How To Hang Curtains High & Wide (The Window Looks Bigger)

When it comes to hanging curtains we’re not shy about encouraging people to hang them high and wide to visually enlarge the window and add height and drama to any space. Just as influential as paint on the walls, nothing makes a room look more finished than a few floor to ceiling curtain panels. And we’re here to break down a few fast and easy curtain-hanging steps for your convenience. Of course there’s more than one way to skin a cat (that expression is gross, sorry) so here’s a method that works for us (although there are about a million other approaches out there).

Here’s our favorite eight year old’s window sans curtains. You can see how harsh the rectangular frame of the window is, and how naked the entire wall looks. Nothin’ some Ikea curtains can’t fix.

The first step is to determine how high and wide you can go. In this case (where the ceilings are 9 feet tall) we didn’t go all the way to the ceiling (as we do with our 8 foot ones) but we did decide to place the curtains 12″ higher than the top of the window, and 12″ wider on each side. A good way to check that the curtain rod can extend far enough (which is definitely something to figure out before installing the rod hooks) is to lay it on the floor in front of the window and measure your targeted width (in this case adding 12 inches to either side of the window) to ensure that the rod is long enough.

Once we determined that the rod was long enough, we simply used a level to measure 12″ higher than the window frame and another 12″ to the right of the window (and to the left on the other side). Marking the spot with a small penciled “x” was all it took. Then we predrilled a small hole for a plastic anchor, hammered it into place, and drilled the screw right into the anchor to secure the rod hook. No sweat.

In this case we also hung a hook in the middle of the rod for added support (to counteract the dreaded “sagging rod”) which was easily added by measuring 12″ above the center of the window and again using a plastic anchor and a screw to keep the rod hook securely in place.

Here’s the finished product: billowy floor length curtains that can be easily hemmed to just skim the floor (although Princess Olivia loves the pooled look so much that she prefers them as is). Of course colored and even patterned curtains would add even more punch to this space, but Olivia’s minimalist mommy adores the white on white look. And it’s actually a huge trend to hang curtains that closely match the hue of the wall for a seamless and uninterrupted look that draws your eye right out the window.  Mission accomplished.

And while many people fear the space between the top of the rod and the window, you can easily see here that it looks perfectly balanced (in fact, we think the window looks choked and crowded when the rod is mounted right on top of the window frame). And you can always cheat things even more by adding some bamboo shades like we did in our living room to hide the 15″ gap above ours. Oh window treatments: how did people ever live without you?!

We hope our lil’ curtain tutorial has been helpful and empowering. John wasn’t even around when I hung the curtains above (his sister Emily and I grabbed the drill and went to town). So if you have a ruler, a level, and a drill you can get ‘er done in about a half hour for a totally polished result. And of course we’d love any and all curtain hanging tips that you guys have picked up over the years. Dish the curtain hanging dirt…

Comments

  1. janet says

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on hanging drapes in an old house. Our house is 120 yrs old and has thick (6 inch) moulding around the windows. Also we have a 6 inch crown moulding and 10 inch base moulding. The ceilings are 8ft. We tried hanging the drapes on the outside like you suggested but it looked weird. It was obvious the window was not that big because of the moulding. So we wound up hanging them traditionally. They look fine to us but it seems to break the current decorating rules. What do you suggest. Also installing curtain rods into old plaster is a disaster!

  2. Laura Lynn says

    Thanks for the tutorial. I love the look of your bedroom drapes by the way. I saw them featured on the Holly Mathis blog.
    My curtains always get snagged where the rod is extended. Right now I have clip on rings. I think a better way is to switch to a drape with large grommets so maybe they wouldn’t catch so much. Do you think that would work?

  3. NEPD says

    I want to echo the concerns of hanging curtains in an old house. Our problem is that the windows but up against some oddly placed wall so we can not hang a typical rod. Does anyone have a suggestion about either hanging a rod from the ceiling? or a nicer way of hanging a curtain on the inside of a frame?

  4. says

    I would love to see more tutorials on other window sizes and trim widths. We recently replaced our house’s trim with wide trim and now I’m arguing with hubby about not mounting our old drapery rods onto the new trim but instead putting them above. I can’t find any justification for not mounting onto the trim though!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Stacy,

      We love hanging rods high and wide to create the illusion of a bigger window while letting in more light (and keeping your window trim hole-free). These days most designers agree that hanging curtains at least 6″ above the top of a window lets them breathe a bit. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  5. Sophia says

    Hi Sherry,

    I recently discovered your blog/website and let me just say, I’ve been inspired to revamp our apartment! Since we do not own our place, there’s limitations as to what we can do (install cabinets, paint, etc.). . . however a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! This week my husband and I will be hanging up curtains in our living room and I just snagged a console from craigslist for an unbeatable price. Thanks for the curtain-hanging advice. Gotta love those low prices at Target & Ikea! :]

    Sophia

  6. Valerie says

    What is your take on double rods? I’ve never hung curtains before, but the idea of having 2 white panels (like Ikea’s Vivian) accented by 2 darker panels in front (like Ikea’s Merete in brown) seems appealing to me. But it’s hard to visualize. We have 10ft ceilings and the window is about 7ft wide. What do you think?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Valerie,

      That sounds lovely and we think a double rod is the perfect answer! Hope it helps.

      xo,
      s

  7. Jessica says

    Hi Sherry,

    Congrats on your new little one! I have a 10 month old boy at home and it is SO MUCH FUN to be a parent and to watch your baby grow and develop. I really like babycenter.com. You can put in your due date and it will send you weekly updates on what is growing and developing in your baby. I still get them in regards to how my baby should be developing. It’s fun.

    I have a question for you. We are putting up new blinds in our house and we are trying to decide on the right ones. I noticed that in a lot of your house you have either roman shades or the bamboo style shades. Do you think this provides enough privacy for you? Is there a reason you did not use plantation blinds?

    Thanks so much!

    Jessica

    • says

      Hey Jessica,

      Hmm, for the blinds question I think it’s just personal preference. We love the texture that bamboo blinds bring to a space when they’re paired with breezy white curtains and we especially love that they’re super cheap from stores like Walmart and Target (compared to plantation blinds, etc). We’re lucky enough to live far enough away from the street and our neighbors that we don’t actually have to close them for privacy so they’re usually just for looks (we hung them super high and wide so they make our windows look twice as big). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  8. Carla says

    Hi Sherry,

    Just wanted to say that I went high and wide today and could not be happier! I never would have thought to do that myself. It looks amazing in the room. My son’s teensie little bedroom suddenly looks grand. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

    :)

  9. Anna says

    Hi,

    Thanks for all of your wonderful advice. i love your home! I have a question about hanging curtains. We have a slight bay window(three walls, with a window on each) The window are all relatively closer to each other. Would you recommend hanging three sets of curtains, or just one side on the outer 2 windows? Also, typically, do curtains go on the outside of the moldings? In my case there is hardly any room from the molding to the end of the wall.

    thanks again!
    Anna

    • says

      Hey Anna,

      There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to those things, so you can try hanging just two curtains on the outside of your windows to see if you like that look (you’ll add even more softness if you hang more panels between the windows as well- but it’s really your call). Just see what tickles your fancy. And as for where to hang curtains in relation to window moldings, we looove hanging them much higher and wider so they entire window area feels taller and more airy (it won’t block as much light while making your windows appear even larger) so we would go ceiling-height with the rod if you can (well above window moldings) but again it’s your call. Just have someone hold the rod up and take a step back to see how you like it at different heights. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  10. Sarah R. says

    Great post! I’ve been having the hardest time installing the drapery hardware as our walls are WEAK SAUCE! First I started with plastic drywall anchors, but they don’t support the weight of a large, heavy rod like I need them to. Then I went to Molly bolts, but these have only pushed into the wall (like I said, the sheet rock is crappy crappy). I don’t have studs where I need them and wonder if I dare hang curtains from the stud at the ceiling. Wouldn’t this be too high? On the other hand, do I dare go 18 inches out from the window box to find another stud to mount the hardware to? Would that be too wide? Surely I cannot be the only one who is having this problem. My poor house is only 10 years old but as ‘starter’ home it was apparently made with very poor quality material.

    Help!!!

    • says

      Hey Sarah,

      We actually don’t think hanging the curtains from the ceiling would be too high or too strange at all. If you flip through the after photos on our House Tour page (check out that tab under the header) you’ll see that in many rooms we hang the curtains about an inch from the ceiling or right under the crown molding so an inch or two higher definitely wouldn’t hurt! You have to work with what you’ve got! Hope it helps.

      xo,
      s

  11. CeCe says

    If you had to choose to hang curtains an inch above the window and a few inches off the floor or the rod a little below the top of the window and the curtains barely touching the floor, which would you choose? I can only afford pre-made curtains right now and my windows seem to be a little higher than normal. I chose to have the curtain touch the floor and the rod is slightly below the top of the window. Now it’s bugging me, but I know if I had the curtians a few inches above the floor that would bug me too.

    • says

      We’re with you! We honestly think both options would bug us. But the good news is that many retailers like Target, Ikea, Bed Bath & Beyond, and JC Penney sell stock curtains on a budget that are extra long (95+ inches!). We think just returning the standard ones you have and snatching up some longer ones will make you so much happier in the long run… and Ikea’s 95 inch extra long curtains are $15 for two panels! Hope it helps.

      xo,
      s

  12. Lanita says

    I need a solution for a wide window that goes all the way up to the ceiling. Is there an extra long type of curtain rod I can use that won’t sag in the middle with the weight of the curtains? There is no way to put an extra support mount in the middle unless I hang the curtains from the ceiling. I would actually prefer to do that but I can’t find any mounts with a short drop. In other words, the 3″ mounts I’ve found (measuring from the ceiling downwards) would create a gap between the top of the window and the curtain if I used them. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • says

      JC Penney sells extra long rods (as does Lowe’s) and we have even heard of people using metal hardware store pipes to create long strong rods that don’t sag. As for ceiling mounted curtains without a big drop, Ikea might be the answer. They have great “rods” that can be mounted close to the ceiling but they’re actually wire, so your curtains zip along them and can be quite close to the ceiling. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  13. Vea says

    Hello! I’ve read your blog for the past two years, every day religiously and its my first time to ask a question (not my last I can promise you that:)). We are moving into a new house and the big living room window has a half circle (like loop) window above it, and its much smaller. Where would I place the rod? There are two more windows in the room on the adjecent wall, but these windows are not as wide as the big window. All three windows are same height.

    Thank you in advance,

    V

    • says

      Hey Vea,

      Good question! We’d put the rod right below the demi window (the half-circle one) and mount it extra wide on either side of the window below it so it softens the rectangular window below and allows light to shine in the upper window (since a rod above the semi-circle window would look a bit off). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  14. Debbie says

    I was wondering if someone could give me some advice on hanging drapes on windows that have very wide crown moulding. Would I hang the drapes above the crown moulding or below it. The type of crown moulding is basically like a shelf at the top it.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • says

      We hate marring gorgeous moldings with rods so we never suggesting hanging them on or below ’em. We like curtain rods high and wide as many of the photos in this post show, so just hang yours a few inches below the ceiling to let that lovely molding (and your window) breathe a little and add height to the whole room.

      xo,
      s