The most common mistake that people make when measuring for off-the-shelf drapery is the rod itself. I see this mistake so often that I decided to write a post so that at least all my readers will be in the know.
And, if you want to know which colour you should choose for your curtain rod, read this post too.
How to measure for a curtain rod
First, you need to know that your drapery rod should generally be 10 – 15 inches longer on each side of the window to allow for the fabric to hang on each side.
In the two photos below, it appears as if the drapery rod is not much longer than the window (obviously intentional in this case, as a designer decorated these rooms). But, the problem is that the fabric then covers part of the window and most of us want as much light as possible coming into the room, right?!
Interior Design by Steven Gambrel
So, the proper way to measure for your curtain rod is to have the ‘stack’ of excess drapery hanging beside the window, not on top of it. This means your curtain rod measurements should extend past the width of your window.
Here’s an example of what that looks like.
Notice the window on the left side of the room where you can just see the edge of the window casing nearly lines up with the edge of the curtain. Keeping the curtains at the edge of the window allows the maximum light into this room and makes the windows appear larger.
In the image above, the curtain rods help bring the different sized windows together in this room. Because the curtain rods are aligned at the top, it creates the illusion that the curtains and windows are a similar width and height.
The window above is probably the same size as the ones in the earlier image with blue walls, but the rod is longer on each side of the window here, leaving enough room for the drapery to just cover the casing which makes the window look bigger in addition to adding softness and vertical height to the room.
Here’s another curtain rod tip: Make sure you buy at least two panels for each side. Even if you don’t plan to close them it should look like you could. There’s nothing worse than one panel hanging like it’s on a clothesline (so flat) on your rod when it’s drawn—that’s when it really looks like Ikea – instead of designer!