Decorators’ Handbook: Curtain Length

One of my biggest pet peeves is this:


Short bedroom curtains

I know there are probably quite a few things that an interior designer would be ripping apart in the room above, but my main offense is SHORT CURTAINS!


If you have a weird window to floor length and your local retailers don’t carry your height size then one of two things can get done:


1. Get them made by a seamstress. For me it’s between $70-$80 per panel.




2. Go with a different window treatments and use a roman shade instead.


The proper ways to do curtains is as follows:


Brushing the floor: Structured Style


Positives: Gives off a clean cut and tailored room. No fuss!


Negatives: If you have problem floors then the crisp cut of the curtain will call attention to your uneven floor.


Breaking the Floor: Relaxed and Glam!



Positives: Gives your room a softer look. My favorite part about it is that it’s forgiving of imperfect measuring.


Negatives: Because your curtain panel will be 1 or 2” on the floor some may be nervous that it will get dirty easier.


* Overall this is a personal favorite of mine.


Pooling at the Floor: Lush!


Positives: Gives off a romantic feel with 2 plus inches on the floor.


Negatives: Same as with breaking the floor. Plus due to all of the extra floor you will not notice any sort of moulding/trim on the floor.


Here is a great sketch of the looks featured above by I dream of drapery:

Floor Length = Brushing the Floor

Trouser Length= Breaking the Floor

Pooling at the Floor = Puddle Length


So, who is with me? I can’t be the only that hates short curtains.


Images via 1. Google, 2 – 4 Sara Gilbane Interiors, 5 via I dream of Drapery

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34 Responses to Decorators’ Handbook: Curtain Length

  1. Jen says:

    ii purchased panels (after measuring of course) and I must not have taken something into consideration because once hung, they were too short. Every time I pass that window I notice it. I've been thinking about ripping out the bottom hem and re-stitching them to add length. Do you think that could work. I thought about adding extra fabric (kind of like a trim) onto the bottom to make them brush the floor but I thought it may look stupid. I'd love to hear your thoughts. The super long pooling curtains are my fave too!

  2. Scientific Housewife says:

    I hate short curtains as well. I might have to make some out of bed sheets for my new guest room but I want them to be long for sure!

  3. Janell @ Isabella and Max says:

    I agree!!! And where on earth do you get panels made for that price? Unlined or lined? Wow…Janell

  4. The Brick Cottage says:

    I think short curtains when done correctly can look good but most short curtains I see are ill fitting (like the ones in your picture–it looks like there was no thought as to where the curtains would fall). I love cafe curtains (especially in a breakfast nook) and in casual settings curtains that hit the window sill can look sweet and charming. But with all that said, I do like full length curtains the best.

    Jen, I recently added fabric to the bottom hem of some curtains that were too short and they look so much better now. It took me a year to do it and I wish I had done it sooner. Here's what ours look like to give you an idea of what yours might look like ( I think I used a fat quarter (? I think that was the term when I ordered my fabric) and I used the entire piece for the two panels.

  5. Amanda says:

    this post made me crack up! short curtains borderline annoy me. hehehe. all of the curtains in our house slightly "pool" and it was just two days ago that SUPER long curtains i bought from ikea finally got a hem to just "pool" a little opposed to "flodding". hahaha. cute informative post here lady! :)

  6. Elizabeth says:

    great post! I like just breaking the floor

  7. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says:

    i love the pooled effect, but i have 2 dogs, and one of them likes to take the extra length and make it into a bed and lay on its plushness…. so we have to do sweeping the floor in our house!

  8. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper says:

    i love the pooled effect, but i have 2 dogs, and one of them likes to take the extra length and make it into a bed and lay on its plushness…. so we have to do sweeping the floor in our house!

  9. Jade @ Flip Flops + Pearls Design says:

    Short curtains is a pet peeve of mine also. People can't think they look good when they hang them up and they are 4 feet off the floor! Definitely like the pooling curtains!!

  10. Sandi (Meme) says:

    So many choices, so little time…..I love the puddles, but not sure I would after awhile. I think I'll stick with the pool, and see how long I like that. I can hem my own, so I'm up $80! Thanks for the great post. Sandi

  11. Becky says:

    I am new to puddling drapes and have a question for you and your readers. Does it look okay to hang sheers under a puddled drape? If so, should they just skim the floor? And how big should the hem be?

    I have four of these panels in my dining room and would like a little extra privacy when the drapes are open.

  12. Kerry says:

    You are most definitely not the only one! When we moved into our house it came with all the window coverings. "A bonus", we thought until I realized every single set was TOO SHORT! The worst is in our guest bedroom and the living room. Our living room window looks like it's wearing flood pants. We haven't had a chance to replace them as our money has been focused on reno's… so I'm doing my best to "disguise it". I think I might sew some additional material on the bottom of the living room panels at least so they can brush the floor!

  13. 1 Funky Woman says:

    Short curtains drive me crazy! It is so easy to add a piece of material or fringe to make them longer. I think that drives me crazy just as much as crooked pictures!

  14. Carollynn @ designGumbo says:

    I'm with you – short curtains are the flood pants of decorating world. Alas, I mis-measured in my den and ended up with two sets of flood pant curtains. Thankfully, both windows have sofas in front of them, so the length is hidden and no one but me realizes the decorating faux pas. But still, I know they're too short.

  15. Risley says:

    totally agree!!! I have short!!

  16. Robyn says:

    I agree with you. I don't understand why companies offer the curtains that are installed at the top of the window, but are just long enough to go below the window molding. I don't mind the cafe curtains because they are meant for a kitchen. You typically don't want the kitchens touching the floor. Capri pants are cute on women and girls not on windows.

  17. Nichole@40daysof says:

    I agree, hate short curtains. Except for cafe curtains in some instances. Please do a post next on overdone windows. For Example: one window w/ net curtains, silk curtains, and some kind of scarf draped over the top. Is it just me, or is that too much?

  18. Maria Killam says:

    Yes I'm all about a little extra length, drapes that are too short really bug me too!

  19. Tammy@InStitches says:

    Breaking on the floor is my favorite length to make stationary panels. If they traverse then just slightly off the floor so they don't drag.

  20. cassie @ hi sugarplum! says:

    Short curtains bother me too…it's all I notice in a room. Instead of what might be lovely, I'm honed in on the high-water curtains!

    I have walls with 3 side-by-side windows…a) do they need drapes, and b) where do you hang them?

  21. Mrs. Chic says:

    I know that you mean, I'd rather my curtains be too long than too short!! Thankfully alot of companies are making longer pre-made drapes and curtains that can easily be hemmed. I buy 95 inch lengths instead of the 'standard' 84 inches. And then just hem as needed :)

  22. Kai says:

    This is a great post – I have made curtains for my living room (no sew – just used the hem tape), but haven't hemmed them yet because I wasn't sure which look I liked best. I think we'll have to do Option #1 because they're not just decorative and my son likes to play by the window so I'd be afraid of him trampling them.

    A thing I have found is the IKEA has great long-length curtains. We bought some cheapo white ones for my girls' room and I think they were 118" – plus they come with the hemming tape – for about $15. I think all (or most?) of their curtains are DIY-hem, so they have long lengths.

  23. Jill Marie says:

    I couldn't agree more! I love the line created by nice long curtains that sort of just plop at the bottom floor. Short ones bother me something fierce…like someone who wears a short skirt even if they've got incredible legs. I think the line created by the length is gorgeous!! Especially with the right fabric choice!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  24. Lissa @ After Adornment says:

    I can't stand this short curtain thing! I am also an advocate for going all the way to the ceiling as well (in most cases).

  25. Susie @ Maddie's Nest says:

    Oh this is a huge pet peeve of mine which is why I also always try to encourage clients to go with a professional measure, too!

  26. twolovelyspaces says:

    That drives me crazy too. I like curtains w/ the rod hung at ceiling height to lengthen a room.

  27. Teresa Hatfield says:

    After moving everything out of the room and starting over, I would use the puddle length or possibly trouser.
    I agree that this is as bad as chalk squeaking on the board!
    Teresa (Splendid Sass)

  28. miss katie says:

    i have short curtains because i didnt want to spend the money on long ones, and i was too impatient to look for them. how can i turn them into long ones? or should i just bite the bullet and buy long ones?

    i'm helpless!

  29. Stephanie Sabbe says:

    I hate this too!! I add fabric to the bottom on a lot of panels.

  30. Sarah says:

    I hear ya sister… I can't stand short curtains…

  31. Morgan @ says:

    I have (very basic) curtain panels made for me by my local dry cleaning company for just $10-15 a panel. It's such a simple stitch that I've found them to be by far the cheapest most efficient way to go!

  32. Tiffany L says:

    I too, have the same pet peeve… short curtains! I am moving into a new place and REALLY want to hang long curtains…Love the look, but practically all of the rooms have baseboard heaters. What should I do? Is it okay to hem the curtains so they fall a couple of inches above the heaters? I certainly don't want them going up in flames! YIKES!!!

  33. Hello Lover... says:

    I am with you – I always feel like people cheaped out or forgot to buy have the curtains!

  34. Megan Elizabeth says:

    I really love your decorators handbook posts! They're so informative. I was inspired by them and I started my own little column on my blog called "Design Glossary" they're for newbies like me (who thought ikat was pronounced with an "i").

    Just thought I'd let you know that I mentioned you in my post

    - Megan Elizabeth

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