Too high, too low, too long, too short, too sheer, too opaque. While we’ve chronicled all the best ways to hang curtains, we’ve yet to cover those little design details that can make all the difference. Consider this your crash course!
A gorgeous room with the wrong curtains can throw off the whole look and make pieces that normally blend seamlessly stick out like a sore thumb. On the other hand, when done right, curtains can completely transform a space, says Shelby Girard, Havenly’s VP of design. “They add a finishing touch that make your home feel complete. They add dimension to your space and can even make your ceilings feel taller if they’re hung properly.”
We spoke with Shelby for her top tips on getting curtains just right.
Go High and Wide
Not sure how to hang your curtain rod? You’re not alone. While it might be tempting to hang it just above the window frame, aim higher, Shelby says. By placing the rod closer to half the distance toward the ceiling (heck, even 2/3 or all the way to the ceiling!), it helps your ceilings feel as high and airy as possible, which can also trick the eye into thinking a space is bigger than it really is. Remember, placing the rod higher may change the length of curtains you need. Standard curtain lengths are 84, 96, and 108 inches, so be sure to measure first from where you plan to place the rod, rather than where the window frame sits.
You also don’t want the rod to end right where the window does. Instead, extend it several inches beyond each side of the window frame, so the inside of the curtain panel just covers the edge of the window, rather than covering any of the glass and diminishing the view.
Taken together, these tips maximize height and light.
Banish Blackout (Unless You Really Need It)
Light is such a huge component of design, making a space feel fresh, bright, and clean. We get that blackout curtains have their purpose, especially in spaces like a nursery or even a bedroom for light sleepers, but otherwise, Shelby suggests reaching for sheerer options that offer privacy without diminishing too much light.
“I like linen for its light-filtering capabilities,” she says, noting that it still provides enough privacy for most needs.
Put It In Neutral
If you love the look of printed curtains, we’re all about embracing your unique style. But from an expert’s point of view, Shelby says she almost always suggests neutral curtains — and for good reason. “You can’t go wrong with a white or ivory linen in just about any space. It adds just the right amount of texture and dimension.”
Even if you want something with more of a visual presence, there are ways to do it without committing to a print that might not work with future art, furniture, color palettes or décor.
“For bolder styles, try a deep green velvet curtain, or something with a contrasting border.” Neutrals extend to the curtain rods, too, not just curtain panels. Shelby’s picks? “I’m currently loving black or dark bronze hardware in rods because it’s classic and works with any style. Go for a minimal look with the rods so you don’t have anything too bulky or decorative. Simple is best!”
Stop the Crop
Custom curtains can be incredibly pricey, and you might live in a space where standard sizes don’t quite fit. If that’s the case, avoid what we consider the capri pants of curtains — ones that are too short. It’s visually jarring and looks just plain weird.
“If you can’t find the size, opt for longer curtains, and get them hemmed or use iron-on, new-sew hem tape to make them the right length for your space,” Shelby says. Ideally, curtain panels will just barely kiss the floor for a tailored look. Or, for a more relaxed vibe, you can let them puddle a bit on the floor, creating “a casual look that isn’t too perfect.”