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The big curtain mistake Emily Henderson warns against

Jun 07, 2024

The HGTV star says this is one of the biggest decoration errors we can make – but the solution is simple

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The debate of how to hang a curtain correctly is one that has divided designers through the decades – but if we're going to take anybody's advice – it would be Emily Henderson's.

The HGTV personality (who won their competition Design Star in 2010 before hosting Secrets From a Stylist) is a globally recognized force, with a New York Times bestselling book and an eponymous style empire under her belt. Emily shared a list of decoration mistakes to avoid, whether you're renovating your entire home or simply making a small (yet impactful change) – and naturally – curtains were at the top of Emily's agenda.

While there are several curtain mistakes to avoid, Emily Henderson says that choosing the incorrect length is the most impactful of them all.

'High water curtains can make a room look a little silly, but most big box stores only stock certain length readymade curtains (84 inches is almost always too short),' Emily says in her blog. So, how long should curtains be?

A post shared by Emily Henderson (@em_henderson)

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Instead of opting for 84-inch curtains, Emily recommends sizing up to 90-96 inches which usually works well for 8-9 foot ceilings.

In many cases, this measurement hangs long enough to touch (or float just above) the floor. The designer adds that you should place your curtain rod near the ceiling or around halfway between the window and ceiling, but not at the top of the window. 'Always try to get as close to the floor as you can,' Emily says.

In a similar post, the designer emphasizes the importance of knowing how to install curtain rods correctly – saying that many decorators mistakenly buy one that isn't wide enough on both sides of the window. In this case, 'your curtains are forced to be hanging partially in your window, blocking light and making the window look smaller' – and consequently making your room feel smaller.

Instead, if space allows, Emily says you should extend the rod at least 6-10″ on either side of the window frame. This will ensure you can see the entire window when your curtains are open.

Angela Boswell, the founder of the drape, agrees. She, too, mirrors Emily's sentiments regarding many store-bought curtains – saying that many homes often accept that curtains are the wrong length – creating an 'awkward stopping place somewhere between the window and the floor.'

To avoid a mismeasured look, Angela recommends measuring from where the rod will be, not the top of the window – a tip that will work particularly well if you size up, per Emily's suggestion. We're officially rushing to give our window dressings the upgrade our home deserves, but not before finishing Emily Henderson's book, available below.

The New Design Rules | $19.00 on Amazon

In her most recent book, Emily Henderson explains the basics of interior design for homes of every style. Whether you’re embarking on a weekend refresh or complete renovation, the designer encourages you to take design risks 'without experiencing regret.'

Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.

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The New Design Rules | $19.00 on Amazon