Here’s the biggest decorating mistake I’ve ever made and how I fixed it. This post offers an easy solution to a challenging problem.

Last week I was reading an article about decorating mistakes.

The author interviewed a number of designers and asked them what the most egregious decorating missteps that people typically make when decorating their homes. And then? The author ranked the mistakes from 1-10.

I couldn’t stop reading.

And when I got to number one?

I literally laughed out loud because they were talking about me.

I have made that mistake (and tons of other mistakes on the list) SO MANY times before.

Until.

Until I figured out what a difference it makes in decorating a room and how easy it is to fix.

Can you guess?

Because you are smart and brilliant and amazing you probably figured out that I was doing this.

|| curtain rods || curtain rings ||

The biggest decorating mistake I ever made?

Hanging my curtains at the wrong height.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

The thing is—once you see what a difference it makes and how easy it is to fix? You’ll never look at a curtain rod in the same way again.

But why just talk about it? When I can show you exactly what I’m talking about with these photoshopped examples.

|| curtain rods || curtain rings || curtains ||

Here’s a photoshopped photo of the curtains in my bedroom.

I lowered them to the top of the window molding.

The challenge of hanging curtains like this? It makes the ceiling height appear shorter and the windows appear smaller. It’s a trick of the eye. Because the curtains are hung right at the top of the window, the eye sees all that space above the window and it diminishes it.

Does that make sense?

|| curtain rods || curtain rings || curtains ||

Here’s the exact same window with the exact same curtains.

Except?

Except these curtains are hung above the window frame. I typically hang them about six inches above the top of the window. Now? The eye thinks that the ceilings are taller and the windows are bigger because there’s less space between the top of the curtain and the ceiling.

Here’s a side-by-side of the exact same window with the exact same angle.

The windows are the exact same height in both pictures.

The ceiling is the exact same height in both pictures.

The curtain rods and rings and curtains are the same in both pictures.

But the window on the left? Doesn’t it look so much bigger?

The only difference? The curtain rod is hung about six inches above the top of the window instead of directly above it.

|| blue and white rug || blue and white chairs || gold coffee table || love seat ||

Here the curtains are hung above the windows about 4 inches below the crown molding.

Hanging curtains like this is kind of like wearing heels.

Taller curtains like taller shoes make you look…

….well taller.

Here’s another example in the dining room.

In this room I used another eye-fooling trick. I actually hung the curtains about a foot outside the edge of the window. So the curtains are actually hung above and outside the window which creates the impression of a much larger window.

Why? Why would I want a window to be larger?

Because in the dining room, the window on this wall we’re facing is actually much, much smaller than the set of two windows on the right side of the picture.

And I wanted to create a symmetrical look in the room.

So I created one with an illusion.

|| curtain rods || curtain rings || curtains ||

Here are some commonly asked questions about windows and curtains like this in my house:

If you move the curtains up over the top of the window won’t they be too short on the bottom?

Great question! You just take the extra length into account when ordering the curtains. For example, instead of 84″ curtains, I typically will order 96″ curtains and then this adjusts for the additional length! Does that make sense?

How high do you hang 84-inch curtains?

For 84-inch curtains, the general rule of thumb is to hang them about 4 to 6 inches above the window frame. This makes the window looks so much larger and allows the curtains to touch or slightly graze the floor when they’re fully extended.

How far should curtains be from the top of the window?

Curtains should be hung a few inches above the window frame to open up the space. I usually recommend (and hang my own curtains) around 4 to 6 inches between the top of the window frame and the curtain rod is recommended.

When you hang curtains, should they touch the floor?

It depends on your personal preference and the look you are going for. Generally, curtains look best when they lightly touch the floor or have a slight break. This means they rest about half an inch to an inch on the floor. I have seen a trend recently with curtains that hover just above the floor for a more modern and tailored look.

Can you hang curtains all the way from the top of the ceiling?

I have hung my curtains all the way to the ceiling before. Hanging curtains from ceiling to floor make the windows appear larger. It also allows more light into the space when the curtains are open since there are no gaps between the top of the curtains and the ceiling.

Sometimes hanging curtains all the way to the ceiling doesn’t work. Ceiling height, window size, and the overall style and proportions of the room should be taken into consideration.

|| blue and white rug || curtain rods || curtain rings || curtains || spindle chairs ||

Truth?

As I was writing this post? It actually occurred to me that one person’s biggest decorating mistake sometimes is another person’s biggest decorating triumph. With decorating you have to do what you love and what works well in your space. Swimming upstream in a world of decorating can be exhilarating sometimes.

But as for me and my windows?

I agree with the designers on this one. It took me a while to learn this tip. I used to hang my curtains at the top of the window. But once I started hanging my curtains in a way that made such a difference and made my spaces look bigger and my windows look larger?

I never looked back.

And now my windows are so much happier.

When discussing tips and ideas, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand decorating words.

So I’ll leave you with this one. 🙂

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

Comments

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Yes!!! I'm posting it on Thistlekeeping! We also have gift cards available in the shop! Happy day! KariAnne

  1. Image for Gail Gail

    I'm a bit confused. If your curtains are reaching the ground and then you're hanging your curtain rod 6" above the top of the window, won't they be 6" too short on the bottom?

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Great question! You just take the extra length into account when ordering the curtains. For example, instead of 84" curtains, I typically will order 96" curtains and then this adjusts for the additional length! happy day!KariAnne 

  2. Image for Lindsay Lindsay

    Great post. I learned this tip years ago and it has made all the difference in rooms with only 8 ft ceilings. Fool the eye is always a good thing (clothing too on our less than perfect days!). One thing I also make sure I do....if your window is very wide, double or triple the width of the side curtain. It can look wimpy if not in scale. Your beautiful blue and white home is a breath of fresh air!

  3. Image for Madeline Madeline

    KariAnn, The curtain info is great! I'm really struggling with making my curtains look right, and putting the rod above the window looks perfect. Thank You. Madeline

  4. Image for Betsy Betsy

    Thanks for the information. My biggest decorating mistake always seems to be paint. I decided on painting our bedroom turquoise. It took all weekend and when I looked at it I wanted to cry. I hated it. Then you posted a few days later about Sherman Williams Evergreen Fog and I knew that was the one. As soon as it went on the wall I was in love!

  5. Image for Charmaine Charmaine

    I love your idea on this and it looks wonderful! I love all your lovely posts and talent 😊 I do have a question though, if you raised your curtain up higher, wouldn’t it make the bottom much shorter than what it looks like?

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Great question! I'm actually going to add this to the list of questions for people! You just take the extra length into account when ordering the curtains. For example, instead of 84" curtains, I typically will order 96" curtains and then this adjusts for the additional length! Does that make sense? happy day!KariAnne 

  6. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Oh I do know this tip about growing your windows!! Lol and you don’t even have to water them. 😆. What a difference it makes to raise that curtain rod!! It’s a true designer move. Your curtains look so pretty above your windows. And yes, you must link us to Westleigh’s shop!! We will all be waiting in the wings. This is so exciting! 😘

  7. Image for Lynne Lynne

    Living out in the sticks I only have curtains in the guest bedroom and the "princess" room, the room my granddaughters stay in when they are here. In the master bedroom our windows are almost floor to ceiling so I just ordered specialty shades, didn't want to hide the cedar trim my carpenter designed. I have one problem window in the living room I'm not sure what to do with. On one side the raised hearth of the new fireplace we had built goes under that window about for inches, so any drapes/curtains would just pool on the hearth. I've been pondering this for almost 2 years now - maybe a cedar valance at the top to hide the double window shade there now (I went to shades a few years ago, got tired of constantly cleaning blinds). You putting the pictures side by side for comparison really shows how much better the drapes look hung higher towards the ceiling.

  8. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Lucky for me I learned this lesson before I moved into the new home. So my curtains fly high and wide. But still enjoyed the blog. Always full of energy. Happy Weekend.

  9. Image for Anna Anna

    This was perfect timing for me to read this. I have a question. Our builder does windows that only have trim across the bottom of a deep windowsill. Since there is no frame at the window top, at what level, in your opinion, would you hang the curtain? We have 9 foot ceilings in the house and top of window opening is probably about 2 feet below ceiling level.

  10. Image for Linda Johnston Linda Johnston

    Guessing you never sold drapes and curtains are JC Penney's in college. Little did I realize I was learning a skill and gaining I would use over and over. Part time work as a student does pay off!

Comments are closed.