Have you been hanging your curtains all wrong? Here's how to hang curtains like a pro, plus how to fix a few frequent mishaps.
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Curtains are an essential home decor item. This hardworking accessory provides shade and privacy, helps you achieve restful sleep, and spruces up windows with color, texture, and pattern. But hanging curtains correctly the first time can be intimidating. How high should you install the curtain rod? What about the length of your curtain panels? Luckily, you can achieve a polished look by avoiding these common mistakes when it comes to hanging curtains. We'll help you avoid choosing the wrong curtain panels, mounting curtains too high (or too low), and using curtains too narrow for your space. Plus, we've got easy DIY fixes in case you've already encountered these curtain conundrums.

midcentury modern living room teal walls oval coffee table gold curtain rod
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Mistake 1: Choosing Curtains That Are Too Skinny

The last thing you want during an afternoon nap is to be rudely awakened by a beam of sunlight that your curtains don't block. Before purchasing curtains, make sure the panels are wide enough to cover your home's windows.

How to fix it: Measure your window before purchasing or making your curtains. Curtain panels should be about two times the width of the window you're attempting to shade.

living room shiplap tan leather sofa blue throw coffee table
Credit: David A. Land

Mistake 2: Purchasing Curtains That Are Too Long (or Short)

Too-short curtains look awkward and out of place. Plus, they visually shorten your space, making ceilings look shorter and the room smaller overall. Curtains that drag on the floor can be a hazard and collect dust more easily. Aim for a middle ground—curtains that hover just above the floor.

How to fix it: To find the right curtain length, measure from the floor to where you'll hang the rod. Curtain lengths come in common lengths like 63, 84, and 96 inches. Choose one closest to your measurement, erring on the side of a few inches longer rather than shorter. If needed, you can hem too-long curtains or opt for custom curtain panels, though this comes with a higher price tag.

kids play room corner floating shelves books polka dot curtains yellow lamp
Credit: John Granen

Mistake 3: Misplacing the Curtain Rod

It's essential to mount curtain rods in the right spot or your perfect-length curtains might not hang properly. A rod that sits too close to the top of your window frame can make a space seem smaller than it really is. It's also important to choose a curtain rod that's wider than your window. This allows curtains to be pulled to the side of the window and gives the appearance of a larger space.

How to fix it: Visually lengthen your room by mounting your curtain rod a few inches higher than your window. Here are two helpful measurements to know: The rod itself should be 8 to 12 inches longer than the width of the window; a curtain rod should be mounted at least 4 to 6 inches above the window frame. For rooms with tall ceilings, you can choose to go higher with your curtain rod placement.

Comments (3)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 8, 2019
Please do NOT hang draperies half way between ceiling and window! Either at the level of top of the window, or just below the crown moulding or ceiling, and please then cover the blank area with a valance down to the top of the glass. You are framing the window with fabric; it looks cohesive. Two strips of fabric just hanging from the ceiling, or even worse, floating halfway on either side look unfinished. And cheap.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 8, 2019
Thank you so much for this advice. Concise and helpful, I'll be using these recommendations to finally replace some old curtains and get a lovely new look in my rooms.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 8, 2019
Yep, yep, yep. Those are all me.