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Curtains 911: The Long and Short of It



When I was young I probably had pants that were way too short for me, due to growth spurts, clothing budgets and hey, I don’t think it was a big deal back then. However, when it comes to curtains I have to say, “FLOOD’S OVER!”


I am visiting homes all the time. I often see the challenge homeowners have of finding the right curtain length for their space. Window treatments, in general, are always a challenge. I think it boils down to a few factors: price, what’s available, and install. I’m no expert but I have a few general thoughts that are helpful to anyone. 

Let’s face it. Custom made lined curtains in something that coordinates with your design are expensive. Buying something off the shelf, at a retail level, is much more budget friendly. It’s not entirely limiting, but they usually come in a few standard lengths - typically:

84”

96”

108”

Unless you end up shortening the 84” length ones for whatever reason - hanging above a radiator, a custom odd space in a home, I really never see 84” curtains working well in a typical room. When you get into the 96” length or 108” length then you may need to hem them to get them to the perfect length, depending on how high you hang your curtain rod. 

For my very basic recommendations, the higher you hang your curtain rod, the better, as it will make your room look taller. And for how long the curtains should be? A very general rule of thumb is just touching the floor or you can puddle them for a more luxurious, warmer feel. 

I didn’t feel like spending a lot on curtains for my home office. I had huge windows to cover though. I wanted them lined and I liked the idea of tying them in to the other mid-century and Hollywood Regency pieces I had in the room. I found some vintage ones online in North Carolina that were the perfect width and style but not the perfect length. I imagine some doyenne of design back in the 50’s had them custom made for her home. They are extremely over engineered, sewn beautifully and still have a great quality to them. I knew something had to be done about the length though.


I am not a sewer but I have enough skill to operate a sewing machine and get through simple straight sewing. If you have this level of skill you can do this too. I measured what I thought was the extra amount of fabric I needed and the staff at my go to fabric store - Designer Fabrics, were enormously helpful and even told me how to cut the fabric, lay it out and sew it! 


I attached the extra piece at the bottom and then added pom pom fringe, well, because I love it, and voila - longer curtains that now puddle to the floor. It’s not the greatest sewing job but it works. If you are inexperienced getting the exact length may be a challenge, but as long as it’s longer and not shorter than you wanted you are okay!

Here are some other links on expert advice on curtain length etc.:

From Real Simple

From House Beautiful

From West Elm

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