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Window Treatments

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Create a tailored look with well-measured curtains and blinds

Like a formal garment that's been tailored for another body, even the most beautiful window treatment can look odd when it's not properly "worn." These tips for measuring and hanging curtains, blinds, and other window treatments will help you to create the perfect fit for your window.

Curtains Put the Frame in the Picture

Curtain dimensions are spelled out width first, height second. To get your initial measurement, measure side-to-side and then top-to-bottom on the inside of the window casing. Next, decide what kind of visual impression you want your curtains to make. Do you want long, dramatically hung drapes? Would wider curtains help compensate for a too-skinny window? For curtains, a standard rule is to add about six inches to the width of the casing measurements. Additional height depends on your desire for decorative effect, privacy, light blocking, etc., but at least six to eight inches beyond the casing is typical.

  • When hanging curtains, begin by finding a curtain rod height that's suitable for your chosen curtain length.
  • The brackets for the rod should be installed about two inches beyond the window frame on each side. Make a pencil mark in the appropriate spot, and check that the two marks are level before drilling a pilot hole.
  • Use a stud finder, or install drywall anchors to ensure that the hardware is properly supported.

Inside Job, Outside Job? Sounds Shade-y

Window shades, blinds, and shutters can be hung with either an inside mount or an outside mount. To measure for inside mount blinds, measure the window width at the top, middle, and bottom inside the casing. If the window is significantly out of square or has no recess, an outside mount is recommended. Otherwise, choose a window shade whose width is the smallest of the three measurements. Unlike curtains, blinds should not extend very far beyond the casing width - about three inches on each side. If you choose an outside mount, add extra height for the mounting hardware above the window and desired overhang at the bottom.

Window Dressing with Valances

When hanging window valances, make sure the valance bracket height is at an appropriate level. The decorating rule is that the valance length should be 1/5 or 1/6 of the drapery length, e.g. an 84-inch drapery would take a valance length of about 14 to 17 inches.