How and where are curtains supposed to hang?

Charmaine Ulberg
Written by Charmaine Ulberg
Russells Consultant
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Beautiful curtains add so much to the look of a room. Throw all the cushions you like on the couch, put art on the walls, adorn the shelves with as many or as few complementary accessories as you like, you’ll never be able to match the impact and effect good window furnishings have on a room.

But the real key to how good they look is how you hang them. Think of someone in a perfectly tailored suit…now imagine how that suave look could be ruined if the pants were too short. Same goes for curtains; too short and they look silly. They also cease to be functional if you’re hoping to retain heat in the room.

Floor length is the way to go unless there is something in the way, like a heating device or sill. There are several variations on this length to consider:

Floating. Leave about a finger width of space from the floor. This is a nice, casual look and it’s practical too – hovering curtains won’t get a dirty hem and dust won’t gather. This is the best length for curtains that you’ll be opening and closing a lot.

Breaking. A break is a very slight fold or bend just above the hem. It doesn’t have to be much, a few centimetres is enough to create a stylish break.

Pooling. This is very in right now. It’s a decadent, romantic look where the fabric goes beyond a break and pools in a rumpled fashion on the floor. The drawback is that pooling curtains are high maintenance. Dust will gather around the bottom and they need refluffing every time you vacuum. If you want this look you’ll need to think about the fabric your choose; nothing stiff, it either needs to be light and gauzy or very soft and thick, like velvet. That’s length sorted.

How wide should curtains be?

Easy rule of thumb, 2 to 2 ½ times the width of the window.

Curtain panels don’t look good pulled taut, they need ruffles when they’re closed. The only time this isn’t the case is when they’re purely ornamental and you don’t intend to close them. Then, 1 ½ times the width of the window will be sufficient.

Where should curtains hang in relation to the window?

Hang the rod, track or bracket on the wall above and outside the window molding for the best look; 4 to 6 inches above, or about half way between the top of the frame and the ceiling. 3 to 6 inches beyond the sides. This makes the window look taller and grander and allows more light to come in.

And depending on your taste you might want to consider tiebacks for a tidy, formal look.

Illuminate by James Dunlop in Straw

Learn what to consider in picking the right curtains for your home

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