How high to hang a curtain rod shouldn't be an afterthought when dressing your windows - after all, the measurements for the drop of your drapes will depend on where you position it.
Your natural inclination might be to hang a curtain rod as close as possible to your window, however by playing around with the height when planning your bedroom or living room curtain ideas, you can actually make your room feel taller, according to designers.
Here, they explain the best practice for hanging a curtain rod, and the height you should measure up from your windows.
How high should I hang a curtain rod?
A curtain rod creates a horizontal line across your room, which can affect how your eye travels around the space. This visual trickery has an effect on how large your room feels. Keeping the rod close to the window will potentially cause your room height to feel smaller, while placing it up higher above will elongate your walls and draw the eye up, emphasizing your room's proportions.
That's the basic curtain rod tip that most interior designers will swear by, but how high, exactly, should you hang your curtain rod?
'In positioning the curtain rod, we often choose to split the difference between the top of the window molding and the ceiling height,' explains Pacific Northwest-based interior designer Lisa Staton.
However, if you're working with a particularly lofty space, such as with a double-height ceiling, or you have a small window on a large wall, creating too much distance between the window and curtain rod can feel awkward. You want your eye to fill in the gaps subconsciously, so you'll want to hang your curtain rod only so high that it makes your window feel larger, not highlight how small it is.
'If the ceiling height is significantly taller than the window trim, then we usually choose to be somewhere between 6 to 10 inches above the window trim,' Lisa suggests as a rule of thumb. This should be enough to frame your windows perfectly, without highlighting large swathes of blank wall.
How far above the floor should curtains hang?
Once you've positioned your curtain rod, you now need to ensure your curtains are the right drop to the floor. There are a few schools of thought on how far they should hang to consider.
Let's begin by saying, in general, it's always better to use floor length curtains where possible. Café curtains can be a great feature for rustic, country style homes, a staple of the cottagecore trend, but in general they can cause your room to feel small and stunted.
Whether floor length curtains should touch the floor is hotly debated. Some interior designers suggest that you should opt for longer curtains, allowing them to gently pool on the floor, but in terms of interior design trends, we're seeing more spaces with a wafer-thin gap between the curtain and the floor. This helps deliver a more uniform shape to the curtain and stops it practically sweeping the floor when drawing the curtains.
How much longer than the windows should curtains be?
As well as making sure your curtain rod is high enough to flatter your windows, you need to make sure it's wide enough too. Not allowing the curtain rod to overlap the edges of the window is a big mistake, as it will lead to your room feeling darker and smaller.
This goes for checking how deep your curtain stack is too - that is, how much room your curtains take up when they're open. 'Make sure to always check stacking width as well to make sure the drape falls inside the window but also has room to stack off to clear as much glass as possible,' suggests interior designer Lisa Station. 'This ensures they do not block views, but it's also important to make sure they don't hide important light fixtures and switches when stacked.'
As a general rule, you should be looking for a curtains that are twice the width of your windows. This should ensure they look good open and closed, but you'll need to consider how curtain material affects the width of the stack. A generous stack will feel more luxurious, but a sheer curtain will require much more than a line draped to create this opulent curtain idea.
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2022.
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