I love a beautiful set of curtains. I know, they’re not as popular as they used to be. It seems everyone has white shutters now, but done properly curtains can add a real designer touch to your room. To get your curtains looking good, there are 4 mistakes I see with curtains that you need to avoid.
Image – Paper Mulberry
Mistake 1 – Curtains Hung at Wrong Height
One of the biggest mistakes I see is curtains hung at the wrong height for that particular window and the ceiling height of the room. Example:
It is common for people to hang curtain rods and tracks on the window frame, as they have done here. This visually shortens the height of the window. Not only that, now the curtains are too long and are bunching up on the floor.
Don’t be scared to hang your curtain rod above the window frame. In a house with 8′ or 244cm ceiling, it is common to hang the rod 10-15cm above the window frame. If you have high ceilings (10′ or 305cm) like in my bedroom, the rod can be hung even higher. My curtain rod is 55cm above the window frame.
My daughter has exactly the same windows in her bedroom but her ceiling height is lower 9′ or 275cm and her curtain pole is 29cm above the frame.
Mistake 2 – Curtains Not Long Enough
The next mistake I see is that the curtains are too short. It’s a bit like wearing a pair of pants that are too short – it just looks wrong. Example:
Here, they have hung the curtains above the frame which looks better, but that means that now the curtains are too short for the window. In fact, they don’t even reach the skirting board (baseboard).
Curtains look best when they come to the floor. There are 3 options:
- Floating Just above the Floor – 1-2cm (1/2 inch) above the floor. Allows the curtains to hang freely and keeps them away from dust on the floor.
- Breaking Slightly on the Floor – Curtain extends onto the floor by 2.5-7.5cm (1-3″). The curtains form a slight break or bend at the bottom where they hit the floor.
- Pooling on the Floor – Curtain pools onto the floor by 7.5 – 15cm (3-6′). Gives a soft romantic look, but you need to arrange the curtains, and they will get dust on the bottom of the curtains(not so bad with carpeted floors but will be a problem with timber or hard floors).
The curtains in my bedroom are about 2cm from the floor, but I would like them to be closer. I am in the process of ordering new curtains, so this is something I need to consider.
The Problem with Standard Curtain Sizes
Part of the problem with getting the right length curtains in Australia, is that manufacturers of ready-made curtains don’t give you many options with curtain length.
- Most curtains are 213cm long which means you make mistake number 1 and have to hang them on the window frame or they’ll be too short.
- Curtains that are 221cm means you can hang your curtain rod about 7.5cm or 3″ above the window frame and the curtains should touch the floor.
- To hang your curtain rod higher above the window frame and have the curtains reach the floor means you need curtains longer than 221cm, and that can be hard to find. Retailers like Pottery Barn sell curtains that are 244cm and 274cm in length.
Mistake 3 – Curtains Not Wide Enough
Curtains need to be wide enough so they completely cover the window frame. This is especially important with blackout curtains in a bedroom where you want to keep the light out. Unfortunately I see many examples of curtains that are simply not wide enough. Example:
There is no way the grey outer curtains in the picture above will cover the window. Even if the curtains were wide enough, because they are hung on the inside of the supporting bracket, the curtains cannot extend beyond the widow frame to adequately block light.
As a general guide, your curtain pole or track should extend either side of the window frame so the curtain rests partly on the wall. About 7.5 – 15cm (3-6″) each side as a guide. This will help cover the window and reduce any light getting through between the window frame and the edge of the curtain.
Mistake 4 – Curtains Not Full Enough
To look luxurious curtains need to be full. They need adequate fabric meterage (yardage) and a fullness to the way the curtains hang.
Achieve Curtain Fullness:
- Use plenty of fabric in your curtains. You need 2-3 times as much fabric width as the width of your curtain track or rod. So if your rod is 120cm long, you would need 300cm width of fabric to give you a curtain with two and a half times fullness.
- Use a separate lining. Instead of using fabric that has had coating applied to the back of it, use a separate panel of lining that is attached to the back of the curtain. This gives the curtains body and helps them to ‘float’.
Another Problem With Ready Made Curtains
Ready made curtains are often too narrow to give any real fullness on your windows.
Retailers often sell tab top or eyelet curtain panels that are 110cm wide. At 2.5 times fullness, these panel can only cover around 45cm of window space. So if you hang 2 as a pair, your pole can only be 90cm wide. Hanging this size curtain on a longer pole will just mean the curtains look flimsy.
So there are 4 mistakes not to make when choosing your curtains. The examples of what not to do were taken from sold property listings (I didn’t want to offend anyone).
My curtains were lovely, but they are silk and get Brisbane’s morning easterly sun so they are badly faded and in need of replacement. Given the limitations with ready made curtains, I am trying to find an affordable custom solution or a ready-made hack. Stay tuned!