Measuring for Natural Shades & Drapes for a Nursery

Nursery Idea Board

This picture might look familiar to you since I shared my nursery design plans last month. In the meantime, I’ve been planning even more to make this space come together before the little one arrives. The shades and drapers are two of the big facets of the design. When it comes to newborn sleep, we need the room to have complete blackout capabilities. Pairing draperies with a shade will do double duty to make the room as dark as possible. Here is the very empty “before” photo.  I had just finished pulling up the 30-year-old carpet and painting the walls a nice creamy gray.


Next, we picked out a natural shade in a very simple design. The Bali Natural Shades (Framework, Saddle) will go with the other wooden features in the room and pair perfectly with the heavy Bali draperies (Kuna, Billowy), which weren’t shown in the initial design inspiration.

You must make a few decisions when measuring for natural shades. First, decide if the shade will fit within the window frame (inside mount) or if the shade will cover a portion of the frame (outside mount).  I want these shades to have as much light-filtering capability as possible, so for this room I went with the outside mount. Outside mount ensures that the edges of the shade will overlap with the window frame, letting as little light as possible into the room when the shades are closed.

With outside-mount shades, there are just two measurements needed: the desired width and the desired height of the shade. To find these measurements, establish how much overlap the shade should have on either side of the window. With outside-mount shades, the exact width you want is the width you should order. I wanted a fair amount of overlap, so I measured from the center of my side molding on both sides of the window.

Next, you need to know how long you want the shade. To determine this measurement, establish where you’ll mount your headrail and where you’d like your shade to end. I wanted to mount my headrail in the very center of my top molding and would like the shade to hit exactly at the window sill.

window with shade meassurements

You need three measurements for the drapes.  You need to know the location, size, and style of your drapery hardware to supply these measurements. First, you need to know the projection of the rod, or, the depth from the wall to the rod. Next, you’ll need to know the total width of coverage you would like. How much of the wall and window should be covered when the drapes are completely closed? This measurement should take into account the width of your rod and the width of your window. I like my drapes to not cover the window at all when open, giving me as much light as possible, so I usually set my rods pretty wide.

Lastly, you need to know how long you want your drapes! For pleated drapery, measure from the top of the rod to where you’d like your drapes to stop. Do you want them to stop at the top of the window like a valance? Or would you rather them hang to the bottom of the window? Or, like me, do you want them to reach the floor? I choose to have my just graze the floor, but not puddle.

window with drape measurements

I needed to make a few more decisions after measuring for natural shades—a liner for light control and corded or cordless control. A blackout liner for the shades will make sure the nursery is super dark. I decided on Bali AutoView motorized lift so they’d be cord-free and safest for a nursery.

black out backing

After going through the details, I am excited to see the actual shades and drapes in the room!  The measuring seems like a small piece of the equation, but it’s so important to get right. Check out the measuring guides for videos, worksheets, and call if you need help!

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