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How High Should You Hang Curtains Above the Window?

Hanging Curtains Higher than the Window – What is the Proper Height?

So, how high should you hang curtains? Let’s look at how high to hang your curtains.

I’m far better at choosing household fittings than installing them. Gorgeous curtain rod and finials? Got it. Matching tie-backs? Got it.

But hanging the pole and the drapes just isn’t fun. However, the height of your curtain rod determines the height of your window treatments, so it’s essential to know how high you should hang your curtains.

Hang curtains halfway between the ceiling and window trim when the space is between eight and twelve inches. For low ceilings, hang curtains a minimum of two inches above the window to create height and a maximum of ten inches above the window trim for high ceilings.

Installing hardware for curtains and drapes shouldn’t be an afterthought, relegated to the neighbor’s kid who wants to earn some pocket money.

The measurement and placing of the curtain rod determine how high your curtains will hang: it’s the basis for calculating the length of your curtains, how much fabric you’ll require, and whether you’ll achieve the romantic puddling effect.

A woman hanging a yellow curtain and text overlay that reads, "How high should you hang curtains".

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How High to Hang Curtains Above the Window

The curtain rod or drapery pole is the structure from which draperies or curtains hang: your curtains’ height depends on the position of the rod.

Although curtains fall vertically, the curtain rod creates a horizontal line parallel to the ceiling. Your eye tends to fix on this line, so its placement influences how you view the room. (Influences rather than determines.)

This is because the relationship between the vertical fabric and horizontal rod can trick your mind into thinking the room is smaller or larger than it is.

Therefore, the height of your curtains is not just a matter of where you want the curtains to hit the floor. Begin with the curtain rod to create the visual effect you want in the room.

Measuring the Curtain Height

The first step in deciding how high your curtains should be is to take precise measurements. Measure the following:

  • The height of the window
  • The width of the window
  • The distance between the top of the window and the ceiling
  • The distance between the window frame and the floor.

These measurements will help you determine where to position the curtain rod.

Hanging Curtains in Standard Rooms

Blue curtains hanging in a standard room.

If you have a standard-sized room with regular-shaped windows and a 9-foot-high ceiling, there is a basic rule of thumb designers use when hanging curtains. And it’s not hanging the rod as close to the window frame as possible.

Standard measurements of the space between the window trim and the ceiling is around 8 to 12 inches. Ideally, hang the curtain pole halfway between the two.

This means positioning the curtain rod four to six inches above the window. Curtains that start just above the window frame or trim make a room look smaller. A higher curtain rod leads the eye upwards, making the window and ceiling seem higher.

Hanging Curtains in Rooms with Lower Ceilings

Low ceiling curtain.

A distance of under eight inches between the window trim and the ceiling means the ceiling is slightly lower than usual. As per the rule of thumb, you can hang curtains halfway, about four inches above the window trim, without losing too much impact.

For rooms with lower ceilings (e.g., eight feet tall), consider changing the proportion to two-thirds above the window casing (about six inches).

However, rooms with smaller windows, very low ceilings, or cramped proportions need to appear more spacious. Designers use a couple of curtain-hanging strategies to trick the eye.

The first way of creating the illusion of space is to hang the curtains as high as possible. The higher you can hang a curtain above a window frame, the more elongated the vertical proportions, and the higher the ceiling will appear. Install your curtain rod as close to the ceiling or decorative cornice as possible.

If the window frame is very close to a low ceiling, consider using a ceiling-mounted rod, where you fix the drapery into the ceiling itself. A ceiling-installed track can create a dramatic effect.

Blue curtains hanging from ceiling.

A second approach is to make your windows look bigger. At a minimum, hang the curtains two inches above the windows rather than directly above the trim. This means installing the drapery pole two inches higher than the window trim.

Hanging Curtains in Rooms with High Ceilings

High ceiling living room.

When you have the joy of high ceiling rooms, you will want to maximize this space.

If the windows are almost as tall as the ceiling, follow the rules for low ceilings. Keep the curtain rod closer to the ceiling, installing it two inches above the window frame. Consider a ceiling track for curtains to make the most of the space.

However, if the ceiling is particularly lofty and the window is oddly small, you should maintain a relationship with the window. After all, it would make no sense to have 10 feet high curtains over a regular window. You’ll need to hang the curtains to balance out the proportions.

Install the curtain rod six to ten inches above the window trim, thus filling the wall and elongating the window.

Hanging Curtains with Arched Windows

Room with arched windows and ceiling high curtains.

Oddly shaped windows, especially arches, are trickier to measure. However, stick to the same guidelines, measuring from the highest point of the arch.

Alternatively, align the height of the curtains with horizontal windows in the same area and hang the curtain rods horizontally above the arch. This does cover the arched shape when the curtains are closed, however.

Alternatively, if you don’t need to block the light, install cafe curtains midway across the window to showcase the beautiful arch and allow for some privacy.

Bedroom with arched window and cafe length curtains.

How High Should Curtains Be Hung? Final Thoughts

Position your curtains to enhance the proportions of the room and windows. A general rule of thumb is hanging the curtains as high as possible to give the illusion of height and space.

This means hanging curtains at least two inches, but preferably four to six above the window trim. Keep the space no more than ten inches for lofty ceilings to maintain proportion.

Did you find the tips on how high to hang curtains helpful? Leave your comment below.

Woman hanging a yellow curtain and text overlay that reads, "How high to hang curtains above the window".

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