How To Choose The Right Curtain Length

How To Choose The Right Curtain Lengths

Window curtains can come in a huge array of fabric styles and colors. Moreover, they can be used to tie into the overall aesthetic of a room, tying together the entire look. They can also help dictate just how much natural light is allowed into the room.

The problem with curtains is that finding the right length can be a bit confusing from time to time. Measuring the length of your window from the point where the curtain rod will be hung to the floor is the key piece to the equation.

Why Are Improperly Sized Curtains a Problem?

While it may not be the biggest issue to have curtains that are the wrong size, it can be hugely frustrating. For one, it can make the for an amateur look. For those looking to tie the curtains into the overall design of the room, improperly sized curtains can be a major frustration.

Furthermore, when curtains are too short, they may not be long enough to properly keep light out. It kind of defeats the purpose of having curtains if they still allow light in when fully drawn. Likewise, curtains that are too long can just hang on the floor, collecting dust and dirt that brings down the overall visual appeal.

Standard Curtain Lengths

Before we go into choosing the right curtain length for your windows, it is important to know what the standard sizes are. Generally speaking, the two most common are 63 inches and 84 inches. These are your standard sized windows.

Some of the other common curtain lengths that you may find are 94 inches, 108 inches, and 120 inches. For any other dimensions, you may have to look online to get what you need or go custom, which can get a bit more costly.

Step 1: Measure Correct Length

The first thing that you need to do is grab your measuring tape and get some measurements. You aren’t measuring the size of the window, but you are measuring from the floor to the spot where the curtain rod will eventually be placed.

In order to make your windows appear a little higher and winder, add on a couple more inches to your measurement. You can even go as high as a couple of inches from the ceiling to give maximum height and a dramatic flair to your windows.

Be careful not to measure your curtains too short. If the rod is positioned too low, it will actually work to shrink the size of your window. This is definitely something that you don’t want to do. A good rule of thumb is to go about 4 inches up starting from the top of the window.

Step 2: Length Options

Now that we know how large your window space is and how far up the curtain rod should be, it is time to go over the different length options and when you might want to implement them.

Apron Curtains. Typically speaking, apron curtains will come down to about 4 inches or so above the window sill. This type of curtain is optimal in more casual spots such as a breakfast nook. They will also be the best choice if there is an appliance like a radiator beneath the window.

Window Sill Curtains. This style of curtain is meant to end right at the window sill. The best spot for this type of curtain is in a kitchen location where the windows are elevated (typically over a sink).

Floor-Length Curtains. This is the type of curtain that you would use for larger windows. They do exactly as they are described and aren’t meant to sit off of the floor. These are arguably the most common choice of curtains for living room spaces and for patio or slider windows. These also tend to be not only the easiest to maintain, but the easiest to close and open as well.

Puddling Curtains. This is the kind of window treatment that puddles about an inch or two onto the floor. While this provides a more dramatic look, this type of curtain tends to be more maintenance. They’ll collect dust and fur (if you have pets) and can be more difficult to maneuver.

Step 3: Choosing Curtain Width

Now that we have spent all this time talking about the various lengths of curtain, it is imperative that we do not forget the width size as well. Remember, you want curtains to shut out light and provide privacy. If they can’t close all the way, it kind of defeats the purpose.

In order to determine the width of your curtains, you will need to follow a simple formula. Measure the width of the window space and then multiply it anywhere from 1.5 to 3 times depending on just how wide you want them to be. Some like to have very dramatic curtains, so the wider would be better.

Step 4: Choosing the Curtain Rod Style

Much like the curtains themselves, curtain rods can come in a wide range of styles and materials. The rods may seem like a vessel for holding the curtains, but they can actually impact how the curtains look and feel within the room.

Grommet style curtains will have rings inside of them that the rod can be slid through. The more traditional option, rod pocket curtains, will slip through the rod without the use of clips or rings, though you can use the clips if you want to achieve a little bit of a different look.

Now that you know how to properly measure and determine the size of your curtains, you can plan out your look how you please. Curtains are a great way to provide a pop of color to an otherwise neutral room and can help you control the amount of light that comes into the room.

Don’ts for Hanging Curtains

There are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind after you’ve purchased your curtains, but before you’ve hung them up. The first is that you don’t want to hang your curtains too low. When you hang them too low, they can look droopy and will almost certainly collect dust and pet dander. You’ll have to work extra hard to keep your curtains clean when that happens.

You also don’t want to choose curtains that are too narrow because they won’t hang properly, nor will they block light. When hanging the curtain rod, make sure that you don’t hang the curtain rod so that it sits within the frame; the curtains won’t eb able to cover the entirety of the windows.

Lastly, don’t hang curtains that are too short for the window unless they have a sill on them. For floor-length curtains, they should just barely skim the ground, providing proper coverage without bunching on the floor.

Dos for Hanging Curtains

Make sure to hang the curtains a couple of inches above the window. When they sit right at the top of the window, they are more susceptible to let light into the room. You should also choose a curtain rod that is winder than your window to ensure that the curtain width is correct.

For optimal coverage, privacy, and light control, it’s best to pair curtains with window blinds. Curtains will block out most light, but it won’t do a complete job of limiting light. Blinds, in tandem with the curtains, should totally block out the light if you so desire.

Lastly, make certain that your curtains are wide enough. Curtains should look full whether they are open or closed; when you choose curtains that aren’t wide enough, they won’t be able to achieve that look.

What Length Should Bedroom Curtains Be?

While this can depend primarily on your specific window length, the short answer is that they should be floor length. Bedroom curtains should be just long enough that they touch the floor only barely. They absolutely should not bunch up into a pile and shouldn’t drag on the floor.

The most common mistake that people make when choosing curtains is to buy them so long that they crumple into piles when they’ve been fully opened. Even if that is a look you’re after, maintenance and cleaning can be that much more difficult than they would be with floor length curtains.

Is it Okay for Curtains to Not Touch the Floor?

As we’ve covered at length, floor length curtains are the best option for larger windows. There is a look known as the slight float, which is just an inch or less above the floor, that will work fine as well. The float is optimal when you want to hang your curtains so that there is no break at all (meaning they hang totally straight and then “float”).

Allowing your curtains to sit above the floor is fine so long as it is no more than an inch or so. Going more than that can give your curtains the look of being too short, which can have an impact on the overall aesthetic quality. At the end of the day, the only look you want to avoid completely is the puddle look.

Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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