How Long Should Curtains Be?

Back in the 90s, I was obsessed with super wide-leg jeans. (Who wasn’t?) But as a tall-ish person with long legs – I’m 5’8″ if you’re curious – finding a long enough pair was pretty tricky. Those raver-style jeans were meant to drag a little, looking all cool and beat up along the bottom. But on me? They floated an inch or two above the ground. I COULD NOT STAND THIS. And I wasn’t alone in this hovering pants phenomenon – I spotted it all over high school. I even gave it a name: Floaty Pants Syndrome, or FPS for short.

FPS is still one of my biggest pet peeves. And much to my dismay, people seem to be wearing Floaty Pants ON PURPOSE NOW. I do not understand a world where floating pants are okay.

So why the rant about too-short jeans? Because tailoring and fit are important when it comes to clothes and curtains. I get asked a lot of questions about curtain length, so I decided to answer a burning design question: how long should curtains be? (Spoiler alert – I am very strongly against too-short curtains.)

Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.

Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here. I’m an interior stylist and I transform boring beige spaces into pretty kickass colorful homes with an offbeat edge that are livable, delightful, and a little unexpected.

So, I have the million dollar decorating question today – how long should curtains be?

As with most things, there really is no one right answer. A lot of it comes down to individual preference. However, there are situations where a certain length is more appropriate or safer than others. If you have a radiator or heat vent of some sort, you don’t want long flowing curtains that are going to cover that and potentially cause a fire! So safety concerns aside, there are really four different lengths a curtain can be.

The first is window sill length. Those are not my favorite, and I don’t see many applications where short, short curtains really make a lot of sense. They can function well in a kitchen or a kids room when you don’t want them dangling too long, but aesthetically they’re never really my preference.

The next option is to have curtains floating just a bit above the floor, usually 1/2″ to 1″. Again, not my favorite. It can work in a pinch, especially if you’re buying ready-made drapes that are a little bit too short, but I think floating curtains look a little bit like floating pants. You kinda look like you’re wearing clamdiggers and it’s just not a great look.

My ideal length for curtains is with about a 1/2″ break

on the floor so that they just touch the floor and bow out a little bit but they’re not pooling and you don’t have a crazy amount of fabric left. I think that looks so chic and custom, and that is a tricky length to get right. You often do have to find either extra-long draperies and hem them, or work with a professional to get that perfectly tailored look.

Now, alternatively, if you love that long luxurious look, then go crazy! Let curtains pool and pile up on the floor. It’s a really rich, opulent style – and it’s also kinda casual, almost like you just don’t care about hemming your curtains. You can let them hang and have a lot of fun.

A lot of this depends on the kind of maintenance you want. Floating curtains above the floor are going to make it a little easier to vacuum and clean; curtains that are going to hit the floor or drape are going to get in the way a bit more when you’re cleaning up.

So there you go! My two cents on curtains. I am very picky about curtains and work with professionals all the time who know the way I like it and make sure they get it right, but it’s something that with a little ingenuity (possibly with a sewing machine) you can get right on your own and get a great designer look.

If you liked this video, share it with a friend. People have questions about curtains and now you have some information that can help them.

Want more awesome design tips and inspiration to break out of a “blah” home and let your rad self shine? Get my FREE guide, “Bring Personality to a Boring Space” right here. 🤘