Everything You Need to Know About Hanging Curtains

You don’t realize how important curtains are until you’re redecorating.

The entire scheme for your interior designs might fall apart if you make the wrong choice here. But the dos and don’ts of curtains can be complicated.

So when it comes to hanging curtains, you’re probably looking for some hints and tips. That’s where we come in.

We’ll be going through the whole process, step by step.

Understand the room

Before you go about hanging curtains, it’s time to step back and take stock of the room.

Curtains can make or break your interior design. If your decor is an outfit, then the curtains are the hairstyle. Even the most put-together outfit loses a lot if the hair’s a mess. The same is true for drapes.

To get a sense of what you’ll need, you’ll have to look at a few elements. First, what is the shape of the room are you working with? How large are the windows? How are they arranged? What kind of weight can the walls handle?

Aside from the physical, you also need to take into account the rest of the decor when hanging curtains. You need to decide your color scheme. Go too light for your theme and your design will look washed out. But go too dark, and there’s a risk your curtains will dominate the room. Keep your overall theme in mind.


There are also the practical elements to consider. Do you need heavy curtains to block out light or trap heat? Window curtains are an important part of home insulation, after all.

Pay careful consideration to the use and layout of the room. Springing for expensive curtains only to find you’re left with screen glare at all hours of the day would be disappointing indeed.

You have a range of fabrics to choose from. Taking the above elements into account should help you narrow this down.

But you also have the tone of the fabrics to consider. Is the opulence of velvet a little much for your living room, for instance?

You’ll also need to take into account here what style of curtain you’ll want. This will impact how much they’ll gather, and therefore how much you need to add to the window measurement.

Choosing your headings

Whether you go for track or pole, you have a few options when it comes to your headings. Headings attach your curtains to the fixture.

Pencil Pleat

Pencil pleat is a common standard for curtains. Pencil pleat can be gathered depending on your own personal preference. They are easy for hanging curtains.

Tab Top

In tab top curtains, regular fabric loops are used to attach the main body of the curtain to the rail. These have a reputation for informality, so better suit a quirky and modern room.


When hanging curtains with eyelets, the curtain pole passes through the upper body of the curtain itself by way of ringed hoops, or ‘eyelets’. Eyelet curtains are timeless and allow easy adjustment of the curtain’s width.

These are only a few examples. Other styles and variations on these styles exist, so you should have a think about your exact needs before you go any further. Knowing your heading will also affect how you measure up your home for curtains.

Measuring up

Whether you go for ready-made curtains or curtains made to measure, you’ll need to know the dimensions. That also means understanding some of the terminology involved.

First off, when hanging curtains you’ll need to know where your curtains will anchor on the wall. About six inches above the window is standard, but for a more dramatic look, you can always take them a little higher. As we said before, make sure the wall can support the weight of your chosen curtain rail and the curtains it will hold! Curtains made from denser fabrics can be surprisingly heavy.

It’s often a good idea to fit the track or curtain pole before you even go about purchasing your curtain. This allows you to measure up with all of the solid elements already in place. That way, you can avoid any nasty surprises.

It will also cause you to focus more on the pole. That may not sound like much, but the curtain pole itself is an overlooked aspect of hanging window curtains. You’ll need something that fits the feel of the room just as well as the curtains it will eventually hold.

Your curtain pole should be around 6-8″ longer than the window on either side. And make sure it’s level! A poorly-installed curtain rod will ruin you design ambitions before you even begin.

Consider the window

With the rail in place, you’re free to measure for hanging your window curtains.

First, measure the width of the window. Of course, you’ll want your curtains to comfortably cover the window. In most cases, you’ll want two curtains that meet in the middle. In the event of a bay window or other complicated layout, you may have to think a little deeper.

Google is a great resource for this. Don’t be afraid to take to it and look for what other people have done before you!

As we mentioned before, the actual curtain width will depend on your style. Here’s a small guideline:

Pencil pleat

Multiple the pole width by two to account for the doubling up of this curtain’s signature style


Like pencil pleat, you want a curtain that’s twice the length of its pole or track

Tab top

For tab top curtains, you’ll only need your curtains to measure around 1.5x the width of the window.

Once you’ve taken these into account, there’s one thing left to add: another inch or so will ensure your curtains overlap comfortably in the middle.

Curtain Length

Now let’s talk about measuring the curtain length (or “drop”).

Firstly, you’ll need to decide where you want your curtains to end. Common options are at the sill, just below the sill, or to the floor.

Measure from the top of your curtain pole to the desired length. If you’re using curtain rings, you’ll want to measure from the eye of these instead.

Also, be aware that when hanging curtains that reach the floor, you’ll still want to leave some ground clearance so they don’t become impromptu brushes for any dirt on your floor.

One overlooked element of measuring curtains is that your home might not be perfectly regular. You should take measurements at multiple points. It might turn out that your right-hand curtain needs a shorter drop than the left.

Made to measure or off-the-shelf?

Your next choice will be to decide whether you’ll be hanging curtains bought off-the-shelf or getting them tailored to your measurements.

Ready-made curtains come with their own benefits.

Hanging curtains off-the-shelf is much quicker and cheaper. This means that you can plug that gap in your decór a lot faster. Their value for money can be a real advantage.

This is especially true when you’ve probably spent a lot already to get your room to where you want it. Although you’re naturally limited to what’s on the shelf, with a careful enough search you should find something to match.

Hanging curtains that are made-to-measure gives you much greater customizability. You can choose everything from style to size to fullness. Windows come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and the older the home the more unpredictable they can be.

Tailored curtains can sidestep this issue and perfectly fit your requirements.

It’s also hard to argue against the unique personality they bring to a home. With the ability to tweak everything to your heart’s desire, custom curtains bring out the best in an interior space.

However, custom-made drapes can be expensive.

As a general rule, it’s better to spring for a cheaper fabric than to find a cheaper manufacturer. Ultimately, it’s the quality of the product here that will be paramount.

If you’re a hands-on interior decorator, you could even try a mixture of both. Making small alterations to ready-made curtains can breathe new life into them and make them uniquely yours. When hanging curtains, try adding accents to tie them in with the rest of your room. Depending on your creativity, your options are nearly limitless with this one.

Common mistakes to avoid when hanging window curtains

Getting your measurements wrong

This is by far the easiest mistake to make. Everyone minces their units occasionally. Or forgets to make a note of what they’ve measured. Or forgets to factor in an element of the measurement.

Go back over our guidance at the top of this article and be sure to follow it step by step.

Particularly in the case of made-to-measure curtains, you don’t want the embarrassment and expense of giving the wrong measurements.

When hanging curtains, you might discover you’ve messed up your curtain length, leaving you with naked sills or a finish that seems to end in the wrong place!

Meanwhile, making a pig’s ear of the width usually means you’ve failed to account for the hanging window curtains’ fullness. When on the rail, your curtains will be too short for the window in their natural gathered state.

This will be just as obvious as problems with the length, and worse still may impede the functioning of the curtains!

Get it right the first time. There’s no rush, so check it and check it again.

Choosing the wrong style

We’re not all interior design gurus, so get some second opinions on your chosen curtain style. You don’t want to get them only to realize they’re entirely wrong for your room.

If in doubt, check Google images and run searches such as “does X work with Y”. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, headaches, and money with a little bit of deliberation.

We know how exciting it can be to bring a long decorating project to a close, but you don’t want it to all fall down at the last hurdle!

Not making curtains a priority

Pick up a paint color chart sometime, and you’ll realize how infinite modern paints actually are.

This isn’t as true for curtains. As a result, it helps to pick out soft furnishings first. That way, you can match the paint to them rather than struggling to find the right style in the right color afterward.

Give some thought to what you want out for your color scheme. Pick out the bedding and curtains first, and then head back to the paint samples. Taking this inside-out approach gives you more control over the final product.

Buying too cheap

A good set of curtains with the right fittings might be expensive at the outset. But good quality curtains are hardy and last well.

Cheaping out on curtains may save you money in the short term. But you won’t thank yourself when the fittings are falling down and the curtains are getting threadbare and torn – meaning you have to go through the whole process of hanging curtains again!

As with a lot of textiles, including clothes, opting for the cheap route is often a case of false economy. If you absolutely need to scrimp, go for lighter materials and less ornamentation rather than a poorly-qualified manufacturer.

A well-maintained set of curtains can last for many years, so it’s a good investment in the long term.

Not busting out the iron

When hanging curtains fresh off the shelf, you’ll often find they come pre-wrinkled. Don’t bother telling yourself the wrinkles will fall out with time. Any deep-set wrinkles will remain there for years.

So bust out the iron to bring your drapes up to scratch. Going back to the hair analogy, an expensive haircut is useless without a little styling.

You’ll probably need to iron them again after a wash, but the results are sure to be worth it.

And that’s all there is to it! A lot of it is common sense, but use this article as your checklist and you’ll be well on the way to hanging window curtains that serve as the piece de resistance of your room.

Why not browse our range of window curtains to find what suits you?

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