I love adding the finishing touches to a room. All the big ticket items have been decided and it's time to add your styling to complete the look. Windows that are properly dressed make a room complete. Elegant curtains finish a room perfectly and they are so practical too, keeping out the summer heat and winter cold.
It won't be the fabric or the colour of your curtains though that will complete the look. It won't be the type of heading that you select that will make all the difference. There is just ONE vital element in the overall design that I think can make or break whether the curtains look right.
The one design element is how high you place the curtain rod above the window. Place it too low, or worse, just above the architrave and it won't matter how nice the fabric is, the curtains simply will not look right.
Let me show you how great even a simple sheer that you buy ready made can look if you hang it at the right height.
How to design your curtains
Let me tell you a little bit first about the main elements to consider when selecting your curtains:
The fabric. Choose one that looks as natural as possible.
If the budget allows, then a gorgeous natural linen is a good choice although being natural it does shrink and expand with the weather. If you are very fussy about your curtains just skimming the floor and not moving then either a linen blend with a generous amount of polyester or a full polyester fabric that imitates the look of linen is the best choice.
If you prefer the idea of a sheer curtain then there is a wide range to select from but again compare each one as some look more natural than others.
The heading. A pinch pleat gives you a formal look while a more simple inverted (box) pleat gives you a crisper less fussy style. An S wave heading is the most contemporary but can't be pushed as far back as a curtain that has an inverted pleat heading, which you should bear in mind if you don't have much wall space either side of your window.
The curtain track/pole. Consider the overall style of the room to find a curtain pole or track to suit and consider the colour you should use. For example, black poles can look great with a Hamptons style scheme or a simple chrome track can suit a contemporary style. The pole can be a feature in the room or a simple track could even be hidden by a pelmet or by the curtain fabric.
Whichever track or pole you use what you must take away from this article is the height that you place it at.
This means that when you design your curtains and consider how much fabric you need that you must measure from a point that is close to the ceiling or for very high rooms, at least 20cm above the architrave if possible. 30cm above and just below the ceiling will look very elegant and generous and will give height to the room making it appear more graceful.
This doesn't always work as you may have a cathedral ceiling that comes to a point near the top of the window but you must just select the highest point that you can. Even if the track or pole is just 5cm above the window it will look better.
If possible you should install your track or curtain rod first and then measure for your curtains. If you are considering buying a ready made set of curtains, look at the length and then mark a spot to hang the curtain rod from. ALWAYS buy the curtains with the more generous length so that you can hang them from a high point. The curtains can either gracefully puddle on the floor or you can have the length altered to suit. It is far preferable to have a curtain that is too long rather than too short.
In a very contemporary setting, as above, curtains hung at the ceiling level work really well as you don't get any interrupted lines. With a simple colour palette, the look is sleek and modern.
The curtains hung from the ceiling in the apartment above perfectly frame the feature window. If the curtains had been placed at a lower point the look would have been messy and detracted from the beauty of the window.
Related: How to complete a room with elegant sheers
So for the next time you design your curtains, remember to keep them as long as possible and maintain a beautiful height to your room.
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10 thoughts on “Don’t design your curtains without this ONE thing”
How would you suggest doing placement of curtains with a raked ceiling above?
Hi Pip It depends where the raked ceiling meets the wall in relation to your window. Obviously the rod has to be on the flat part of the wall and can be right up next to the ceiling if there isn’t much space. Ideally your curtain rod will be about 20cm above your window. If the windows/doors are on the gable end of the room you just have to hang the rod to the point where the ceiling comes down either side. Hope this makes sense. Samantha
Thank you for the great advice on hanging curtains ,I’m just about to hang mine ,I’m so happy I read this first .
Thanks, great advice (& very clear) about hanging curtains.
great article about curtains and about hanging height. I have 3.2 m ceiling in the living room and was going to go all the way up to the ceiling on the glass sliding doors. Is the 30cm above the 2100mm frame a better height? (it would certainly be a more economical option).
Hi Maryanne I love curtains to hang high above the frame but I think that 30cm – 50cm is enough. 3.2m is very high and will really draw attention to the height of the ceiling and perhaps not look in proportion. Difficult to say without seeing but I think placing the rod at around 2.4 will be around right. Hope this helps Samantha
Thanks for your great blog – it’s always full of interesting information. My query is similar to a previous one, that of how high to hang my curtains.
I’d like to hang sheer curtains across one of our bedroom walls. The wall is 3.1m high and 3m wide with a window (including its 5 inch architrave) taking up the middle third. The window is tall with only a 50cm gap between the architrave and the ceiling. What do you think would work best – hanging the curtain 20cm or 30cm above the architrave? Or higher? (I love the look of curtains hanging from the ceiling but I’m reluctant to do this as the ceiling is red cedar.)
Hi Lorraine I think as the window is already so high I would stick to just 20cm above to hang the curtains – hope this helps Samantha
Hi, how much material should go into an S wave curtain? Is it double the width or 2.5?
Hi Katrina the amount of fabric you need will depend on the track that you use so it could be 2 or 2.5. S wave curtains don’t push back well so you need to ensure you get the amount right. Sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer. Samantha