How To Hang Curtains On A Narrow Window

How To Hang Curtains On A Narrow Window

What curtains to use for small windows?

There are actually curtains specifically designed for smaller windows. However, the two most popular choices are meant for smaller house areas: cafe curtains for the kitchen or dining areas and bathroom curtains. You can also hang only one curtain panel, a valance, or create a larger window visual effect using standard-sized curtains.

Stay Small With Cafe Curtains or Bathroom Curtains

Click here to find these café curtains on Amazon.

Café curtains are made for the bottom half of a kitchen window. Basically, they can provide the middle ground between privacy and natural light flow. Café curtains are typically used for a vintage appeal. Unfortunately, they are deliberately made with smaller panels. This means that your narrow windows will appear even smaller. You can check out “How to Measure for Cafe Curtains.”

We can say the same for bathroom curtains, designed for a snug fit inside the window’s trim. Although both café curtains and bathroom curtains will look tidy with your narrow windows, it will visually shrink them. So, if you’re going to use these two curtain styles, be sure that they will blend with the rest of the room.

Hang One Curtain Panel

Curtains are usually sold in pairs, with one panel used for each side of a window. However, if your window is too narrow, it’s possible to use a single curtain panel instead. This looks best when you tie up the curtain panel and hang the tied area just beside the window. It may seem strange, but this tactic will certainly work for windows that are oddly positioned. For example, some small windows are just too close to a wall for a traditional pair of curtain panels.

Hang A Valance

Click here to see this valance on Amazon.

Valances are visually interesting, pretty, and small. They are a short drape that hangs from the top of a window. The traditional curves on the trim are unique and feel cozy. Valances can also make your window appear a little taller. They are available in folded or pleated designs to fit with any style. In fact, valances are often combined with other window treatments.

Magnify the Window With Standard-sized Curtains

The best curtains for your narrow windows will be

The best curtains for your narrow windows will be tall and wide. Some curtains are designed to pool onto the floor itself. Others reach from the ceiling to the floor altogether. These are the ideal options, instead of traditional curtains that sit on the window sill.

Click here to see these pooling curtains on Amazon.

In fact, you can also make the curtains themselves appear taller and wider. Just use curtains with vertical patterns. This produces the same effect as the curtains. Vertical patterns will draw your eyes upward and make the curtains appear taller than they are. 


Width Considerations

Use these tricks to make the drapes a standard width and to create the illusion of wider windows:

  • The standard distance from the window casing to the end of the curtain rod (excluding finials) on each side of the window should be four to 10 inches.
  • As a general rule, drapes will be open during the day, so make sure the curtain rod extends at least four inches on each side of the window’s inside frame.
  • To create the illusion of a wider window, extend the rod up to 10 inches beyond the window's frame.

Illustration: The Spruce / Emily Mendoza

Magnetic Curtain Rod

Shop on Wayfair
Shop on Wayfair

If you’re trying to hang a curtain over a window of a metal door, you can use a magnetic curtain rod to avoid drilling. 

The temporary curtain rod will stick right to the door so you can easily open and close your drapes without worrying about them coming down. Then, when it comes time to move, just pop the rod off the door and you’re done!

3. Mount the Rod Up High

Mount the rod as high on the wall as possible, no matter what the overall length of the drape. Consider the space needed to manipulate the rod onto the brackets when making the height determination and the top of the drapery should stay below the bottom edge of any crown molding. Of all the decor tricks of illusion, this is the most effective at making a small window appear larger and is the best use of long drapes on a short window.

Step 1: Determine how high to hang curtain rods

Wondering where to hang curtain rods? It's essential to mount curtain rods in the right spot, or your perfect-length curtains might not hang properly. A rod that sits too close to the window can make a space seem smaller than it really is. To ensure perfect curtain placement, measure the depth of your window molding to determine the ideal size for your curtain brackets. You'll want curtain brackets that extend past the depth of your trim. If they're too shallow, your curtains won't hang properly.

Using a pencil and tape measure, mark the desired position of your curtain brackets so the rod is about 4 to 6 inches above your window frame, making sure the curtains will slightly brush the floor or hover just above it. The curtain brackets should be placed about 6 inches from the outside edge of the window frame to allow plenty of natural light.

What is the Proper Length for Curtains

Interior designers note the bottom of your curtains should fall to the floor, and you can even let them “puddle” a bit. However, if you don’t want your curtains to drag on the floor when you open and close them, let them stop about an inch from the floor, but no more. If they do puddle at the floor, you can wash your curtains as needed.

When it comes to the width, your curtains should be at least two times the width of the window.

How High to Hang Curtains

A rule of thumb (from Architectural Digest) is that curtains should be hung between four to six inches above the window frame, so install your curtain rod accordingly. When you hang the curtain rod high, it will make the window appear taller.

Take a Tip From a Wedding Planner


For an unconventional DIY approach, build a curtain frame that sits in front of the window instead of relying on a curtain rod that attaches to the wall. Something similar to a photo booth backdrop, like the one in this picture will work. If you’re handy, you can build it with PVC pipes, spray paint it, and hang some pretty curtains! 

How do you make a narrow window look wider?

The best way to make a narrow window look wider is to install the curtain rod properly. Traditional curtain rods involve brackets and screws, so they will require some basic tools to install.

You should have a screwdriver or power drill on hand. Also, grab a pencil so you can mark the wall before you commit. A carpenter’s level will also keep the rod parallel with the window’s trim. A measuring tape will be necessary to size everything properly. And if the window is high up, you’ll naturally need a ladder, too.

Click here to shop for this decorative curtain rod on Amazon.

If possible, you might be able to use a tension rod for your narrow window. A tension rod will save you loads of installation trouble, including troublesome tools. Tension rods fit between two flat, vertical surfaces. These rods stay in place using an interior spring that will push in both directions. However, if the surfaces on either side of the window aren’t distant enough, you won’t make your window appear wider.

Curtain Styling Advice

Curtain styling by Decorilla  designer, Rachel H.

Curtain styling by Decorilla designer, Rachel H.

Before setting out to buy curtains and hardware for a room, consider tips from interior design industry professionals. After all, you want to enjoy the best results possible. Be patient in finding the right items, do your research, and your desired look will come together beautifully.

Take Your Time with Fabric Selection

Light curtain styling by Decorilla  designer, Cour

Light curtain styling by Decorilla designer, Courtney B.

For those who desire tailor-made curtains, be sure to order samples of your favorite curtain materials. It’ll allow you to identify which fabric is best. Above all, you want your curtains to look nice and full, not limp and lifeless. Test your preferred fabrics by holding them at the top to see what body they have while hanging.

Also, make sure that your choice of fabric suits t

Also, make sure that your choice of fabric suits the intended space. Heavy fabrics are perfect for enhancing privacy, blocking light, and retaining heat. On the other hand, delicate materials allow more brightness and create a relaxed, cool atmosphere.

Pick Colors & Patterns Mindfully

Ways to hang curtains as a divider from an exterio

Ways to hang curtains as a divider from an exterior by Decorilla designer, Sonia C.

Curtains are one of the more enduring additions to a space, which is why it’s a good idea to choose something classic. Anything neutral and in a solid color is likely to remain in style for a long time. Don’t rush shopping for drapery. Instead, keep looking until you find fuss-free, timeless curtains.

Popular curtain patterns ideal for decorative styl

Popular curtain patterns ideal for decorative styling

Of course, you can hang colorful and patterned curtains – they’re just harder to pull off than neutral fabrics. Opt for bold colors or prints if you want the curtains to be a focal point. Although, many patterns can suit a wide variety of styles. 

Damask, fleur-de-lis, and Greek key motifs are gre

Damask, fleur-de-lis, and Greek key motifs are great in luxe and formal interiors with a glam or transitional style. And for other casual styles, like boho or eclectic, chinoiserie, ikat, medallion, or paisley patterns are perfect. Even French Country or shabby chic designs can benefit from a pattern. Toile and florals are among the many motifs to fit these romantic interiors.

Choose Hardware to Fit the Room

Curtain rod placement and finish by Decorilla  des

Curtain rod placement and finish by Decorilla designer, Farzaneh K.

You want curtain hardware and accessories to not only go well with the space’s existing accents but with the drapery and its fabric as well. For example, sheer curtains pair well with slim rods, while heavy curtains pair well with thicker rods. Try to procure hardware in a similar material to any wooden or metallic finishes in a room.


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