Curtains – The Height, The Width And The Length Of It

How high you mount your curtains may seem unimportant, but it’s far from it. The height you use has the power to visually enlarge – or shrink – your room. The width of your curtains has the power to lighten your room. And the length has the power to style your room.

How high to go

Too often I visit homes where curtains are hung too low – usually this will be just above the window or half-way between the window and ceiling.

I almost always install curtains so they hang from ceiling height (just beneath the scotia or from the ceiling).

This lifts your eye which makes your ceilings look higher and therefore your room larger. It makes your room warmer when the curtains are closed, and darker at night too.

Curtains aren’t always best hung from ceiling/scotia height – sometimes a home has a very high (over 3.2 m) ceiling with the area between the window and ceiling so large that the curtains need to be a little lower. But even in this case, I go at least 2/3 the distance towards the ceiling to retain the grandeur of the room. (And sometimes curtains need to be dropped to work in with other ceiling heights/sight lines/windows.)

How wide to go

We all know that a room that receives more natural light is better for it.

But too often, curtain tracks are too short so that when the curtains are open, the fabric covers part of the windows, stopping light from entering.

The ideal length of your track/rod will depend of the width of your window/doors. Also, sometimes – annoyingly – things get in the way such as radiators, bookcasing and other walls which means curtains may have to cover a bit of window. In this case, I use a curtain header that requires less stack-back, or I bend tracks and rods around corners to get the curtains off the windows. This photo credit – same size window, dramatic difference:

How low to go

Gone are the days in New Zealand where we hung curtains to just beneath the window sill.* Or where we had curtains floating 1-2cm off the floor.

There are 3 lengths I use to achieve a beautiful and functional room:

The Barely-there Float

The curtains are only off the floor by less than half a cm. The curtains won’t look like they’re off the floor – as they’re only barely off. This can be the best solution if you mop your floors often or if the curtain is next to an external door – to avoid the fabric getting dirty.

The Kiss

The curtains just skim the floor. You need a good measurer and installer for the Barely-there Float and The Kiss (another reason to use an experienced interior designer). Curtains that just kiss the floor look very intentional and stylish and accurate.

The Puddle

A Puddle adds softness to a room, such as a bedroom and living room which needs a more relaxed look.

Generally, I puddle only 2cm and only up to 5cm – depending on the look I’m wanting to achieve.

If the puddle is too big ( this is usually more than 5cm) to me it looks like the curtains have accidentally made too long, and they’ll drag across the floor when you pull them. I generally want to shorten curtains when I see this.

I use puddling for some fabrics more than others. It’s a non-negotiable with linens, and it can look amazing on shimmery fabrics and velvets. Generally, the length of puddle depends on the style of the room/home.

Puddling is particularly useful in older bungalows and villas, as floor levels can vary across a wall. Puddling masks these discrepancies as the curtains will touch the floor the entire length of the windows/doors.

*There’s a BUT to every tip – for instance curtains finishing beneath a window can look perfect in a mid-century home – but only when the interior architecture/design is also well considered.

Going to different lengths – Barely-there Float; The Kiss; Small Puddle to longer Puddle.

Book in a window furnishings consultation

To book a Window Furnishings home consultation in the Wellington Area, call Heidi on 021 026 30012 or email her at Her fee is $195 plus gst. She will bring fabrics to your home, and measure and quote. Heidi project manages through to installation.

Heidi also installs all types of blinds – shutters, roller, roman and honeycomb. She meets clients at the Wellington Design Library to select fabrics if necessary.

Heidi has 10 years’ experience specifying and project managing window furnishings for every style of home – from new builds to villas.