Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
While not the focal point of a room, curtains do have a major impact on your decor. Picking the right color, length, and width has a bearing on how tidy your living room or bedroom looks. Color, of course, will be largely a personal choice. Length and width are more standard, with a few consistent factors influencing the decision.
A general rule of thumb in determining how wide your curtains should be is to buy them 2 to 2 and a half times the width of your window.
While this piece of practical design knowledge seems straightforward, there are other things to consider before you commit to a width. First, the texture of the curtain will have some bearing on how wide you buy them. Additionally, you should know if you intend to close the curtains or keep them open as a decorative window frame.
Without further ado, let's go over the nuances!
Why Texture Matters
Part of the reason texture is so important to curtain width is that the number supplied in the product description is likely to be the dimensions for when the curtain is laid flat. Since you're not likely to display curtains completely spread out, you'll need to take this into consideration.
Furthermore, the material has a bearing on the overall feel of the curtains. Gauzy window dressings look considerably less substantial than thick, pleated materials. Therefore, you'll need more of the gauzy curtains to give your window design a sense of fullness.
While two times the window size works for the pleated curtains, you may want something closer to two and a half or three times the window width for lacy or gauze curtains.
Decorative vs. Practical
Sometimes you'll use curtains more as accent pieces than a way of keeping the sun out of your room. Since the guidelines for curtain width mainly apply to those intended for practical use, you can cut corners for decorative curtains. This simply means decorative curtains can be as narrow as one and a half times the width of your window.
Of course, keep in mind that texture should affect this measurement, as well. If the lacy curtains you get are too narrow, they'll throw the balance of the entire room off. Make sure your curtains are still able to give off the appearance of fullness.
Finally, if you plan to use your curtains for decoration, you'll want a stylish way to tie them back. Check out our breakdown of the available curtain ties to help make the right choice for your decor.
How Do You Measure A Window For Curtains?
So long as you have a tape measure, this step in the process should be fairly straightforward. Place one end of the tape at the edge of the window's outer frame, and then measure to the other edge.
Using the inner window frame is not recommended, as this can result in getting curtains that look too thin for the room.
For additional help measuring windows, check out this complete guide.
How Much Wider Should Curtains Be Than the Window: Remember The Rule
Now that you have the dimensions of your window, you can do the math to determine the ideal width of your curtains.
For those curtains you intend to use practically, multiply the width of your window by two or two and a half. Decorative curtains, on the other hand, can be as little as one and a half times the width of your window. Readjust as necessary to achieve the look you want.
Common Window Sizes
To simplify the process for you, we've taken the liberty of providing the numbers for some standard window measurements.
How Wide Should Curtains Be For A 72-Inch Window?
Let's say you want standard, thick curtains to cover your 72-inch window. You'll want to look for curtains that measure between 144 and 180 inches wide. Bear in mind that this is the total width to aim for, not the width for each curtain if you intend to have two (one on either side).
If you're interested in a less substantial fabric, you should aim for a width upward of 216 inches.
Finally, if you want something decorative to be left off to the side, you can go as narrow as 108 total inches.
Two of these curtains, for example, would give you a luxurious appearance of fullness.
How Wide Should Curtains Be For A 96-Inch Window?
Following the rule of thumb, curtains for a 96-inch window should range between 192 and 240 inches wide.
To get a fuller look, aim for 288 inches wide. For decorative curtains, you can pick out something as narrow as 144 inches.
For reference, look to these beautiful curtains for the right width to appear full even given their gauzy material.
How Wide Should Curtains Be For A 100-Inch Window?
The average curtain bought to hang on a 100-inch window should measure between 200 and 250 inches wide.
To achieve appropriate fullness with thinner material, get curtains upward of 300 inches wide. For decorative purposes, you can go 150 inches in width.
If you're in the market for curtains to cover your larger windows, consider this simple, effective, and stylish piece.
Tips For Mounting
How you intend to mount your curtains will also have an impact on the width simply because the rod you get must be of complementary length. Make sure you get something wider than your window to accommodate your curtains. You can check out our guide on the different ways to hang curtains for more information.
Of course, knowing where to place your curtain rod has a bit to do with length, as well.
Having a length in mind for your curtains might also affect how wide you decide to go. A cafe length curtain that's too wide will look completely unbalanced, after all.
Of course, for living rooms and bedrooms, you'll most likely be looking for curtains that graze the floor. Luckily, the measurements provided in this article are great for long curtains. Follow the rules we've provided, and you should get the elegant look you want.
To help make your decisions regarding the best type of curtain for your window easier, you can start by reading a quick breakdown of options here.
Before you go, be sure to check out these other curtain posts -