In the world of window treatments, nothing provides the coziness and design aesthetic quite like curtains. Unfortunately, they also seem to cause the most confusion!

The long and short of it is, choosing the right curtains — style, material, and size — and knowing how to hang them correctly is tricky.

Start with this guide. We’ve compiled a list of the most common curtain questions we hear from customers. We’re also happy to answer all your questions at our Tigard showroom or through a quick virtual consultation.

How long should my curtains be?

This depends on whether your curtains are stationary or working — moving open and closed. If you are interested in stationary panels, you will want your curtains to be long enough to lightly brush the floor, but not so long that they bunch up in a pile.

A good rule of thumb is for your curtains to break anywhere from a ¼” to ½” from the floor, similar to a break in pant legs on your shoe. This adds the custom element of luxury while actively holding your curtains in place.

If you want your curtains to move back and forth, you will want them to hang about ½” above the floor to avoid added friction to the open and close movement.

There are exceptions. Choosing the length of your curtains can also depend on the style of the room, window size, and style and your house. Longer curtains with a break of over 1” offer a more dressy, formal look while shorter imply a casual and relaxed vibe.

Can I use long curtains on short windows?

Yes. Using curtains that are longer than your windows will help your short window appear larger. The length of your curtain is dependent on the ratio of width to height. A window that is longer in length than width can benefit from longer curtains giving the window a larger feel. However, a very wide window that is unusually short may look better with shorter curtains.

Keep in mind that in a small room curtains could potentially overwhelm the space. In this case, fabric valances or Roman shades may be the better choice.

What’s the difference between curtains, blinds, and shades?

Find Out

How high should you hang curtains?

We recommend hanging most curtains at least 4-6 inches above the window frame. A general rule is two-thirds of the space above the window. To maximize the illusion of height many companies manufacture special ceiling mount drapery hardware.

How much wider should curtains be than the window?

This depends on the size of your window and how much wall space you have available. How much of the window do you want to leave uncovered? We’ve found that curtain panels look best when they drape into the window space about 2-3”. Panels generally cover anywhere from 12 to 24” once again depending on your window size. A window that is 48” wide may be overwhelmed with wide panels, and panels on a window that is 72” might look skimpy if they are less than 20”.

As you’re ordering curtain panels, measure your window. You typically want curtains that are pleated down from fabric that is 2 1/2 times the width of your window. For sheer, flowy curtain fabrics, you may want the pleated width to be 3 times the window width to achieve the proper fullness.

What curtains are best for narrow windows?

Narrow windows can be made to appear wider by installing curtain rods 6-inches wider than the window and 4-6-inches higher than the window. However, a small window in a room with larger windows might be better served with a complementary roman shade of the same fabric.

Should you use curtains on a wall of windows?

A huge window or a window that spans an entire wall of your home will obviously need some sort of window covering. Sheer drapery mounted at the ceiling can now be motorized, moving your curtains easily across large expanses.
Adding curtains to a long row or wall of windows (in addition to blinds or shades), can add great aesthetic value and compliment the design of your home.

What is the best fabric for curtains?

There are so many different curtain materials to choose from. The type of fabric you decide on can completely change the ultimate design style of the room. For example, a darker fabric lends a dramatic and serious tone while light, sheer curtains will make your room feel breezy and airy.

It takes a designer’s eye (or a lot of your own research) to choose the perfect curtain fabric for a space. A good place to start is by understanding the different types of curtain fabrics, which include:

 

Should your curtains match your walls and couch?

You don’t need to stress about exactly matching your curtains to the color of your walls, couch, or carpet. But referencing the colors of your existing furniture and decor is a good starting point.

A best practice is to choose curtains that are at least one shade lighter or darker than your walls and to consider what furniture pieces will be placed in front of your window treatment. If your couch has a pattern, you might try a solid-color curtain in a contrasting color that enhances the fabric design. A patterned fabric can create a focal point in the room and is especially lovely when used with leather upholstery.

Consider coordinating with the permanent colors in your space such as tile work, moldings, and flooring. If you coordinate with these elements your drapery can have a life as long as they are present in your space. Matching the permanent elements will allow your curtains to work even as you change minor items such as paint and pillows.

How to pick the right curtains

So now that you have all the answers, where do you start?

Even with all this information on hand, bringing it all together to find the right curtain size, material, style, and color is hard. It’s why so many people end up working with a designer. Having a professional opinion and a fresh perspective on what will look and function best in your home is a relief and leads to the best outcomes.

If you want to get started on your own and see how it goes, focus first on finding curtains that blend with the style of your home and meet your needs. Take time to consider:

  • The window shape
  • The room’s color scheme
  • The overall style of your home (decorative, modern, mid-century, minimalistic, traditional, etc.)
  • Whether the same curtain design will look good throughout your whole home or if you need to choose curtains room-by-room
  • Any special privacy needs (do you need blackout curtains or can you get away with something more sheer?)

Once you have the basic answers to these questions, you’ll feel much more comfortable browsing curtain options (or working with a window treatment expert) to find the perfect solution.

More questions about curtains? We have answers

Don’t let the process of picking curtains intimidate you. It’s okay to get professional help where you need it. If you have more questions about choosing curtains, contact us. Our team of expert windows specialists are here to assist you!

We offer many ways to help with your project:

And of course, we’re always here to answer your phone call at (503) 783-1838.

Good luck with your curtains and we hope to hear from you soon!