...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.11.11 / High & Wide

A question from Alexis:

Hiya Dana,
I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time, but can you share your thoughts on curtain rods? Where should they go, and how far out? I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong, because my windows look nothing like yours.

You’ve probably heard me mention hanging curtain rods and panels higher and wider than the actual window frame in some of the mood boards I’ve posted.  But ‘high and wide’ is pretty vague. Alexis’s question came at a good time – just as I was revamping the window treatments in our master bedroom.  Luckily, I remembered to take some pictures of the process.  Here goes!

So, that pic above is from a post of yore.  {Don’t mind the green arrow.  It makes sense in the original post.  Oh, and never mind the half-naked boys either.} But I wanted to show you what our bedroom curtains looked like before.  See how the rods are only a few inches wider than the actual windows?  See how the rods are hung just a few inches above the window?  See how the curtain panels cover several inches of the windows?  All of those things make for so-so window treatments.  These were our bedroom window treatments for nearly 3 years until I took ’em down last week and patched the drywall holes in preparation for new curtain rods and panels.

If you don’t have any window treatments in place, good for you.  No extra work.  If you already have window treatments but they aren’t hung at an optimal height/width, no biggie.  You may have some unhanging, spackling, sanding and painting to do.  {That’s what I did.}  With a bare window begging to be dressed up, choose a rod that extends well beyond the frame of the window.  For example, my windows are 35″ wide.  I chose a new 79″ rod for each.  {It’s IKEA’s LUMMIG curtain rod set.}  That’s nearly 40″ of extra rod to play with!  {Sorry, that sounded a little X-rated.} Not only is the new curtain hardware much wider than the previous rod, I also positioned it several inches higher on the wall above the window.  Remember to leave enough wiggle room between the hangers and ceiling to slip the rod into place! See…

…doesn’t that look better already?  If you’re wanting exact numbers, the rod is hung 12″ above the window and extends 21″ beyond either side of the window.

Onto choosing curtain panels. Measure the distance from the top of your hung curtain rod to the floor.  This will give you an estimate as to how long you need your drapes to be.  I like my curtains to touch my floors, so I add 2″ to that to get the final curtain length I’ll need.  For a pooling effect, add several inches to the length.  It’s always a good idea to buy panels longer than what you think you’ll need to account for shrinking. {Look for shrinkage estimates on the packaging.} We don’t want any high-water window treatments!  Which brings me to my next point…Always pre-wash curtains prior to hanging! It’s amazing how much they can shrink…up to half a foot sometimes in width/length.  I chose IKEA’s unbleached AINA panels.  They were originally 57″ wide and 98″ long.  After washing and line drying {I just hung them from the curtain rods to dry}, they measured 55″ wide and 94″ long.  When in doubt, buy longer.  You can always hem the panels.  I lucked out and didn’t have to shorten mine at all.

Once you’ve got your panels bought, washed and measured to the proper length, iron them.  I hate ironing as much as the next frat boy, but, believe me, wrinkled and/or disheveled curtains will only bring a room down.  Iron curtains for a clean, crisp look. Then, you can finally hang them.  I had the option of hanging mine from either a single rod pocket…

…or multiple backside loops.

I used the loops for a looser cascade.

The edge of the curtain closer to the window should barely skim along the window frame to allow lots of natural light in.  An overlap of just a few inches is ideal for making the window feel as large as possible.

Here’s one more up-close and personal shot demonstrating how high and wide the new curtains hang.

Hanging curtains high and wide can give any room a lift.  Try it!  Just remember these key points:

*Install curtain hardware well beyond the window frame while still allowing enough room to place/remove the curtain rod.

*When in doubt, buy longer curtain panels.

*Prewash curtains to avoid future shrinkage.

*Iron, iron iron!

*Gather the curtains so that the inside edges just skim the window frame.

Our bedroom windows are feeling much grander and airier now.  All the extra light streaming in doesn’t hurt either.  Thanks, Alexis, for your question!

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



We have 2 windows flanking a built-out fireplace. The sides closest to the fireplace are about 10″ each. To complicate the issue, we have woven wood blinds (outside mounted) right above the windows (no option to raise them due to blind length). I’d love curtains to soften the space, but I’m a loss. The skinny sides next to the fireplace are barely enough for 1 panel. I’ve not seen anything like it and have NO idea what to do. :( Ideas?


P.S. I think your new curtains are just FABULOUS!!!


Tami – What about just one panel on each window with the panels hung on the sides of the windows furthest from the fireplace? The rods can be placed as high above the windows and wood blinds as possible and even extend wider on the sides of the windows where the panels will hang. Does that make sense? I’m assuming there is a little more wall space on the sides of the windows that aren’t near the built out fireplace.


:) !!!!!!
Thanks Dana.


Great post I am trying to figure out what to do curtain wise in my place.


LOVE them! Also, what is the paint color of your master bedroom? I am looking for the perfect gray for our master bed and bath but have not yet found it. Thanks!

This is AWESOME! I have always wondered about this so now I finally have a good tutorial! We have many more windows to cover so I will use your tips!


Laura – The majority of the room is Valspar {Lowe’s} Bonsai. No surprise there…most of our home is painted in that color. The wall that the bed is against is a darker, browner color – Sherwin Williams Suitable Brown.


Psst… I emailed you Dana.


This is a great trick. One thing I would add: I paint the middle support hook the same color as the wall (except the curved part that actually touches the rod). That way it blends in and virtually disappears!


Rachel – Good idea! Never thought of that before!


Hey, love the curtains! I was just ranting about bad curtain placement earlier this week. Glad to find a like-minded soul! (see http://tiny.cc/c4hqj for pretty pics, if you have the time!)


Oh, and the pockets behind the curtain are called “rod pockets” for anyone wanting that look and searching for ones made that way – it’s my favorite for the same reason – a looser cascade, similar to what you get with drapery hooks or rings, but more casual.


I’ve been wanting to hang curtains in our bedroom since we moved in three years ago. Right now I have nice blinds but it looks so bare. The problem is, one of the windows has a heater under it so a long curtain might obstruct the heat. I could go with shorter curtains but would this look funny? Any advice would be welcome!


Laura – What about DIY roman shades? You could do a great print or a modern thick border around a solid shade.


Thank you, I will try that!


how long are the curtains? do they go to the floor? thanks! great post!


They come 98″ long. I didn’t hem them, just washed them to pre-shrink them and liked the length after that. They pooled a little on the floor for a romantic effect. Perfect for a bedroom.



So, i just posted but found the info on where you got the curtains! Could you please tell me what color you got?!

Thank you!


hi- i realize this post is from 2 years ago but….. did you wash the aina curtains in warm water? i want to buy them but my living room height is 98″ so i can not afford any shrinkage. i was wondering if washing in cold water & air drying might prevent them from shrinking. any comments welcome… thx!


I usually prewash in cold water.


so i guess they shrink no matter what temperature the water is.. thx!


Gorgeous!! Is this the Aina in the natural color? Great post!!


hi and help! ive looked at dozens of sites and cant find help. my two windows are about 155′ wide together. I only want one wide curtain for giving the wall and window a bigger feel. but I only find rods that expand to maybe 135. thk u 4 your help


I found a long curtain rod for our picture window on Amazon. Maybe try looking there!


Hi, I’d like to know the colour of the AINA curtains you used in this post. Are they light grey? Thank you!


They’re sort of a natural flax, unbleached.