Think wide and high.

By Grace Haynes
Updated October 16, 2020
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Hanna Seabrook Living Room After in Louisville, Kentucky
Credit: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Elly Poston Cooper

Complete the look of your living room with curtains. Long, flowing panels add instant softness and polish to a space. Our Southern grandmothers have been swearing by window treatments for decades, naming this fun-yet-functional design element as their decorating secret weapon. We understand why—curtains are an easy way to bring a living room to life with color, pattern, and texture. In bedrooms, curtains add an extra level of coziness and privacy (plus help to block bright sunlight for sleeping in on weekend mornings).

Curtains can help tricks eyes into thinking your windows are larger and your ceilings are taller than they actually are. This decorating trick is a no-brainer, and anyone can bring the look into their home. Prices for window treatments vary, depending on whether you splurge on custom draperies or score budget-friendly, ready-to-hang panels at home-goods stores. For DIYers, materials like bed sheets or drop cloths can be easily transformed into custom window treatments (Pinterest is overflowing with helpful tutorials.)  

WATCH: How to Update Curtains

When you’re ready to start hanging your window treatments, think, “Wide and high.” The curtain rod should extend 2 to 6 inches wider than the window casing on both sides. (Choose a rod on the shorter side for narrower windows and a longer one for wider windows.) Once you’ve determined the right length, get ready to hang the rod. If the room has crown molding, hang the rod an inch or two below it. If not, the rod should hang as many inches above the window casing as it extends wide. (For example, if the curtain rod extends 5 inches wider than the window casing, hang it 5 inches above the window casing.)  

Next, determine the length of the curtains. Measure from your hanging curtain rod to the floor. Standard sizes for floor-length draperies are typically 84, 95, and 108 inches (the width of the panels will vary). Choose a size closest to your measurement. Curtains should break on the floor and puddle about ½ to 1 inch. Buy enough drapery panels so together they’re double the width of the window, from casing to casing (or more depending on how fluffy you want the curtains to look when pushed back to either side).