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How to Choose the Right Drapes

Adding drapery or curtains is a simple way to give any room a finished look, but choose the wrong length and it will just look like a mistake. Learn how to choose the right drapes for your space.

Choosing the Right Lighting

Upon first inspection, one of the most common mistakes interior designers see in their clients homes are curtains or drapes that are inappropriately sized—too short, too long, not quite right. Adding drapery is a wonderful way to add color and textural interest to any room, but unfortunately a lot of novices struggle when selecting the appropriate size for their windows. Read on to learn how to get it right.

Finding the Right Curtain Length

Finding the Right Curtain Length

An important point to note is that there is no one-size-fits-all rule for curtain length. The length of your curtains should reflect the style of the room—whether it’s a dramatic entryway or a cheerful kitchen. Not all windows and curtain lengths were made for each other. Use the measurements and tips below as a guide to help you find the perfect fit and consider the function of each one.

There are three primary styles when it comes to curtain length: apron, floor, and puddle. 

How to Hang Apron Curtains

How to Hang Apron Curtains

Apron-length curtains fall about 4” below the windowsill. This style is crisp and casual and a good choice for less formal rooms, like kitchens. For a 40”x70” window, the recommended curtain length would be 63” to 84”. In this case, you should place your curtain rod higher than the actual window to draw the eye up and make the space look larger.

How to Hang Floor-Length Curtains

How to Hang Floor-Length Curtains

Floor-length style curtains have a polished, put-together look and should fall about ¼” before the floor. This look lengthens your windows and your room’s look over all, so it’s a great small space solution.

How to Hang Puddle-Length Curtains

How to Hang Puddle-Length Curtains

Puddle-length style curtains feel much more formal and dramatic, with about 6” to 10” of extra fabric falling at the floor. This style is great for a romantic, bohemian look. However, it’s best in low traffic areas without pets and kids, as the puddled fabric can collect dust and debris.

Drapery Top Construction

Drapery Top Construction

Your curtain’s top construction determines how the fabric will drape and fall from the curtain rod. There are a couple different general types: pole-pocket drapes, which are more casual, and pinch-pleated drapes, which are appropriate for a more formal setting. There’s also the option of pole-pocket drapes with curtain rings, which is somewhere between casual and formal.

Drapery Hardware

Drapery Hardware

The drapery hardware you choose for your window treatments, including mounting hardware and finials, is another opportunity to express your style. There are a variety of finishes available, too, which should be coordinated with other finishes in your room.

When it comes to installing your hardware, a good rule of thumb is to mount rods 4-6” above a window frame. If your room is vertically challenged, you can add visual height to a room by mounting a rod just below the ceiling moulding or ceiling. Another attractive option is to place the rod midway between ceiling and top of window.

The pole or rod itself should extend 3-6” beyond both sides of the window frame if you want open draperies to completely clear the window. Always decide on the type of rod, its mounted height and hanging method before measuring for draperies because these affect final measurements. 

Drapery Width

Drapery Width

To determine the appropriate drapery width, measure the width of the window including the frame and multiply by 1 for a tailored look, 1.5 for a standard look, or by 3 for a full look. The more lightweight the fabric is, the more you’ll need to achieve a full look.