains for your interior design style and gain the know-how to hang them like a pro.

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Choose Your Style

If you’re starting fresh with new drapes, take a look at your existing space and discover window treatment ideas from the Spoak community to find the curtains that best fit your needs before you shop. You might realize that you want to keep your existing curtains but reinstall them for a classier look — that’s okay too! 

Fabric Type

Think about the feel you want your home to have: casual with breezy sheers or maybe romantic folds of silk. Will those patterned blackout curtains give your bedroom the privacy you need while keeping the sun out for better quality sleep?

Or maybe you need sheer curtains in the living room to soak up all of that natural light? The curtain panels you choose will set the tone for your home, but they can help it function better, too. 

Curtain Length

Flip through any interior design book, and you’ll see the dramatic effect of long curtains hanging high above the window frame. It creates a feeling of space and looks elegant, reaching all the way down to the floor. How low your curtains go depends on your lifestyle, but these are the four lengths to consider for a professional look:

  • The Kiss: Your curtains just brush the top of the floor. 
  • The Puddle: Your curtains have an extra two to four inches of length that lets them pool on the floor, which may be an issue with pets or baseboard heating. Though this style once provided warmth, now it is all about luxury. 
  • The Puddle Break: These fall between the kiss and the puddle hanging just a half to one inch longer than the kiss. They still have plush elegance without being so hard to manage. 
  • The Float: Your curtains hover no more than ½ in. from the floor. It still looks intentional but may be easier to manage in a home with lots of little feet running about. 

Deciding which lengths are right for you is much easier when you can practice each style in a mock-up created with Spoak’s online visualization tool.

Measure Your Windows

This is the most important step of the whole curtain-hanging procedure. Measure your windows and where you’d like your curtains to hang before buying them. There’s nothing worse than short-changing your room by trying to make do with curtains that are too small. 

Measure Length

Get out your tape measure and measure from the top corner of your window trim to the ceiling. Your curtains need to hang from between ½ to ⅔ of that distance above the window. Mark this height to the left and right sides of the window as your bracket height.

If you want to play up your ceiling height even further, raise your mark even higher. Ceiling-high curtains are much-loved these days. As a general rule of thumb, ensure you hang them ½ inch below the crown molding for a neat finish. 

Adjust for Certain Curtain Types

There are a few styles of curtains that make measuring your rod height a bit tricky. The tab top, grommet, and ring-style panels make the curtain fabric hang lower, exposing some of your window views unless you adjust your bracket height accordingly.

When you measure the length of the tabs, curtain rings, or fabric yardage above the bottom of the grommet, you will need to raise your bracket height this amount. This also means your curtains will need to be longer than you planned to expertly kiss the floor. 

With certain window drape types, like rod pocket curtains, you might need to account for extra length since the sew-in pocket for the curtain rod can take up some of the height. The unique construction makes rod pocket curtains more popular for smaller windows. 

Measure Width

To find the width of your curtain rod brackets, mark a distance of four to six inches out from each side of your window frame for your bracket width. Rod brackets need to be eight to 12” wider than the windows so your panels can pull all the way away from the window and hang correctly. If the width of your rod will be longer than four feet, buy a third bracket to support the center of the rod. 

Hang the Curtain Rod 

Hanging curtains doesn’t require special tools, just a bit of patience. Here are a few tools you may need:

  • Curtain hardware (curtain rod brackets, the rod, and finials)
  • High-quality wall anchors for each bracket (if your walls are sheetrock and you won’t be drilling into a stud)
  • A level
  • Measuring tape
  • A drill
  • A screwdriver
  • A hammer (for tapping in wall anchors)
  • A pencil
  • A step ladder
  • A stud finder 

Mark the Bracket Placement

To find the right bracket placement, locate your bracket height and width markings on each side of the window frame and draw an “x” where they intersect. The marks on each side of the window are your ideal bracket spots.

In a perfect world, you’d have studs located at exactly these positions to give your window hardware stability in drywall. Most likely, you won’t. If you’re drilling into drywall, it’s a good thing you came prepared with heavy-duty wall anchors. 

Use Wall Anchors for Stability

Use a drill bit that is not quite as large as your wall anchor to make a preliminary hole. You can screw the anchor itself into this hole with a screwdriver. The anchor replaces the stability of a wall stud. Now, place the bracket on the wall and drill screws through it and into this anchor. 

Check Your Level

After attaching your first bracket, hold the second one up to the marked position and slip the rod through. Set your level on the rod to see if it is level. Occasionally it will be level, but the ceiling line of an older home won’t be. If you are hanging your curtains very close to the ceiling, level the rod with the ceiling line for a more balanced look. 

Once you have the right height for the second bracket, drill it into the wall anchors, slide your rod in, and attach the finials. That’s it; the hard part is over.

Now for Those Curtains

Whether you choose to float your curtains or puddle them, it's best to err on the side of more length. You can always hem a curtain that’s too long, but you can’t materialize fabric where there is none.

Curtain Length

To find your perfect curtain length, measure the distance from your curtain rod to the floor. This is the least amount of curtain length you will need.

Remember the professional curtain lengths we discussed? Add the amount you chose to this measurement for your preferred curtain length

Curtain Width

To find the width of your combined curtain panels, make sure they are 1 ½ to 2 times the width of the window frame. Curtains should never be spread completely flat across a window; you want a fabric that drapes and folds for a polished look. 

Measure and Pre-Wash Your Curtains

No matter what the curtain panel package label says, you need to measure your curtains before hanging or altering them. Quality control varies, and it’s not unusual to find measurements are off. Wash them according to the package directions and then measure them again to check for shrinkage. 

Now for the moment of truth: slip your curtains onto the rod and double-check your curtain length. If you bought panels with extra length and need to hem them, this is much easier to do while they are hanging on the wall. Pull your iron, ironing board, iron-on hem tape, and a tape measure up to the window for a no-sew fix. 

Add a No-Sew Hem

Measure and mark the length you want on your curtains, then fold them over and give them a preliminary ironing. Once you have a nice crease in the fabric, slip a length of hem tape into the fold and carefully iron the hems of the curtain, one section at a time. This should work well, at least until you can take them in to get them professionally hemmed.

Congratulations! You have designer-grade window treatments.

Three Hacks for Hanging Curtains

While that was fairly easy, there are a few clever tricks that can help you get professional-looking results even more easily. 

Hang Curtains Without Drilling

If you are renting or simply don’t want to mark your walls with screw holes, purchase command strips made for hanging curtains. Some varieties look like brushed metal and can hold very heavy weights. 

You could also use a tension rod inside the window frame. Just remember to use a thinner fabric that will leave as much of your window exposed as possible. 

Weight Your Fabric

If your lighter-weight curtains won’t fold and stay neatly in place, try weighing them down a bit by sewing pennies into the hem or running the length of a small beaded chain through the hem. The chain is flexible enough to allow for folds that will help keep your curtains straight. 

Train Your Curtains

You can further manage your unruly panels by training them to fold. You can use a tie-back to hold them in a charming, pleated position for several days, but keep in mind that it’s possible that just steaming them while they hang will allow them to relax and pleat naturally. 

Enjoy Your Handiwork!

You now have all the information you need to hang curtains like a professional. It’s amazing what just changing your window treatments can do to make your room look altogether different. Mix and match fabrics and curtain styles with Spoak’s online design tools to give your windows a quick face-lift. 

Photo Credit: (Left) DIY in PDX


Types of Drywall Anchors—and Why You Need to Use the Right One | Realtor

Sleeping in a room with even a little bit of light can hurt a person's health, study shows | NPR

How to choose and hang curtains, according to an interior design expert | Insider

Finial | architecture | Britannica

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Date Posted
February 15, 2023



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