When designing the look of your bedroom, curtains can play a big role. There are endless choices for styles, patterns, and material, and everyone’s tastes differ. But luckily, home decorators almost universally agree on the answer to one question – should bedroom curtains be long or short?
Like most other rooms, curtains should extend to the floor (give or take an inch). In the bedroom, curtains should only be short when something would interfere with their ability to reach the floor. For example, the headboard of a bed or a radiator placed under the window.
So if curtains extend to the floor, what exceptions are there to this rule? Do long or short curtains change the look of the room? And do the curtains all have to match? All that and more will be answered in this post, so keep reading.
Bedroom Curtain Length
As we’ve mentioned, it’s best for the curtains in the bedroom to reach the floor. This visually elongates the room and helps pull the aesthetic of the room together. There are a few different curtain hanging lengths that we’ll look at in more depth.
Truly, the only time that curtains in the bedroom should be short is when there is something in front of the window. This includes items like a headboard, a radiator, or any other bulky furniture. The short curtains can reach just above the item in front of the window and it will still look amazing.
How Far Below The Window Should Curtains Hang?
Curtains are typically hung so that they reach the floor or roundabout. The exact distance between the floor and curtain edge can be one of several options:
Floating curtains end about a 1/2 inch above the floor. It’s ideal for curtains that open or close often in high traffic areas (as they are out of the way when sweeping or vacuuming).
Be aware that this is a less formal style. Also, be sure you don’t go too short or it looks like a mistake.
In this style, curtains reach the floor exactly. No more and no less. This is an extremely precise style. You have to be very confident in your ability to measure the exact right length.
When curtains extend an inch or 2 past the floor, it creates a sort of casual, visually broken hemline compared to the neat, straight lines of the prior styles. This can be an informal look that is great for a relaxed bedroom.
This style can be trouble for kids or pets, who walk across the edges of the curtains. Also, they collect dust and get dirty simply due to the close proximity to the floor.
Together with breaking curtains, puddled curtains also leave an excess of fabric that hangs beyond the floor. Puddled curtains extend by at least 6 inches, pooling onto the floor. This is a dramatic look that can work in a bedroom with the right romantic or ornate flair.
Like breaking curtains, the contact with the floor can mean frequent cleanings. They can also be difficult to vacuum around, as you have to rearrange the curtains in order to reach the floor.
You can read more about curtain length here: Should Curtains Touch The Floor? [Inc. Two Cases When They Shouldn’t]
When Can You Use Short Curtains?
There is, of course, an exception to every rule. While curtains are typically long, there are 2 situations in which a short curtain may be preferred. They are:
- When long curtains reaching the floor are inconvenient or unhygienic – for example, in a bathroom.
- When curtains cannot reach the floor anyway because another object interferes, such as a window above a kitchen counter.
Short curtains may be referred to as sill-length (stopping about 1/2 inch above the window sill) or apron (extending about 1 inch past the bottom edge of the window). Be careful to avoid going any longer than that; it starts to look as though your curtains are the wrong size by mistake, and not as a deliberate and intentional design choice.
The biggest con to short curtains is simply how they appear to lower the ceiling by cutting the vertical height of the room. While convenient, they tend to look “unfinished.” In addition, some people think they look dated or old-fashioned.
To learn more about picking between long or short curtains, see How To Choose Curtains For The Bedroom.
Do Long Or Short Curtains Make A Room Look Bigger?
Long curtains can make a room look bigger, however, it’s more about curtain placement than the actual length. By hanging the curtain rod up high near the ceiling, instead of the window sill, the curtain panel draws attention up the entire length of the wall. This gives the illusion of a higher ceiling and more vertical space.
If you’re trying to make a room appear larger, it’s important to follow the advice that curtains should extend to the floor. The entire visual trick works because of the “line” made by the curtains, drawing the eye from floor to ceiling. If that line stops abruptly a foot off the floor, it simply fails to create the right effect.
To further enhance the height and make a small room appear bigger, you can also :
- Hang curtains with vertical stripes (thin stripes are most effective).
- Use a longer curtain rod.
- Select curtains made of a sheer or lightweight material.
- Pick curtains in a shade slightly lighter than the walls.
Do Curtains Have To Match In A Room?
Many people choose to have matching curtains, as it makes decorating simple. However, curtains do not have to match. To ensure that having different curtains in the same room looks deliberate rather than accidental, follow these tips:
- Identify the windows that you want as a focal point. Perhaps some windows will match, but the window by the bed will be different. By acknowledging and intentionally treating this window as different, it already seems like a well-constructed choice and not a sloppy design.
- Use one fabric type throughout the room. This gives you the opportunity to use different patterns, styles, and colors, but still keep the overall look cohesive in a subtle way.
- Work within a specific color palette. The best way to make sure all the curtains coordinate is to pick a few colors that remain consistent.
It’s also very helpful to give yourself permission to not match. By trying to make things “nearly” identical, the few differences actually stand out and seem like a mistake. It’s visually distracting and can create tension in the room. Be bold about using different curtains rather than trying to pick something that is close, but not quite, the same.
To read more, check out Should Bedroom Curtains Match Bedding?
How Can You Make Your Curtains Longer/Shorter?
If your curtains aren’t hanging quite right, and they are a couple of inches too short or too long, it can be an easy fix. If they are slightly too short, try adding curtain clips. All you’ll need are curtain clips that are wide enough to fit on your rod, such as these large clips:
Curtain clips add about 1-2 inches of length. It varies based on the diameter of the clips you select. Be sure to use an odd number of clips for even spacing.
If your curtains are a little too long, and you need them shorter, the easiest solution is to hem them. Be sure to wash your curtains first, if you expect to ever wash them in the future. You don’t want to take time to adjust the curtains to the perfect size just to have them shrink in the wash.
You can hang them, then fold and pin as needed to make your new hemline. Remove the curtains, then hem. To avoid actual sewing, try HeatnBond hem tape, which only requires an iron.
Bedroom curtains should hang to floor-length, give or take an inch or so. Short curtains are typically only used when long curtains are unrealistic (such as when a radiator, the bed headboard, or some other object would interfere with the curtains). In addition, long curtains provide a better aesthetic and can make the room appear bigger, especially when hung higher than the window frame.