Experts share their tips for buying and hanging window treatments, including how to hang curtain rods—and getting it right the first time.

By Tamara Kraus
Updated November 20, 2018
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The Shade Store

We’ve all been there: You spend all day figuring out how to hang curtains or shades, only to realize that they don’t measure up to your expectations. Or perhaps you don't even know what kind of window coverings to use in the first place. To save yourself save time and money, learn how to hang curtains (and how to hang curtain rods) properly using a few expert tips.

How to Hang Curtains:

Once you've decided which room to start in, if you're hanging curtains in multiple rooms—Ian Gibbs, Chief Creative Officer of The Shade Store suggests starting with the bedroom to ensure privacy and a good night’s sleep—follow these instructions on how to hang curtains. The general rule of thumb is to opt for drapes that are at least two times the width of the window, says New York City designer Elaine Griffin, so be sure to take measurements before you purchase curtains. By following this guideline, curtains will look appealing and flowy even when closed. Your window will look wider, too. Next, hang curtain panels on the wall flanking the window six- to twelve-inches beyond the frame to lessen any obstruction of your view and trick the eye into thinking the opening is larger than it actually is. This is particularly helpful in a space with a large, blank wall or when the size of the window feels disproportionate to the rest of the space.

How to Hang Curtain Rods:

Depending on the length and width of the curtains you choose, opt for a telescoping rod that can be adjusted to the size that you need. Usually curtain rods are sold with packaging that lists a range of widths it can hold. Using a level, mark where the rod should hang on your wall with a pencil, install anchors, and attach the curtain rod according to package instructions (it's best to enlist a friend for an extra set of hands). Attach curtain panels and you're all set.

If you want to make the room feel taller and more dramatic, hang the curtain rod six inches above the window frame up to a few inches below the ceiling. Just be sure to select drapery that is long enough to skim the floor or puddle just a bit when hung from that height. Drapery that is too short (unless there is a radiator or other obstruction in the way) can stunt the look of the space and make it feel “off.” Another way to make the space feel larger is to select lightweight, sheer fabrics.

How to Hang Curtains Without a Rod:

If you don’t want to hang a curtain rod, you can opt for drapery hung from an invisible track mounted within the window frame or on the ceiling. Alternatively, you could consider roller or solar shades. These are popular because they’re minimal in design and rather inexpensive. Plus, they come in a variety of styles to suit your needs—from black-out shades to those that filter light. If your goal is to let in light while disguising a less-than-appealing view, opt for something like a neutral, natural fiber Roman shade or energy-efficient honeycomb shade (they’re insulated, which helps keep a house warm in the winter and cool in the summer).

Griffin suggests that you can combine both form and function using two layers of window treatments. To control light, use wood slat blinds or roller shades. Then add curtains for dimension and décor. No matter if you go the custom route or opt for off-the-shelf styles, arm yourself with these tips to make the best, most informed decision for your space.