Curtains are something of a design cure-all: they provide privacy and temperature control, frame a pretty view or hide an ugly one, and complete a decorating scheme with pattern, texture, and color. We’ll walk you through the steps to deciding on the hardware and draperies to get the look you want.
First, measure for a rod
If you’re putting up café curtains, you can mount the rod outside or inside the window casing. We custom cut our rods (to 1/8”), so you can get the exact length you need.
Outside mount cafe curtain rod
- An outside mount, which affixes to the surface of the casing, will be more noticeable and offer fuller curtain coverage (which is important if your windows tend to be drafty).
An inside mount tucks inside the window jamb for a more streamlined look. If you want your rod to look as minimal as possible, choose a concealed-mount set. Measure the inside width of the window casing, about halfway between the top and bottom of the window.
Concealed mount cafe curtain rod
Inside mount cafe curtain rod
- For outside-mount café sets and full-length drapery sets, you have some flexibility with the rod length. Do you want your curtains to overreach the window casing, or overlap it?
- A wide curtain that extends outside the casing will keep more light and drafts out. When open, it will also give you more room to tie back the drapes without blocking the view.
- A narrower drape that just covers the casing can hide less-than-perfect millwork and uses less fabric.
Outside mount drapery rod
Determine where you want the outer edge of each curtain to hang, and measure that span. (Keep in mind that heavy fabrics, like velvet and wool, and top-pleated curtains need more room when they’re pulled back than thinner materials like linen and cotton.)
Then add in the appropriate amount for the type of finial you’d like to determine the rod length you’ll need.
Next, choose your finish
Will you match your rod with the rest of the lighting and hardware in your room? Or choose a contrasting finish that draws the eye? Perhaps you’d like to coordinate the finish with the color of your drapes (Polished Nickel with a pale gray drape, for example)?
Then, decide which (if any) attachments to use
Curtains hang from a rod in one of three ways: directly from the rod pocket (a channel sewn in to the top of the curtain), from grommets built in to the curtain, or with separate rings or curtain hooks.
- Hanging your curtain from the rod pocket or grommets is simplest, as you won’t need any extra hardware, and conveys a more casual attitude.
- Rings give you a more polished look and another opportunity to choose your finish. We recommend using one ring per 6” of rod length, plus two more rings for each end of the drape. Remember that if you use curtain rings, they’ll add as much as 1-1/2” to the overall length of your drape.
Finally, hang the rod
Choosing how high to place the rod is as much art as science. If you want to make your ceilings look higher or disguise a small window, place the rod four to eight inches above the top of the window frame. The long sweep of the curtains will give the impression of greater height.
Consider also where you want your curtains to fall. Do you want them to just cover the window, skim the floor, or puddle gracefully? This will largely determine where you rod ought to go.
- Choose curtains that just cover the window when there’s something underneath the window you don’t want to block – such as a counter, headboard, or sofa.
- Floor-skimming curtains look clean and classic. They also do a good job of blocking drafts. Allow about ½” of clearance from the floor so they’ll close cleanly.
- If you want a more elegant look, allow at least six inches of fabric to “puddle” on the floor. This option is best for rooms where children or pets are unlikely to tread on or trip over a long hem.