Curtain Panels 101: A Go-To Guide

Curtain Panels 101: A Go-To Guide

Click image to see the full ‘after’ photo

Do you love the idea of curtain panels, but don’t know how to start? Do you want to use curtain panels because they soften your view, absorb sound and add decorative finish to your walls? Check out the photo of our Sarasota client’s gorgeous bedroom, post curtain panel installation, and the window panels hints as follows.

Here’s a HOW-TO GUIDE to get started:


(a short curtain rod with an immovable static curtain panel)

  • This solution is ideal to avoid the look of long unusable curtain rods across a great expanse, let alone seeing unsightly brackets at rod Intervals. Best to use one decorative rod and panel at each side of a wide multiple series of windows, or aside multiple wide sliding glass doors.

  • If you are buying pre-made curtains, be aware they are available in 12” increment lengths. (Panel widths are generally 53”-59” wide so don’t be concerned with this.)Therefore pre-made lengths come in approximately 86”, 98”, 110”, 120”.If your ideal length requirement is 116” for example, purchase the 120” length and have a seamstress shorten the panels. It is much better to have the correct curtain length than have a curtain that is 4” too short.

  • Decorative rod lengths are often available at  18”-22”. Determine the ideal rod length so curtain panels aren’t squashed on these short rods. (Avoid an “A” shaped panel squash as well as a too long rod that your fabric panel looks skimpy and narrow.) You can have a tradesman shorten too long decorative rods to your to needs. Test your curtain panel width on a broomstick first, and determine spacing of hidden brackets and distance from window.


  • Use long rods above narrow windows to fool the eye into believing these windows are wider. You can use this look in the same room as decorative panels. They look great together.

  • Use long rods when you want to pull curtains closed (utilitarian) so you may want light blocking to avoid having to add additional shades.

  • Allow a long enough rod length so curtain panels aren’t squashed at the end of the rod. (Avoid an “A” shaped panel squash as well as a too long rod that your fabric panel looks skimpy and narrow.)

  • The extra rod length from each side of window will be 15”-18” depending on the thickness/flow of the curtain panel fabric. Test the fabric width flow on the rod while you’re not up on a ladder and measure how much extra rod length you need at each side of window. Make sure to add the rod bracket width and note the position from the rod end.

  • Moveable curtain panels can be low-tech (manual) or remote. (Do you want to get out of bed to open the curtain panel?) The world is your oyster.

  • You can opt for a contrast or matching fabric covered cornice (a rectangular narrow open bottom box above your window) that hides the top of the curtain panels. This is a very tailored and clean look. Styles and finishes are many, including welting and combo fabrics.


  • Hide your rod bracket supports within the curtain panel edges.

  • You can always add privacy, banded, roller or silhouette shades within the window cavity in addition to your pretty curtain panels.

  • Not all windows need privacy! If you have a gorgeous back-house view, you may just opt for view softening decorative panels. If the front of your house feels like a fish bowl, then the combination of panels and shades, or just shades is ideal.

  • Place the leading curtain panel edge to cover the edge of the window or door. Don’t block the view but hint that the actual window or sliding door is wider than it looks.

  • Curtain Rod position from ceiling:Many of us are blessed with high ceilings (10’-12’) and it’s ideal to give the illusion that they are even higher. For these general height ceilings, rod placement down from moldings or ceiling is about 4”. This will appear to be right at the ceiling and allow for attachment of finials, rods and panels once the brackets are installed.

  • Curtain Panel lengths:If you are custom ordering your curtains (bespoke or made to order) your rods can be positioned as above, and you can have the curtain panels end about 1/2” from the floor.You can opt to have them “puddle”, meaning drape excess fabric, approximately 5”, onto the floor, if they are not in any passageway, and you don’t mind them gathering some dust and fuzz.

  • Have fun and go shopping! Get or order fabric samples that you like, take them home and see what works with your decor and color story.

    If you need help, reach out to us and we can make the process simple and beautiful!