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Hanging curtains: You’re probably doing it wrong

Dina Holland

Hi, I’m the founder and principal designer of Needham-based Dina Holland Interiors and the blogger behind Honey & Fitz (www.dinahollandinteriors.com). I’m delighted to be taking over this column and tackling readers’ interior design struggles.

For now, let’s talk window treatments. The term “window treatment” covers a pretty broad category in interior design. From functional blinds to decorative drapery panels, each has its place, and the right window treatments in a space can instantly elevate a room’s style and make it feel finished.

My preferred look when dressing a window, if space allows, is to use simple blinds layered with long drapery panels. The blinds give you light control and privacy while the panels add color, pattern, and/or interest. Many of the homes I go into don’t have any window treatments at all. This is understandable; buying draperies can be daunting. There is a seemingly endless array of unfamiliar terms like “pinch pleat,” “return,” “drapery hook” . . . not to mention the measuring, installation, and the cost.

I go into a lot of homes, and I want to share with you the number one thing I see people doing incorrectly, why it’s wrong, and how to fix it.


The two words to keep in mind when dressing your windows with curtains are “high” and “wide.” Curtain panels have the ability to make your ceilings look higher and your windows appear wider. Here’s how:

Most people hang their curtain rod right over (or on!) the window frame. Depending on the architecture of the room, this might not be avoidable. If you have the space between the top of your window frame and the ceiling or crown molding, though, you should hang the rod over the window. I like to go 3 to 5 inches down from the ceiling. Doing this visually extends the length of your wall, making your ceiling look higher. And don’t we all want higher ceilings? I know I do! This will require longer curtain panels. For an 8-foot ceiling, your curtain panels should probably be about 91 inches long. If you don’t want to get custom window panels, you can buy 96-inch ones and hem them so they are floor to (almost) ceiling. No high-water curtains, please.


The bigger problem I see is curtain rods that are the same width as the window. When you do this, the curtain panels end up in front of your window, making it look smaller than it is. My goal is to frame the window, not block it. Shoot to have the inside edge of the curtain panel just graze the inside edge of your window frame. You will instantly make your window look wider, framing (not blocking) the view and maximizing the natural light into your space.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at my visual. These windows are exactly the same size and positioned in the same spot on the wall, yet the window on the left with its low and short curtain rod looks significantly smaller than the same one on the right, doesn’t it?

There you have it. Remember: high and wide. Now go forth and dress those windows. I’d love to see your transformations. Post your before-and-after pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #honeyandfitzwindowmakeover.

Submit your questions and conundrums via Instagram by tagging me @honeyandfitz or using the hashtag #honeyandfitzaskthedesigner. You can also e-mail them to Address@globe.com.