Get tips and tricks for how to hang curtains to make them look like custom drapes without the expense. Learn about curtains vs drapes, how high to hang curtains, tips about curtain lengths, and so much more!

This is a complete guide to hanging curtains like a professional, so you can maximize the cozy warmth, style, color and texture of curtains in any room of your home.

Pale pink curtains in a white bedroom

If money wasn’t a factor, I would have custom drapes made for every room of our home. I love the tailored, traditional look. When done right, they look so rich and effortless.

Unfortunately, custom drapes can be so expensive! Today I’m sharing tips on hanging curtains to get the look for less.

If you’re interested in learning more about window treatments, don’t skip Blackout Curtains, Roller Shades and Blackout Roman Shades.

Curtains can help a room feel truly finished. And they are practical too… they can control light in a room, add a layer of warmth, and more.

Learn the keys to getting a polished look in this post! You can use the drop down Table of Contents menu to navigate, and don’t forget to pin and save for later.

How to Hang Curtains

A few months ago I was so frustrated with our curtains that I enlisted help. I had spent a small fortune on ready made curtains for the girls’ rooms and they just looked blah.

A friend of mine put me in touch with a professional who came over and showed me what I was doing wrong. The idea was there, but my execution fell short. We had used drapery hooks and clips, but to my surprise, a few too many.

I learned a lot of tips and tricks to hang curtains – like a professional. These are the simplest tweaks that make all the difference… making these ready made curtains look more like custom drapes. I’m so excited to share them with you!

Keep reading to learn how to hang curtains, tips about curtain lengths and how high and wide to go.

Curtains vs Drapes: What’s the Difference?

It can be confusing, right? If you’re wondering about the differences in a battle of curtains vs drapes, here’s some basic background.

Curtains are the less expensive option for your windows. They are fabric panels that are generally sold in pairs. They hang from a rod, and tend to filter light instead of blocking it out entirely, and are often installed over blinds or shades.

Drapes are generally a heavier fabric and they are lined. This makes them better at blocking light and drafts… but they are also more expensive and more formal than lightweight curtain panels. They are often custom made and have a more high end feel.

Whereas curtain panels can range in any length from a cafe style (covering just half of a window) to full length, draperies are always full length, touching or puddling on the floor.

The Benefits of Hanging Curtains

Like many of my favorite Designer Secrets, hanging curtains correctly can completely change any space in your home!

  • Give you the appearance of higher ceilings
  • Elongate your windows
  • Bring in more light
  • Help a room look finished
  • Create privacy
  • Add warmth

How to Hang Curtains

Your first step? Measure one, two, three times. You’ll measure so many times, you’ll be confident when ordering and shopping!

  1. Clips / pins should be hung on your curtain panels approximately 4″ apart to offer a beautiful fold. The first pin on each side doesn’t hang on the rod though…how to hang ready made curtains to look like custom drapes
  2. It hangs on the wall! There’s no better way to get a custom feel than to wrap the ready made curtains – around the window! Just add a screw to the wall and attach a drapery pin to the curtain and to the wall for a polished look. See how with step by step photos for hanging curtains tips for hanging curtains how to hang ready made curtains to look like custom drapes
  3. Once you have placed all of your pins and clips 4″ apart, and secured the ends to the screw as shown above, thread them on the rod.
  4. Insert your fingers into the fold as you would gloves, and pull away from the wall for a pretty fold. how to hang curtains to pleat pretty

These tips made all the difference in the world.

TIPS: How to Hang Curtains to Look like Custom Drapes

  • When in doubt, go high. I like to hang my rod six inches above the window. Use a stud finder and wall anchors to ensure your curtain brackets are secure and won’t tilt. In fact, many designers will suggest going all the way up to the ceiling. This lengthens the look of your windows visually!
  • Have the rod extend beyond the bracket. I tend to do 2-3″, not including the finial.
  • Add at least 10″ to each side of the window. It will make your window appear larger.
  • Use wide panels. A good rule of thumb is at least 50″, but for large windows I like to use 100″ wide panels. This will make them feel full. A common rule for curtains is that their finished width should be at least 2 times the width of your window for heavier fabrics such as velvet, and 2 times for sheer fabric… though this often applies to formal spaces.
  • Skim, kiss or puddle. Be diligent about your curtain lengths according to your window height. Hang curtains to skim 1/2″ above the floor for a casual look, 1″ longer than the floor for a kiss or 8+” longer for a puddle {I tend to puddle mine}.
  • Steam. This is my least favorite rule, but it makes a world of difference in how curtains lay and can offer a more custom appearance.
Pale pink curtains in the background of a white bedroom, vintage gold chandelier in focus of image.

shop our home and favorite kitchen items

shop now

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put long curtains on short windows?

Yes you certainly can, and should! This is actually one of the oldest designer tricks in the book, to make ceilings look higher and help a room feel more expansive.

Should curtains match the wall color?

Curtains are often a couple shades lighter or darker than the wall color for added contrast. In fact, they can be any color or pattern you’d like, and you can go as dark as you’d like, or even a bright white with any wall color!

Should curtains touch the floor?

Yes, generally speaking they should touch the floor. Skim, kiss, or puddle… any which way you want to approach it, they should touch the floor!

Tips for Curtain Length

Curtain lengths are certainly a point of contention in the world of decorating. Hanging curtains can be stressful and you want to get it right the first time!

Everyone has different needs for both practicality and aesthetics, but in my opinion, it’s important that your curtains reach the floor. Otherwise, you’re shortening the visual length of your walls. This forces the eye to believe that your ceilings are shorter and your windows are smaller- two things we’d like to avoid!

With that said, if you have radiators or something that impedes your panels from touching the floor, by all means do what you need to do! Curtain lengths vary greatly for a reason. Find the right length that works for your home, and if necessary consider taking them in for alterations- a little hem change can go a long way!

What are the Standard Curtain Lengths?

  • 63 inches
  • 84 inches
  • 94 inches
  • 108 inches
  • 120 inches
A cream bedroom with ivory curtains hanging on a brass curtain rod

Stop Curtain Rod Shift

Do you ever get frustrated with your curtain rod shifting? If you have working curtains (meaning that you open and close them), you have probably experienced this. Most curtain rods use a screw to merely brush up against the rod to secure it in place.

Drill a hole into the rod and rather than tightening the screw to meet the rod, tighten the screw into the rod. It’s a game changer when it comes to hanging curtains!

If you look at the curtain rod above it had shifted several inches. Now they’re securely in place with just 2″ on each side. (“after” photos coming soon)

I hope you enjoyed these tips for hanging curtains to look like custom drapes! Thanks for stopping by!

Want to start your own blog? Take my Blogger Course and learn How to Become a Blogger!

how to hang curtains to pleat pretty
5 from 3 votes

How to Hang Curtains

Get tips and tricks to learn how to hang curtains and make them look like custom drapes without the expense. Learn how high, how wide to hang them and so much more!
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 1
Pin Rate Print


  • Drapery Hooks
  • Drapery Clips


  • Clips / pins should be hung on your curtain panels approximately 4″ apart to offer a beautiful fold.
  • Add a screw to the wall and attach a drapery pin to the curtain and to the wall for a polished look.
  • Once you have placed all of your pins and clips 4″ apart, and secured the ends to the screw as shown above, thread them on the rod.
  • Insert your fingers into the fold as you would gloves and pull away from the wall for a pretty fold.



You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this Recipe


  1. Hi Julie, I’ve come back to this post often to admire those beautiful pink curtains! I have similar (white, cream, grey, buffalo plaid) curtains throughout our home, from Ballard. They say to dry clean them (they are cotton) but I’m wondering — do you dry clean your curtains or do you wash them? I never feel like things are really clean when they are dry cleaned, so I’d like to wash them but don’t want to shrink or ruin them! I thought maybe you wash yours? I’m “spring cleaning” before spring arrives, to it’s time to clean the curtains! Thanks for all the lovely inspiration!

    1. Hi Karen! I prefer to wash mine and have had wonderful luck. I tend to feel that the dust that accumulates in curtains doesn’t come out with dry cleaning. However, it will depend on fabric. I do not dry and they require ironing after.

  2. Please help in painting 100 year old picture frames. I want to paint gold leaf paint and do I need to glaze after painting? Appreciate any tips you can give me.

  3. Hi. Thanks for the tips. Any insight for a room with one asymmetrical ceiling AND electric baseboard heat. I’ve been stuck on my next move. I’ve installed roller black out curtains but can’t figure out what to do next. Thanks! Love your style. I’m obsessed with Serena & Lily too

    1. Hi Kristina! I’m happy to offer help, but it’s always easier with photographs. I have a free Facebook group, Celebrating Simple, where you can share your photos and I provide ideas if you’d like to share there.

  4. Cheryl Vaught…we all can be envious of other people’s homes. You work with what you have and think out of the box. You just start in one small area and idea’s will come. Shop your own home for things. If you try to copy “exactly” somebody else’s home, it can get pretty pricey and would not be unique to you and your own idea’s or likes. A lot of bloggers homes are staged for the photo and don’t actually look like that in their real life. (Obviously Julie’s curtains aren’t staged. ). But, they can give you wealth of information to give you a good starting point to put your own spin on it. Sometimes it’s hard taking that first step. Start with one room, and just stand back and look at it and try and picture how you change the look of it. Even just moving the furniture around is a good starting point. Give it a try….you may surprise yourself.

    1. Such an excellent point! Our home is far from perfect and I love it – it feels lived in…like home. It’s amazing what little changes and tweaks can do over time.

  5. These are good tips! Who knew, huh? I really love your blush shade of curtains. Hubby and I aren’t into drapes at all. Have never been. We like our roller shades and had them custom made for every window in our new home. For me, I find drapes are too formal and we aren’…Most of our blinds are black and white and I think look very chic.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with that! I grew up with roller shades. I use blinds as well, but with diamond windows i found that they weren’t a fit. One of my favorite quotes is if you stick to things you love, they’ll never go out of style. Never apologize for your style! ?