Choosing the right curtain lengths is essential when decorating any room. You need to find curtains that are the right length and size for your window and space, whether it’s a bedroom that needs blackout shades, a living room that requires dramatic drapes, or a breakfast nook where you want a little privacy.
“There are many factors to consider when determining what is best for a window or series of windows to be treated,” says Chris Giovanelli, senior interior designer at Est Est Interior Design. “Ceiling height, window height, architectural details, and the specific design intent of the space are all very important considerations when determining the length of your finished curtains.”
With that in mind, we’ve gathered tips and tricks from Jovanelly and Haley Weidenbaum, the Los Angeles-based interior designer who founded custom window treatment company Everhem, on how to choose curtain lengths that maximize your space.
Measure window and ceiling heights
Finding the right curtain length is easier when you take into account the height of the window and ceiling, says Weidenbaum. Start by measuring from the floor to the top of the window and then from the top of the window to the ceiling. (The top of the window to the ceiling is indicated by the available installation space.)
“Ideally, you want to install[curtains]10 inches above your window or 3 inches below the ceiling. By placing your appliances high above your window, you will make the room appear much taller,” says Weidenbaum. “To determine the length of your curtains, add the floor measurement to the top of the window plus the desired mounting height. Deduct hardware by measuring the outside diameter of the curtain ring.”
If you don’t have 10 inches above your window (or three inches below the ceiling), or just want to consider another option, consider installing a curtain rod at the middle point between the top of the window and the ceiling, suggests Jovanelly. “If the window is 10 feet high and the ceiling is 12 feet high, that point will be 11 feet,” he says.
Of course, all rooms have their own advantages, and there are cases where neither formula works. “If there was a big crown molding or architectural detail like a beam, that might make me want to reconsider the 11-footer — or maybe not, because every case is unique.”
Think about the room
However, the length of the curtain is not strictly based on mathematics. A bathroom window curtain is usually smaller than a living room or dining area curtain. “A shorter curtain is a cafe curtain—perfect in a kitchen, bathroom, or smaller windows,” says Weidenbaum, whose company just launched custom café curtains in sheer linen. “These types of blinds are usually installed in the middle of the window, allowing natural light to stream into your kitchen or bathroom while maintaining privacy at the bottom.”
Determine the window width
You’ll need to measure the width of your window from the outside edge or trim to the outside edge or trim, Weidenbaum says. To do this, measure the available space to the right and left of your window so you can extend the device beyond the width of the window.
“I recommend that your hardware extend about eight inches on either side of your window so that your curtains have a place to ‘stack’ when the panels are fully open,” says Weidenbaum.
Calculate the length and width of the curtain
“Add the width numbers together to get the area to cover and the length of the hardware, and add the length numbers together to get the height of the stand and the length of the panel,” advises Weidenbaum.
It’s important to take your time when it comes to choosing curtain lengths. If you’re still unsure, consult an interior designer or window treatment expert (such as a local seamstress) for advice tailored to your needs.
Casey Clark is a freelance journalist specializing in business content related to beauty, health and style. I graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in journalism. Her work has been published in Women’s health, Forbes, Better homes and gardensAnd more.