In my new home I made the transition from blinds to curtains and love it. Curtains make it so much easier to wash windows, and no more dirty blinds to deal with. Many of today’s panel curtains can be laundered, and at least they can be shaken outside to deal with dust. You just need to decide if you want room darkening, lined, or if filtered light is ok. If your curtains are an expensive fabric, or if you have drafty windows, I would recommend spending the money on lined curtains. It tends to help the fabric drape better too. Room darkening are great for shift workers. I mostly have filtered light curtains. Other than that you just need to know the measurements of your window, and how high your rod either is or needs to be.
How long should curtains be? Having them reach a half inch or so above your floor is ideal, or just touching the floor. In my opinion all but perhaps kitchen curtains should be hung full length. Be careful of length. 84″ is too short for many of the new homes (mine needed 96″) but will fit most standard homes.
How wide should curtains be? For width, try to buy curtains so the panels will be at least double the width of your window. Sometimes sheers and silk can look better even triple fullness. The thicker the fabric the less width you will need for a full look, for instance velvet can look full at only double width. Pleated panels will be the width required to cover the window frame area, as the fullness is a part of the panel. If you’re just hanging the curtains to frame a window and don’t intend to close them often, 1.5 times the width should be enough.
For rods and rings, look at the display picture of the curtains you are buying to gage the size of rod that will look good with them. Skimpy rods and rings can look silly in a beautiful room with nice panel curtains. For French doors or windows that come out into the room when open, its best to clear the window entirely when the curtains are fully open, so wider rods will be required.
How high and wide do you hang a rod? Typically a rod is hung half way between the window frame and the ceiling if there are more than 12″ from trim to ceiling, or 4 to 6″ above a window for a cathedral ceiling. On an arched or rounded top window typically a rod is hung at the bottom of the arch, leaving the rounded part exposed. They should extend 3 to 6″ beyond the frame on either side to prevent light from shining in on the sides. This also allows curtains to be fully opened on either side of the window to let in maximum light when you want it.
When do you hang above the frame? If you want to create the illusion of height in your room, in a room with low ceilings hang the rod as close to the ceiling as possible, but make sure you account for the extra length when buying panels. You can also make a window feel more prominent by extending the curtains up to 6 inches on either side of a frame. This sort of arrangement works well in basements where small windows seem out of place in large family rooms.
If you have a spectacular view, consider no window coverings at all. I have large windows along the back of my house with a beautiful view of fields and mountains so I haven’t covered them. Other than that, I selected a variety of curtains for different rooms, and might choose among the following if I were buying today: