Measuring for Curtains & Refreshing Your Holiday Home

holiday family room with green velvet curtains and tree

Spruce up your home for the holidays in one easy step: new curtains! Learn the best way of measuring for curtains, plus how to choose the right panels for your space. Then, get our recipe for easy stovetop potpourri and more quick window-decorating tips.

Measuring for Curtains in 3 Steps 

Step One: Measure for Height & Width 

Hanging curtains outside of windows is the most common mounting style. With this method, the brackets and rod are secured to the wall outside of the window. Outside mounting can give the illusion of a larger window and creates a fuller look. 

Experts recommend installing your brackets 4-6″ above your window frame. This creates a polished look while adding height to the room. For a more dramatic look, you can hang brackets even higher. Be sure to mark how high you’d like your rod to be installed. 

Once you know how high your rod will be situated, you can think about the length of the rod. We recommend that your rod extend 3-6″ past each side of your window. Mark this measurement – this is where your brackets will be installed. If space is limited, it’s okay for the length of your rod to be the same as the width of your window. 

Step Two: Measure for Style Length

  • Ideal for casual spaces like the kitchen, sill-length curtains fall right at windowsill level. You should measure from your rod to the windowsill to achieve this length. However, curtains that are 63” long are usually sill-length. 
  • Apron-length curtains fall just below the windowsill. To get this look, you should measure from your rod to 1-2″ below your windowsill. Apron-length panels work well in bathrooms and bedrooms. 
  • The most common kind of curtain is the floor-length curtain. Measure from the curtain rod to the floor for this refined look. Living rooms and dining rooms can be elevated with this type of window treatment, which is generally 84” long. 
  • If you’re going for a luxurious look, puddle-length curtains are an elegant option. You should measure from the rod to the floor, then add an extra 8-10″ to that number. This length is not recommended for high-traffic areas, but we love this look in traditionally decorated homes. 
puddle-length curtains

Step Three: Measure for Width 

  • Using a measuring tape, measure the width of your window, including the window frame and any trim. Take that number and double it – this is how wide your window panels should be to ensure fullness while open and coverage while closed. 
  • If you opt for two curtain panels, this measurement will be the combined width of both panels. Many prefer the look of two window panels because the window is framed by fabric on both sides when the curtains are open.  

Shopping tip: When you’re shopping for curtains on Zulily, you’ll see width listed first, followed by length. You’ll also see information about whether the curtain style you’re considering includes one or two panels. In addition to measuring for curtains, be sure to double check these details before purchasing! 

Here’s a fun recipe for easy stovetop potpourri. Scroll onward for more curtain hanging and window-styling tips.

new traditions tip

SPICE UP YOUR SPACE

Fill a pot with water and your choice of aromatics: herb sprigs (sage, rosemary); citrus peels or slices (orange, lemon); and spices (cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, cardamom). Bring the water to a simmer on a back burner (away from kids’ reach), then lower the heat. Check regularly and add water as needed. (Important: Always be at home when you have potpourri on the stovetop.)

Tips on Curtain Materials, Installation Basics & Styling  
  • Sheer curtains allow natural light to filter through, creating a lovely glow. You can hang sheer curtains alone for a look that doesn’t overpower the room. Layer sheers with thicker curtains for a chic look that provides depth as well as privacy when needed. 
  • Blackout curtains block sunlight to darken a room. They can also muffle noise and provide some temperature control. If you’re looking to add some insulation to a room, try thermal curtains
  • Different materials offer different styles and benefits. Polyester is a durable, low-maintenance material and resist stretching. Linen creates a billowy look, allowing some natural light to filter in. Cotton provides a crisp, clean feel. Cotton’s easy drape works well in living and dining rooms. 
  • Most curtain rods require bracket installation. You’ll usually have three brackets to install. Reference the markings above your window for rod height (4-6″ above window frame recommended). Line up your brackets here. 
  • To install, place a bracket at each end of the rod. If you have a third bracket, use it in the center. 
  • Some curtain rods require you to install brackets with a drill. Be sure to enlist a friend to help if you’ll be on a ladder. 
Apartment window strung with start-shape lights and holiday signs

SPRUCE UP YOUR WINDOW TREATMENTS

Curtains old or new (and even windows without curtains) can enjoy a holiday “spruce up.” Dress the window sill with mini Christmas trees or leftover tree ornaments. Add a layer of string lights or garlands. No mantle? Hang stockings from your windowsill with removable picture hooks.

No matter what the season or the reason for redecorating, new window treatments make a room magnificent. For more home and gifting holiday inspirations, our Holiday Shop is sure to make you happy!  

Looking to refresh other spaces? Check out tips for preparing a marvelous guest room or staging a smart entryway.

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