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The right curtains and how they hang can make or break the look of a room. And, unlike other features and furniture, can be used cleverly to alter one’s very perception of the size of the space they’re in. Here are our top tips on using curtains to make the most of your space.

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How to make a room look bigger or smaller with curtains

Hang them high on the wall, right up near the ceiling. This draws the eye upwards creating an illusion of height.

 Stripes can fool the eye so depending on the size of your room, the right stripe direction can make it appear larger or smaller. For small rooms with low ceilings choose vertical stripes to add height. Horizontal stripes will visually shorten wide walls and/or high ceilings.

Avoid heavily colored horizontal patterns or large flowered prints, which tend to dominate a room, closing it in. 

Choosing a fabric in a slightly lighter shade of the wall colour will also help to open up a room. Dark coloured curtains will do the opposite if you want to make a large space cosier.

Adjustable or long solid curtain rods can also work towards creating that impression of spaciousness. This way you can pull the curtains right to the side exposing the frame and therefore the full width of the window, making it look larger and letting in more light.

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How long should my curtains be?

Down to the floor is the best length. They look good and in winter, perform better at retaining heat. If there is something in the way under the window (eg. a heating device or perhaps it’s a bay window) you will only be able to hang them to the sill or just below.

We’d also recommend considering shorter curtains in children’s rooms also. Floor length curtains pose a safety risk as they can be reached and pulled down or kids play in them, wrapping themselves up and potential restricting breathing.

Should they touch the floor?

There are several variations on what constitutes ‘floor length’.

  • Floating curtains offer a simple and sensible casual look. By leaving no more than a centimetre of space between curtain and floor they’re practical too as floating curtains don’t gather dust on the floor. They are also easier to open and close so there’s no room they won’t work in (except the bathroom, laundry and kitchen).
  • Touching curtains require expert measurement as just a centimetre too short or long and you have a completely different look. However, it is a clean and simple choice perfect for all rooms (same exceptions as above). Better on hard surface floors as opposed to carpet, which it can pull against when opening and closing.
  • Breaking is a very common curtain length style. It means the curtains are just that little bit longer and they rest on the floor with a slight bend just above the hem. A few centimetres is enough to create a stylish break. As with the prior two options, this style of curtain length works in any room of the house but is also more functional when paired with hard flooring.
  • Pooling curtains have been increasing in popularity in recent years. This style of hanging curtains sees a large amount of fabric pool or puddle on the floor. This style does gather dust and they need some reshaping every time you move them or vacuum around them so they are high maintenance. The type of fabric you choose will influence whether you can attain this look or not. Stiff, heavy fabrics aren’t quite as successful as light, airy ones like cotton, linen or voile. Another factor to consider is that while you may like the look of pooling curtains when they are open, ensure you also enjoy this relaxed look when they are closed and the ‘pool’ is more of a ‘stream.’ Pooling curtains add a lovely softness to rooms with lots of hard furniture. For a relaxed and casual look with a fabric like linen, let them pool where they fall. For a more formal look, deliberately pool them to the left or right or centre, depending where the wall panel is in relation. They are also better in bedrooms than main living areas as the excess fabric on the floor can be a tripping hazard.
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How high over the window should they hang?

For the best look curtain rods or rails should hang on the wall above and outside the window frame. General rule of thumb, hang them either 10-15 cm above or about half way between the top of the frame and the ceiling.

Does width matter?

The width of your curtains has a huge impact on how they make your space looks.

If they are the exact length of the window they will only just cover it (if you’re lucky)! If they are longer but not long enough they will pull straight and taut. Curtains are supposed to have waves or ruffles so they should be 2 to 2 ½ times the width of the window. Even ornamental curtains that never close and simply frame the window still need the waves. For these, 1 ½ times the width of the window will be sufficient. When hanging them, allowing them to cover 7 to 14cm of wall on either side of the window is standard, unless there is wall in the way.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. If you need more info about choosing the right curtains for your home, you’ll find everything you need to know in our helpful guide. Download your free copy now. 

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