6 Must-Know Design Rules for Hanging Drapes and Shades

No matter how stylish your window treatments may be, if you don’t install them properly, they won’t look half as good as they could. From how high to hang your drapes to shade measuring tips and more, here’s what you need to know before you hang up window treatments at home.


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Image by @clarekennedyinteriors via @barnandwillow


1. Hang your drapes at least 6-inches above the window.


If you’re installing your curtain rods less than half a foot above the frame of your window, then you’re doing it wrong. Since your window treatments often function as a focal point in a room, the higher towards the ceiling you place your rod, the larger and more spacious your entire room will appear. That’s why Barn & Willow recommends hanging your rods at least six-inches above the frame of the window to help create the illusion of a loftier space.


2. Make sure to take the right drape measurements.


Nothing ruins a window scene faster than ill-fitted window treatments. Before you begin the installation process, use Barn & Willow’s handy sizing calculator to ensure that your custom drapes and shades fit properly. To determine the best panel length for your drapes before installing a curtain rod, measure from window top trim to the floor, and deduct one-inch if you want your drapery to break on the floor (or add one-to-two-inches for a light puddle). For the right drapery panel width, measure the horizontal width of the window from trim to trim and add 8-inches on each side.


3. Properly measure your window frame for shades.


When installing shades inside the mount of a window, measure the horizontal width of the inside of the window frame – at the top, middle and bottom – to calculate the right width for your roman shade. To figure out the proper height or length for your shades, measure the vertical height of the inside of the window frame – in three locations: ­left, middle and right – to ensure you get the perfect size.


4. Choose the correct window treatment fabric.


Barn & Willow drapes and shades come in an array of high-end materials, and choosing which one is right for the look you wish to create is important. Heavier and slightly stronger than cotton, Belgian linen fabrics are crisp to the touch and boast a lovely drape, making them an optimal choice for a structured (but unfussy) window display. If you’re looking for something lighter, organic cotton fabrics are fluffier than linen fibers, so they’ll create a more casual, boho-inspired window scene.


If you still can’t decide, no worries. Barn & Willow’s blended fabrics are carefully woven with a combination of either linen and organic-cotton materials or wool and linen, offering a great finish that’s ideal for providing insulation—without too much heaviness.  


5. Invest in custom hardware.


Buying cheap hardware might save you money up front, but chances are you’ll regret it in the long run. Stick with high-quality hardware, like Barn & Willow’s bespoke drapery hardware collection, so you can score sturdy, precisely measured rods that won’t sag under the weight of the drapery panel.


For the best look, remember that drapery rods should extend at least eight-inches beyond the frame on each side. So measure your window frame before ordering hardware so you won’t be stuck with drapery panels that won’t clear the width of the window.


6. Style accordingly.


Nothing destroys the appearance of your drapes faster than a bunch of funky folds.  Take care to clip your curtain rings on properly and evenly to avoid any unnecessary bunching. Or better yet, invest in grommet-style drapes to bypass the need for curtain rings entirely.


You can also pool your drapes to bring a bohemian touch to any size or style of space. Simply hang your drapes so that they puddle two to three inches on the floor to create a stunning carefree effect that will instantly elevate the ambience of a room.  

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