How Long Should Curtains Be For An 8 Foot Ceiling?

Buying new curtains can be a pain. There are so many factors to consider- what color, what pattern, what material? Do they need to absorb sound, block light, or retain heat - or maybe all three? And then, once you've got that all figured out, it can be a guessing game as to the right size. No one wants to have to go back to the store for the next larger curtain - so we've explored all there is to know about curtain sizes so that you can get it right the first time.
For an 8 foot ceiling with standard windows and window installation, curtains are typically 84 inches long. As a general rule, curtains start about 6 inches above the window frame. This is also about a foot from the ceiling. As a result, 84-inch curtain panels will cover the distance between one foot from the ceiling and the floor.
Read on for more information on hanging curtains - how big the standard windows are, where they are placed, and what that means for your curtains. We'll also cover why curtains should reach the floor and the times when they shouldn't.
Elegant upholstered bench style seat, long curtains and pale pink rug in a white luxurious hallway interior, How Long Should Curtains Be For An 8 Foot Ceiling?

How Far From The Ceiling Should Curtains Be Hung?

Light cozy teen room with white bookcases, gray sofa and blue walls

Curtains aren't hung based on the ceiling, though obviously, they need to be high enough above the window frame to look "right."  A curtain rod squeezed in just above the window frame seems misplaced. Collectively, there's a particular look that we're all used to seeing for curtains. You might not know all the rules, but you can tell when that look is off. 

With that said, curtains, as a general rule, should hang somewhere around six inches above the window frame. You can get away with closer to three if it works better for you. However, going any shorter risks looking like you measured wrong. 

It also has a shrinking effect on the room. Lower curtains make the ceiling seem lower and, as a result, the room appears smaller. For this reason, you may also want to go higher than the typical six inches when hanging your curtains. Hanging curtains higher can work well and be visually pleasing while going too low rarely works. You can even hang curtains up to the ceiling.

How Tall Are Windows For 8 Foot Ceilings?

8-foot ceilings are still considered the standard for home construction. However, there truly is very little in more modern design that can still be assumed to be standard. As technology and tools make more things possible at a lower cost, people try to find design options that are different or unique.

As a result, this means that many things that we used to take for granted in home construction are not always true. For this reason, the best way to know the details for your specific home is the old-fashioned way - just measure.

With that said, typically, you must have at least 10 inches between the ceiling and the window as a header. Anything less becomes an engineering issue and, while possible, is less likely. Most windows install so that the top matches the door frames. This means window frames sit at 6 foot 8 inches on the wall.

This leaves roughly 16 inches for a header in an 8-foot ceiling. The window, give or take, will also be about three feet off the floor. This leaves a space for furniture placement. After all, no one wants to cover up the window with the couch. As a result, windows are roughly 42- 48 inches high - the space left available once the other practical concerns have been addressed.

How Many Inches Off the Floor Should Curtains Hang?

Much like rules for standard construction, the laws of design are fluid. Nothing is entirely set in stone. You can always make changes and adjust. It might be a matter of personal preference. Sometimes, it's necessary to suit a unique situation better.

However, curtains should hang basically to the floor. If curtains are shorter, it just looks strange. It's sort of like seeing someone in high-water pants - they clearly don't fit, the size is all wrong, and no one understands why. The flow of curtains to the floor is a visually pleasing way to join those separate elements. If you shortchange the curtains, it's jarring and unsettling. 

Spacious and bright bedroom interior with beige decorations, hardwood floor and a book on the window sill seat

For this reason, there are several curtains styles, but all hover around the rule of touching the floor. For example, puddled curtains are the longest style. Here, curtains reach the floor, and then some - excess material puddles on the ground (hence the name). Conversely, floating curtains are ones that stop (just barely) before they touch the floor. They almost reach but float an inch or less above. 

Is It OK To Have Short Curtains?

Small gray bathroom with white cabinets and short curtains

If you're going to have short curtains, it should probably have a clear reason. Again, think of it like high-water pants. When someone wears pants that are a few inches too short, everyone wonders why. Where's the flood? Did they really not notice? How, exactly,  did this situation manage to occur? However, when someone wears shorts, it's the intended style. No one questions it or asks where the rest of the pants went. It looks the way it's meant to look, and since it doesn't seem wrong, people don't even think twice about it.

Curtains are the same way. If your curtains are a couple of inches too short, it has a strange effect. Everyone knows what they expect curtains to look like, and that's not it. Even if they can't name what the problem is with the picture, they know something is wrong.

On the other hand, sometimes curtains are short, on purpose. Think about it - you've seen cafe curtains in the kitchen.  There are a few cases where curtains should be short - it's not only accepted, it's expected.

Hygiene or Cleanliness

Modern bathroom with shower

In some rooms, such as the bathroom, floor-length curtains might be unhygienic or inconvenient. No one wants curtains pooling to the floor right next to the shower.

Long Curtains Don't Fit

A view through an English kitchen window with dishes are washed and stacked

Sometimes, some furnishings or objects interfere. For example, in the kitchen, counters or sinks might make long curtains unrealistic. Even in the living room or bedroom, sometimes objects such as a heater or radiator can be in the way. In cases like this, avoiding floor curtains is perfectly sensible.

Just be sure that you wait to use short curtains until you need them. And pick intentionally short curtains, such as cafe curtains. Curtains just a few inches short or randomly placed seem more like an error than a choice. 

In Closing

Curtains for an 8-foot ceiling are typically 84 inches long. This allows you to hang curtains that begin about one foot below the ceiling and reach the floor. Sometimes, style might dictate hanging curtains higher than that. Some people also prefer curtains that are a bit longer, with extra material reaching past the floor. In this case, just go for the next size up. 96-inch curtain panels will give you plenty of additional material to work with.

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