How High to Hang Curtains

January 16, 2017

How High to Hang Curtains

Let’s clear up some curtain confusion today, shall we?  Raise your hand if you have ever questioned how high to hang curtains.  I’m just going to assume that you raised your hand.  I did.  Curtain trends have definitely changed over the last couple of decades, leaving a lot of people unsure on how high to hang curtains.  More than likely, you are now aware that curtains aren’t supposed to be hung just above the window, but that doesn’t mean that you know where you are supposed to hang them.  Let’s go over some options that will hopefully help make hanging curtains a little more straightforward for your space.

How High to Hang Curtains

High and Wide


How High to Hang Curtains

Curtains, old (similar) | Ghost Chairs | Spindle Table

Hanging curtains “high and wide” seems to be most people’s preference these days.  That just means that you hang the curtain rod a few inches above the top of the window (instead of right above the trim), and choose a rod wide enough that it extends several inches on either side of the window.  This trick makes your windows appear to be taller and wider than they are.

The curtain rod can be hung halfway between the top of the trim and the ceiling, or you can choose to hang the rod at another spot that makes sense for your curtain length and ceiling height.  You can choose to hang the rod closer to the ceiling so that your curtains will be flush with the floor, or you can keep the rod in the middle and let curtains pool on the floor.

Letting curtains pool is totally ok if it fits the vibe of your space.  The curtains tend to feel softer and more romantic though, so take that into considerations.  Curtain lengths don’t always work well with this newish idea of hanging high and wide, so just be prepared to get them hemmed if you aren’t into the pooled look.

One thing to consider when hanging your rods wide is to make sure that you have enough fabric to cover your windows if you plan to close them.  In the photo above, we never close the curtains and didn’t plan to, but there is still enough fabric to close the curtains if needed.  Not only do you want to consider function, but on really large windows like this one, the “weight” of the fabric should feel in balance with the “weight” of the window.  No scrawny window panels on wide windows please.

At the Ceiling

How High to Hang Curtains

Curtains (also here)

Another option is to hang your curtains all the way up to the ceiling, or my personal preference, about an inch below.  It may seem like it, but this isn’t just a random option.  Curtains can really affect how big (or tall) your room feels.  By choosing to hang curtains at the ceiling, or just right below, your eye is drawn up in a room that has a lower ceiling.  This creates the effect of taller ceilings.

I chose to hang the curtains at the ceiling in my master bedroom.  Even with the trey ceiling, I thought the room could use the extra height.  Also notice that the curtains are hung as wide as possible, but sometimes strange window placements can prevent you from going as wide as you would like.

Drop the Ceiling

How High to Hang Curtains


So now you know curtains can be used to create visual height, but they can also be used to drop the ceiling.  Why would you want to drop a ceiling you might ask?  Some rooms are so large and have really tall ceilings (ours are 9 feet), which can make the room can feel cavernous.  By hanging the curtains well below the ceiling (but still above the window trim) you can create a horizontal visual break in the wall that keeps the room from looking quite so tall.  In our case, it felt like hanging the rods even at the halfway point would be too high, so I hung them about 6 inches above the trim.

Special Circumstances

Curtains can be a challenge, even when the windows are pretty straightforward.  Sometimes things get in the way (literally) that prevent you from hanging your curtains exactly how you would like to, or feel that you should.  My advice would be to weigh the difference the curtains would make in the room against the cost of hanging them “incorrectly”.  I am such a huge fan of curtains in a room, and I haven’t run into a situation yet that I didn’t think could benefit from some sort of window treatment.

It’s kind of funny to say, but we just scratched the surface of window treatments in this post.  I didn’t even mention options like valances or Roman shades, let alone other problem areas like the transom window that lets light into my daughters’ bedroom.  What other questions do you have about curtains?  Do you have any special circumstances that you need help with?  I’m always happy to weigh in, send me an email at [email protected]

How High to Hang Curtains

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  1. Reply

    Cathy Lawdanski

    This is so timely! I’m getting new curtains hung next week. Thanks so much!

  2. Reply

    Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    All of our drapes are hung high, I like the way that it raises the ceilings and makes the room seem more open. And they are hung wide, especially on the windows that aren’t centered on the wall, this helps them to look more symmetrical, it bothers me when one side wall seems wider than the other.

    Great tips, and I love the way your drapes look in your gorgeous home!

    1. Reply


      Thank you Nikki. Builders place windows in some odd places sometimes, curtains can definitely help the situation! I love symmetry too. 🙂

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