Dressing a window properly with well-fitted curtains can elevate the entire look of a room. But figuring out the right curtain measurements for your specific window size can be tricky. When it comes to a 72 inch wide window, what curtain width and fullness do you really need? Follow our complete curtain guidelines to ensure your 72 inch wide window treatment looks perfectly proportional and elegant.
Measure Your Actual Window Width
Before selecting any curtains, it’s imperative that you accurately measure the actual width of your window frame. Even a small measurement mistake can throw off your entire curtain look. Avoid assumptions – always physically measure each window for the real exact width. Here are some tips for measuring correctly:
- Use a steel tape measure and measure directly across the window frame opening from edge to edge.
- For accuracy, measure width at both the top, middle and bottom of the frame. Use the largest width.
- Measure in three locations, then average the three measurements.
- Round up to the nearest whole number. If your window measures 71 1/2 inches across, round up to 72 inches.
Precisely measuring the true width of your window will allow you to purchase curtain panels in the optimal size. Rounding up an inch or two ensures your curtains will fit properly within the window frame.
Minimum Curtain Width for a 72 Inch Window
Curtain panels that are too narrow for a window look skimpy and undersized. As a general rule, the minimum curtain width should be at least 1.5 times the actual width of the window frame. This provides just enough extra width for the curtains to gracefully stack back at the sides.
For a standard 72 inch wide window, the minimum panel width would be 1.5 x 72 = 108 inches. Panels measuring 108 inches wide would be the absolute minimum needed to cover a 72 inch window without appearing too narrow. However, this 1.5 times formula only allows for a small amount of extra stacking space on each side when the curtains are open.
Pros of Minimum Width
- Allows curtains to fully cover window
- Provides some extra width for side stacking
- Less fabric needed so lower cost
Cons of Minimum Width
- Can still appear a bit narrow when closed
- Very little fabric fullness and gather
- Less flexibility for adjusting side stacking
If choosing the bare minimum 1.5 times width, make sure your fabric has excellent draping qualities. Heavyweight fabrics with nice drape can help compensate for the narrower width. But for optimal elegance, an increased width is recommended.
Recommended Curtain Width for a 72 Inch Window
For the best visual balance, a good rule of thumb is to select curtain panels with a finished width of 2 times the actual window width. The recommended 2 times width provides enough generous extra width to allow for abundant fabric fullness when the curtains are closed.
So for a standard 72 inch wide window, the ideal curtain width would be 2 x 72 = 144 inches. Panels measuring 144 inches will beautifully cover and frame the window when closed. When open, there is ample extra fabric width to artfully stack back the panels on each side.
Benefits of Twice the Window Width
- Provides excellent coverage and proportional balance
- Enables substantial fabric fullness and gathering
- Allows flexibility for adjusting side stacking
- Gives a custom tailored look for the window
Choosing panels with twice the real window width is recommended by designers for achieving both function and elegance. The abundant width enables the curtains to gracefully puddle and stack, beautifully framing the window.
Luxurious Curtain Width for a 72 Inch Window
For a truly luxurious floor-to-ceiling window treatment, some designers recommend selecting curtain panels with a whopping 3 times the actual window width. This provides maximum fullness for an opulent pooled effect when the curtains are closed. It’s a high-end custom look often seen on spacious windows in formal living rooms or master bedrooms.
For a 72 inch wide window, the panels would need to be 3 x 72 = 216 inches wide each. Hanging extra wide 216 inch panels on your 72 inch window makes a lavish statement. The incredible width allows for exquisite floor-length gathers and folds in the closed curtains for a dramatic high-end appearance.
Impact of Three Times Width
- Ultimate in custom luxury for window
- Amazing degree of fabric fullness and gather
- Beautiful cascading pooled effect
- Makes window appear larger than reality
If your budget and window location allow, treating a 72 inch window to such grandly-scaled panels can be breathtaking. The sheer amount of fabric creates a formal prosperous ambiance. However, the wider the panels, the more precision required in fabrication and hanging to keep the curtains tracking straight on the rod.
Number of Panels Needed
Once you know the ideal width, the next consideration is how many total panels you need for your 72 inch wide window. The standard approach is to use two panels, each cut to the same determined width based on your minimum to maximum fullness goals.
Having two panels allows for attractive symmetrical stacking on both sides when open. When closed, two panels can be easily drawn to meet neatly in the middle to cover the window.
More Than Two Panels
Using more than two panels on a standard 72 inch window is not typically recommended. The window simply isn’t wide enough to accommodate three panels in a visually balanced way. However, for very wide windows over 144 inches, using three or more panels can enable precise light control and flexibility.
Hanging Panels Correctly
When hanging two panels of equal width on a 72 inch window, it’s important they are spaced equidistant from the edges. Mount drapery hooks evenly so each panel overlaps the window edge by the same amount when closed.
Take proper measurements and use a level when installing hardware. Uneven spacing will throw off the look and prevent the panels from meeting cleanly in the middle.
Gathering and Fullness Impact
“Gathering” refers to the amount of extra fabric that is pulled together into soft folds when curtains are closed. The more generous the curtain width relative to the window, the more gathering occurs creating fullness.
“Fullness” refers to how much gathered fabric is distributed across the rod length. Curtains that appear substantially billowy and ample when closed have excellent fullness. But panels that are too narrow create minimal fullness and appear flat, clingy and stingy.
Fullness factor is determined by the percentage increase in curtain width versus the window width. A curtain with a width twice the window measurement has a 100% fullness factor. Width three times the window has a 200% fullness factor.
For a 72 inch window, increasing fullness from 100-200% has a dramatic visual impact creating graceful rippled gathers. The luxurious folds result in an abundant high-end look.
Achieving Optimal Fullness
Here are some tips to beautifully enhance curtain fullness:
- Select a fabric with nice drape and weight that cascades elegantly, like silk, velvet, linen or blended sheers.
- Allow adequate curtain width for bountiful gathering – 144-216 inches for a 72 inch window.
- Use proper curtain weights or lined curtains to encourage beautiful draping folds.
- Hang panels on rings or grommets for ease of gathering. Avoid headers which limit fullness.
Ample curtain fullness transforms an average window into a showstopper focal point by creating lovely curving undulations and a plush elegant look.
Layering Sheers and Drapes
An easy way to enrich your 72 inch wide window treatment is to layer curtains for added dimension. Combining sheers and drapes allows you to balance lighting privacy and views.
Hang plain opaque drapes as the outer layer to block light and insulation. Then install sheer inner panels to filter natural light and enable visibility. With double curtain rods, you can independently adjust each layer.
Superb Layered Looks
- Drapes + Matching Sheers: Hang drapes and sheers with identical colors and patterns for a cohesive coordinated look.
- Drapes + Contrasting Sheers: Combine bold drapes with sheers in a lighter contrasting hue. The pop of color peeking through the drapes is eye-catching.
- Textured Drapes + Airy Sheers: Pair thicker textural drapes with breezy, flowing sheer panels for an appealing combo of coziness and airiness.
Tips for Layering
Follow these guidelines for beautifully layered window treatments:
- Hang drapes closer to window and sheers further away on a double rod.
- Match the length of sheers and drapes for a consistent elegant look.
- Use wider sheers so they don’t get lost behind drapes when both are open.
- Install drapes and sheers using complementary colors and patterns.
Layering allows you to create a multidimensional custom window treatment perfect for controlling light, providing privacy and accentuating window height.
Additional Length Considerations
For most standard windows, choosing full length curtains that just graze the floor is recommended. Curtains that puddle excessively on the floor appear messy and worn. Aim for your curtains to just lightly kiss the floor for a clean streamlined look.
When purchasing curtains for a 72 inch window, allow an extra 1-2 inches of length as insurance. It’s easy to hem curtains if they end up slightly too long, but impossible to lengthen if they are cut too short.
While floor length is generally preferred, here are some other length options:
- Pooled Length: Curtains puddle heavily onto floor to create a formal elegant look more often seen with wider windows.
- Sill Length: Curtains stop right at the window sill rather than extending to floor. This abbreviated length works well with some modern and casual decor styles.
- Cafe Length: Curtains end a foot or two above the floor at a table/chair height. This practical length prevents dust and dirt from hems brushing the floor.
Choose curtain lengths that align with your personal style and the window’s purpose within the room. Varying curtain length is one way to make a design statement.
Rod Height and Placement Tips
Installing the curtain rod at the optimal height is key to properly displaying the curtains. Follow these guidelines for rod placement:
- Mount the rod just above the window trim molding – typically 3-4 inches above the frame.
- For floor length curtains, place the rod so curtains end just skimming the floor.
- Check that panels will stack cleanly on sides without dragging on floor when opened.
- Use a level during installation to ensure rod positioning is perfectly even.
Also consider extending the rod extra wide on a 72 inch window. Adding 12-24 inches beyond the window frame on each side enables the curtains to stack back attractively. It also minimizes light leakage around the sides of the panels when closed.
Dressing windows with well-fitted curtains elevates a room’s decor. But finding the optimal curtain width and fullness for a 72 inch wide window can be challenging if the measurements aren’t precisely right. Generally, select panels measuring 144-216 inches wide to enable abundant generous gathering. Hang panels on rings or grommets for ease of stacking. And consider layering sheers and drapes to control lighting and views. Following these guidelines will ensure your 72 inch window treatment appears perfectly tailored and lavishly elegant.