Should curtains touch the floor? Designers decode the right length for you

The perfect length for curtains depends on the aesthetic and mood of your space – here's how to get the look you desire

voile curtains by patio doors in dining seating area
(Image credit: Hillarys)

Curtains are an eternal source of debate amongst designers – many of which discuss how the said window treatment will look in a contemporary space – and how to make them work in your home. Though the question of 'should curtains touch the floor?' is, perhaps, the most provocative of these queries.

If you've spent some time considering the best curtain ideas for your home, you will know that your chosen materials and colors count towards how your overall space will look. However, experts warn that the length of your curtains is equally impactful in achieving the aesthetic you want. 

So, before you learn how to measure for curtains, it's important to consider the length that will ensure your space looks as you hope. Here's what the experts want you to know. 

Should curtains touch the floor?

'The perfect length for curtains depends on the aesthetic and mood of the space. However, curtains should either just touch the floor or be longer and puddle on the floor,' says Oshri Adri and Jillian Dahlman, the co-founders of Adri + Dahlman Interiors.

1. Opt for floor length curtains for a clean finish

Study with a modern wood desk and pale grey office chair and a large window, pale grey carpet and curtains and blue walls

(Image credit: Mark Bolton Photography)

Oshri and Jillian say, 'curtains that just touch the floor look tailored, clean, and custom – even if they are not. This is our go-to length, as most of the rooms we design are more contemporary and minimalist.'

Having your curtains flush to the floor can create a neat and streamlined look, ideal for a more modern curtain ideas.

2. Puddle your curtains for a classic look

red and white striped curtains in living room

(Image credit: Tori Murphy)

Alternatively, if you're looking for bedroom, kitchen, or living room curtain ideas that are more dramatic, traditional, or elegant, many designers recommend making your drapery longer so that it pools on the floor.

Emma Clarke, director at Warner House says, 'at Warner House, “more is more” and in almost every instance we would advise curtains should be full length: puddled for a traditional feel, or flush to the floor for a modern finish.'

Amy Bant, fabric and soft furnishing specialist at Graham & Brown also supports this and says, 'you can create a beautiful draping effect by adding a few extra centimeters to your drop when you measure for curtains, allowing for elegant puddles of fabric to form as it reaches the floor.'

Remember, when exploring what fabric to use for a puddled effect, very lightweight or heavier fabrics will pool the best.

3. Let your curtains sit at sill-length

Country, period bedroom with wooden bunkbed, dressed with blankets and cushions, curtains below bunk bed, beamed ceiling

(Image credit: Future)

As we have explored, floor length curtains are usually the go to option for designers, and are often perceived as the best looking choice. However, sill-length curtains can also be another option to consider.

Maybe you have pets and feel like long, puddled curtains will get ruined, or have a radiator positioned under your window and do not want it covered with curtains, there are a number of reasons sill-length curtains can work well – and they can be just as stylish.

Usually found in more traditional, period properties, as shown above in this cozy kid's room, sill-length curtains are ideal for smaller windows for cottage curtain ideas, and may be a more practical option for certain rooms in the home.

Is it okay if your curtains don't touch the floor?

Whilst floor-length curtains are usually the most popular option, your chosen curtain length really depends on the overall look and feel you want in a space, as well as where they are being hung in the home.

Designers tend to agree that curtains that don't touch the floor are less common in contemporary homes. However, interior designer, Sarah Montgomery, explains:

'You can float the curtains up to 1" off of the floor, and this will give the illusion that they go to the floor,' Sarah says. 'This option is recommended if the curtains are wool or linen, which will lengthen after hanging. It should also be considered if floors are uneven, so you don't have pooling on one end.'

If you're living with pets but decide to try the 'floating' window treatment idea, you should aim for at least a 1/2" float, so they don't collect dust or pet hair.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.