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Hanging Curtains to Dress a Small Window

If you follow anything interior design related you already know that hanging your curtain rods too low can be detrimental to your decor and can make your space feel smaller and closed in. I've helped several people recently and it always seems to come up. And I recently ran into this issue in our guest room. It can be hard to wrap your head around, but more often than not, the right thing to do is to hang your curtains either higher or wider (or both) than the actual window you are trying to frame. Hanging the curtains correctly can visually increase the size of your windows and ceiling height.

The easiest way to visualize this is in one of the many tutorials you can find online. Case in point:

{image via Live Love Home}

See how the windows are the exact same size and do you see what a DRASTIC difference it makes just hanging the curtains a little higher and wider?!

Ok, back to our window. We live in a 1920's Craftsman that has a large top floor with three alcoves each of which has a small window. This area is a multi-functional space for us: a guest room, an office and alternate sitting area. The small windows in the main area allow the only natural light into the space. This posed a dilemma because I wanted to add curtains so the space would feel more finished and cozy but I also didn't want to block the little natural light that we have. Another reason I wanted to add curtains is because the guest bed is positioned up against one of the windows in one of the alcoves. Guests not only need privacy but also something at night to block the light streaming in from the street lamps outside.

Here's a before pic of the space which will give you an idea of the size of the window:

See how small the window is? You can also see that there is no privacy for guests and how at night it would be annoying to have the light shining in. I have hemmed and hawed since we bought this house about how to address these windows. Initially I thought I'd do a bamboo or fabric roller shade. But then I realized that they'd have to be custom and could potentially cost a lot. Plus, our upstairs windows open and it is so nice to get fresh air. So if I installed a shade over the top, it might interfere with the ability to open them. I also didn't want to cover the windows up because even though they are small, I think they are pretty and match the style of the house.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago where I was deliberating about doing a large buffalo check curtain in this space. I initially thought I'd get these curtain panels from Target but after shopping around a little more, I finally settled on these curtains from Ballard Designs. I purchased the shortest length (84 inches) thinking that I would have them hemmed.

But, once we (ahem, my husband) followed the aforementioned rule about hanging the curtains higher and wider than the window, it turns out that I didn't need to hem them. They are maybe 3-4 inches longer than they should be BUT, I don't know how long we will be in this house and so I thought that keeping them a standard length would be better in case we take them with us somewhere in the future.

And here's the guest "room" as it currently stands. See how they are hung as high and as wide as the alcove is to make the space feel as big as possible?

The space feels so much more finished and cozy now and I am pleased to say that none of the light from the window is blocked from the curtains. We have very dear friends coming to visit us from Scotland in a couple of weeks and I wanted to make sure that they had a comfortable place to stay. I've still got other things I'd like to do to that space (I've been thinking about some sconces on the wall to add some more light or even mounting some small side tables to free up the limited floor space in that alcove) but for now this is what limited time and budget allows for.

xo, Cameron

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