How To Hang Swag Curtains

When interior designers say that you've got swag, they often mean that you've got a scarf drape hanging over your window. Scarf drapes, or swag curtains, are popular ways to add an old-school glamorous touch to your room. Though they look great, swag curtains can be a little tricky to hang up. So, what's the deal with these classic curtains, anyway? A little research revealed a simple answer.

To install swag curtains, you will need to install a rod above your window. Once the rod is installed, find the curtain's rod pocket. Slide the curtain rod through the pocketing and pull the curtain so that you can get it centered. If you do not have a rod pocket, it's best to treat your swag curtain like a curtain scarf and drape it over the rod.

Though they may seem a bit excess compared to other curtain layouts, swag curtains have a strong following. This guide will give you all the details you should know before you install them in your home.

Properly hanged velvet brown and white swag curtains

How Do You Hang A Swag Curtain Without A Rod?

For the most part, the traditional methods of hanging up a swag curtain involves a rod. After all, how can you loop a curtain scarf without having a rod to throw part of the curtain over? As it turns out, there are a couple of ways to hang some swag without a rod involved. Let's take a look at the two most common methods

Using A Pair Of Hooks

Hooks are one of the easiest rod substitutes out there. To use them, just install some large hooks on either end of the window. Then, drape the swag curtains over each hook, pulling the curtain through the hooks. To get the classic sag that swags have, then you will need to just pull the middle of the dip down.

Click here to get curtain hooks from Amazon. 

Using Thumbtacks

Sometimes, landlords won't even allow you to install curtain hooks. If you find yourself in this situation, you may need to get a little crafty. Swag curtains that are made of thinner materials can be held up through the use of thumbtacks. To use thumbtacks, pin the curtains at the high points you want your swag to peak at. 

Unlike most other hanging methods, pinning your swag curtains up actually gives you more freedom to alter the shape of your curtain's dip. This makes it a great pick for people who are big into customization or who have a special idea on layering their curtains.

How Do You Drape Swag Curtains?

Draping swag curtains on a rod is a process that's identical to draping scarf curtains. For this, you are going to need to get a rod installed. Once you have a rod over your window, follow these steps below:

  1. Start by pulling your swag curtain up over the back of the rod, right before the hook supporting the rod. 
  2. Leaving some of the curtain material behind the rod (like, maybe a third of the curtain's length or so), throw the majority of the curtain's material over the rod. 
  3. Bring the length of the curtain over to the other end of the window, and let some of the curtain droop over the center of your window. Hold the curtain material up near the opposite rod hook.
  4. Throw a large portion of the rest of the swag curtain's material over the rod, right after the area where the hook supports the rod. 
  5. Manually adjust the curtain as you see fit. 

Click here to get a luxury curtain rod from Amazon.

What's The Best Material For Swag Curtains? 

This all depends on the look that you want to obtain through installing swag curtains. To make things easier, we're going to take a look at each major type. 

Shiny Opaque Curtains

A purple swag curtain inside a dark living room

If you are going for a bold, decadent look in a large room, shiny and opaque material is the way to go. These types of curtains are often made of velvet or shiny satin. They give you the classic, old-world look that people associate with Hollywood theaters. While they are glamorous, they can block out lots of sun and can be heavy-handed for smaller rooms.

Standard Opaque Curtains

Gorgeous golden floral patterned swag curtains

If you are looking for a style that still adds a traditional flair to a home but doesn't get too heavy-handed, swag curtains made out of an opaque (though not shiny) material is a good look. Much like shiny opaque curtains, you might want to stick to larger, well-lit rooms to keep this modern. Neutral colors, or using the swag as an accent color for your room, is the best way to go here.

Sheer Swag Curtains

People who love the elegantly classic look of swag curtains but need to have extra light shine through their windows should consider a silky, sheer curtain material. Unlike other swag curtain styles, sheer swag curtains can actually help open up a room and give your home a breezy, yet elegant look. This makes them ideal for homes with small dimensions as well as rooms with vaulted ceilings.

Are Swag Curtains Out Of Style?

If you ask most interior design gurus, they'll say that swag curtains are out of style in most situations. The problem with swag curtains is the way that they are often used in designs. They typically come in patterns and materials that are too heavy for modern designs---unless they are done up in a Hollywood maximalist type of way. 

However, there are moments where having swag curtains makes a lot of sense, both stylistically and functionally. If you want to modernize the look of swag curtains, these tips can help you avoid the most common design mistakes:

  • Don't get swag curtains that have fringes or tassels in the end. This tends to make them look like they're from the 1940s.
  • Remember that dark swag curtains tend to look very outdated in most modern homes. 
  • If you want to get swag curtains, remember to layer them with long, sheer curtains that can be parted in a normal manner.
  • Avoid cliche looks at all costs---including paisley curtains, thick velvet, or disco chic swag. 
  • The safest colors to use for a modern swag curtain look are neutrals like white, cream, or tan. 
  • When in doubt, ask for professional window treatment experts' advice.


Love them or hate them, it's clear that swag curtains are here to stay. Though they may be considered outdated, many homes still include them as a posh and stylish accent to a window treatment. It's easy to see why; they're a breeze to install, even if you don't have a curtain rod available for them.

When putting together a look with swag curtains, it's important to choose a hanging method that works for your style as well as the materials around you. This, in and of itself, can be tricky to do if you tend to fall in love with retro stylings. However, it can be done and when it is, it's a gorgeous look. 

Overall, these curtains are a favorite among people who want to install curtains and layered window treatments that don't require too much fuss. Once you give installing swag curtains a try, you'll understand why it's so easy to fall in love with their effortless beauty.

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