When a person goes to hang a pair of curtains or drapes, they will most likely attach a bracket to the outside edge of the molding that frames the window, attach the rod, hang the curtains or drapes, and call it a day. There has always been one problem with hanging window treatments that way…When you go to open them, only the center portion of the glass or window is exposed. The drapery fabric has no place to go. (see illustration 1-A).
Stack Back …Stack Back is achieved when you mount your drapery rod, not on the molding that surrounds your window, but out on the wall. If you position your rod in this fashion, every time you go to open your curtains/drapes, the fabric panels will Stack Back onto the wall, exposing all of the window.
Calculating how far out onto the wall to mount your rod, for stack back, is easy.
Step One …Measure the width from the outside left to the outside right of your window frame. (see illustration 1-B). No difference if the window is a bow, picture, multiple casement, or double hung.
Step Two …Take that measurement and figure out what 25% to 30% of it is.
Step Three …Take that number of inches you have come up with, which make up the 25 to 30%, and divide that number in half. That numbers is the distance out from the outer edge of the molding, around your window frame, to mount your drapery hardware. (see illustration 1-B).
Example Calculation …A 100 inch long picture window, divided by 4 (for 25%) equals 25 inches. Twenty Five inches, divided by 2 equals 12 1/2 inches. 12 1/2 inches is how far out on each side to extend your rod.
If you have a corner window, sliding glass or patio door, you might want to stack back all of your drapery fabric on one side. There are right pull and left pull traverse rods. Vertical blinds also pull back from the left or right.
Hanging Drapes to Suggest Height in a room (Vertical Tension) …Now that you know how to Stack Back your curtains and drapes, the next thing to think about is hanging them, so you suggest height in a room. Most people mount the rod at the exact top of the molding that surrounds the window. The drapes hang down from that point. When the eye looks at the draped window, it thinks the top line of the drapes is the height of the ceiling, not the ceiling itself. By mounting the rod, above the window, or as close as possible to the ceiling, or just below any kind of decorative molding, you are giving the illusion the window is taller, and it even gives the room a feel of height it does not possess. (see illustrations 1-C and 1-D).
Look at the difference between a drape hung at the top of the window frame, and one hung at ceiling height. The one hung at ceiling height makes you think the room is taller. If you are paying extra money to have taller ceilings, than the standard 8 foot, why would you want to mount your drapes to counteract the look you paid extra money for?
Hanging Valances …A Valance is a short drapery used as a decorative heading to conceal the top of curtain/drapery hardware. When hanging a valance over a window, hang it high! Position it above the window, so just the bottom edge of the valance covers completely the top piece of window molding and sash that holds the top of your window pane. (see illustration 2-A). I have been to homes, where valances were hung from the tops of window frames. The valance fabric was in your face, blocking your view outside.
Calculating how much drapery/curtain width is needed to properly cover a window …It is said “Drapes should look like Ball Gowns hung on a window”. What that statement is really saying is “Drapes should be full and voluminous of fabric, never skimpy things stretched across a window”.
It’s easy to calculate the amount of inches of curtain/drapery width you will need to properly cover a window.
Step One …The first thing to consider is how far out from the wall the rod extends, which is also called Return. This measurement could be 3,4,5,6 inches or more, with a combination traverse and valance rod. What ever that number is, multiple it by two. (for Right and Left Return).
Step Two …If you are using a traverse rod (opens and closes by pulling a cord) there is a Center Overlap of 4 inches. Notice how one drapery panel passes in front of the other in the center, when they meet.
So if your rod extends out (return) 4 inches from the wall on each side, that measurement is 4 X 2 = 8 inches. If the center overlap is 4 inches, Between the Right and Left Return, and Center Overlap, you have 12 inches. Now add the 12 inches to the length of your rod, hung on the wall for stack back. That is the minimal amount of drapery width you will need to properly cover the sides and front of the rod. (see illustration 2-B).
If a person is having custom-made curtains or drapes, someone will come in and take measurements. You will get exactly how much drapery is needed, no more, no less. If you don’t elect to have custom-made window treatments, you can put together multiples of different sizes of pre-made drapery panels to get proper window coverage. In my living room, I have 17 feet of window to cover. I have three panels joined together on one side, and three panels on the other side. You can sew or pin, in spots, the panels to make one piece of drapery fabric.
If you are going to hand drapes, just to frame a window, not to be opened and closed, don’t just put one panel on each side. Hand up two panels on each side for fullness.
There are many right ways to hang curtains and drapes, and one wrong way. Illustration 2-C shows how curtains are hung on a pair of double hung windows. In this case, the curtains are not hung up by the ceiling. They are hung on the wall, just above the molding that surrounds the window. They extend down, just below the window to cover the lower part of the molding that surrounds the window. This kind of window treatment is not fussy, and would look great in a boy’s bedroom.
Illustration 2-D shows drapes framing a pair of casement windows. They start up by the ceiling and extend downward, stopping an inch or two above the carpeting or floor. If you have any kind of heating element below a window, never block it. Have your drapes hang 2 to 3 inches above any kind of baseboard, hot-air heat vent, or radiator.
Illustration 2-E shows drapes puddling onto the floor. To achieve this elegant/formal look, buy drapes 12 inches longer than necessary. Arrange the extra fabric on the floor in a billowing way. This look would work best, if it just frames a window. Some kind of shade, blind, etc. would provide privacy and light control.
Illustration 2-F shows the one wrong way of hanging a curtain or drape. It is the unattractive three quarter window treatment. It is not long enough to be a drape, and not short enough to be a curtain. Its panels just hang there mid-wall. Many people have this window treatment no-no in their homes. My advice to you is go Long or Short, never mid-way.
So now you know a few things about hanging drapes and curtains. Hopefully this post will Let the Sunshine in, help with Air Movement, and Optimize your View outside.
For more information read my July 15, 2012 companion post to this article, it is titled Hanging Valances, Curtains and Drapes on Different kinds of Windows click here.
Companion Posts …The Right height of a Table Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011 ,Pick (Use) four colors when decorating a Room 3-7-2011, Looking at Patterns used on Upholstery Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012, Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012