How To Hang Curtains On A Narrow Window

Curtains have always been invaluable to interior design because they occupy so much space and command attention. But smaller windows are unconventional, so they can be tricky to dress. Sometimes, curtains just don’t seem to fit narrow windows, disrupting the flow of your room. So, it’s important to understand just how to dress your narrow windows. We have carefully researched the best way to hang curtains on a smaller window and ideal treatment alternatives.

The best way to hang curtains on a narrow window is to make the window appear larger than it actually is. Achieve this by installing your curtain rod appropriately: hang the rod higher to make the window seem taller or extend the rod past the window's sides to make it appear wider. While there are smaller-sized curtains available, you can also get creative with window treatments for narrow windows, such as:

  • Use a single curtain panel.
  • Top the window with a valance.
  • Use shutters, blinds, and other shades.

Although it might take some work to install a new curtain rod, it will definitely be worth your time. Creating a sense of consistency will make your room feel more cozy and organized. Besides, curtains also represent your personal sense of style. Keep reading to learn more about hanging your curtains on a narrow window and how to get crafty with those window treatments!

Narrow kitchen with window and modern, gray furniture, How To Hang Curtains On A Narrow Window

What curtains to use for small windows?

There are actually curtains specifically designed for smaller windows. However, the two most popular choices are meant for smaller house areas: cafe curtains for the kitchen or dining areas and bathroom curtains. You can also hang only one curtain panel, a valance, or create a larger window visual effect using standard-sized curtains.

Stay Small With Cafe Curtains or Bathroom Curtains

Click here to find these café curtains on Amazon.

Café curtains are made for the bottom half of a kitchen window. Basically, they can provide the middle ground between privacy and natural light flow. Café curtains are typically used for a vintage appeal. Unfortunately, they are deliberately made with smaller panels. This means that your narrow windows will appear even smaller. You can check out "How to Measure for Cafe Curtains."

We can say the same for bathroom curtains, designed for a snug fit inside the window's trim. Although both café curtains and bathroom curtains will look tidy with your narrow windows, it will visually shrink them. So, if you’re going to use these two curtain styles, be sure that they will blend with the rest of the room.

Hang One Curtain Panel

Curtains are usually sold in pairs, with one panel used for each side of a window. However, if your window is too narrow, it’s possible to use a single curtain panel instead. This looks best when you tie up the curtain panel and hang the tied area just beside the window. It may seem strange, but this tactic will certainly work for windows that are oddly positioned. For example, some small windows are just too close to a wall for a traditional pair of curtain panels.

Hang A Valance

Click here to see this valance on Amazon.

Valances are visually interesting, pretty, and small. They are a short drape that hangs from the top of a window. The traditional curves on the trim are unique and feel cozy. Valances can also make your window appear a little taller. They are available in folded or pleated designs to fit with any style. In fact, valances are often combined with other window treatments.

Magnify the Window With Standard-sized Curtains

Interior of a huge contemporary living room with pink walls, gray curtains on the huge window, and pink beddings with a light gray carpet underneath

The best curtains for your narrow windows will be tall and wide. Some curtains are designed to pool onto the floor itself. Others reach from the ceiling to the floor altogether. These are the ideal options, instead of traditional curtains that sit on the window sill.

Click here to see these pooling curtains on Amazon.

In fact, you can also make the curtains themselves appear taller and wider. Just use curtains with vertical patterns. This produces the same effect as the curtains. Vertical patterns will draw your eyes upward and make the curtains appear taller than they are. 

Best Window Treatments for Narrow Windows

Narrow kitchen with window and modern, gray furniture, How To Hang Curtains On A Narrow Window

Other types of shades, blinds, and window treatments can help you dress a narrow window while easily managing the natural light flow and privacy.

Window Blinds

Click here to find these bamboo window blinds on Amazon.

You can install subtle bamboo blinds that hang farther above the window or extend past the natural width. True, traditional blinds are set inside the frame. But some blinds can be mounted outside the window to produce the same effects as a large curtain.

Privacy Film

Click here to see this decorative privacy film on Amazon.

You can cover a narrow window with privacy film. Privacy film is often used to frost windows. It creates a reflective effect from the outside while maintaining your view from the inside. But surprisingly enough, privacy film can also be very decorative. This film will tint natural lighting and soften the effects of tiny windows.

Window Grilles

Click here to check out this window grille on Amazon.

Similar to the privacy film, window grilles are an efficient and ornate alternative to curtains. Window grilles are aesthetic patterns that fit inside the window frame. It won’t make your narrow window appear larger, but it doesn’t have to.

The decorative options alone can make your small windows feel like a deliberate addition to your room. There are window grilles with all manner of shapes and sizes. Even thin designs will provide shade and some privacy.

How do you make a narrow window look wider?

The best way to make a narrow window look wider is to install the curtain rod properly. Traditional curtain rods involve brackets and screws, so they will require some basic tools to install.

You should have a screwdriver or power drill on hand. Also, grab a pencil so you can mark the wall before you commit. A carpenter’s level will also keep the rod parallel with the window's trim. A measuring tape will be necessary to size everything properly. And if the window is high up, you’ll naturally need a ladder, too.

Click here to shop for this decorative curtain rod on Amazon.

If possible, you might be able to use a tension rod for your narrow window. A tension rod will save you loads of installation trouble, including troublesome tools. Tension rods fit between two flat, vertical surfaces. These rods stay in place using an interior spring that will push in both directions. However, if the surfaces on either side of the window aren’t distant enough, you won’t make your window appear wider.

How far should a curtain rod extend past the window?

To make a narrow window look larger, you’ll need to extend your curtain rod more than usual. Traditionally, curtain rods extend around three to four inches beyond the window's width. They also typically hang about four to six inches above the top of the window. You’ll need to increase both of these measurements for a smaller window.

A curtain rod can successfully extend around six to ten inches past the window’s true width on either side. This may seem strange, but the right curtain fabric and design will help fool your eyes in the best way. The height of your curtain rod is the most subjective measurement. Ceiling height best determines the curtain rod's height.

Check out "Standard Curtain Rod Lengths."


While dressing a narrow window can get slightly complicated, smaller windows still have plenty to offer. They can tie a room together with decorative window treatments or blend right in with larger curtains. Now that you know how to dress up your small windows, it’s time to get creative and show off your own style!

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