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Designer Tips and Tricks for Using Store Bought Drapes

When I walk into many homes, drapes are one of the things I find clients struggle with the most. From mounting height, wrong lengths of drapes, not enough fabric, and hardware mistakes. So I wanted to share some fool proof things that will up your drapery game. Drapes can really elevate your space and give a room so much personality when done properly.

So let’s start with anatomy of drapery to help you follow along. (Or skip to the end for my 5 biggest tips)

Headings the top hem of your curtain

This will set the tone for your drapes formal, modern, relaxed as well as determining how they will function on the rod. For instance will it glide on the rod with rings and hooks, have a more romantic feel with tab tops, or will they be stationary panels with a pocket for the rod?


Rods are essential for attaching your drapes to the hardware that is mounted on the wall. They can also serve as a decorative element to add to the design. Placement of the rods is a very crucial part of maximizing your drapes and accentuation them in a design.

Drapery Panels

Drapery panels have many purposes whether it is strictly decorative like stationary panels, or functioning drapes that cover your window panes. The fabric choices you make can be the most important for the function of your drapes. Some things to consider are do you require privacy, protection from the elements, just light diffusing, or are they strictly for aesthetics? These stylized details also set the tone for the room, choosing flat pleat, grommet pleat, rod pocket, pin tuck, pleated, accordion or ripple fold add to the design. These styles determine whether the space is perceived as casual, romantic, or formal as much as the fabric chosen.

Choosing the right style of drapery

Much of this depends of the style in your home.

A more modern/ contemporary length of drapery is about ½” off the floor giving the appearance of a neat and clean aesthetic that works well with more modern/contemporary interiors.

Breaking on the floor is still tailored but a little more relaxed. Usually allow an additional 1”-3” additional fabric.

If your drapes puddle on the floor this creates much more of a formal look that is often considered romantic. For puddling you will want an additional 4”-10” of extra fabric.

Drapery fabric color and or pattern?

If you are already using furnishings or rugs with pattern the best bet is to go with a solid for drapery. If your furnishings are mostly neutral this could be a great opportunity to add pattern and some color.

Here are my 5 top tricks for elevating store bought drapes.

#1 trick to hanging drapes-

Hang them as high as possible especially if the ceiling height is low. This will instantly make the space feel larger.

#2 trick if you are buying store bought drapes

They usually are sold in 48”-54” wide panels. Buy two sets per window to add more fabric and to make them look more expensive. You can take them to a seamstress and have them sewn together if you feel it is necessary. The rule of thumb for fabric is usually doubling to triple the width of opening in fabric.

#3 trick make windows look larger

Hanging the rod 6”-10” outside the window frame. This will make the windows appear much bigger. You want the drapes to just barely overlap the frame when open.

#4 Hardware

I prefer to use rings and hooks on almost every store bought drape to make it look more expensive. This allows some play when hanging them as well. You can choose whether you want to see the hardware or not, you can also create faux pleats in drapes if you use clamps and have some leeway when hanging.

#5 Details

You can add simple ribbon or trim to the leading edge of store bought drapes to give them a custom feel. You can simply tack it on by hand, use iron on tape, our use fabric glue.

Leading Edge of drapes:

Some of my favorite places to shop for affordable store bought drapes and hardware are:

JCPenney, Amazon, Ballard, Ikea, and TjMaxx Homegoods, West Elm, and Bed Bath and Beyond

Great place to purchase affordable trim tape or ribbon:

Joanns or