We’ve noticed over the years that the topic of how to properly hang drapery comes up at almost every consulting session we do. Because window treatments can easily be one of the largest investments in a design, and they take up a lot of visual real estate in a room, it’s critical to get them right. And it makes such a difference when you do!
We tend to see the same recurring mistakes. The most common offenders are rods that hang too low, causing the drapes to crowd the window, and rods that are too short, causing the drapes to cover it up.
Length is something that people usually get right, but at an unfortunate cost. (The drapes should just ‘kiss’ the floor without dragging on it, so we recommend the bottom be ½” above the floor).
See if you can relate to this scenario:
The stores commonly sell standard sizes of 96” (that’s 8’ exactly) or 84” (that’s 7’) drapery lengths. And your ceiling is 8.’ So the 96” is going to be too long because your rod certainly can’t be on the ceiling. But...the 84” is too short. So what do you do? Well, you buy the shorter drapes and hang the rod *just* above the window casing (and sometimes, dear goodness, over the poor casing) as you pray the length will hit the floor. It does! Whew! Nailed it.
Super sorry to tell you this, but no.
The right answer is to buy the longer drape so that you can hang the rod at the proper height and (sigh) have it hemmed.
But we don’t blame you at all. We think the standard-drapery-length issue must be similar to how the hotdog company and the bun company couldn’t work out their math, leaving Steve Martin to have the best movie-dad meltdown of all time.
Not only that, but when you search online for the “rules” there is an endless amount of conflicting information on the topic. Even this week, we got an email from Architectural Digest touting the proper installation of drapes, and we were aghast! Even they didn’t get it right. (Obviously we know that’s sacrilege to even say out loud, and we love you AD!) Trust us, we feel pretty guilty contradicting a design giant, but they said you should hang drapery rods only 2” - 6” above window casing! Um, no! Only if your ceiling happens to start in 2 more inches after that.
We decided it was time to wade into the crowded waters of internet opinion and shed some light on the right way to hang your drapes.
Before we tell you our opinion of how this should be done, we’d like to present some evidence to support our point. Take a look at the common denominators in all of these perfectly done windows. There are three: Rod height is closer to ceiling than window, drapery edges just cover the outside casing when they’re stacked open, and the length is to the floor.
OK, that was an exhausting amount of images (seriously though, so much pretty right?) but hopefully they will prove we know what we’re talking about. When they’re tailored, neat, and correctly hung, drapes are the ‘tell’ of a designer room. Done right, they take a space from good to great.
So here are the rules:
Hang rod a few inches down from the ceiling to draw the eye up. A good rule of thumb is that the rod should hang ⅔ up between the top of the window and the ceiling, and we don’t mind seeing it a even smidge higher than that.
Go long on the rod width. You want to be able to stack drapes open and have the inside edge of them *just* cover the window casing. This makes your window look bigger, and ensures that none of your view is covered up by fabric.
Make sure you order drapes that are wide enough to cover the entire window when closed, even when they are stretched across the length of the wider rod.
Bottom of the drapes should just kiss the floor. You don’t want them to drag, and they shouldn’t be noticeably above the floor. The ideal measurement is ½” above the floor, but the critical rule is no more than 1” above.
Hopefully this will be helpful information as you invest in window treatments - Just avoid the common pitfalls and stick to the rules, and they'll be gorgeous! Good luck!
Laura & Laura