When it comes to hanging curtains, I am as amateur as anyone can get. But I know what I want to see when they are hung, so I have hung all the curtains in my home.

This project is a re-do (Before and After), and as I’m moving away from the usual how-to to a “this is what I learned from what I did” format, supplies won’t be listed here. (Comment below to request supplies bought).

Hanging curtains can really transform a blah wall with windows into something stylish or just complement the rest of the room.  It doesn’t beat paint, though. Paint is the cheapest  way to renovate a room. This project all together was approximately $180, even though I reused some rods. A gallon of paint rarely gets about $50, and most times can cover the walls of a small room.

However, I find that 1) without curtains, windows look “undressed” and 2) at certain times of day or in certain rooms, window light needs to be filtered or blocked. This project is for a bedroom, so I need a way to filter light or block it to help aid sleep.

Before starting: Know Curtain terminology

Sheer: a curtain that is made of sheer, see-through fabric

Drape: synonym for a curtain, because you want a curtain to drape over a window. However, curtains that are specifically called drapes are usually heavy and used in bigger rooms like living rooms and halls, and are hung in specific ways.

Valance: shorter piece of fabric that is hung over  a curtain or sheer or between a pair of curtains. Usually it hides the hardware and/or  creates a layering effect. These come in different cuts to achieve different looks–scarf, tailored, scalloped, etc.

Rod: a metal or wooden piece that holds a curtain in place.

Brackets: pieces that go with a rod to help support a rod and attach a rod to the wall.

Finial: a decorative piece that goes on the end of a decorative rod

Panel: 1 curtain, drape, or sheer. Most of the time you need 2 curtain panels  to frame a window.  To find out how many panels you need consult instructions on curtain and your use of the curtain.

Rod-pocket, Grommet-top, Pleated, (etc.)–these are ways a panel is made on top for  various hanging methods. You determine the type you want by what kind of look you want, what you may need to hide, and window measurements.


The color scheme in this room was initially fall colors, so the valances worked well here. My initial vision was to create the illusion of bigger windows, because the windows are off- center from the wall. (On the outside, the window placement makes sense, but not on the inside.) Also as part of the illusion, the sheer is the same color as the wall, so it all looks like covered window. These are standard 84″ length curtains.

The Process

I did several measurements  before taking down curtains to determine what length curtains I wanted and how far I wanted to extend them along the wall. I also needed to decide how I wanted to hang the curtains which helped me choose panel type and rod type.

Lesson Learned: If you already have curtains up, measure before you take down curtains AND after.  For me, I needed a visual of the measurements, so I can envision a comparison between old dimensions and new ones. Also, I could cheat a little on the measuring, because I already knew what size curtains I have up there. Lesson Learned: Know where your studs are in your wall.  Don’t hang heavy curtains on rods that aren’t screwed into brackets on studs.  Adjust measurements if necessary to accommodate for this distance.

Design and color choice come from the room colors and curtain fabric types. This is why I took pictures of my room colors and a fabric expert with me when I went shopping.  I love JCPenney when it comes to window treatments, specifically curtains. They have a wide variety, and although they have cut out a lot of their “showroom,” most stores still have a good selection and a design help desk to help you decide.

Lesson Learned: It’s best to pick out curtains by actually looking at fabric swatches. I made choices from JCP’s website only to look at them in the store and find out they weren’t the right style or shade for the room. Match colors in person if possible, use designers/department associates to help, or check return policies before buying to make sure you can return easily if needed .


Before I hung the curtains, I filled the holes from where the other curtains were, just in case you could see the wall through the sheers. Also, it’s easier to do this now while you are here than later. If you are putting a rod in an area without  a stud, use a wall anchor. If you’re going to layer window treatments, a double or triple rod can be effective.  If you can’t afford that, make sure your outer rod clears your inner rod. Longer rods need support brackets in the middle. Lesson Learned: Make sure  your measurements include ceiling clearance, width of rod pocket, width of rods, etc. Know your curtains, and the look you want before putting in hardware. Here, my hardware is a little too high for the nice little fringe above the rod pocket.

Iron out wrinkles and folded creases before hanging curtains. You can also put sheers in a dryer to release wrinkles. Don’t use wrinkle release sprays without testing them on the curtain for colorfastness.

Curtains are usually layered with sheers closest to windows, then curtains or drapes over sheers, then valances over curtains or beside/between curtains. Depending on what look you want, you can use any combination or all of these. Before, I used all 3 with valences and curtains beside each other (on the same rod). Here, I’m just going to use sheers and curtains.


  • Decorative rods with finials are trending high right now. You can dress up any curtain with a decorative rod and an interesting finial. This can cut down on cost of re-doing the whole ensemble.
  • Hanging curtains higher (almost from the ceiling) has been a trend for a while, even though the industry that makes them has not caught up. A standard floor length curtain is still 84″ and on most windows, you hang them  from the top of the window. These are 95″ (a standard taller size) and cost $20 more per panel for each curtain. The sheers were a few dollars more as well. But even more of an issue is that the 95″ were not stocked as much as the 84″.
  • Various designs, colors, and even DIY curtains are now the norm, so you can create any kind of vibe you want without having to go the custom route. Ombre curtains were the biggest design trend a few years ago, (and I think still are) and can easily be done with some dye and pieces of fabric or plain  white curtains. You don’t have to feel like you’re at your grandma’s house anymore just because you hung curtains!



*This post is not advertisement or solicitation for JCPenney. This is just my opinion about  their window treatment offerings and products. I was not paid or given free products to endorse JCPenney.


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