Decor Disputes: How long should your curtains be?

By: Mollymc Mar 29, 2012
created at: 03/27/2012

 

Is there a "right" length for curtains? The long and short of it is, it's up to you. In this edition of Decor Disputes, we take look at curtains, tall and small. What side are you on?

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So let's start with what's probably the most common length: to the floor. The yellow and white chevron curtains above (from Lonny ), along with these stenciled canvas drop cloth curtains are both modern and classic. The floor-to-ceiling length makes the ceilings seem taller and the room seem very polished, maybe even a bit formal.  

Cons? They may make your room look too formal for your liking. Dust will inevitably collect around the bottoms. Also, children may be more likely to grab them and use them as a climbing rope.

to the floor curtains

Then there's the opposite: short curtains. Of course, café curtains are fairly common where there's a window sill, for example over a sink in a kitchen. Or, in their namesake cafés, where you wouldn't want curtains dragging the floor of such a busy, public place.

But what about at home? It seems like many parents choose shorter curtains for kids' rooms, probably to avoid the whole Tarzan situation, or just to avoid sticky fingers from touching them. On the downside, the shorter curtain length can seem kind of dated. Also, it can cut the visual height of your room in half.

The flamestitch curtains from the beginning of the post are by Natty by Design and definitely feel up-to-date in that lovely, white room. These nursery curtains are several inches off the floor, landing at the top of a thick baseboard. 

Baseboard height curtains

These breezy, billowy white café curtains are perfect in this Tybee Island, Georgia cottage. The casual vibe fits the beach lifestyle perfectly.

created at: 03/27/2012

Then there's the most extreme curtain length: puddled. This is a typical French look, and is most successful with high ceilings and, usually, expensive fabric. Typically silks are going to billow the best, being both lightweight and a natural fiber.

puddling drapes

I was lucky enough to stay in this rental apartment in Paris and I LOVED the drapes and the soaring ceilings.

created at: 03/27/2012

Obviously, this look adds a lot of glam to even the simplest decor. But, I believe you HAVE to have the right architecture to pull it off.

So, what say you? Are you a Shortie? A Puddler? Somewhere in between? I have to say, I'm on Team Puddle in my heart of hearts, but my 50s ranch has reigned me back to a Floor-length state of mind.

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We have a sunroom with 8 foot windows. I purchased long curtains that I want to hang just above floor. However, I would have to hang the decorative rod at least a foot away from molding at the top of the window. Can this be done or is it a big no no?

I am having a porch enclosed with insulation and six 56" windows.  The ceiling is low on one side, vaulted up to the other side an additional 2 feet.  The room will be heated and cooled,  a 9 x 11 foot area, exit door and slider into the home.  I will have 2 recliner chairs, TV and end tables.  The floor is painted cement.  Will 63 inch drapes be wrong?  The only other option is 84 length and I don't want to hem them.  Never had to think about this before!  Help!

Is it ok for the curtain to be 3/4 the length of the window . I like it that way with a scalloped shade.
If I use short panels, do they skim the window sill or pass it?
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I HAVE TAB TOP CURTAINS 66" X90" HANGING ON A POLE,BUT I WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE TO PLEATED CURTAINS.THE PROBLEM IS THERE IS ONLY ABOUT 9" WALL SPACE BEFORE MY FRENCH WINDOWS AND THE EXISTING TAB TOPS COVER ABOUT 6" OF THE WINDOW.WOULD A 90X90" PLEATED CURTAIN TAKE UP TOO MUCH OF THE WINDOW WHEN PULLED BACK OR COULD I HAVE A 66" WIDTH OF PLEATED CURTAIN BUT NOT HAVE THEM GATHERED. i AM 72 YEARS OLD AND HAVIING TO GET UP LADDERS TO UNDO FINIALS AND UNDO SCREWS    TO  LOOSEN POLE TO ALLOW REMOVAL OF CURTAINS IS GETTING TOO MUCH FOR  ME TO DO

Help me please - our new home has a 20-ft ceiling in the living room with four enormous windows - two on the left (stacked one above the other) and two on the right (stacked one above the other), and no draperies. The previous owner put one rod above the upper window on each side (about 18' off the floor) and hung an 18' length of fabric on each side of each bank of windows. I have no idea whether to repeat that treatment, and if so, how to even get up to the 18' level to hang a rod. I can just imagine hiring a handyman with a 20' ladder and clearing the room of furniture so he can get to the windows, then trying to find enough matching fabric in 20' lengths. Yikes. Anybody else have/solve this dilemma?

I'd like to hang panel drapes in my master bedroom with 12-foot ceilings.  The windows are five feet tall. The distance between the ceiling and top of windows is 4 feet.  The distance between bottom of windows and floor is three feet.  How far above the windows shall I place the curtain rods?

I love highly hung white, billowy curtains, tied in a knot and slightly puddled.

Those of us who have radiators have to adjust our drapery expectations. In my living room, two of the windows are above radiators and one is not. Floor-length draperies draped  over the radiators would look bad, so we stick to café length curtains here.

Ooh, thanks for the ideas!

 

floor length, floor length, floor length. The end. I can't stand stumpy curtains! I grew up with a mother and grandmother who felt the same, and none of us ever had a drawback. Children will use them as climbing ropes? How about we just teach the children not to climb on things.

I love this type of thing! Daughter of a window covering professional here... so I'm a drapery snob! Personally, I could never do the puddle panels.  And hanging higher and wider is always best for the average window!  On that note, having more than one panel width makes a big difference too.

My girls' bedroom has short, window sill panels, though, because a) I was using fabric I had on hand and didn't have enough for floor-length and b) we were planning on putting a bed next to it.  It works great now that the bed is in the room.

Don't get me started on drop-cloth drapes, though. {shudder} ;)

@Lina-bee: You got me thinking, so I looked for some vaulted ceiling curtain inspiration. I think pretty much anything goes!

http://pinterest.com/pin/47569339783583247/

http://pinterest.com/pin/220535712972321539/

http://pinterest.com/pin/187814246929678166/

However, in this example, i would have lined up the curtain height with the height of the white molding on the left. http://pinterest.com/pin/83175924338092588/

Bruno, we switched up our Living Room curtains from tension rods within the windows to one long rod hung just below the ceiling. It's an amazing difference, I agree!

BethS, our drapes in our dining room are a bit billowy. Not to the extent you see in those French photos, but somewhere in between. 

You can see them here: Molly's Dining Room

Anyway, during my last cleaning spree, I found a dead lizard behind them! WHOOPS! So they do have their drawbacks, as you mentioned. ;) 

Lina-bee, I think you are on the right track with the clips for easy washing! As for your high ceilings---what a great problem to have! I would say, if you have a baseline of another, shorter wall in the room, to use the height of the break between it and the ceiling to set the height of the curtains on the vaulted wall. If you don't have such a wall, then I'd say just go 8 feet from the floor, so 96" curtains.

As for width, I've seen some great DIY horizontal stripe curtains that can help give the illusion of a wider space. 

 

Very timely. I'm delaying curtain decisions until I take care of new decor to match these walls, but I've had curtains on my mind all month. Mine are at high risk for cat fur so they all need to be washable and easy to remove (clips instead of rod pocket). I think it'll be floor-length for all the tall windows and sill length for the short one.

Also, three windows are in rooms with high vaulted ceilings, which is something NONE of the posts on "hang your curtain rod at the ceiling!" have taken into account.  I have eight feet of wall above the actual six-foot window -- there's absolutely no need to create an illusion of height here, width and breadth, yes, but not height.

As a seamstress, it's whatever the client wants.

As for our own home I prefer the rod hung from a couple to eight inches (at the most) below the ceiling with the hem just a touch above the floor. However I have been thinking about the old standard of 63 inch length for the bedrooms because of furniture placement. Not sure on that yet.

 

The only length I don't understand is the one where you make them so long that that bunch and drag on the floor...I know some think it's kinda of elegant, but all I see is having to vacuum those drapes even more! :)

Timely question! We just repurposed some old curtains we had (we took them off Ayla's windows) and put them on our bedroom windows (where we had previously had roman blinds). We didn't get to choose the length (they were already hemmed), but they land just under the window sill, which is good, because our bed is right there!

I decided to hang the rod a little higher than I normally would've, and I'm suprised what a difference it makes;  a higher curtain rod really makes the room feel bigger. 

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