How to Hang Curtains Like an Interior Designer: 5 Simple Steps

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

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Published on December 21, 2023


1 hour


$ $ $ $

Skill Level

From living room flow to hanging light fixtures, we get asked a lot of design 101 questions that, although relatively rudimentary, are incredibly important. But “how to hang curtains” definitely ranks near the the top of that list.

What looks easy is deceptively tricky, time-consuming, and a touch overwhelming, whether you opt for dramatic pinch-pleat curtains or basic, budget-friendly sheers. Plus, curtains are essential when trying to create a warm, inviting, and complete interior.

Ahead, Havenly designer Brady Burke shares his comprehensive guide to hanging curtains like a professional. Keep scrolling for his five simple steps:

How to Hang Curtains Step 1: Measure

Living room corner design

Set the stage for flawless window treatments be measuring two times at minimum. First, measure your ceiling height and window width to determine which curtain panel size is right for your space. Using your ceiling height as a guide, we always recommend choosing the longest drape possible to make the room feel larger. If possible, always mount your drapery rod wider than your actual window — extend by at least six inches on either side. To fill in the extra space and create a full, luxe look, double up on curtain panels or opt for a larger width.  Going high and wide like this makes a room feel more spacious and draws the eye upward!

How to Hang Curtains Step 2: Consider Fabric & Lighting

Warm minimalist bedroom

With measurements checked off the list, you can now move onto curtain selection. Generally speaking, you have three options: sheer, light-filtering, or blackout curtains. To keep a living room bright and airy, for example, sheer or unlined curtains are best. Blackout and cotton-lined curtains are ideally suited to bedrooms and home offices that require more light control.

As far as aesthetic goes, there are countless fabrics to choose from. Natural materials like linen, cotton, and hemp lend a more casual, relaxed look to a space, while luxe fabrics like velvet lean more posh. The same can be said for curtain headings — more intricate patterns like pinch and box pleat lend a classic, polished touch, while grommet and ripple fold lean more casual.

How to Hang Curtains Step 3: Select Your Curtain Style

Colorful dining nook

Next, decide how you’d like to hang your curtains. Yes, there are roughly three different options to choose from here, too. The most casual, basic style is a back tab or rod pocket curtain — you simply slide the curtain onto the drapery rod through the loop at the top. While grommet curtains are equally fuss-free with metal rings are sewn into the header, we personally would steer you towards the back tab for a more finished look.

And if you want to elevate the scene even further, we always recommend clip-on drapery rings or back tab hooks and round rings. These flourishes add a little something and often make opening and closing drapes much easier!

How to Hang Curtains Step 4: Choose Your Hardware

Minimalist dining room design

Drapery hardware arguably makes more of a statement than the curtains themselves. Fortunately, selection is a bit more straightforward and ultimately comes down to aesthetics. One rule of thumb: choose a thicker curtain rod with a middle mount when working with a thicker material, like velvet. For sheers and cotton-lined curtains, any style is fair game.

As far as color and finish goes, consider matching another finish in your space for a cohesive look. For example, go with a matte black curtain rod to match a black pendant light. Alternatively, keep all lighting one finish (let’s say brass), and all curtain hardware another (matte black) throughout your entire home for consistency and a touch of contrast.

How to Hang Curtains Step 5: Install!

Tall white curtains in coastal living room

Now that you have your perfectly-sized supplies in tow, it’s time for the main event! You’ll definitely need a friend or partner to help you with installation.

First, string a curtain panel on the rod and hold it in place against the wall to mark the proper height. Your curtain panels should gently kiss the floor — not puddle or float (high-waters are a designer no-no). With a level in tow, mark your height with a pencil across all brackets.

Using an electric drill, install the curtain brackets high and wide using the provided screws and hardware. Hang your curtains on the rod, and place the rod into the mounted brackets. If you’re using a French return-style curtain rod, unscrew the center pole and hang your curtain panels. Fin!

From curtains 101 to perfecting room flow, our designers are chock-full of expert tips. Start with our style quiz to work with a design pro one-on-one.

Words by Kelsey Clark