Like glue in an art project, curtains tie everything together. They naturally frame windows, add dimension to a room, provide privacy, and can block pesky light when you’re trying to get some much-needed ZZZs. Curtains can truly make or break a room’s design, so we’re sharing our four simple steps to picking them out and hanging them properly (the first time).
Step 1: Consider Style & Function
The first step to hanging your curtains is figuring out what kind you need to purchase. Start by doing some research to get an idea of the color, fabric, and pattern you’re looking for with your curtains. Do you want a light and airy feel? Dark and moody? What is the color palette of your space? Is your home’s vibe Organic Modern? Contemporary Coastal? These questions will help set you up for success as you begin your curtain search. (Psst: if you’re unsure of your design style, take our What’s Your Design Style Quiz here!)
Gather additional inspiration on Pinterest. You can search by room type (e.g. “living room”) to get the ideas flowing, and then type in your design style plus “curtains” to get more specific search results.
We tend to play it safe with neutral-colored curtains, but we love statement curtains too! They’re an easy piece to change out seasonally or as styles transition, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit here.
Consider what room you’ll be placing the curtains in and what their purpose will be. Are they purely decorative? Functional? For privacy? All of the above? If all that matters is aesthetic, one option is doing stationary side panels or side panels with a rod all the way across the windows. With this style you don’t need such wide curtains to fill the window.
Also think about the opacity you need. Should they be light filtering? Sheer? Blackout? If you want more privacy, like in a bedroom, the more opaque the better. If your curtains are simply decorative or you want some light coming through, less opaque options might be preferable. You can also layer sheer curtains under heavier curtains to give an ultra cozy feel — think hotels!
Lastly, pay attention to the fabric, rod type, and how the curtain hangs on the rod (with hooks, rings, tabs, grommets or pockets). Velvet curtains or heavier fabrics will collect more dust and may be harder to clean. And while we typically keep our rods simple, you can make things more visually interesting by choosing a rod with a design on the ends like this one with solid walnut finials.
Step 2: Take Measurements
Next up, you need to know what size curtains to purchase. Here are some measurement guidelines our designers use for our projects.
Use a rod that is approximately 8 to 12 inches longer than the window on either side. This allows the curtains to be stacked on the sides without blocking any window light. Purchase curtains that are also 8 to 12 inches wider than the window, so they can pull all the way across the window. If you want your curtains to appear more full, you may want to actually order curtains that are twice as wide as your windows. Insider tip: double check the rod packaging to see if the finials (end caps) are included in the total length of the rod.
We typically recommend hanging curtain rods 6 inches above the window frame. Measure from your curtain rod to the floor and buy your curtains accordingly. Curtains should just graze over the top of the floor. Keep in mind it’s easier to hem curtains than attempt to lengthen them, so err on the side of longer rather than shorter curtains. And don’t forget to account for how the curtain hangs on the wall (e.g. with grommets or rings) when calculating the total length needed.
Design tip: If you want the room to appear taller, hang your curtain rod closer to the ceiling than the window frame to extend the room vertically. Don’t forget to purchase longer curtains too! This trick will draw the eye upwards and create the effect of tall ceiling. Below is an example!
Depth should also be taken into consideration. Measure the depth of your window trim, and make sure your curtain brackets extend past your trim so the curtains hang in front of the window. Note there should be a supportive bracket every 4 or so feet along the curtain rod, so add one in the middle of the rod (as shown below) as needed.
Step 3: Mount Curtain Rod
Now that you know what size curtains to get and where to hang them, it’s time to mount the curtain rods.
First, measure and mark with a pencil where the brackets will hang. Grab a buddy to help you hold up the rod and brackets alongside the wall markings, and check that they’re level. This ensures the curtains will hang straight! Assuming all looks good, drill pilot holes, install wall anchors*, align the brackets, and screw them in.
*Note: wall anchors are only needed if the bracket markings aren’t aligned with wall studs.
Step 4: Hang Curtains (& Admire Your Handiwork)
Finally, add your curtains to the rod with hooks, rings, tabs, grommets, or pockets. Voila! You’ve hung your curtains like a pro. Don’t forget to take a step back and admire your handiwork!
Hanging curtains doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right measurements and step-by-step instructions by your side you can find and hang beautiful curtains that tie your room together in no time. So go ahead and give it a try — you might be surprised at how easy it is!
Looking for more home-related tips, tricks, and resources? Join our email list for the latest and greatest Alma Homes updates, and follow us on Instagram for more inspiring home and design content.
Love our website? Use code ALMAHOMESSENTME for 10% off any Tonic Site Shop website template.