Curtains are a great way to add color to a room and to frame a window. They’re easy to hang using a simple curtain rod, but the question is, how far past a window should you hang your curtains?

If space permits, it’s always best to not hang a curtain right on or around the window frame and have them cover a large portion of the wall instead. Curtains found in model homes and design magazines typically hang at least 6 to 15 inches further away from the window on each side. This creates the illusion of a larger window, taller ceiling, and gives you the option of beautifully framing a window.


Why 6 to 15 Inches?

This rule isn’t an exact must, but it’s what we’ve found after being in the custom drapery business for a long time.

If you have plenty of wall space, it’s always best to have more of your curtain cover the wall and less of the window once the curtain is naturally stacked back to each side.



Let’s use an example.

The window is 40 inches wide, including the window frame, with plenty of wall space around each window. Customer will use the typical pair of curtains for each side of the window.

Avoid the beginner’s mistake of hanging your curtain rod right around your window frame, but instead, hang it further out.

In this example for the 40-inch wide window using the 6- to 15-inch rule, it means that the rod width would be the following:

  • Smallest suggested rod width:
    • 40 inches + 6 inches + 6 inches = rod is 52 inches wide.
    • When stacked back, each curtain will be going 8 inches past the window frame on each side.
  • Largest suggested rod width:
    • 40 inches + 15 inches + 15 inches = rod is 70 inches wide.
    • When stacked back, each curtain will be going 15 inches past the window frame on each side.


Can You Go Even Wider?

Of course, you can go even wider if you’d like. It isn’t uncommon to have curtains cover an entire wall, as long as you can fit the hardware and don’t have any obstructions.


Why You Shouldn’t Hang Curtain Rods Right At the Window Frame

Reason 1: Don’t Cheapen Your Room’s Decor

Hanging a curtain rod right at your window frame will cheapen your overall design, first of all. Properly fitting curtains hang high and don’t look too small on a window. Open any design magazine and you’ll immediately realize that it’s nearly impossible to find curtains that hang right on the window frame.

Unless you have low ceilings and unique windows, stay away from standard 84-inch long curtains that don’t go all the way to the floor and curtain rods that are the same width as your window.


The wrong thing to do: Stay away from hanging your curtains this low! Get longer curtains and hang your curtain rod high.


The right thing to do: Hang your curtains high and wide. Let them frame your window instead of fully blocking the view.


Reason 2: Make Your Room Appear Larger

To avoid feeling like you live in a tunnel, always hang curtains high and wide. This is especially important if you only have 8-foot tall ceilings. Tall curtains draw your eye up and make a window appear larger, which all make your room appear larger and more filled with light as well.


Reason 3: Make the Best Use of Your Linings

If you buy curtains with blackout linings, they just have to fit well to take advantage of the lining. Paying extra for blackout-lined curtains and then have them come up short or narrow on a window defeats the purpose.

If you have overwhelming gaps of light coming through the sides of your windows, it more than likely isn’t because of the blackout lining itself, but because the curtain rod isn’t hanging wide enough and doesn’t have a curtain rod with a proper return on each side. Go back to our 6- to 15-inch rule to get the proper fit.


Other Considerations

Curtains require their proper fullness and width, so make sure you’re ordering the right curtain widths that will work on the curtain rod width you calculate. Don’t forget that pleated curtains require much more fabric and fullness than simple rod pocket curtains to cover the same curtain rod width.

Another thing to  also consider in your measurements is if your curtain has returns on each side. Don’t forget to account for returns if your curtain and curtain rod require it.

Lastly, you have to make sure you have room to install the curtain rod and that there aren’t any obstructions on each side of the wall. For example, if you’d like a curtain rod to go 10 inches past the window on each side, that may mean not only needing to have 10 inches of wall space on each side, but also additional space for decorative finials or brackets.


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