How to Make a Window Look Bigger Using Curtains
Choosing the right window treatments can be tricky and it’s something I get asked about fairly often. Do I need curtains? Roman shades? Bamboo shades? What will look best in my space? It’s hard to suggest a blanket window shade that will work in every single space.
However, I do have a go-to formula that I like to use when dressing windows. And bonus points, it will make a window look bigger too!
If you’re not sure about the difference between a Roman shade versus a solar shade, then you can check out my comprehensive window treatment guide right here. It’s a good starting point when figuring out the ideal window treatments for your home.
Small Window, Before & After
Before we get to my tips to make a window look bigger, I want to share with you the power of good window treatments. This is from a project that I did for a couple almost seven years ago. It was such a fun transformation and you can see the full reveal right here.
We took their small window (with old blinds and skimpy curtains) and made it look so much better and bigger with the help of bamboo shades and a curtain rod hung high and wide. Isn’t it wild how much bigger it looks now?
The proper window treatments give the illusion of more space. Plus, the wide fabric panels create a focal point on that wall.
Tips to Make a Window Look Bigger
My go-to window treatment formula = woven shades, a black curtain rod, and flowy curtains!
When you’re trying to give the illusion of bigger windows or camouflage an awkward window, you want to hide the edges of the small window. That way, you can’t tell where the window starts and where it ends. To do this, you’ll need to use both curtains and shades. These layers work together to create the illusion of larger windows.
Hang Window Shades
I personally love the look of woven shades. They add a lot of texture and warmth to a room and are usually neutral enough to go with just about any decor. These are top-notch window shades because you can completely customize the dimensions including the length, width, and even the liner. Finding shades that come in a range of sizes is key. I’m also all about a blackout liner, especially in a bedroom. (Sunlight control is a must for me!)
You’ll want to first figure out if you need an inside mount or an outside mount for your windows. This will depend on your windows and the depth of the window frame.
- Inside Mount: The shades are installed inside of the window frame. The brackets are screwed into the top or the sides of the window frame. Always be sure to consult the minimum depth of the shades you’re buying and measure the exact size of the window.
- Outside Mount: The shades are installed on the wall above the window. The shades are made larger than the window opening for complete coverage. This can help with any light seepage and provide the most privacy.
If you want your window to look bigger, I recommend going with an outside mount. You can buy a shade that is a few inches wider than the window and hang it a few inches above the window frame.
This is a great trick to make your windows look taller, and no one will even be able to tell that your window doesn’t actually start a few inches below the top of the shade.
Install A Curtain Rod High & Wide
My next go-to trick is to use a sleek black curtain rod. I believe that every room needs a bit of black in it and I love adding black hardware to a window because it draws the eye up. In my own home, I’ve opted for gold lately, like here in Ellis’ room, but you really can’t go wrong with a sleek black rod!
When it comes to mounting the curtain rod, I often install it 8-12 inches off the window on each side. Then, I go a few inches below the ceiling. This makes ceilings and windows look bigger! Be sure to buy a rod that is long enough to achieve this and any support brackets that you might need in the middle.
Going wide off of the windows will also increase the amount of natural light in the space. If the rod is hung on the outside of the window trim, the curtains will block part of the window, even when opened fully.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll have to buy all of the hardware separately. The curtain rod, rings, and finials can all be ordered from the same retailer so the finish matches. So keep that in mind when ordering.
Choose Full Flowy Drapes
Finally, finish off the look and incorporate curtains into the space. I’ve tried out a variety of long curtains over the years. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, I always recommend these from IKEA. If you want to make them blackout, then you can check out this tutorial from the bedroom in my old condo.
In our living room, I wanted a pop of color with a bolder shade and chose these green linen shades. In Ellis’ room, I went with a patterned fabric for something different. No matter which curtain style you go with, keep the below details in mind when ordering.
- Buy Enough Panels: If you’re going wide off the window, you want to make sure you have enough panels to cover the window completely when they’re shut. I typically use at least two for each side of the window. You’ll want the panels to start on the edge of the window so they don’t block any natural light.
- Consider Fabric: I like the look and feel of linen, so I opt for that often. But, you can get away with a faux linen or textured cotton blend. I’ve also used velvet, depending on the space and I think these are great for the price!
- Kiss The Floor: Since you’re hanging your curtains high, make sure you buy some that are long enough. I like them to kiss the floor or perhaps puddle a tiny bit.
- Wash & Steam: Before you tailor your curtains, wash and steam them. They’ll likely shrink a bit in the wash and you don’t want to hem before this happens. I use this steamer and it’s wonderful.
Keep Curtain Header Style In Mind
Personally, I love the look of a pinch pleat header style on floor-length curtains. It’s what most professional interior designers opt for when choosing drapes. I don’t love rod pocket, tie top, grommet, and tab top curtains. I think they can be tricky to open and close, plus they just don’t have that designer look.
Buying pinch pleat curtains can be more expensive, so I often create the look using clip rings and drapery hooks on the back of budget-friendly curtain panels.
These are the drapery hooks that I use. You still have to use curtain rings, but you can remove the clips that come with them. Instead, the drapery hook will connect directly to the ring. I think this creates a really polished look up there!
My Go-To Formula = Illusion Of A Larger Window
As you can see, this is a simple, yet effective, technique to make small windows look grander. In the above images, the windows are exactly the same size and in the same place, but, what a dramatic contrast between the two photos. Making these easy switches will make a big difference in the overall look of your home.
To review, my ideal plan to make a tiny window look bigger = outside mount shade, black rod hung high, light-colored curtains hung high and wide!
My Favorite Window Treatments & Accessories
Here’s a quick round-up of my favorites that I use around my own home.
I hope you found these easy design ideas to be helpful! Let me know if you have any other window treatment questions in the comments below.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.