interior design / tips

Drapery: How to Get it Right


Window Treatments

Window treatments, especially drapery, can be tricky.  How high to hang curtains, what kind of pleat, lining or no?  My personal go-to for custom drapery is Tonic Living.  I worked with Janine, founder of Tonic Living, through the One Room Challenge, and those custom drapes made the space.  The ceilings in the space are 12′, so it was one of those situations where we couldn’t NOT go custom.  And let me be the first to tell you, once you go custom with drapes, you never ever want to go back.  Being able to customize every single detail to a T makes for a tailored look, which helps the space to feel intentional.

Drapery How to Get it Right

drapery fabricliningdrapery rod | bracket | drapery rings

“Custom” can sometimes seem unattainable or unrealistic, but working with Tonic Living’s custom drapery service was such a breeze.  And I’m not just saying that.  They’re not paying me for this post, I was just genuinely was blown away by TL.  Their team helps you through every step to make sure you get it right.

Drapery How to Get it Right

Drapery How to Get it Right

Drapery How to Get it Right


After working with Janine to get the custom drapes just right for my parents’ living room, I knew I had to bring her over on the blog.  She is a PRO at this stuff, and I thought it might be helpful to quiz her (both for myself and you all).

Q&A with Janine:

How long should curtains be?

Janine: “As long as you can make them! I always aim to hang them as high as possible while still grazing the floor.”

Where should curtains be hung in relation to the window?  Is there a formula for the height they should be hung?

Janine: “This will depend on if you have anything above the window that might be in the way, such as a bulk head or crown molding. If you don’t, and you have an 8′ (96″) ceiling, then the curtains should usually be around 92″ or 93” long after the hardware is factored in. An easy way to remember this is by hanging the rod about 3/4 of the way up from the top of the window trim to the ceiling. Again, this trick is assuming there’s no molding. If there is molding, then plan to hang the rod around 2″ below the bottom of it.”

How wide should curtains extend?

Janine: “You’re going to want to have what’s called a “stack back” area. This is a space on either side of the window where the drapes rest when they’re open to ensure that there’s no view obstruction or blocking of natural light. For a window that’s 50″ wide (including the trim), you would ideally add another 8″-10″ on either side giving you a rod length of about 70″ long. Similarly, if you have a 100″ wide window, then your rod should extend an extra 15″-20″ on either side giving you a rod length around 140″ long.  There’s definitely not a “right” way of doing this, but considering that a single width curtain panel, pushed back, is on average about 9″ wide, having more room versus not enough is always ideal. Keep in mind, the bigger the window, the more curtain width and space you’ll need. This is so important because you definitely want to maximize your window’s impact, not lessen it. “Cheaping out” on the rod length will only make things seem less grand and diminish the wow factor that a lot of us are going for!  PS. A quick google search will bring up drapery stack back charts that can help relieve some of the guesswork involved. One thing to keep in mind though, is they are based on a more traditional model, which can call for even more stack back room which in my experience, can be a bit excessive. There are always unique situations, which can call for different treatments, however, my two examples are common ones that come up a lot with our customers.”

What are the different styles of hardware?

Janine: “There are decorative rods with finials where you are able to use matching embellished rings, and there are also things like drapery tracks that are installed on the ceiling. Those often come up in rental situations where it’s not possible to mount into the wall, or if you just really prefer that modern streamlined look.  We’re big fans of decorative rods and also love the look of using “Fully Enclosed” brackets on the rods for a nice clean look.”

What are the different pleat option styles?

Janine: “There are a few, but our favorites are the Inverted Pleat, the Top Pinch pleat and the Flat Panel which is no pleat at all, but still has the hooks on the back to slip into the decorative rings that slide on the rod; it’s a less tailored but still polished look.”

Pleate Guide - Tonic Living

Is lining always needed?

Janine: “We pretty much always answer “yes” to this question. The thing is, you want to protect the curtain fabric from UV rays that would eventually break down the fibers and cause the fabric to weaken/tear/discolor. Also, aside from protection from harsh sun light, it gives the panel more structure and heft and lends to that “custom” feel and look. Obviously you can choose the type of lining too – Muslin: for minimal light control, Dim out: to block around 50% of light, and Black Out: to block 95%-100% of the light — PERF for bedrooms and especially little people!”
Any other tips/tricks for getting it right?


  • “Pick a fabric that sings to you.
  • If the thought of putting it on your windows terrifies you, maybe try a pillow for a perfect compromise
  • If you’re already happy with your hardware, and where it’s hung, then measure from the bottom of the rod to the floor to get that perfect graze.
  • Whenever possible, go by the 2x fullness ratio for proper volume and fullness. This means to double the amount of fabric across the width of the space you’re treating. People’s first mistake is often not making their curtains full enough, which can cheapen the look of the end result. Of course, we can help you figure all of that out if you’re not sure.”

Not only does Tonic Living offer fabric by the yard and custom drapery services, but they also have a great selection of throw pillows.  I put together my favorite pillow + drapery combinations just for fun.

Favorite Pillow + Drapery Combinations

Laid Back Retro :swaying palms | citrus | ink |

Bohemian: night | indigo | hibiscus |

Poppy: berry | boho stripe | sunrise |

Vibrant: velvet indigo |tiffany pratt | baraka ikat 


Janine wanted to offer a Tonic Living discount for all of you.  Use the code CLAIREBRODY10 for 10% off storewide.  This can also be applied to custom order.  (Just mention it.)  The discount will last until August, 10th.

Do you feel like a custom drapery pro now?  I definitely feel much more knowledgable.

Drapery how to get it right


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6 comments on “Drapery: How to Get it Right”

  1. Great info, Claire! Pinned all of it. I really love the poppy colour combo. I’ve had my eye on that floral a while, now.

  2. I love Tonic Living–great fabrics at a great price. And that ORC room reveal is INSANE. So good and so luxe.

    Any recommendations for finding custom-length rods that are still pretty? We’ve got a 14-foot wide window in our living room and google searches for custom rods are giving back v. frumpy options, only.

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