Standard Curtain Size and Ideas

Getting the correct curtain size makes all the difference for appearance. Do you know how to size appropriately?

Curtains serve as the chef’s kiss to any well-designed room. Unless you’re content with boring blinds covering your windows, they’re also something that we all have to purchase. Since they’re such a common household accessory, buying curtains and hanging them should be an easier task. 

But there are a few standard curtain sizes, and they are usually different than your window sizes. It can be tough to figure out which ones will make your room look great while keeping out unwanted light and cold air. 

If you’ve been wondering how to get perfectly fitting curtains that complete your room, buying them is only half the battle. You’ll also need to learn how to hang them in a way that makes the biggest impact in your space. Once you do, you’ll be on your way to having the curtains you’ve always dreamed of having. 

What are the Standard Curtain Sizes?

A white linen curtain tip on a wooden window.

Of course, measuring your windows and the window frame are the first steps to getting the right curtain sizes. Even though curtains usually come in a few standard different lengths and widths, the exact fit is only obtained by creating a sense of finesse with your design.

Before you go shopping to find the perfect set of curtains, it’s important to get to know the industry standards. From there, you’ll be able to find the right size for the windows that you’re trying to dress. 

Curtain Lengths

A quick glance at the curtain section will show you that there are three readily available standard curtain lengths — 84 inches, 96 inches, and 108 inches. While most designers avoid the 84-inch curtain, they can work in spaces with lower ceilings. 

If you have any doubt about the curtain length you should get, the general consensus is to go larger and not smaller. You can always adjust the height of longer curtains, but you can’t stretch shorter ones. 

Curtain Widths

In the United States, the most popularly sold curtain width is 54”, but it can wildly vary. Made from 50” to 108” across, it’s important to know how many panels you’ll need to cover your windows. 

In most cases, two curtains are enough to do the job with a few inches to spare. Larger windows may require three or four panels to completely cover them, but they will add a professional look that you’ll love.

Curtains for Small Windows

When you’re dealing with curtains for smaller windows like kitchen windows or bathroom windows, there are window coverings called tier curtains that are perfect for the project. Available in all the standard curtain widths, they are only 24” to 36” in length. 

Custom-made curtains are always an option, but appropriately sized tier curtains can also fix the problems that often arise with small windows.

A comfy reading chair setup beside a floor length window curtain.

15 Ideas for Hanging Curtains That Will Add Designer Appeal

Now that you know how to choose the right sized curtains for your windows, the next step is installing them in a way that adds a touch of perfection. 

It might seem tempting to simply hang a plain pair of curtains on an inexpensive rod and call it a day, but there are simple tricks you can do to get the most out of your new window dressings. From choosing the right pattern to creating the feel of bigger windows, the possibilities are endless.

1. Go All the Way to the Ceiling

Would you like a way to make your rooms look taller? Taking your curtains all the way to the ceiling can do just that. Simply install the rod as close to the ceiling as you can, leave a couple of inches for the edge of the curtains, and hang them at an appropriate width. You’ll instantly make your room look bigger and less cluttered. 

A japanese inspired bedroom interior.

2. Mirror a Pattern

Of course, adding a pattern all over a room can get a little overwhelming. Take a tip from professional interior designers and pattern sparingly. If you have a bedspread or a throw pillow that you love, why not mirror it with the curtains? It will be just enough to pull an entire room together. 

A persons hand touching a white curtain with floral pattern.

3. Hang Curtains that are Wider than Your Windows

When hung correctly, curtains are a great barrier for keeping out the cold — but only if they are large enough. Experts recommend purchasing a curtain rod that’s around 8” to 12” bigger than the width of your window. Not only will it help over the windows and keep out drafts, but this method will also make your windows look bigger. 

A sheer window curtain placed at a ceiling height and large full body mirror.

4. Pick the Right Curtain Fabric

Just because you love a pair of heavy, velvet curtains doesn’t mean that they’re right for your room. Sure, they would be great for light-dampening in a bedroom or covering drafty windows. But, they won’t add an airy or a light feeling to the room. Unless you’re going for dark and shadowy, try to stick with lighter fabrics that allow at least some light through. 

A semi blackout curtain touching the floor.

5. Don’t Skimp on the Curtain Length

You wouldn’t run around wearing pants that are too short for you, and the same rule applies to curtains. Curtains should fully cover the window on all sides with plenty of inches to spare. Curtains that are too short often look out of place and unfinished. Although it’s not necessary to take the length all the way to the floor, it does add a touch of old-fashioned elegance. 

A floor length beige lace curtain.

6. Go for the layered Look

As you’re flipping through the pages of any home design magazine, you might notice that there’s more than one set of curtains gracing the windows. Usually, a set of sheer curtains is topped by a more formal pair of drapes. Utilizing this method will make your windows look fully dressed and ready for their own photographic spread. 

Red and white curtains layered altogether.

7. Make the Curtains Your Pop of Color

You hear the phrase “pop of color” all the time, but it’s not limited to the rest of a room’s design elements. Many designers choose curtains that match the decor and stand out by being a different color. When combined with a couple of matching throw pillows, it’s a nice way to introduce a new vibe into any room. 

A modern and luxurious living room with accents of black and light blue elements.

8. Don’t Throw Out the Receipt

Everyone makes a mistake from time to time — even famous designers. You may have imagined the curtains you want, but you’ll never know how they’ll look until you actually hang them. There’s no shame in changing your mind when you change your curtains. Just make sure you hang onto the receipt in case your new curtains don’t look as good as they thought you would. 

A simple bedroom near the window setup with two frames hung above the headboard.

9. Take a Look from the Outside

We get so concerned with the way our curtains look from the inside of the room that we often forget to take a look from the outside. Curb appeal is important, and it’s a good thing to consider when purchasing curtains that perfectly match your home. Of course, your home is your very own castle, and it’s completely up to you. 

A closeup picture of a glass window with inside curtains.

10. Keep the Curtains Simple

Mismatched Boho and shabby chic are all the rage these days, but you should truly reconsider when it comes to hanging curtains. Too much going on with your curtains can take away from all the other wonderful ideas you’ve placed around your room. As a rule of thumb, curtains should be a fairly simple design element. Try not to let them overpower your room. 

A plain living room interior using simple white curtains.

11. Don’t Shy Away from Natural Light

Having light-blocking curtains is great for snoozing, but it’s not always perfect for every space. Allowing natural light to stream through your curtains or your parted curtains has a couple of different functions. First and foremost, letting the light in will brighten up your space. Equally as important, letting natural light in can cut down on your heating bills. Letting the sun do its job in conjunction with your curtains can save you a little money. 

An L-shaped brown sofa and a mounted tv living room setup.

12. Consider Your Own Privacy

Putting up sheer panels without a second window treatment can leave you a little exposed. The light might be great early in the day, but sheers offer little protection from the prying eyes of your neighbors. If you choose to place sheers in an area where you do anything you don’t want anyone else to see, make sure you can cover them up. You’ll spare yourself a little embarrassment and your neighbors will thank you. 

A simple white curtain setup on a bathroom window for privacy.

13. Add a Little Flair with Trim

Whether you choose a patterned curtain or a solid color curtain, adding a little trim around the outside of them can create a dimensional effect. Without creating confusing and complicated patterns, a solid stripe of fabric or ribbon will add a grounding touch that will showcase your windows. 

A houseplant sitting on the windowsill peeking from curtains.

14. Vary Window Treatments Throughout the House

A well-thought-out set of curtains might look great in your living room, but do they offer the same appeal in the dining room? How about the bedroom? Each room in our homes serves a different purpose, and it’s important to vary your curtains accordingly. Instead of sticking with the same curtains in every room, choose different sets that will serve the intended purpose. 

A light blue blackout curtain with curtain rings.

15. Measure Once and Measure Again

Although curtains tend to come in standard sizes, there can be variations. If possible, measure both your windows and the curtains before you purchase them. This is especially helpful if you’re working with an odd-sized window. What might sound right at the store might not be an exact fit at all. It’s better to measure more than once to make sure you get the perfect fit. 

Blackout and sheer window curtains layered for floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

The next time you head to the curtain aisle of the store or find yourself in a fabric store, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for. Once you execute the curtain design you have in mind, you’ll be proud of the room that you’ve created. Curtain sizes are tricky, but clever minds like yours will always find the perfect fabric, fit, and ways to install them — especially now that you know all about them.

Teresa Burns
Teresa Burns is a design specialist who has been in the business for over 20 years. She has seen design trends change from traditional designs to more simplistic modern designs. She not only has seen it all, she understands it all. She has a large collection of articles to help spread her love for design.
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