Katrina & Co

How To Dress Your Windows Like A Designer

by  Katrina Morris

Dressing your windows is a make-or-break design element in any room. I can't tell you how many homes I go into and the homeowners/clients are making the same mistakes. When curtains are hung correctly, they give the illusion of height in a room, visually widen a window, and let in huge amounts of light. This post breaks down the rules for how to dress your windows like a designer. Follow each step and you will be on a path to curtain hanging victory!

If you don't want to do this on your own I recommend hiring a designer to make sure there are no mistakes. If you are local to Wilmington NC I am available in person to assist or nationwide I offer virtual design consultations with 1:1 video chat. Click here if either of these options are of interest to you.

Hottest Trends and How To Dress Your Windows Like a Designer

As for curtains, white and neutral are always in style. Texture is also very big, with linen being at the top of that list. If you are in a coastal climate like I am fabrics such as cotton, canvas and duck are great due to their heavier weight. Especially for covered outdoor spaces most can be washed. They are also versatile with the changing seasons.

We just moved from Virginia to North Carolina and below is my living room dressed for fall. For that house I opted for white heavy cotton drapes, with a tortoise roman shade to add texture. My rod was a french return oil-rubbed bronze finish. I was able to bring those same drapes and use them in our beach rental cottage here on the coast.

designer hanging white curtains with wood roman shades


white curtains with wood roman shade in katrina and co neutral living room

Popular Options to Consider

  • Do you want to add privacy or just aesthetic?

  • Rod finishes

  • Trim choices

  • Wood roman shades VS. fabric roman shades

  • Plantation shutters

Rod Finishes

  • Brushed (aged) brass

  • Brushed nickel

  • Gunmetal

  • Oil-rubbed bronze

  • Black (timeless)

  • French return is HOT right now

  • 3/4 up to 1.5 inches is enough with a simple ball or end cap to finish a standard rod

Trade Secret: Add Trim

By adding a simple trim you can dress up an otherwise plain fabric. It's also an inexpensive upgrade to store-bought panels. Simply lay your panels flat and hot glue the trim in place. You can also use a product called stitch witchery I've used this product many times and it's amazing! This is a trade secret for dressing your windows like a designer.

hang your curtains like a designer with blue trim

Adding trim is a time to have fun. A fun pop of color or pattern can take them from store bought to fully custom in a matter of minutes. If you are nervous about adding trim I would suggest a more subtle option. You can NEVER go wrong with tone on tone. It adds a timeless and classic sophistication.

Roman Shades

Roman Shades are in high demand. They add privacy without taking up floor space and are a sophisticated option for any style.

Most common rooms for roman shades:

  • Kitchen
  • Foyer
  • Bathroom
  • Bedrooms

Roman shades add a soft visual break in the room. They are also great for adding texture. Tortoise shell and woven shades are classic options.

striped roman shades hanging in blue dining room for how to dress your windows like a designer


Photo courtesy of Bria Hammel Interiors

What Is The Proper Way To Hang Curtains?

Length: For standard 8 to 9 foot ceilings, measure from the top of the window trim to the ceiling and then divide by two. This is where the rod should hang. For ceilings higher than 9 feet, measure 4 to 6 inches above the top of the trim. Your rod should be hung there. This draws the eye upward and adds visual height. Make a pencil mark.

Next, measure from the floor up to where you plan on hanging the rod (your pencil mark), then round up to the closest panel size. It’s better to have to hem them if too long than have curtains that are too short — fashionably referred to as high waters! If you want to hem them you can take them to a local seamstress or stop in your local craft store and buy more stitch witchery. It's as easy as heating up the iron! Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Furthermore, curtains should just hit the floor or hover above no more than a half-inch above the shoe molding, for a crisp, classic look. If you want a more casual look, let the drapes flow down just past the floor 2 to 3 inches. if the are stiff lined panels its best to have them hanging right off the floor.

Width: measure 3"-8" from the outside trim.

If you plan on closing your curtains, choose two ready-made (store bought) panels to flank each side of the window.  However, for custom curtains, measure two-and-a-half times the width of your window. If you only want to frame the window, one panel for a standard size will work. For custom panels choose one-and-a-half-times the width.

Measure Twice! You don't want to make a mistake here.

Drapery sizing guide to dress your windows like a designer

Shopping Guide: How to Dress Your Windows Like a Designer

Here are some steadfast rules to follow when shopping for window treatments.

  • Measure before you go. Having a measurement of the windows will make it a lot smoother and quicker process. Measure outside trim to outside trim and width by height of the window. Measure your ceiling height.

  • Learn the lingo. You need to learn the design terms before venturing out. (drapes, rod pocket, pleats, grommets, pattern repeat, etc.)

  • Get inspiration. Pinterest, blogs, websites, and magazines are great sources of inspiration. This helps your designer or sales associate narrow down your style.

  • Figure out your budget. There is nothing worse than falling in love with something then finding it’s above what you can afford.

  • Go to a specialty shop first. Just because they are locally owned and offer custom designs doesn't mean they are out of your budget. Most shops carry different lines for all budgets. Remember, they are the experts!

Follow my simple steps dress your windows right the FIRST TIME!

Dress Your Windows Like A Designer with white and blue living room


Specialty Shops 101

As much as I love saving money shopping at retail chains there is something to be said for businesses that specialize in a certain field of design. Stores like Target, and Bed Bath and Beyond sell amazing curtain options. There is ONE HUGE problem... they are ALL sold at an 84-inch length! This is a MAJOR PET PEEVE of mine. Especially because 99% of homes that want a designer look can't use that length. Who decided this was the industry standard? The good news is that most of these stores carry longer options online. If you want to save some money and go with 84 inches then you have to throw most of the above rules OUT! Another reason to go to a local specialty shop first! The experts are there to guide you! I have made a list of what to look for in a quality design shop.

Rules I live by when visiting a local shop:

  • Do they greet you with a smile when you walk in? You want to have a good experience.

  • Do they seem customer friendly? You are spending the money.

  • Is the atmosphere and vibe welcoming? If you aren't comfortable, walk away.

  • Do they offer you options based on your budget and needs? If not, walk away.

You are the customer and deserve the best treatment. However, it's also your responsibility to treat the associates with respect and trust their process. Mutual respect from both parties will ensure a successful project!

Remember this, "It's better to have one room with fabulous curtains than a house full of wrong ones!"

It takes time to make a house a home. Enjoy the process.  Now go save the world one window at a time! You have what it takes to dress your windows like a designer.


  1. Chadmade Linen drape w/ blackout lining
  2. HDP White Plush Velvet curtain
  3. TwoPages Triple Pinch Pleated Unlined Linen Curtain
  4. HDP Eden Green Plush Velvet 
  5. HDP Avelon Blue Plush Velvet
  6. Stefana Silber Pinch Pleat Pattern Panel



  1. Ivilon curtain rod in warm gold
  2. Umbre Venus Modern 1" rod with marble finial
  3. Umbre black and wood rod
  4. Augosta heavy duty rod
  5. Umbre Cappa stainless steel
  6. Amazon basics room darkening rod


Best luxury curtains from Amazon





2 comments on “How To Dress Your Windows Like A Designer”

  1. I discovered Amazon for curtains recently and I love them! The ones I purchased are the HPD Half Price Draperies Heavy Linen. They look and feel custom but not the price! Thanks for the great information on how to get the custom look!

    1. You are so welcome, so glad you found it helpful! I love that you are one step ahead in purchasing these drapes.

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