How long should curtains be?

marvelousmarvinMay 7, 2012

I always thought that the curtains should be long enough so that they just kiss the ground, or hovers just a bit above the ground.

But, I was in JC Penny looking at ordering different curtains, and the person working there seemed like she really knew her stuff. And, according to her, she said it was more of a personal preference and that it was perfectly acceptable for the curtains to be shorter.

She said that it was fine too if the curtains were shorter than the ground by a inch or even too short to touch the ground by a couple of inches, and she showed some photographs showcasing that.

With sliding doors in the living room that connects to a patio outside, I was thinking about using grommet curtains that would easily slide back and forth to give you access to the sliding doors and thus to the outside. But, if the curtains are going to be moved back and forth a lot like that, wouldn't it better if there was a clear separation between the floor and ground by a couple of inches so the curtains would never get slowed down by the floor when you use them? Or, would that just look weird and sloppy?

It seems like curtain length is a function of how formal the curtains are- longer curtains are more formal than shorter curtains. Fancy, silk curtains are longer where they pool a bit on the floor. But, these grommet curtains will be casual, 100% cotton in the living room between the living room and the patio outdoors.

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Annie Deighnaugh

While it is personal preference, my library drapes came out a couple of inches too short and they looked a person wearing floods, so we lowered the rod so now they just skim the floor and look so much better. In my bedroom, I let them touch even more til they almost puddle. Or they can stop at a natural break point like a sill or window skirt.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 7:45AM
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Call it personal preference, but why would someone purposefully choose drapes that are too short to touch the ground by a couple of inches? When I see that, it looks like the curtains or drapes were put up with inattention to detail, possibly by someone trying to cheap out with a shorter length or not wanting to take the time to hem longer ones.

If there is an issue such as a radiator in the way, then form follows function. But otherwise I don't get it.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 9:21AM
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You wouldn't need to have drapes 2 inches above the ground to clear the floor and I wouldn't see any other reason for them to be that short. happen to have my husband as the installer.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:09PM
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My ID says that drapes should hit the floor with enough extra to make a nice break, like a nicely tailored pair of men's trousers where they hit the top of the shoe.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I like drapes that just almost hit the floor - about 1/2 inch or so above the floor, depending on the type of flooring you have. I think that you can get them closer if you have a hard flooring surface.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:38PM
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We have grommet curtains on a rod covering our sliding patio doors. Their is little space above the door to hang the rod due to the soffit, and the curtains are a bit too long, puddling on the floor. I put the hemming project on my to-do list, but would still have them breaking on the floor as nini said. I think it would look like a mistake if the curtains were shorter and hung above the floor. We have no problems moving the panels across the rod and they look nice when they are pulled back which is all of the time except at night.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:45PM
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Mine are kissing the floor, and my mother critiqued them saying, "why are your drapes touching the floor?!?!" So, definitely personal preference. :)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 5:50PM
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I don't "get" curtains dragging on the floor if they are being opened and closed everyday. So, yes, some of it is personal preference.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:22PM
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I was trying to convince myself that too-short curtains would be okay.

To make a long story short, I have a place that's a rental and I needed to wash the drapes because the tenant sneaked in a cat. After washing the curtains, they all shrunk unevenly but all of them are now too short to be re-used. They're not long enough to just touch the carpet by a good couple of inches.

To top it all off, I can't just buy new curtains to replace the ones that shrunk cause they don't sell the same style of curtains in the same length anymore. And, these sliding doors are extra tall so 108" curtains are too short for them.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:10AM
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Marvelousmarvin, maybe curtain rings would add an inch or so to your drapes. They are clip ons and come in varying sizes.
I like the look of drapes kissing the floor but it does make cleaning a bit more work... I do think curtain length is fashion or trend related rather than a real rule tho. Puddled drapes were all the rage ten years ago and now higher hung just to the floor is what I see in shelter mags,and, back in the day window sill length was common too.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:24AM
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I a, very surprised the sales lady said that, I think anymore then an inch looks funny.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Do you sew?

You could add a contrasting band of fabric at the bottom. It would be wider than the amount that had shrunk. I would say maybe a 12" band.

There are some instructions and an example in this blog(linked below). You could also use a solid contrast.

Even if you don't sew, I would think it would not be too expensive of a project for a seamstress.

Here is a link that might be useful: curtains

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:00AM
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