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5 Curtain Lengths & When to Choose Them

curtains on large window in a living room

I love curtains. They can instantly make a room feel more stylish, pulled together, and finished. They also help control light, give you privacy, and increase energy efficiency. But figuring out the correct curtain lengths can be totally confusing. How high should you mount your curtain rod? How long should your curtains be? Should they touch the floor or not? The truth is, it depends. Bali Drapery comes in five different curtain lengths, and each one serves a purpose. Here are my recommendations.

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1. Sill: 1/2" above the window sill. Casual and charming. These are the shortest of the standard curtain lengths, which makes them a good opportunity to have some fun with pattern or color. Since they take up less visual space, you won't get tired of a bold choice.

Where to use them: Small windows and windows above heaters, counters, or furniture that would block full-length drapes. I especially like sill curtain lengths for kitchen and bathroom windows.

Tip: Before committing to a fabric, order swatches online. Order up to five free swatches!

2. Apron: 1" below the bottom of the window apron. Crisp and unfussy. These aren't as popular as they used to be, but apron curtain lengths are still acceptable and undeniably practical. Your curtains won't gather dust and dirt from the floor, and they'll be easy to open and close.

Where to use them: Windows where radiators or furniture would block full-length curtains.

Tip: Apron curtain lengths run the risk of looking too short. To ensure they feel like an intentional part of your design, I recommend using them only if something prevents floor-length curtains—such as a window seat.

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3. Floor: 1/2" above the floor. Polished and stylish. This is my favorite length, and it's popular right now for good reason. Floor-length curtains will elongate your window and make your room feel taller. Since they don't quite touch the floor, curtains hang perfectly straight. The hem also stays clean and doesn't pick up dirt, dust, and pet hair.

Where to use them: Living rooms, family rooms, or any high-traffic area. This is a beautiful and practical option that works well in many rooms.

Tip: It's not just important to get your curtain lengths right. The width is equally crucial. The two are related; generally, longer curtains require more fullness to look balanced. For floor curtain lengths, a good rule of thumb is to take the width of your window and double it, or multiply for 1.5 for a more tailored look.

4. Trouser: 2" more than the length to the floor. Tailored and sophisticated. Like a good pair of pants, these curtains have a break at just the right place, which makes them look effortlessly chic. This looks especially good with crisp, thicker fabrics.

Where to use them: Formal dining room curtains, bedroom curtains, or any room with less foot traffic where you want an elegant look.

Tip: Traditionally, you'd mount your curtain rods one to three inches above the top of your window frame. But my favorite trick is to hang your curtain rod higher (a couple inches below the ceiling). It'll instantly make the room feel taller and grander. You should also hang the rod wider than the window itself, so no fabric blocks the window when the curtains are open. This will let in the maximum amount of light!

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5. Puddle: 6–10" more than the length to the floor. Luxurious and dramatic. This look is beautiful when done right, but it's not for curtains that are routinely opened and closed. It's also not recommended if you have pets or young kids. That extra fabric pooling at the bottom will gather pet hair, crumbs, and dirt.

Where to use them: In rooms where you want your curtains to make a statement. This look is best for tall windows.

Tip: Your fabric choice matters a lot. A beautiful sheer linen will puddle gracefully for a romantic, elegant, and bohemian look...a thick cotton fabric might just look like your ordered them too long. Make sure the fabric you choose is a good fit for "the puddle."