How to measure living room curtains

Curtains are an easy way to change the look of any room, but measuring for curtains can be a little more complex than with other window treatments. Curtains usually hang down in front of the windows, so they serve as insulation during winter.

They are also helpful when it comes to the summer season because they deflect hot sun rays that enter your house through windows. So making them requires some thinking but is not very complicated once you know how to do it properly.

How to measure living room curtains, Zazzy Home

To help you on your way, we’ve created this quick and easy guide on how to measure living room curtains that will consider all the relevant measurements needed to order new ones for yourself or even friends and family members.

Measurements needed:

– Width – this depends on how wide and tall your bay windows (if you have one) and windows themselves are; the wider and taller the window, the longer curtain should be;

– Length – while you can choose length depending on what looks best in your room, longer curtains are better for tall windows, whereas shorter curtains fit best in small rooms.

When to take measurements: before buying anything!

– Measure the length of curtain rods you have. They could be already installed or not. If they are not, measure them carefully, making sure no space is left between the ends; once again, do not forget about bay windows when measuring because their length needs to match with the width of window panes;

Now find out how many panels you want to see here – Best way would be to barely open your current curtains and place a ruler at their top hem, considering that the number of panels should equal the number of curtain rods.

How big should each panel be?

For standard living room size (about 12ft x 8 ft), panels should be around 40 inches wide, and the standard window height (from top to floor) is 34 inches. If you want more privacy due to the close proximity of your neighbors, for example, adjust the size of curtains accordingly;

– You can also measure windows yourself, especially if they are not standard in size. Sit on a chair right in front of it and measure along the bottom edge from one corner to another (if there are no rods yet, use masking tape).

How to measure living room curtains, Zazzy Home

Then measure across the lowest part of windowpane at about center height (between inside edges of curtain rods). Do it twice – record a small number first, then add 1 inch for seam allowance later. This will provide you with the measurements needed for each side of the window.

Measure width of panels:

– Measure each panel from edge to edge (seam allowance included) and multiply this number by two if you buy double curtain rods or add 1 inch to measurements for a single curtain rod. This is the total width of one panel;

Now divide it with the number of rows needed across the windows to get each panel’s length – do not forget about seam allowance again!

For example, total length for 3 panels would be 12ft divided by three which equals 4ft 11 inches and then add 16 inches for every panel (3 * 16 = 48 + 2 * 1 = 50). So each panel should be 49 inches long

Assemble curtains:

– There are many ways to attach curtains to a pole, but the most popular option is using curtain rings because they are less visible than other types of fasteners. This way, you also secure panels on one side only, which looks more effective when all three are identical in size;

– Another trick is to pull your curtains up even with rods and then hang them back down, so there is no space between them and the floor at all. Just make sure the fabric falls evenly between two rods without any folds or lumps;

Curtains for large windows:

– If your bay windows are very long, you can use extra length provided by their adjoining walls, just like in this picture. You can place panels across the middle of window panes (like shown here ) or simply run curtains across the window panes adding blocks of fabric in one part to make your window look wider.

– Extra-large windows can easily be decorated with floor-length curtains like these. It is best if curtains are slightly gathered, so they do not hang limply and look too heavy for such a massive surface;

How to measure living room curtains, Zazzy Home

– Another variation would be to add decorative panels (or even several), suspending them from curtain rods which you use only on certain parts of the bay window panes. This way, you will create an optically effective illusion that your bay windows go on much further than they do;

Curtains for small rooms:

– Set two panels aside and take one out. Take its measurements (width and length) and add 1inch to both numbers. This will be your standard panel size for small rooms, so they look bigger.

– Single curtain rods also work well in small spaces because they visually enlarge a room by bringing curtains slightly closer to each other;

– For really tiny windows (if the width is less than 3ft, you can’t hang even one panel across the window), do not forget about skylights and smaller windowpanes like in this picture. Just add cornice (and valance if needed) all around the window and make sure it looks proportional;

And there we go, measuring for new curtains may seem like a bit job, but it’s essential to get it right as it is something you’ll be living with for a long time!


Claire is a blogger, writer, and designer with a passion for making the most out of any space. She's worked in interior design and maintenance for over a decade, and has learned how to make the most of even the smallest room. Claire shares her expertise, where she offers tips and tricks for creating beautiful, functional spaces on any budget. When she's not blogging or designing, Claire enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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