How to Hang Curtains + the Rules

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Curtains are the unsung heroes of interior design. They are more than just a functional accessory that offers privacy and light control—they set the mood, complement your decor, and become a stunning focal point in any room. They are the finishing touch that can make or break your space. Like a stunning piece of jewelry can transform an outfit, beautifully hung curtains can elevate a room from ordinary to extraordinary. If you consider enhancing your windows with curtains, you’ve landed in the right place. In this ultimate guide, we’re pulling back the drapery (pun intended!) to reveal everything you need to know about styles, finishes, and the golden high and wide rules to hanging curtains and curtain rods. 

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A cozy bedroom featuring perfectly hung curtains using the high and wide curtain rule, demonstrating the elegant impact of following key curtain rod rules.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Alton House. Photography by Patrick Biller

Understanding the Basics: How to Hang Curtains

Let’s start with the basics of how to hang curtains. While it might appear simple, hanging curtains requires a meticulous approach. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Curtain Rods
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil for Marking
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Wall anchors
  • Curtains (of course!)

First, measure the width and height of your window. Keep the high and wide curtain rule in mind as you decide where to place your curtain rod brackets. This rule suggests setting your curtain rod about 6 to 12 inches above the window frame and extending it 4 to 10 inches on either side of the window, offering the illusion of greater height and width. Ensure your curtain stack (the width of the curtain when it is open, as in the photo below) has enough space and does not cover the windows.

Bright and airy kitchen with windows dressed in beautiful curtains, showcasing the effectiveness of the high and wide curtain rule for enhancing natural light.
Kitchen details. Shop the kitchen: Curtains, Curtain Rod, Bridge faucet, Cabinet latch, cabinet pulls, cabinet knobs, toaster, floral fields art.

The Golden Rules to Hanging Curtains

Don’t underestimate the importance of the rules for hanging curtains. The golden guidelines take a room from being nice to genuinely stunning. So, what are these pivotal rules?

  1. High and Wide Curtain Rule: This bears repeating. Place your curtain rod 6 to 12 inches above the window frame and extend it about 4 to 10 inches on each side of the window to make your room look more expansive.
  2. Length Matters: Opt for floor-length curtains unless you’re contending with a radiator or deep windowsill. Aim to have the curtain hover an inch above the obstacle in such instances.
  3. Double Up: For wide windows, don’t cut corners on fabric. Use double-width curtains to ensure they look abundant and luxurious when closed. Unless you’re opting for pinch pleat, learn more here.
  4. Curtain Rod Rules: Select a rod that enhances your curtain fabric and meshes with the room’s decor. Heavy curtains need robust, substantial rods, whereas lighter fabrics can be paired with more delicate rods.

Not sure how to decide on the width of your curtains? Learn more here.

Chic and tranquil bedroom with light colours and warm accents. Using pattern play through pillows, art, throws, and rug.
Dresser, Bed frame, rug, lumbar pillow, pillow, large pillows, lamp, throw blanket, art, marble dish, vase, flowers, pinch pleat curtains, curtain rod, nightstand or similar.

Step-by-Step: How to Hang Curtains 

Now that we’ve covered the rules to hanging curtains, let’s get down to the actual steps on how to hang curtains!

  1. Measure Twice, Hang Once: Use a measuring tape to find the dimensions of your window. Apply the high and wide curtain rule for added oomph!
  2. Mark and Drill: After deciding the height and width, mark the spots where the rod brackets will go. Ensure they are level. Time to drill those holes!
  3. Install Anchors and Brackets: Put wall anchors into the drilled holes and then screw in the brackets. If you have an old house like me, you might find yourself drilling through plaster and into brick; you might need these screws.
  4. Hang the Rod and Curtains: Place the rod into the brackets – ensure it is level. Then, drape your curtains over. Make sure the curtains skim the floor for that custom-fit look.
Spacious living room elegantly styled with curtains using the high and wide curtain rule, illustrating how to hang curtains to make the room appear larger and more inviting.
Shop the Living Room: Sconce, Sofa, Throw Pillow, Rug, Scalloped Mirror, Branches, Battery Candles, Armchairs

Finish with Flair: Styles and Fabrics

The fabric you choose can elevate your room’s decor. Whether it’s airy linens for a casual look or rich velvets for a touch of luxury, your fabric should harmonize with the rest of the room. Texture adds a layer of sophistication, patterns introduce character, and colour choices can either enliven or calm the setting. Not sure what type of curtain liner is best for your space? Learn more.

Where Budget Meets Glamour

Wondering how to achieve high-end aesthetics without the steep price tag? Here’s the secret: mix premium fabrics with more budget-friendly options. This strategy can deliver a luxurious appearance while adhering to curtain rod rules and other guidelines for impeccable window dressing.

Not sure how to hang pleated curtains with drapery rings and hooks? Learn more here.

Cozy/moody living room with large windows draped with curtains hung following the high and wide curtain rule, exemplifying the transformative power of correctly hung curtains on room aesthetics.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project The Oak House. Photography by Patrick Biller

Final Thoughts

From grasping the basics of how to hang curtains to mastering the rules to hanging curtains—such as the high and wide curtain rules and the curtain rod rules—this guide has fully covered you. Get ready to transform your space into a true spectacle of style and function. You’re about to fall in love with your room all over again.

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  1. I have a bay window and I do not know where to put the curtains. I’ve always just put a panel on the far left and one on the far right. Of course, that means I can never actually close the curtains on the big square center window. I would love some advice

  2. What room is this in? I always love the look of cafe curtains, but they aren’t suited to every space. In a living room I might put them on their side of the Bay window like you suggested, but maybe roman shades paired with this would be more practical!