A pretty room with poorly hung curtains is like a beautiful, pulled-together lady wearing way ‘too-small pants’. It cheapens everything else, stands out in a jarring way and just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. A few years back we decided to combat the problem by going through some of the biggest mistakes people make when buying and hanging curtains and with many a homeowner (and disgruntled curtain) in need we figured it was time to update the post with some new tips, as well as pull together some of our ready made favorites in a massive roundup.
In case you missed the other design mistakes: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” Or “Faux Old” | How To Hang Art Correctly | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them
So, let’s start with the curtains mistakes.
I used to do this, I hung my rod just slightly above my window frame mostly because I would buy the wrong length of curtain then as I was trying to avoid the too-short curtain (see below) I was forced to hang it lower . Now, it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be 20″ above your window, literally just under the ceiling, but go at least 1/2-2/3 the distance towards the top to help your ceilings look as high as possible. It’s not just the better way to hang your curtains but at this point we have a ‘cultural height’ of where your curtain rod line should be, the height where we as a collective people are used to seeing it, and if you get too close to the window sill, and if you have a lot of space to play with, it just stands out in your room. Lift the rod, which lifts the eye which makes your ceilings look higher and your space bigger.
What I do love, however, is how that white pillow is styled on that chair in the above/right shot. It’s all WHUT, I’m not just a pillow, I’m a diamond. And I get ladies.
Meanwhile the most common curtain mistake is just painful to look at – the ‘too short’ curtain. The waiting for a flood curtain. It does EXACTLY what pants that are too short do – it cuts off your room (leg) in a really jarring way, making it look feel short/stubby and awkward. You have three other options – all good/legal ones to avoid this look:
1. The slight float – Less than an inch above the floor. If you want to hang your curtains without any break at all, so they hang totally straight then the float is the best option for you. It doesn’t touch the floor, but only just barely.
2. The kiss – It barely touches the floor. This is the hardest one to pull off as you need to measure SUPER accurately from the rod (and making sure to include in your measurements the rings/clips or s hooks). It is my favorite as it looks the most custom and intentional, but it is the hardest to accomplish. There is often a tiny break/bend in the curtain when its open that I’m totally ok with.
3. The puddle – Where it does just that, it puddles all over the floor. This is best for you romantics out there, or for those looking for a more feminine, old world, european feel. Marie Antoinette puddled hard all over that villa, dripping with her cakes and sapphires. We just installed a couple of puddles in a baby girls ultra-feminine nursery and it looks BEAUTIFUL. It’s especially a good idea if/when your fabric is really high quality – either washed linen or velvet, because the more it puddles the more you can see the beautiful texture of the fabric that you probably splurged on. It should be thick and grand, not dinky little cotton curtains that will simply look accidental and way too long.
Another common mistake is not having the rod wide enough, on both sides of the window, so that your curtains are forced to be hanging partially in your window, blocking light and making the window look smaller (thus making your room feel smaller). Extend the rod at least 6-10″ on either side of the window frame (if you have the space) so that when the curtains are pushed totally open you can see almost all of the window.
The height above your sill can be similar to the space on either side of the window sill – lift and widen where you put the rod so that the window frame feels as big as possible and allows for as much light in as possible. Remember natural light is your best accessory, so let it…shine…
If you have a big window make sure to have double wide panels on both sides of the frame. Say your window is 100″ wide and your panels are 54″ wide (standard), then SURE when they are closed they will technically block the light, but they will be taught and won’t have any softness in them. Additionally when the curtains are open they will look really dinky and disproportionate to your grand window. You may have to buy four panels (2 on each side), we do that often. You can either have your tailor/dry cleaner sew them together OR just hang them as-is and often you can’t see the break because now they are so full and billowy.
Now with all that said, you may be asking your self how do I not be the girl wearing the too-small pants? With the help of illustrator, we have created this handy guide to hanging your curtains the very best way possible. You may have to invest in longer curtains or even more panels if you have a larger window, but otherwise hanging a curtain the right way actually costs the same as the wrong way. So please, follow this guide and save everyone the discomfort of the ‘too short’, ‘too low’, ‘too thin’ and ‘too narrow’ curtain.
But where do we buy these?
Well, we’ve pulled together a roundup of our favorite readymade long (at least 95″) curtains for you. There are very few houses that only need 84″ high curtains. It’s like the housing and curtain industries had lunch, got drunk and one of them said ‘we’ll make the standard height of newly installed windows around 6′ or 7′ high so you just go ahead and only manufacture curtains around 84″ high and they’ll all buy it and we’ll all become millionaires’. But 84″ is almost always not long enough. Annoyingly 95″ can often be too long if you have 8′ ceilings but its better to buy the 95″ and have them hemmed to around 90″ (which is what we usually do in that case) than to go for the 84″. Of course I’m hoping that the heads of the world’s curtain senate are reading this post and will start implementing change, making a 90″ length as a standard size. And if you still make 72″ long curtains, go ahead and press pause on that mission. It’s a failed one and you are doing more harm to society than good.
On to my favorite long/affordable/readymade curtain options (in a variety of styles to satisfy many of you) that will hopefully solve all your problems.
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A lot of those are sold per panel so just make sure that you buy at least two if you need.
For those of you who don’t mind spending more here is a roundup of 95″ (or longer) curtains over $50.
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There needs to be a whole rod/ring conversation but I’ll just say this right now – when in doubt go simple (white, black, brass or silver), stay away from crazy curly wrought iron stuff unless you live in a Scottish Castle (or an old Hollywood home) and fancy finials are only your friend if the style of your house can handle it.
In case you missed any of our posts from our Design Mistakes Series/PSA’s, check them out here: The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting A Small, Dark Room White | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” Or “Faux Old” | How To Hang Art Correctly | Generic Art | Not Having A Plan | Who Pays For Design Mistakes | My Biggest Design Mistakes -And What You Can Learn From Them