7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying and Hanging Curtains

Here's how to dress your windows the right way.

When it comes to buying and installing curtains and window treatments in your home, there are seemingly endless possibilities. Do you go for heavy drapes to keep out the winter draft, gauzy sheers that let the sun in, or practical blinds that ensure privacy? And even once you've picked out and brought home the right curtain, there's one more challenge: how to install it. Luckily, the whole process becomes a lot simpler if you follow a guide and avoid some of the most common mistakes home decorators make. Once you know exactly where the curtain rod should be placed, and if you've measured before you shop, you're much more likely to get a look you love (and will want to live with) on the first try.

Mistake #1: Placing the Curtain Rod in the Wrong Spot

Many homeowners install curtain rod brackets into the top of the window molding. But according to designers, if you want to make the room look as tall as possible, install them above and outside the window molding. Rather than let the limits of the window be your guide, installing curtains slightly closer to the ceiling lets you exaggerate the height of the room.

Mistake #2: Purchasing Curtains That Are Too Short

Dressing your windows in too-short curtains is a dead giveaway that you didn't measure before you shopped. Not only is it important to carefully measure beforehand, but also measure from the right spot. If you're installing the curtain brackets above and outside the window molding, make sure to measure from that spot, not the top of the molding.

In most cases, you want the bottom of the curtain panels to just graze the floor, unless you'd like them to pool on the floor for a luxe effect. Then, make sure to check and double-check the dimensions of the curtains you're buying, whether in-store or online.

Mistake #3: Buying Curtains That Are Too Narrow

Check the width of your window and curtains. As a general rule, you want curtains that are at least one and a half times the width of the window. For a fuller look, opt for more.

Mistake #4: Putting Style Above Functionality

Curtains and window treatments are more than just decorative touches—they serve real, practical functions. You may like the look of sheer curtains in the bedroom, but if sunlight waking you up in the morning is a daily problem, it may be better to opt for a light-clocking roller shade, then add a decorative, airy curtain over top. If you have an older home with drafty windows, consider heavier materials, like velvet, that can help with insulation.

Mistake #5: Choosing Materials That Aren't Washable

Before you buy curtains, consider how easy it will be to wash and care for the fabric. A machine-washable curtain will be easy to keep clean, while a dry clean-only one will require a little more effort and money to maintain.

Hint: To dust the curtains in between washes, grab a lint roller.

Mistake #6: Buying a Too-Flimsy Curtain Rod

The telltale sign of a cheap curtain rod: It sags in the middle. To avoid this, invest in a sturdy rod, preferably one made of metal or wood rather than plastic.

And while tension rods are an excellent solution for rental spaces, if you're able to drill holes in the wall, opt for sturdy brackets so you don't risk the curtains falling down.

Mistake #7: Hanging Wrinkled Curtains

Before you hang the curtains, iron or steam them to release any wrinkles. After taking the time to buy and install the perfect curtains, spend another 15 minutes steaming them to make sure they look their best.

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