guide for hanging curtains

A Guide To Hanging Curtains: Window Treatment Tips and Best Practices

August 25, 2022

(The boys room. Curtains and rod we used)

This has been a highly requested topic for us to cover this year! Understandably so… figuring out window treatments can be exasperating! As a total visual learner, I am going to share a guide to hanging curtains, as well as examples of different window treatment tips and best practices for scenarios you may be stumped on how to address!

I don’t love “rules” in design, but do appreciate general guides or formulas. Consider this more of a guide than the rules. There are always going to be exceptions and variations, but this is what almost always delivers a good outcome for standard windows! I have made many mistakes over the years in hanging curtains due to poor measurements, rushing the hanging process, or trying to make the wrong length work. I hope this can help spare you the same mistakes!


In our last house, I left several of the windows that faced trees open without blinds or curtains. Nothing compares to natural light pouring in! However, I love what curtains can do to a space. There are the practical benefits to window treatments like conserving more heat in the colder months and blocking too much direct sun heating up the house in warmer months. There are also of course the visual benefits! Curtains and shades can add height, character, warmth, and elegance to a room.

Let’s go over a few scenarios that can be tricky to figure out window treatments for….

Window treatments for arched windows

best curtains for arched windows

Shinola Hotel, photo by Nicole Franzen

If you have arched windows or an arched window combination, try one of these options. Hanging curtains above and wider than the arched windows won’t take away from the design, but add a lot of color warmth and functional use.

(via Holt Interiors)

Shades and curtains on the rectangular windows, and shades only for the arched window. I love how this set up doesn’t take away from those stunning windows, but brings them to life.

Window treatments for vaulted ceilings

best curtains for high ceilings

by Studio McGee

by Jenna Sue Design

Drama can be a good thing when it comes to curtains. Not sure what to do with those rooms with windows and high vaulted ceilings? Hang ’em high and dramatic! About 8 to 12 inches higher than the window, and just touching or sweeping the floor gives a lot more height and visual balance to a wall with higher ceilings.

Curtains for wall to wall windows or doors

best curtains for window to window walls

by Studio McGee

(source)

(Amber Lewis for Anthropologie)


When you have either full wall windows or doors, it can be difficult to pull off curtains! I love each of these above examples of high and wide curtains that add coziness to the rooms while also serving the practical needs of privacy and light blocking if needed.

Window treatments for boxed in windows

by Ginny McDonald

This children’s room corner by Ginny McDonald is a great example of shades for a boxed in window. With bookshelves on either side and a window bench beneath, woven shades were the perfect solution.

Curtains for corner windows

by Room for Tuesday

Have a window close to a wall or wall moulding? Try a slide bar style curtain rod and curtain placement. I love how Sarah of Room for Tuesday used a brass rod and rings on both sides of her bed to hang her curtains above her corner windows. They can easily slide to one side or the other without blocking too much window light.

Curtains for windows behind a bed

by Stephanie Sabbe Design

Have a window behind the bed frame? Try a wrap around curtain rod that sits higher and wider than the window frame. Using curtain rod rings can make it easier to slide curtains back and forth as needed along the bar.

(Premium woven shades and linen room darkening curtains in the nursery.)


Shades and Blinds

I personally love both the style and practicality of woven shades and curtains together. It allows you to control more light you are allowing into the room, and it’s a great option if you want your curtains to be more decorative. There are different materials and quality in woven shades and blinds, but there are also several bells and whistles these days! You can go custom sized, cordless, remote controlled, etc.

The pull down blinds we have in Chiara’s room are by far the best quality. I felt a lot better having a safer cordless option in her room, and they are very easy to pull down and up. Custom shades can be a pretty penny, but there are also a few budget friendly options that serve the purpose well!

pull down shades and bamboo shades


ONE (what we have in two rooms) // TWO // THREE (what we have in Chiara’s room)
FOUR // FIVE // SIX // SEVEN // EIGHT

curtains

ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // FIVE // SIX // SEVEN (in our dining room) // EIGHT
NINE (what we have in our living room) // TEN // ELEVEN // TWELVE
THIRTEEN // FOURTEEN // FIFTEEN // SIXTEEN // SEVENTEEN (we have used these curtain rods several times and love them!)

This is a round up of curtains and shades from varying places and price points. I have used a few of these, and been really happy with them in our home!

(We used these 4 curtain panels and curtain rod in our living room.)

A note on curtain lengths

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of size options in the curtain realm. WHY are there are only a few standard sizes? And why are they rarely the right lengths for standard homes? (These are the random questions that surely no one mulls over at 2AM when they can’t sleep.) The size options seem to offer either the too short, swimming, or drowning option of curtain lengths. Unless you are ordering custom length curtains, you typically have a 63 in., 84 in., 95 in., or 108 in. size option. I have rarely had an 84 in. panel just nail it for a room, and often times I am hanging the curtain rod a few inches higher to accommodate the 95 (or 96) in. length. However, I have used hem tape on IKEA curtains with success if you need a quick and easy no-sew fix to the length!

(High and wide curtain rod in the girls bedroom.)

how high to hang curtains

(Adds height, color and texture, and light control. Curtains , woven shades, and curtain rod used.)

The girls’ room is an example of going higher than I’d normally recommend due to the length of the curtains. I found these curtains I love that are the 95 in. length. I used 4 total panels, and really didn’t feel like having them all altered a few inches. Since the room has high ceilings we decided to just raise them a few inches till the bottoms brushed the ground.

Always check the height of your walls deciding on your curtain length! (Says the one who loves to guess order, and has paid for it ten times over.)

I think that covers it! Cheers to less wall hole patching, and more confident curtain hanging!

Leave a Comment

  • Carla Filla

    I’m so glad you did arched windows. I have one arched window flanked by standard windows. And light pours in the room to the point in which it’s blinding and too hot! We are ready for curtains and I wasn’t sure what to do! I love the option of hanging along the standard window.

  • Carla Filla

    Also, what would you suggest if you have as we do a French door and huge double picture window all on same wall— almost taking up the whole wall? 😂They are also not lined up at the same height with the window slightly higher than the French doors. Would you treat it like the full wall of windows or door scenario you presented and hang curtains all across with no break (and at same height) to create a seamless, visually clean look? Or would it be too much curtain?

    • Hi Carla! I would say you have a few options. You could hang curtains just above the window areas (with the rod higher than the door height to align everything) OR have one high rod with curtains between the windows and door sides for a total of 4 curtain sections. (You will need two panels on either side of the door.) I hope that makes sense?

      • Carla Filla

        Yes, I do understand. Thank you for the suggestions and this thorough post. We’ve been in our house for a few years, but are remodeling and redecorating as we go!

  • Thank you for this very thorough article. What I have are several large bowed (curved) windows, not flat or arched. They receive a ton of sun and need window coverings. The house was built in 1900. I’ve never seen options for this type of window. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

    • Hi Elaine!
      For bowed windows you can actually get a curtain track that you could apply to the ceiling edge. I haven’t tried this particular product, but to give you an idea: https://amzn.to/3Axwr00.
      Pull down shades may also be a better option depending on the style you are looking for and height of the windows. Lastly, you could consider a few rods hung together, varying in widths depending on the window sizes. Hope that helps!

  • I have been looking for information about this topic and your article has helped me. It contains a lot. Thank you.

  • Lorraine St-Pierre

    I have a wall of windows which includes a patio door and baseboard heaters. It is over 200″ and I would have to install the curtain bracket in the ceiling as there is a bulk head. Facing north so looking at sheers. Do I install them above the heater or touching the floor. Thank you.

  • monique Allen

    Hi.. what do you suggest for and over size front window, older home. How can I make the ceiling look higher with curtains. Can take the rods to the very top or would that look odd. It’s only one window.

  • Thank you for this post! You’ve made it all make since. I will definitely incorporate your suggestions when my home is ready next year. Also, I’m in love with your leather sofa! Definitely what I need. Please share where you purchased it. Thanks!!

  • I have returned to this article many time! Thank you! I actually ordered the bamboo shades you have in a couple rooms, and they just arrived, yay! Now that it’s install time, I have a question I was hoping you could answer. Did you also buy a valence, or is there some way to install these with overhang at the top? Mine just have little hooks at the top for installation. Thank you for the help!

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