How to Hang Curtains To Make Windows Look Bigger

It’s SO easy to hang your curtains wrong. In my first home, I remember I felt like I was spending a fortune on curtains (it ads up FAST). I bought curtains the size of my windows and they looked … horrible. But by the time I realized my mistake, it was too late. It felt too expensive and like a waste to try and fix my too-small curtains. So I lived with them until the day I moved out. Don’t let this happen to you!

In this post, I’ll teach you how to make your windows look bigger and get the nice looking curtains for affordable prices. There are so many little tricks you can use and at the end of this post you’ll earn your curtain expert merit badge. OK, but really, you can easily save hundreds of dollars!

How to figure out what size curtains you need: 
As a rule of thumb, you want to hang your curtains wide and high. The best place to hang your rod is on the wall between your window’s moulding and the ceiling trim. Here’s a sketch to illustrate the difference hanging curtains wider (and higher) can make to the overall look and feel of the room. It can make your windows appear much larger.

Where I shop for curtains: 
I understand it’s tempting to run to Target, but the curtains they sell are often too short for most rooms and will make your windows appear smaller. It’s actually really difficult to run to the store and find curtains and all the hardware needed to fit a lot of windows. Even at a place like Target, you can find more size options online. For this reason, I usually buy my curtains online. For a splurge, my favorite places to buy curtains are West Elm and Anthropologie and to save, I tend to choose options from Amazon and IKEA.

My personal favorites:

Here’s a list of all the curtains and hardware I use over and over again.

Linen Curtains / Gold Holdbacks / Rods / Rings (you will need seven rings per curtain panels)

Velvet Blackout Curtains (for bedrooms) 1, 2

-My favorite splurge: velvet curtains and pom pom curtains.

I hope this post is a helpful starting point for properly hanging curtains and making your windows look bigger. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. xx- Elsie

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Photo edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I was having trouble making curtain plans in our new house but fortunately knew just where to turn! Bless ABM forever and ever amen.

  • I’ve got my curtains looking pretty good with this advice. Thanks! Do you have any tips on how high to hang your curtain holdback? I’ve never used them before. Also, since you have little kiddos, tips on getting your toddler to not want to swing from them? Maybe I’m crazy to worry about that, but it seems like something mine will try to do.

  • Did part of this post get cut off? You mention “there are so many little tricks you can use,” but all I’m seeing is a drawing of two ways to hang your curtains (bad/good) and a list of places to buy curtains. It seems like there was going to be more….?

  • Yes! And thoughts on if they should skim the floor, puddle, or not touch at all?

    • My preference is skim the floor. :)) I would definitely choose puddle over not touch at all though. XX!

  • Do you have any advice for very narrow and low ceiling rooms? Does the same idea apply? (In this case that would mean very close to the actual ceiling?

  • I bought these gorgeous vintage curtains, even though I knew they were the wrong size when I got them. I’m going to try to make it work, because I love them so much. They won’t go clear to the floor, but I’m going to try and cover it with my bed. Wish me luck!

  • Thanks for this, Elsie. I think we often do this wrong because we want to mount the brackets in the studs/in the window frame for strength. And kids can tug on curtains so we need that extra security. I wonder, are dry wall anchors sufficient for this kind or load?

  • I’ve been waiting for this post!! I’m currently in the process of updating my bedroom and need new curtains. Can you be more specific with the measurements? How high do you hang them? Exactly between the trim and top of the window? And how wide? Do you have specific inches that you go out from the window or how do you determine that? Thanks!

  • Do you have any tips for those small up high basement windows? Halp!!!

  • I did this in my living room after YEARS of avoiding curtains and wow, what a difference. Makes my home feel complete and my walls/windows feel so tall!

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

  • Hello Elsie, I’ve been devouring your content- podcasts and blog posts about staging/home selling while getting ready to list our home. I find myself relating to your dining room situation- slightly, however mine was settling with the curtains and the way they were hung by the previous owner, which was done very much in the A style of your sketch.
    We have a couple really large windows, one that is 4 curtain panels wide and goes to inches above the baseboards, and a couple that are a bit shorter. It’s a great tip for the height of the rod, but how much wider than the window do you usually set the rod ends? So that fully open the curtain just cover the window casing and don’t impede the size/view?

    • Hi! It definitely depends on the windows, how much wall space you have around them and how much bigger you want your windows to look. As a general rule I make sure my curtains can fully close (double up panels when needed) but that they also let in maximum natural light when they are open!

  • I hung my curtains exactly wrong when we moved into our apartment two years ago. At least once a week I think, “gosh dangit that drives me nuts!” but never do anything about it….haha. Thanks for the post!

  • Bless you. I just moved into my first house and was waiting for this guide since you had mentioned it on the podcast! I need all the help I can get.

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