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Choosing beutiful new curtains for your home is great way to add the finishing touches to a room. But choosing the right curtain style and length are important decisions for homeowners.
If you're looking to purchase curtains, you may be thinking the same questions as everyone else: Should curtains touch the floor?
The answers is... it depends.
There are a range of curtain styles for both shorter curtains and long curtains. Plus, your decision will also depend on your home decor style, the desired functionality and the room (living room curtains might vary from kitchen curtains).
A curtain drop measurement shows you the length of your curtains from the top of the window to the bottom of the window - in other words, the measurement of your curtains from top to bottom.
Erin Banta adds, "curtain drop is the length from the top of the curtain to the bottom. The standard curtain drop length is 96."
Before purchasing curtains, you’ll want to decide on the curtain length you desire. Pick a curtain style, make sure your curtain rod matches, and make a choice between longer-length curtains and shorter ones.
How Far Should Curtains Hang From The Floor?
There are several choices to consider when deciding on your curtain length. This will also depend on the placement, such as bedroom curtains, those for family rooms, or dining rooms.
Some questions to consider - do you have a formal dining room or casual? Must your home be child- and pet-friendly? There are many different curtain lengths to choose from.
Puddling or Trouser-Length
Puddling curtains form a little "puddle" on the floor, making the curtain length longer than the distance from the curtain pole to the floor.
This style was inspired by the ornate, romantic style of European homes.
As a rule of thumb, puddle-length curtains extend at least 6 inches onto the floor and work best for tall windows and doors in a bedroom, family room, kitchen or dining room — basically anywhere you might have an almost full height window.
If you’d like less of a ‘puddle’, you can opt for trouser length curtains, which means a length that is at least 2 inches more than the length to the floor.
"For a more dramatic look, add 2-4 inches to the length of the curtains so they 'puddle' on the floor,” explains Angela Boswell. “It is harder to open and close this length curtain. To keep the curtains clean, you must lift them off the floor during opening and closing. Use soft, flowing fabrics. A stiffer fabric will not lay nicely on the floor."
Want a More Opulent Look? Try Pooling
Pooling allows 6-8 inches of draping on the floor. This style is ideal for someone who doesn't want curtains for privacy or to block the sun, as opening and closing these curtains isn't wise. They are designed to stay open and can add an elegant look to the living room or dining room.
"Breaking refers to window curtains that are 1 inch longer than floor length. A clean look that works well with all fabrics and window curtains, it has a bit more of a stylized feel than floating. These curtains can still be opened and closed without much fuss,’ explains Angela Boswell.
"A clean look that works well with all fabrics and window curtains, it has a bit more of a stylized feel than floating."
Breaking is another great option for floor-length curtains and gives a room a modern look. Breaking works especially well to compliment spaces with high ceilings.
Erin Banta's suggestion is to "create a casual break at the bottom of your curtain panel by adding ~1 inch to the panel measurement, and this allows the panels to lie naturally on the floor."
Erin Banta explains, "Grazing is when the curtain panel lies just above the floor, hence the name. This offers a clean, no-fuss look that won't collect dust or dirt and makes the curtains look custom to the space."
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"Floating is when the curtain stops just above the floor, ½ inch to 1 inch Any more than 1 inch and the curtains will appear too short,” explains Angela Boswell.
“This look is good for high-traffic areas that need constant cleaning."
“This look is good for high-traffic areas that need constant cleaning. This is the chosen style for curtains that will be opened and closed. This length will work with all types of curtains and fabrics," adds Boswell.
Apron-length curtains are short and suitable for homes with kids and pets. These curtains won't get too dusty and usually sit around a few inches below the window sill, well above the floor.
Short or apron-length curtains are great when you don’t want long drapes extending to the floor. They are best for kitchens or bathrooms but can work in any room. If you’re opting for shorter curtains in a living room, you can also place a piece of furniture in front of the window to give the appearance that the curtains disappear behind the furniture.
If you like the short style and have small windows, cafe curtains could also be worth trying. Cafe style means that your curtains hang halfway down the window. This style tends to work best above a kitchen sink or at a window where you can look out into your garden.
Floor-length curtains make the room appear bigger and give a modern look to your home.
Your window frame looks bigger.
Erin Banta has this to say: "[a floor-length style] gives your room a more formal look and creates a nice break in the fabric. If the curtains kiss the floor, this gives off a custom, intentional look."
Cons of having your curtains touching the floor
Keeping them clean is hard.
You have to rearrange them when cleaning.
It is hard to get the correct measurement.
This style is not child- or pet-friendly.
"Cleaning around longer curtains takes a little more time and caution carefully lifting the panels and not pulling on the rod," advises Angela Boswell.
Expert Erin Banta adds: "Your curtain panels won't open as easily. More of a chance for them to collect dust and dirt if they are puddled on the floor."
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Should curtains go all the way to the floor?
Let's hear from the experts: "The length of curtains is a personal choice that should align with the style of the room. Floating or breaking may be more practical if a room is high traffic or the home has children and pets. For rooms where the window draperies are purely for aesthetics, the longer styles of puddle and pool will be like a statement piece for the room," Angela Boswell.
The length of curtains is a personal choice that should align with the style of the room."
"Whatever style you choose, don't go too short. Just like the hemline of a dress, the wrong length of curtains can throw the whole look off."
Can curtains be a few inches off the floor?
Yes, floating curtains will be a few inches off the floor.
How many inches should a curtain puddle on the floor?
Angela Boswell said it best - the wrong curtain length can throw the whole look off. Aim for around 6 inches of fabric 'puddling' on the floor. You can opt for trouser-length if you’d like 2-4 inches of curtain on the floor.
Is it OK if my curtains don't touch the floor?
Well, it is your house, so you get the final say! So, should curtains touch the floor? It all depends on personal opinion, decor preferences, and lifestyle. Floor-length curtains are the most popular choice, but that doesn't mean short curtains are a no-no. An apron-length curtain style can look great as well.
Ready-made curtains come in the following lengths, so whether you want them to touch the floor or not, you should find what you’re looking for:
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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