Universal Tricks for Good-Looking Curtain Panels

Kicking off our All Things Windows week, our decorating guru, Jackie, is here with simple tips to make your curtains look amazing!

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Don’t underestimate the power of window treatments, particularly curtain panels, to make or break a room. Curtain panels add softness to a room and are one of the largest textile surfaces in a space. Regardless of the fabric, color, or pattern you choose there are some universal tricks to making your windows (and room) look top-notch.

Quick Tricks for Good-Looking Windows | Jackie Hernandez for Remodelaholic.com #WeekofWindows

Choosing the Right Length Curtain Panel

For the greatest impact, floor to ceiling panels are my favorite, but they aren’t always practical. There are basically three length options:

  • Sill length – the bottom of the curtain panel just touches the window sill. A great option for the kitchen.
  • Apron length – the bottom of the curtain ends a few inches below the bottom of the window frame. This length is popular for kids bedrooms, bathrooms, or where a heater or radiator is below the window.
  • Floor length – the bottom of the curtain just dusts the floor.

The overall length you choose though will depend on how high you hang the curtain rod.

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To make your window and room appear larger, hang the curtain rod right below the ceiling, like I did in my dining room. This works best in rooms with 8, 9, or 10-foot ceilings using curtain panels that are 94″, 108″, or 120″ long, respectively. For rooms with ceilings over 10-feet high it can be difficult and extremely expensive to find longer curtain panels. In that case, hang the curtain rod about 10-12″ above the window frame and use 94-96″ panels. Unfortunately, most standard 84″ curtain panels are not long enough for floor length curtains.

The Perfect Length for a Curtain Rod

The right length curtain rod also makes a big difference. When the curtain panels are open, you want as much of the window showing as possible to let in maximum natural light.

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Choose a curtain rod that is long enough to extend 10-12″ beyond the window frame on each side. This way when the curtains are open, they will be covering the window frame and wall next to it, not the window. This trick also fools the eye into making the window appear larger and the room wider.

Money-Saving Tips for Extra Wide Windows

For extra wide windows or multiple windows close together (which should be treated as one window), consider stationary panels to save money. Use a single decorative curtain panel on each side of the window, like I did here in my master bedroom. They won’t be functional to cover the window, but they still add softness to the room and frame the window.

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If you use stationary panels, you can also skip the extra long curtain rod and use a shorter rod on each end of the window, extending beyond the window frame 10-12″. Use blinds mounted inside the window frame for light control.

If you need your curtain panels to be functional, the total width of all panels should be 2.5 times the width of your window. For extra wide windows, you can sew multiple panels together, so they move to each side as one and there is no gaping when they are closed.

Simple Ways to Treat Tiny Windows

For tiny windows, simple is best. Install a plantation shutter or inside mount wood or faux wood blinds. If you prefer the softness of curtain panels, use a single panel (either by itself or layered over blinds) and swag it to one side with a curtain tie back.

Ultimately, curtain panels and window treatments are a personal preference.  Decorative curtain panels are a designer favorite because they can be used as a tool to make a room appear larger, add softness, frame a great view, and make a statement.  The right choice for you depends on the room, the window, and the look you want.  These tips are a helpful guide on the basics of good-looking curtain panels.

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Reclaimed Copper Pipe Curtain Rod

upcycled copper pipe curtain rod and finial, Lemon Thistle on Remodelaholic

Lace Privacy Window Coveringinexpensive DIY privacy window covering with lace, Annabel Vita on Remodelaholic

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4 Comments

  1. I have a question when treating a large window that has a sectional in front of it? Long panels, long rods, or short rods with long panels. On the windows I have pleated shades. Id like to send a picture to better express my frustration. Thank you

  2. I am buying an older house with 7.5 foot ceilings. I purchased 96” curtains. Will they be too long? I plan on hanging them right below the ceiling line. Should I get 84″ instead?

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