Just as a smart black dress can make you look more svelte, there are optical illusions at play in the world of windows.
Whether your windows are too low or too squat, too skinny or just plain misshapen, the way you hang curtains and shades can have an enormous impact on the way you perceive the windows themselves.
Make a window appear taller. For curtains, mount the rod 8 inches (instead of the standard 4 inches) above the top of the window frame and let the curtain fall from the rod to the floor or farther.
For a shade, mount it above the window frame so that when the shade is fully pulled up, the bottom border covers just the very top of the glass, therefore hiding the frame’s exact location.
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Make a window appear wider. Mount curtain-rod brackets at least 5 inches to either side of the window’s molding, equidistant from the window, and add a curtain rod that spans the distance.
Consider your new measurement (say, 46 inches wide, instead of 36) as the width of your window. Buy two curtain panels, each the width of your new measurement.
When open, the curtains should be slid along the rail to just cover the window molding — revealing only glass and tricking the eye into thinking the window extends behind the curtain, beyond what it sees.
Fix an overpowering window. For a large expanse of glass, such as sliding doors, a bay window or a plate-glass wall, mount one rod across the top of the molding and hang several curtain panels (that are as wide as possible) to break up the expanse.
Hide a poor view. Mount a sheer panel inside the window casement, close to the glass. Try using one panel instead of two (which will tempt guests to part them). Measure the width of the window and multiply by 1.5 for a standard amount of fullness, or up to two times the width for a richer look.
Add to that a curtain or shade, mounted traditionally. The sheer panel can be static while the additional window coverings can be used to control light. For a more modern take, try sewing two dowels at either end of a panel of voile or muslin, and hang it taut in the window casemen