Nov 12
5
Rules of Scale: Drapery

We’ve been talking a lot about proper scale lately, and while drapery may seem like one of those overly-talked about subjects, we will keep pounding this in your head until the entire world gets it right! It’s a simple rule, but surprisingly draperies are one of the easiest things to get wrong. You can blame the shelf-stocked curtains found at most retailers for that. But before we go pointing any more fingers, let’s start by going back to the basics…shall we?

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Here’s what you need to consider when buying and hanging drapery for your windows:

1. Rod Placement – Choke that sucker up as high as you can! Whether you have 8 or 11 foot ceilings, your rod should be placed just below your ceiling or crown molding. This draws the eye up, giving the illusion that your ceiling is taller than it actually is. A common mistake is to hang your rod just above your window casing…don’t do this! Your window will appear squatty and short…and no one likes looking that way.

2. Hanging Drapes – Your rod should also extend a good foot or two beyond the width of your window when allowed. This allows you to hang your drapery over your wall instead of over your window. By hanging the bulk of your fabric over the walls, it not only allows more sunlight to stream through your windows when opened, but once again makes your windows appear larger.

3. Panel Length – This is where we blame store-bought curtains for making it so easy to go so wrong! Most drapery panels are sold in a standard 84″ length, and you’ll find that there simply isn’t enough fabric to take you all the way to the ground. As a result, you end up either lowering your rod or letting your drapery hang like a terrible pair of flood pants. Don’t do it! It may take a little customizing, but buy a longer length panel (96″ or 108″ are usually available) and properly hem them to barely kiss the ground. A tailored drape makes all the difference!

4. Fullness – Even if you got 1,2, and 3 right…it would all be for naught if you didn’t have the right fullness. Your drapes should look functional, like they would actually cover the window when closed. A good rule of thumb is that each panel should be at least 1 to 1 1/2 times the width of the window. This will make your drapery look more generous and full whether opened or closed.

Alice Lane Home_Rules of Scale_Drapery
5 Comments
angela

Hi Just wondering If you think that it would look good to only have 2 panels for my window. I have a 3′ then a 5′ then another 3′ window all in the same row with only the trim around each of the windows. Thanks for your help

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Alice Lane Home

Good question Angela. If you don’t have any wall space between the windows you may want to ditch doing panels in between and instead do fuller panels on each end. You don’t want to cover up and sacrifice that beautiful sunlight. However, you also don’t want skimpy panels on the ends and nothing in-between, so make them full enough to look like they’d cover the entire length of windows on the wall.

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Angela R.

Hi, there! Another Angela here with a question on drapes. I have a bedroom with two different sized windows. One large and wide window approximately 69×65″, and then one smaller standard window about 32×54″ (really ballparking here) over a desk in the same small area.

Currently I have two 60×84″ two panel curtains sets up for continuity, but I get the feeling this is maybe a little strange looking. Is this a no-no? Should I dress them in different colors, or perhaps change the length to fit the short window so it skims the top of the desk? Is a long-short combo in the same color an even worse offense?

Thanks so much for your article, and help!

Reply
Alice Lane Home

Hi Angela. It sounds like you definitely have a bit of a challenging window set-up to work with. One option might be to try a custom roman shade that perfectly tailors each window. That way it looks like each window is dressed to it’s appropriate size.

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