Have you ever purchased curtains and thought, “this looks a bit short, I wonder what the proper length of curtains should be?” Today, we’re going to talk all about curtain length. What’s a good length for curtains? Should curtains touch the floor (spoiler alert: almost always, the answer is yes), and what to do about those windows that require treatments other than floor-length curtains? When it comes to curtains, there is not a one size fits all option, as much as the retailers would like us to believe there is.
What is it About Floor-Length Curtains?
According to Architectural Digest, an undressed window is an unfinished one. “Without blinds or shades or shutters or curtains, many windows are just featureless voids.” Curtains and other window treatments provide a feeling of polish to a space.
To achieve that polished look, curtains should be floor length. As the name suggests, floor-length curtains hang down to the floor and either just barely kiss the floor or just barely hover above the floor.
There is a whole world of drapery that the average home decor enthusiast is unaware of. It might come as a surprise to you that floor-length curtains have four distinct styles. Let’s take a look at each style so you can choose the one that best fits your home.
Styles of Floor Length Curtains
If the question is, should curtains touch the floor, these four styles of curtains answer that question with a resounding yes.
Break Length or Trouser Length Curtains
The break or trouser break is a casual, tailored look where the bottom of the curtain is measured and one inch is added creating a break similar to trousers. Since the curtains are slightly longer a bend forms at the points in this type of curtain. It improves the appearance of your curtains and gives them a look of custom drapery. This look is achieved by measuring the height of your rod and adding one inch to your curtains.
Grazing is where the hemline of your curtain just barely kisses the floor. This look is achieved by measuring the height of your curtains and placing the curtain rod at that exact measurement.
Minimal Puddle and Moderate Puddle
Puddled curtains mean that the curtains have enough extra length to create a puddle on the floor. This look is can be very elegant depending on the type of fabric and the amount of excess fabric.
A Minimal Puddle is when drapes are just a few inches (1-3″) longer, and they just slightly gather at the floor. A moderate puddle is when the drapes are significantly longer (3-6″) to create a more significant gathering of drapery at the bottom of the curtains.
Puddled drapes can be casual if you are using lightweight fabric and a minimal puddle or they can appear grander with a moderate puddle and heavier material like velvet.
A few things to remember about puddling curtains are that they are a bit more high-maintenance since they will always collect dust, dirt, and even pet hair especially if you have pets that shed a lot. They’re also more difficult to open and close, and vacuuming can be difficult especially if you use a robot vacuum. It’s important to keep functionality in mind if considering this type of curtain.
Another thing to think about is fabric selection. Choosing fabrics that are easy to clean such as lightweight cotton or polyester is a wise decision when purchasing drapery that puddles. Linen is a great fabric choice for this style of curtain. Linen is a lightweight material that puddles nicely. Conversely, you may want to stay away from heavyweight, thick cotton material as it doesn’t puddle as nicely and tends to look stiff.
Now that we’ve discussed the options for floor-length curtains – let’s take a look at some of the other curtain styles and when you might consider them.
Floor to Ceiling Curtains
Floor-to-ceiling curtains are a grand statement that I love in rooms that are more formal. It immediately makes your tall windows look taller and your ceilings look higher. This type of curtain gives any room an instant feeling of luxury. Floor-to-ceiling curtains can be a bit tricky to install but the results are definitely worth it. This style of curtain goes really well in formal spaces such as a formal dining room or formal living room.
What are Common Curtains Lengths
If you are buying curtains retail, these are the most common lengths you will encounter. My best advice is to buy longer than you need and then have them tailored or try your hand at hemming them yourself to create floor curtains you love.
- 45 inches
- 54 inches
- 63 inches
- 84 inches
- 90 inches
- 96 inches
- 108 inches
Even though these are the most popular sizes, this does not mean that they are the only lengths available. Manufacturers provide a variety of measurements that you can choose from for your home decor. If you have curtains you love and you need to add some extra length to them, check out how to add length to curtains.
Like anything in design, you can always have custom drapes made for your space and it will give you a feeling of luxury for sure. Custom curtains can be pricey but it’s worth it if you have difficulty finding curtains that meet your specifications or you have something specific in mind that you cannot find at retail.
While the curtain width doesn’t impact the length of your curtains, width does impact the overall look of your curtains. By using curtains that are wider than your window you can create a fuller appearance. The opposite is true when using narrow panels. A good rule of thumb for a standard curtain, look multiply the width of your window by two.
Can you use long curtains on short windows?
What if you have short windows, should you still use long curtains that touch the floor? The simple answer is yes, you can use long curtains on short windows. Our goal is always to make our space look larger and our ceilings taller. To do that, you can hang curtain rods high and wide, about a few inches outside the window frame on either side. Then you hang long curtains. This strategy makes not just your windows but your entire room feel larger.
Other Curtain Styles
I’ve gone on a great deal about floor-length curtains, I’m obviously passionate about them, but there are some other curtain styles worth mentioning.
Short curtains are curtains that fall more than 1 inch above the floor. Short curtains feel less polished and can make the window and room feel smaller. Short curtains are not ideal for most situations but can be a practical option in certain situations like if you have a heater, radiator, or some other object directly under a window that could potentially be hazardous.
Window Sill Curtains
These curtains are usually hung on a small curtain rod and hang just above the windowsill. They are often used in kitchens or bathrooms.
Cafe curtains usually come about midway down the window and are typically used in conjunction with blinds. Cafe-style curtains give off that casual vibe and are great for kitchens.
I know this isn’t technically a curtain but it is worth mentioning. A valance is a short piece of fabric that only covers the top part of the window. Valances are often used to add a pop of color or pattern to a room. Valances can be used with or without other forms of drapery.
In conclusion, floor-length curtains are a great way to make any room feel luxurious. If you have short windows, don’t worry, you can still use long curtains. Just remember to hang them high and wide. And if you want something less formal, there are other curtain styles available such as short curtains, window sill curtains, and cafe curtains. No matter what curtain style you choose, make sure it fits your needs and compliments your personal style.