6 Mistakes To Avoid When Hanging Curtains

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Black and White Chevron Curtains. Urban Outfitters

Curtains can be an investment if your space has a lot of windows. Sure, there are some economical ways to create window coverings, but you still have to spend money on fabric and hardware, not to mention the time you invest.  That's why if you plan on hanging curtains yourself (and why not?), take a moment to map out a game plan so you won't make any of these common mistakes.  Here is a list of curtain crimes to avoid:

  1. Picking the Wrong Style--Curtains are finished at the top in a variety of ways which are directly related to how they function.  For example, you wouldn't want to pick panels with a tight-fitting rod pocket if you want to open and close them often.  Think about how you want your curtains to operate, and choose accordingly.
  2. Picking the Curtains Last--When designing a room, many people tend to pick a paint color first, then add in soft furnishings like curtains and pillows.  Since paint colors are practically limitless, you'll have better luck if you pick curtains first, then pull your paint colors from the fabric pattern.
  3. Taking the Wrong Measurements--It seems logical to measure your window to determine how large your curtains should be, right?  Wrong.  While it's true that you should know the size of your window, panels should really be hung much higher than the top of your window casing--as close to the ceiling as possible in most cases. (Valances should not be hung this high; they are meant to top the window.) This will make your room feel bigger, which is of particular importance in small spaces, of course.  Here are some measurements to jot down before heading to the store:
    • Starting a few inches down from the ceiling, measure all the way down to the floor to achieve the correct curtain length.
    • Measure the width of your window, then multiply this number by 2 or 2.5 to achieve fullness and avoid the "bedsheet look."  For panels, this means that if your window is 36" wide, you should look for panels that actually total about 72" or more in width.  The same is true for valances if you want them to have a gathered look.  Unlike panels, however, valances can have a more tailored appearance, in which case you could opt for one that's closer to the window's width. 
  1. Hanging High Water Curtains--While some pants look great cropped at the ankle, not so much with curtains.  Again, take care to measure from close to the ceiling all the way to the floor to achieve the correct panel length.  If you can't find panels the exact length you need, you can always buy them too long, then hem them.  Or add a contrasting band of fabric or specialty trim to the bottom to make too-short panels skim the floor.
  1. Cheaping Out On Hardware--Purchasing quality curtain hardware can be a hard pill to swallow when most of it is hidden by the curtains anyway.  Luckily, you can save some money with these clever curtain rod hacks.  Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when considering curtain hardware:
    • Using a rod that's not sturdy enough to support the weight of your curtains, resulting in a sag in the middle.
    • Using a rod that's not long enough, which results in curtains that cover most of your window.  When the rod is the exact width of your window, your curtains will cover most of it, which blocks a lot of sunlight and creates a too-dark room.  Instead, make sure to measure your window and buy a rod that can extend well beyond the window's width so you'll be able to open your curtains nice and wide.
    • Using a rod that's too skinny for grommeted panels.  If you are hanging curtains with large grommets at the top, or even tab-top panels where a lot of the rod will be showing, make sure to get a rod that's substantial-looking and attractive. 
  2. Skipping the Iron--While ironing is a chore most of us would happily avoid, this is one case where you shouldn't skip it.  If you're going to invest time and money in window treatments, make sure they look their best and get out the iron.  Wrinkled curtains just look sloppy, and sometimes don't hang straight.