If you're a follower of Feng shui (or a fan of fictitious '90s decorator Duarto Feliz), you believe that the windows of a home represent its eyes, and should be dressed accordingly. I don't know about that, but as a designer I do know that there's precious little that makes my heart sing like a pair of beautifully-hung curtains.
Yes, the way your curtains are hung can make a huge difference in making your home feel bright and spacious. And during these dark winter days, we could all use a little help! How to do this? By using every spare bit of wall space above and around your windows.
1. The first bit of the equation is simple: hang the curtains as high as you can above the window frame. Sure, they'll be longer and you'll spend a bit more on fabric, but the added length will pay dividends in perceived ceiling height.
2. When measuring for curtains, it's important to consider how they'll look when stacked (ie. opened), and order the widths and poles accordingly. Ideally, a set of stacked curtains will just cover the window frame but none of the glass. This makes the most of the available light, and gives the impression of wider windows. Depending on the weight of your curtains and the type of pleating, you'll need a good 8-15 extra inches of curtain rod on either side of the window.
Of course, there are instances when these tips won't work: when wall area is at a premium, or when furniture, radiators or other walls intrude on that prime stacking space. But for the most part, keeping the rod high and the curtains wide can increase the sense of light and space in a room immensely.