HOW TO HANG CURTAINS: EASY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE | PIER 1
How to Measure, Hang, and Style Curtains Like a Designer
Do you have a bare window, a blank wall, or a room that really needs some color? Then it sounds like it’s time to hang curtains. Sure, you could call someone to install curtains, but it’s surprisingly simple to hang them on your own and enhance your space in an hour or two.
Curtains do more than just define your space—they provide privacy and sun protection, too. Curtains help keep rooms cooler in the summer months and give you the freedom to let light in on your terms. And if you want to keep your space to yourself, simply draw the curtains to prevent neighbors from seeing inside.
If you’re new to window treatments, we’re here to help with our guide on how to hang curtains. These step-by-step instructions will help you measure, hang, and style curtains like a designer to achieve your desired look and let your unique aesthetic shine.
How to Measure for Curtains
The first step to finding the perfect shades for your windows is measuring. Whether you’re buying prefabricated panels, or having window treatments custom made, you’ll need to have correct measurements. Getting accurate measurements serves a few purposes:
- Ensures you pick the correct length curtain rod
- Helps you choose curtain panel sizes
- Determines the length of your curtain panels
Of course, you can always hang curtains that are taller or wider than the window for a more dramatic visual effect (more on that later!), but you still need to start with the basic measurements as a foundation.
Take the following measurements before shopping for curtains:
1. By width
Measure the width of your window and add 12" on both sides to ensure enough fullness. This makes windows look larger and allows the fabric to fold clear of the window when the curtains are open.
You can be creative and cover as much of the wall and window that your taste desires. If you’re looking to simply cover the window, choose panels that are 1.5 to 2 times the width of the window to create a gathered effect when open and closed.
2. By length
Curtain rods are most often hung 4" above the top of the window. Add height to a room by creating the illusion of a taller window by hanging the rod 6" to 8" above it. Then, measure the distance between the rod and the floor.
For additional looks, measure for:
- Floating curtains will hang above the floor but below the bottom trim of the window. Café style windows, like those seen in a kitchen, may be a good place to use a floating look.
- Puddling curtains extend past the floor-length, lending to a fuller, romantic feel. If you want curtains to stay clean on the bottoms, you may want to avoid puddling.
- Curtains that graze the floor offer a clean, finished look that requires precision when measuring. You may also consider hemming curtains that you want to hang just at floor length.
Additionally, consider whether the curtain panel has a rod pocket, which will cause the curtain to hang shorter, or if you need to hem the curtains. It’s helpful to choose curtains that are a few inches longer than your measurements to account for any adjustments you need to make.
For general curtain measurements, see the table below:
|Window measurement||Panels needed|
|29" (74 cm)||1|
|30"-48" (76 cm-99 cm)||2|
|40"-48" (101 cm-122 cm)||2-3|
|49"-72" (124 cm-183 cm)||3-4|
|73"-96" (185 cm-244 cm)||4-5|
|97"-120" (246 cm-305 cm)||5-6|
|121"-144" (307 cm-366 cm)||6-7|
How to Install Curtains in 6 Easy Steps
Hanging curtains is simple with the right tools and supplies, and just a few quick steps. Start by gathering the following supplies:
- Measuring tape
- Curtain panels
- Curtain rod and hardware (screws and brackets)
- Ladder or step stool
- Drill/drill bits or screwdriver
- Wall anchors (useful for heavier fabrics and more secure installation)
- Stud finder (optional)
- Clothes iron
After you have your supplies, follow these steps for beautifully hung curtains:
- Using a pencil, mark where brackets will go on the wall.
- Using a screwdriver or drill, screw in one bracket. If hardware and curtains are heavier, use wall anchors.
- Before screwing in the second bracket, put one end of the rod in the installed bracket and place it across the wall towards the opposite side of the window, where the other bracket will go. Use a level to make sure that the placement of the second bracket will keep the rod level when it’s installed. Screw in the second bracket.
- If the curtain rod is more than 4 feet long, you may need an additional bracket at the center of the rod.
- Place the curtain panels onto the rod, extending panels across so they are fully stretched out.
- Tighten screws to ensure all hardware is secure.
5 Tips for Styling Your Curtains
One of the great things about hanging your own curtains is being able to express yourself through the color, pattern, and style you choose. But how do you know which style is best suited to your taste? Use these 5 tips when choosing your curtains:
1. Fabric type
The type of fabric you choose when hanging curtains can dramatically shift the feel of the room. Additionally, fabric can add an element of texture, which can break up a room that feels too monochromatic or needs a lighter or heavier feel in certain areas. If you prefer a brighter room, choose a lighter fabric. Keep these quick fabric tips in mind:
- Silken fabrics add a classic elegance with a smooth drape.
- Velvet curtains are elegant and sturdy with a texture-rich feel.
- Cotton has a more casual appeal and is often embroidered or given a distinct pattern.
- Linen tends to be less formal and offers a crisp, clean look to your room.
Choosing curtains with a pattern can add movement and visual interest to a room. If other elements like pillows, rugs, or wall hangings are solid in color, patterned curtains can act as a statement piece in the room. If there are already other patterns in the room, be careful of mixing too many patterns to avoid the space being overly busy.
Before you research how to hang curtains, you’ll want to choose your color palette. Once you know which colors you want to use in the space, you can decide what color curtains to purchase. If you’re looking for a bold statement, try a brighter color. If you’re for a neutral room, a gray, beige, or cream color may work better. A monochromatic color scheme can also be broken up with a more textured curtain.
4. Lined or unlined
Most designers choose lined curtains when greater opacity or room darkening is desired—especially in a home’s private areas—because they create a more defined boundary between the indoors and outdoors. Blackout curtains are ideal for extra privacy and daytime naps. Unlined and sheer curtains can create interesting plays of light and shadow and allow more airflow.
5. Top treatments
When selecting your style, consider your curtain rods, the decor of your space, and whether you want to open and close your curtains (some styles are better suited for this than others).
- Grommet top: Eight metal rings in the curtain’s header make hanging easy and produce a clean, vertical drape. This can create a more modern look, but it can also make a traditionally patterned curtain appear more casual.
- Back tab/rod pocket: Hang by back tabs to create clean, vertical pleats without curtain grommets. Hang by the rod pocket for a more traditional look with smaller, gathered pleats.
- Rod pocket: Simple 3" rod pocket styles are the least expensive option. Fabric ruffles at the top and billows down in smaller, gathered pleats for a more formal, traditional look.
Additional Tips for Hanging Curtains: Panel Prep
Once you’ve learned how to hang curtain rods and install curtains, don’t forget to take some time to prep the panels for optimal performance and aesthetics.
Pre-shrink curtain panels
If your curtain panels are washable, wash and dry them before measuring for curtain rod height. Some fabrics may shrink significantly, and you want to ensure you get correct measurements before installing.
Iron and hem
If you want that perfect, graze-the-floor look, hemming curtains will give you a finished edge. Rather than cutting the curtain before sewing, simply fold the end of the curtain, pin, and iron to solidify the edge. Then, sew along your desired hemline. If you choose to move the curtains, or realize they aren’t the right length, you can remove the seams and start over. But, if they’re cut, you won’t have extra fabric to play with.
Adding weights to curtains will help them hang evenly and prevent them from blowing around when the window is open. Sew in a beaded chain to the hem so that curtains can still be pulled back with ease. You can also slip in a few coins to the hem to provide added weight without additional sewing.
Complement Any Room with Curtains From Pier 1
Learning how to install curtains doesn’t have to be difficult with these quick tips for measuring, hanging, and styling curtains and rods. But hanging curtains is just part of the process. You also want to find the perfect curtains and hardware to accessorize your space just the way you like.
At Pier 1, we offer a wide variety of styles, fabrics, patterns, sizes, and colors that you can sort with just the click of a button. Whether you want bold and romantic, or soft and neutral, our selection of curtains and curtain rods and hardware is sure to satisfy.