Curtains are functional. They block light coming through your windows and provide you with privacy by preventing people from seeing into your home. At their best, curtains go beyond function and enhance the look of your room. If your curtains are too long or too short, they detract from your decor rather than enhance it. Get your curtains' length right and you're on your way to a beautifully decorated room.
Floor Length Curtains
Just as pants that are several inches too short are unflattering and distracting, so are curtains that are too short. Curtains that either hang about 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the floor, just touch the floor or have a slight break look neat and professional. Decorators often hang curtains so that they are as close to the ceiling as possible, to make windows and ceilings look taller. This is good advice, so do hang your curtains as high as possible, but not so high that they do not touch the floor.
Puddled curtains are an exception to the "just touching the floor" rule. Puddled curtains are several inches too long. Puddled curtains have a luxurious look that is often preferred by homeowners who have formally decorated and furnished homes. Puddled curtains work best when they are stationary, meaning that you do not need to open and close them often. They also look best when they are made from luxurious fabrics and are placed in formal settings.
You may choose to dress shorter windows with shorter curtains. Short windows that do not extend close to the floor are often found in bathrooms and kitchens. If your window is closer to the ceiling than the floor, it can look awkward to have floor-length curtains. Instead, hang or hem your curtains so that the bottom of the panel is either just touching the window sill, or hanging to the bottom of the trim underneath the window.
Standard Ready-made Curtain Lengths
The height of your home's ceilings often determines the length of your curtain panels, as builders usually install taller windows in homes with higher ceilings. Ready-made curtains generally come in standard lengths: 84 inches for 8-foot ceilings, 96 inches for 9-foot ceilings and 108 inches for 10-foot ceilings. If you like to puddle your curtains, simply buy one size up. You can sometimes find curtains that are 120 inches long; these work well for puddling curtains in a home with 10-foot ceilings.
When you hang your ready-made curtains, always measure them first. Dimensions listed on the curtain packages are approximate, and the actual curtain may be slightly longer or shorter than the package states. Take any curtain rings or headers into consideration, as these can add or take length away from curtain measurements.