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The Best Curtain Rods, According to Interior Designers

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

Adding window treatments to a space that doesn’t have any can go a long way toward making your home feel more inviting. Curtains, of course, are among the easier, more straightforward options for doing so, but in selecting your drapery (this list has a bunch of expert-recommended options to choose from), chances are you’re also going to need to find rods to hang it on. To help you get started, we turned to eight interior designers for their recommendations on the best budget-friendly and custom curtain rods and finials, which, in addition to being essential hardware, can also provide “a great opportunity to add an interesting detail” to your space, according to Decorist designer Katy Byrne.

When it comes to sizing a rod for your space, Megan Hersch, the owner of Studio MG Interiors and online interior-design service RoomLift, says they should be about 12 inches wider than a window on either side, “so you can pull the drapes off of the window when you open them.” As for the difference between a store-bought curtain rod and a custom rod: “The store-bought ones will be adjustable, which is good if you don’t know exactly what or how to measure.” As for placement on the wall, they should be installed halfway between the window and the ceiling. For a very tall ceiling (that rises more than four feet above the top of the window), Hersch recommends placing the rod about 16 inches above the window. She also says you should take into account a drop of one inch, if your drapery is hanging on rings. An additional note: Most curtain rods will work for all types of curtains, whether they have grommets, a rod pocket, or require rings. Read on for the all the rods our experts recommend, which include lots of affordable ready-made options as well as a couple custom ones, too.

Best ready-made rods

Prism-Finial Drapery Rod

This inexpensive, adjustable metallic rod from World Market comes recommended by Byrne, who loves its geometric prism finials and light brassy finish — subtle touches that nevertheless add nice design elements to a room. Like most store-bought, ready-made curtain rods, this one comes with the appropriate hardware for installation, including brackets and finials (the decorative ornaments that cap off either end of a curtain rod).

Project 62 Dauntless Curtain Rods

Here’s another inexpensive, adjustable rod that Dani Mulhearn, a senior designer at online interior design service Havenly, calls “simple and timeless.” Made of steel, it’s capped with minimalist cylindrical knobs, which give it a “sleek and clean” look that Mulhearn likes. She says this one is available in multiple finishes and lengths, making it versatile for any home décor style.

Simple Metal Rod, Antique Bronze

For about $50 more, you can get this equally sleek metal rod finished in a matte antique bronze. It comes recommended by Modsy designer Katherine Tlapa and has unique mounting hardware that gives the otherwise simple rod a unique touch.

Black Marble Finial Curtain Rod Set .75-Inch Diameter
Crystal Glass Curtain-Rod Set

For curtain rods with a bit more personality, Mulhearn turns to CB2 for its “phenomenal options in finial styles and finishes” that are still affordable. These two are among her favorites. For a moodier look, she loves the stainless-steel rod that is capped with long, cylindrical finials made of black marble. For a more traditional look, she suggests trying the black telescoping rods that have crystal globes at the end.

Dakota Extension Rod — Soft Iron
Dakota Ball Finials (Set of Two) — Soft Iron

While Restoration Hardware’s extendable, iron curtain rod is available in multiple finishes, interior designer Nicole Fuller calls the black option “grounding and discreet within its beauty.” She uses the stark color in many of her projects, noting that the rod is as versatile as it is striking. “It doesn’t matter if you are working with a curtain that has a pocket or if you are using additional hardware,” she says. “These classic pieces work beautifully in either application.” Unlike the other ready-made rods on this list, these do not come with mounting hardware or finials, so each component has to be bought separately. While that increases the cost, it allows for a bit more customization.

Mid-Century Wooden Rod — Wood/Brass

Curtain rods are available in materials beyond metal, too. These wooden rods add a softer edge and come recommended by Megan Huffman, a designer with the online interior-design service Modsy, who says they would work in a bunch of different décor styles, including mid-century, traditional, modern, and rustic. Featuring brass-finished mounting hardware and finials (included), they add just the slightest bit of “glam without going overboard,” she says. Erin Gates, the owner of Boston-based design firm Erin Gates Design, uses a similar rod in her own living room, but in an all-metal style. She calls it “substantial, clean, and simple.”

Best custom rods

Highland Forge One-Inch Round Steel Tubing Rod

While most of the rods above are telescoping (which means they can be manually extended and contracted much like a telescope), that design does leave a visible notch in the middle of the rod, according to Hersch. “It’s not a big deal, but it is a telltale sign of a rod this is not custom.” If you prefer a seamless look, she swears by Highland Forge “for a custom look at a very good price.” In addition to choosing your style of rod (either round, square, or hammered), its diameter, and finish, you can also customize the length. Going with a custom rod will also mean you have to shop for the additional hardware yourself, including finials, mounting brackets, and rings, for example. But, according to Hersch, Highland Forge makes it easy: “Their customer service is fabulous, and they double-check your order to be sure you’ve got all the parts you will need to make the hardware work.”

Wrought-Iron Hardware

The Shade Store also offers customizable hardware, which interior designer Betsy Burnham turns to for complementing her clean and unfussy drapery. “Our preference for window hardware is thin black iron rods with the smallest rings possible, as I think the hardware should be tidy and unobtrusive,” she says, so the drapery can be front and center. Burnham adds that the Shade Store’s step-by-step process ensures that you won’t forget other hardware like finials and rings. —Additional reporting by Miranda Agee

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The Best Curtain Rods, According to Interior Designers