Updated: May 31, 2022
What is the perfect length for curtains? This is a decorating question with many answers. There are some rules for how curtains should hang, but there is also personal preference and the aesthetic of the room.
Are curtains supposed to touch the floor? The answer is yes, no, and maybe. There are situations when curtains are too long and there are situations when curtains are too short. Window panels that are hung in a kitchen window address a look and need that are different from window panels that are in a living room. The best length in each scenario will be different.
There are four terms for window curtain lengths, and they each are intended for different window sizes, styles, and needs.
A curtain is windowsill length when it stops right below the windowsill. Bathrooms and kitchens are the rooms in the house that most commonly require this length. The window curtain can cover the whole window, or a café curtain may be used. A café curtain hangs from a rod placed at the halfway point of the window.
Short curtains, also known as apron length do not come down to the floor. The window panel should end 4 inches below the windowsill. In most homes, this length will stop above a radiator or other heating/cooling element. This is also a popular window curtain length for children’s rooms where longer window panels may get tugged on or accidentally pulled down during play.
Long drapery panels that either kiss the floor or stop ½" above it are the most commonly seen length. This length offers a clean, finished look that is used in a majority of rooms in a home. When measuring, measure both sides and the center of the window for length. Use the average to determine the overall length of the window panels. It is normal for there to be a slight variance in these three measurements due to the house settling over time. When curtains are too short (two or more inches above the floor) it looks like they are the wrong size and makes the rest of the decor in the room feel off.
If you are looking for elegance and drama then go ahead and add two to eight inches so the drapery panels pool and puddle on the floor. Be aware that you will need to give extra care to the bottoms of the curtain panels as they may collect dirt and dust. Be prepared to dust or lightly vacuum them on a regular schedule.
DO take time to measure! DON’T guess the length!
DO have curtain panels that skim the ground! DON’T hang the curtain panels too short!
DO ask for help! DON’T worry, our design team is here to help!