How High Drapery Panels Should Be Hung

If you’re asking how high drapery panels should be hung – you are not alone! I wrote about how wide your drapery panels should be here, and now I discuss height.

Using some of the images I used on widths, I can also show the difference the height of the panels make. As you can see, below, mounting panels just above the window molding makes the space feel a little stumpy, doesn’t it?

How High Drapery Panels Should Be: Standard Window Heights

Drapery panel double width single window short

Hung higher, the space becomes immediately more elegant and also the ceilings feel higher. Basically, when the panels are hunger higher, they draw the eye upward which makes us think the ceilings are higher. Now, in this illustration, the room has a fairly standard 9′ ceiling height. It’s a little taller than average, but not super high.

Drapery panel double width single window tall

How High Drapery Panels Should Be: Vaulted Ceilings

Linda Merrill window treatment height high vaulted ceiling empty high drapery panels

Here’s an example from a small project I did for a client. Her family room is fairly small (maybe 9′ deep x 14′ wide). In other words, the viewpoint of the camera is pretty much where the wall is. However, the ceiling vaults to about 14 feet high. There is a slider on the right which is nearly full height of that wall, about 7’6″ and there was a smallish window on the left side wall which was right up to the ceiling (not shown). When the client’s renovated this room and the adjacent kitchen, they vaulted this ceiling, but didn’t want to replace the double window.

So, as you can see above, the double window sits pretty low and small in the room. Skipping the window treatments would result in the space feeling fairly stumpy because the eye would only rest at about 6′.

Linda Merrill window treatment height how high drapery panels vaulted ceiling

Below is an example of drapery panels hung at window height.  The added width is nice – making the window appear wider – but the height is still problematic.

Linda Merrill window treatment height high drapery panels vaulted ceiling low drapery

If the same panels are hung about 18″ above the window, it definitely draws the eye up, but the window itself still seems super tiny.

Linda Merrill window treatment height high vaulted ceiling drapery

Which is why bamboo shades (or you could do a fabric roman shade) are mounted just under the rod and down just below the top molding of the window. This allows the most light to come in, but tricks the eye into thinking the window is much larger (and therefor in proportion) to the scale of the room. In the case of these clients, they had not issues of privacy or need for light blocking. The window treatments are used solely to balance the space out and also add some softness and texture to the wall. This is also a much less expensive solution to replacing the window.

Linda Merrill window treatment height how high drapery panels vaulted ceiling drapery bamboo shade

And, a side-by-side comparison. Higher is better, no?

Linda Merrill window treatment height high drapery panels vaulted ceiling side by side

How High Should Panels Should Be: Miscellaneous

Bali blinds how high drapery panels
via Bali Blinds

Above is an promotional photo for Bali Blinds, so of course the blinds are featured. But it would have been nice to see the drapery hung a little higher, no?

Ballard designs Suzanne Kasler Banded Indoor Outdoor high drapery panels

Another promotional shot – this from Ballard Designs and Suzanne Kasler’s product line. I like how the drapery is hung below the half-circles. I hate when they are hung above the circle top windows.


Design Linda Merrill Photo Michael J. Lee. How high drapery panels
Design: Linda Merrill | Photography: Michael J. Lee

And above is my Boston South End project where I split the difference between the window and crown molding. We mounted the sheer romans inside the window frame because we didn’t want to hide the newly refurbished walnut woodwork. BTW, the rod finials were huge – 6″ DIA I think!

We often hear the dictum – hand the drapery panels “high and wide”. I would say this makes sense only after the actual space is taken into account including the architecture and the volume and scale of the space. Even expensive custom treatments will be less costly than fixing the architecture itself!


Blackout Window Treatments

How High Should My Drapery Panels Be Hung?

How Wide Should My Drapery Panels Be?

Window Treatments on Mismatched Window Sizes


8 thoughts on “How High Drapery Panels Should Be Hung”

  1. Hi! Would it also work without the bamboo shades or do you need that to help fill in the space between the rod and the window to make the window appear taller?

    • Hi Dawn – you do need something to fill in the space above the window to give the impression that the window goes higher. It could be a fabric roman shade or bamboo/woven woods type shade. In the case I showed above, the window was so low that it would have looked odd to have just the side panels I think.

  2. Amazing post, Linda! Just what I was looking for. I too have a vaulted ceiling with two windows in my formal living and just the like example picture you used, instead of the slider door, I have another window. I want to use your example of hanging rods and then curtains/drapes, higher on the vaulted ceiling and have some sort of shades to elongate the two windows. Do I mimic the exact height of the rods and the shades on the window on the right too? Thank you!

    • Hi Nazish – I always think consistency is best, so if you have the height above the side windows, then the same height is best. If you don’t have the height, as I didn’t on the image above, then drapery to the height possible is the best you can do.

  3. This is a terrific lesson, you’re so kind to teach it! My first little design job was designing window treatments, measuring, figuring yardage, detailing construction, etc. I learned more in those two years than in the other 30 + I’ve been working. I can tell when the windows haven’t been properly considered or treated, and it breaks my heart for the consumer because I know it costs just as much to do it wrong as right. Drapery/window covering done well can be the best thing that ever happens to a project.

    • Hi Rachel – that’s so true! I’ve seen so many poorly made and designed window treatments that I know cost the clients a lot of money and it’s so frustrating to see that! Thank so much for your comment and input!


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