how far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung

How Far Down From The Ceiling Should Drapes Be Hung?

They are the ultimate in luxury window dressing, but how far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung? Hanging new drapes is such an occasional task that I can never remember from one time to the next what the best way to do it is. But when you hang drapes at the right height, it complements the proportions of the room and brings out the best in your new investment. It even improves their insulating and blackout properties too.


How far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung?

Drapes make a big impact on the aesthetic of the room you hang them in. They are made from heavy, luxury materials like silk and velvet, which are efficient at blocking light and also insulate rooms from heat loss through the windows. Curtains are lighter, and generally a more popular choice at the moment. But nothing rivals drapes for adding drama, elegance, or intimacy to a room.

Beside coming in luxury fabrics and often bold colors or patterns, drapes are sometimes paired with swags, a valance or a pelmet box at the top to finish the look. This means they’re inevitably a dominant design feature in any room in any room in which they’re hung. So hanging them at the right height isn’t a silly matter. If you hang them at a height which looks awkward or out of proportion with the room, it’s going to be noticeable. ‘How far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung?’ is a really good question in fact!

how far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung

How far from the ceiling should you hang the drapes?

There isn’t a fixed number of inches below the ceiling at which to hang your drapes. The ideal distance depends on:

  • the ceiling height
  • window size and height
  • the purpose of the drapes
  • and extra details like swags, pelmet boxes and valances.

Ceiling height

The standard ceiling height for new build homes today is about 9 feet. Back in the 1970s and 80s it was 8 feet. And for some lucky residents of pre-WW2 houses and apartments, it was 10 feet or more!

If your ceiling is relatively low you might not have much wiggle room for how high you hang your drapes. Hanging them as high as possible can help create an overall illusion of height in the room, and ‘correct’ its proportions.

In a room with high ceilings, hanging your drapes close to the ceiling can create an exaggerated sense of drama. But watch out they don’t get so big that they become too heavy to move! If in doubt, follow this rule of thumb:

  • For ceiling heights under 10 feet, hang drapes 3-6 inches above the window.
  • For ceiling heights over 10 feet, hang drapes 8 inches above the window.

Window size and height

No matter what the height of the ceilings, hanging drapes very high will look peculiar and unbalanced if the window is small! In some cases, windows might also be so high that there isn’t a lot of choice about how far down from the ceiling the drapes hang. They just go where they fit!

If you’re not sure what height would look best for your drapes, rope in a couple of volunteers, and get them to hold a bed sheet up to the window, so you can get a feel for different options will look.


Are your drapes just there to look good, or do you need them to block as much light as possible so you can use the room to sleep or watch movies during the day? Hanging your drapes closer to the ceiling (or even flush with the ceiling) will block more light than hanging them lower down.

Extra details

Swags, valances and pelmets aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want to use them to conceal the top of the drapes, you need to factor the length of them into the overall height of the drapes too. It’s a rookie error to hang drapes so low that the pelmet blocks some of the light when it is installed!

How far down from the ceiling should drapes be hung to make a room look bigger?

Hanging drapes closer to your ceiling than your window can create the illusion of more height in a room. Another trick to make your windows appear bigger and brighter is installing curtain rods 8-12 inches wider than your window. So that when the drapes are pushed right open, they reveal the whole window, not just the center. The few additional inches might cost more coins, but they are worth it.

What about the length of the drapes?

The length of your drapes from the floor will also affect the feel of the room. Some homeowners prefer their drapes to touch the floor, while others want some inches between the floor and the drapes. Long drapes trail onto the floor tiles, creating a romantic feel. But they get dirty faster because of sweeping the floor every time you open and close them. This is an especially successful look in bedrooms, since upstairs floors don’t tend to get as dirty anyway.

For a more modern look, cut drapes to hang an inch above the floor. They will hang in sharp vertical lines all the way down, creating a classy look that fits well in spaces like living and dining rooms. The length is also ideal if you don’t want to clean your drapes often.

For windows over a radiator, consider short drapes which finish above the radiator, so they don’t block the heat from getting into the room.

Other factors to consider when installing drapes

Drapes add a luxury feel and exciting details to windows. Don’t be embarrassed to be picky over your drapes to create the best effect. This list of factors to consider when installing these window treatments in your home will make work easier.

  • Your overall aesthetic
  • Fabric choice
  • Are sheers necessary?

Consider your Home’s Interior Design

Think about how your drapes are going to fit in with design elements you already have. If you’re not feeling confident, pick another color you like in the room and use it for your drapes too. If your room is a blank canvas at the moment, you could start by choosing drapes you love, and then picking other details to match them. Or, just choose something you love. If everything in your home follows the theme of being completely beautiful to you, then you will always be happy to be there!

Fabric Matters

Drapes can offer energy efficiency benefits like reduced energy bills if they are heavy enough. The drapes we inherited with our current home are barely less than quilts hung at the windows. Heavy fabrics like these block drafts and control room temperatures, and they save us a small fortune heating our 1920s property in winter. Besides, a quality fabric will last longer, saving you the cost of replacing them for as long as possible.

Are Sheers Necessary?

Drape materials are heavy. If you only have drapes at a window, you can block all of the light coming through it by pulling them, or block none of it by having them open. Adding sheers in addition to your drapes gives a middle ground, where you can let in light but still maintain privacy and block intense sun glare.

How Far Down from the Ceiling Should Drapes be Hung? Summary

So, how far down from the ceiling your drapes should hang depends on the wall height, window size and position, and the look you want to create. If in doubt and your room’s ceiling is less than 10 feet high, hang your drapes 3-6 inches above the window frame. If your rooms have ceilings over 10 feet, hang the drapes 8 inches above the window frame to maintain a sense of proportion.

More Help with Window Dressing


Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute.

United State Environmental Protection Agency

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