Curtain measurements are always written with the width first and then the length. For example, a panel that is 46″ x 54″ is 46 inches wide and 54 inches long.
Don’t buy your curtains just so they’re big enough to cover a window. Before you decide what size curtains you need, you have to consider where you’re going to mount the curtain rod; most people choose to mount the rod 1 to 3 inches above the top of the window.
Decide on the Style You Want
In traditional style, the curtain rod is about 6 inches above the top of the window, and it extends beyond the window 3 inches on each side. The curtain will hang 3 inches below the bottom of the window sill.
This look offers a few advantages. First, because the rod extends beyond the width of the window, the curtains won’t block any light when you choose to push them back. Also, the hung curtains will completely cover the window frame. The third perk is that this can make the window appear larger than it actually is.
Measuring curtains for this style is easy. Measure your window, then add 9 inches to the length and 6 inches to the width.
This modern look hangs your curtains so that they end just above the floor. There is no rule about where you mount the curtain rod for this style; just decide where you want it, and then measure from that place to a spot about 1 inch above the floor.
Want to add a touch of opulence to your home? This can be as simple as hanging your curtains in the right way. With this style, the curtains are hung close to the ceiling, and they pool slightly on the floor. Measure from where you want to mount the curtain rod to the floor. Then, add between 8 and 10 inches to the length.
This look is best for sheer curtains that cover tall windows. Thicker fabrics won’t pool as gracefully.
Take Fullness Into Account
Some DIY home decorators choose to buy just enough curtain to cover the width of a window. This is fine, and it lends a tailored look to your windows. However, for a fuller look, you should make sure that the total width of your curtains is two or three times the width of your window. Generally, the longer your curtains are, the more fullness they should have. This helps to achieve visual balance.
If you’re going to buy pleated curtains, be aware that these already have fullness built in; if your pleated curtains are too wide, they can make your window look crowded.
Consider Available Curtain Lengths
When measuring for curtains, keep in mind that curtains usually come in only a few different lengths: 63 inches, 84 inches, 95 inches, 108 inches, and 120 inches. Tier curtains, which are shorter and generally don’t cover an entire window, are usually either 24 inches or 36 inches long. Curtains are measured from the top of the rod pocket to the end, not from the actual top of the curtain if there is fabric above the rod pocket.
Knowing what curtain lengths are available may affect where you choose to mount your curtain rod. However, if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you won’t need to worry about that. You can simply adjust your curtains’ length to suit what you need.
Another alternative is to buy custom curtains. These are a tad more expensive than what you can pick up off the shelf, but they’ll be tailor-made to achieve exactly the look you want.
Keep Your Notes Organized
Make specific notes about your measurements. Did you just write down the size of the window, or did you write down the size of curtains you want? The last thing you want is to get to the store, look at your measurements, and realize that you don’t know which measurements go with which window.
You can also make notes about the manner in which you want to hang curtains over each window, whether you want a traditional look or a contemporary one. It might be helpful to take pictures of your windows; these will give you visual reminders of what you’re looking for.
Measure Differently for Different Types of Windows
The size of curtains that you’ll need may depend on the type of window you want to cover.
- Tier kitchen curtains work best for kitchen windows. These curtains usually cover the bottom half of the window, and there is no need to have them extend beyond the window’s width.
- On bedroom windows and living room windows, you may want a layered look. The back curtain, which is usually sheer, will need more fullness than the second layer. The second layer is often just there to frame the window.
- For bay windows, a valance might be a better choice than curtains. However, you can install separate curtain rods for each section of the window and hang curtains. Curtains on bay windows shouldn’t be too full; otherwise, they may block your view and crowd against one another when you push them back.
There is a lot more involved in measuring curtains than most people realize. But when you follow the above tips, your windows will look fantastic.