Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Correctly Hang Drapes

First off, let me say that I am not generally a fan of curtains.  They always felt so stuffy in my opinion.  But when we moved in the house which has an extraordinary amount of windows, blinding afternoon sun, and slightly more formal feel, I decided to make the leap into curtain ownership.

I started looking around for all sorts of curtains, and realized, I know nothing about what size to buy, how to hang them, or even what the difference is between curtains and drapes.  Frankly, there are few resources out there, and the ones I did find would say things like "do what looks right."  I don't know about you, but I want to know I'm ordering the right thing before I spend the $100/panel.

So, here it is.  My FAQ's for draperies and curtains. 

What is the difference between curtains and drapes?

Technically, curtains are the panels, and drapes are the piece of fabric you "drape"over the top, disguising the pole.  But, since this is a pretty dated exercise and most people (with the exception of those who own castles and Beverly Hills mansions) just expose the pole, for our purposes, drapes and panels are the same thing.

What length curtain do I need?

Length: There are four options for length: floor (formal), sill (casual/country), apron (I don't know what you would use this one for), and romantic (completely impractical if you have kids, dogs, or dirty floors).  To measure your window, you need to decide at what height you want the top of the curtain panel.  I have nice moldings, so I decided to hang my drapes just above the moldings (wall mount), but you can opt to hang them inside the frame, just below/above the moldings (trim-mount), or high above the moldings/top of the window to elongate the window.  The last option is very trendy, but requires a longer panel which is more expensive.  Generally, for living rooms, formal floor length is the most common.
Formal, floor length is the most commonly used in living rooms.
As this picture from shows, hanging curtains outside the window frame can effectively show off you window.  But this is the most expensive option because it requires more and longer panels.
 The bottom of the panel should be about one inch from the floor if going for the full-length of the window.  Be sure to measure for the correct length of the curtain, and then give yourself and inch or two if using drapery hangers which will add some extra length. 

How many curtains do I need?

Now that you know how long you need the curtains, you need to determine how many panels you need.  I read that you should measure the width of the window and double it.  Mine were 103", so they would need 206" of panels.  Each of the panels were 56", so I ordered four, which is more than enough.  Just remember, if you are hanging your curtains outside the window frame, to account for the extra inches.

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