When implemented properly, curtains can contribute nicely to a kitchen’s décor. However, you may wonder what dimensions these curtains should have or if you need them in your kitchen at all. We’ve done the research for you, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about kitchen curtain lengths, when kitchen curtains are and aren't necessary, and alternative window dressings.
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Kitchen windows are often placed above sinks, countertops, or stoves, so most kitchen curtains should be sill-length. You don’t want curtains to be too close to a stovetop, where they could create a fire hazard, or a sink, where they can get wet.
There are multiple sets of guidelines for valances’ ideal length. Some designers recommend that your valance’s length be 1” more than ¼ of the window’s height. Others say you should ensure the valance’s drop measure between 18” and 24”. Under these guidelines, you can consider a length as short as 16” if you want the valance to serve as an accent, or have a low ceiling or window. The length can be up to 28” if the valance will be hung at least 9’ from the floor.
We know that was a lot of information, so we’re going to break it all down for you in this post! We’ll talk about ideal lengths for valances and café curtains before discussing whether or not you need curtains in your kitchen, and we'll end by covering some alternative kitchen window dressings.
How long should a kitchen curtain valance be?
As we mentioned in our introduction, there are several schools of thought regarding curtain valance length. Ultimately, what you think will look the best for your kitchen is your decision, but these sets of guidelines can help jumpstart your thinking.
And if you still have questions about curtain dimensions when you're done reading this post, you can read our article on curtain widths next.
Valance Drop Vs. Valance Length
Before we discuss the guidelines, we’ll define some commonly used valance terms. When you’re considering valance length, you should know the difference between a valance’s length and its drop.
A valance’s length is its longest point, which is usually the side tails. The drop is the distance across the valance’s center from the top to the end of the fabric. You’ll often find that the valance’s drop is a swag or scalloped section.
When you determine your valance’s length, make sure you include the valance’s trim and the hanging tool's length (such as rings, tabs, or rod pocket) that you use in your measurement.
Valance Length Guidelines
According to one popular school of thought about ideal valance length, your drop should be between 18” and 24” long. You can have a drop as short as 16”, but anything smaller than that likely won’t work unless you have a low window and ceiling or you’re using the valance as an accent. Alternatively, you can try a valance up to 28” long if you’ll be hanging it at least 9’ off the floor.
Speaking of taller rooms, if you’re going to hang the valance significantly above the top of the window, you can use the distance from where the valance’s top will be to the floor to determine its ideal length. Measure this distance and divide it by 5 and 6 to get a range of suitable valance depths. Following this method, if you mount your valance 90 inches off the floor, then a length between 15” and 18” will work for it.
You can also approach valance length to make it 1” more than ¼ of the window’s height. Try this technique when the valance’s top is at or near the window’s top.
Yet another approach recommends that your valance length is between 1/6 and ¼ of the window’s height.
Like everything related to your home’s interior design, the valence’s length is your decision. Just choose which set of guidelines you feel works best for your kitchen.
Where to Hang the Valance
One method of installing a valance requires a 2-6” overlap between the valance and the top of the window and the window frame. You measure from the valance's bottom edge where it overlaps the window up to where the curtain rod or other hanging device will be. In other words, all of the valance minus the 2-6” overlapping the window frame will be above the window.
However, the method above only works if your valance isn’t too long, the ceiling is high enough, the crown molding isn’t too thick, and there are no obstacles between the ceiling and the window. If this method isn’t possible for your valance, you can hang it just below the ceiling or crown molding instead.
What length are cafe curtains?
Also known as tiers or tier curtains, café curtains are often hung in kitchens or bathrooms. They typically cover a window’s bottom panels, so they offer some privacy without blocking all of the light from the window. They’re usually 24” or 36” long and end at the window sill.
You can read our post on measuring for cafe curtains if you'd like more information on their dimensions.
Do kitchen windows need curtains?
Curtains have long been a popular window dressing option, but you don’t need to use them 100% of the time. Kitchens, in particular, can go without curtains for a variety of reasons.
First, kitchen curtains are more likely to get dirty than curtains in other rooms since you’ll often be preparing food near them. If you want kitchen curtains, consider getting some that can be easily cleaned or hang them away from areas where you’ll be preparing food or running water. Also, remember our earlier warning about keeping curtains away from stovetops so you can reduce the risk of a fire.
Second, you may want to forego curtains if your kitchen gets little natural light, as in this scenario, they won’t do much to help you control the amount that enters the room. You definitely won’t want opaque curtains, as these will stop light from getting into the room entirely.
Third, you can go without curtains if your kitchen has a superb view that you don't want to cover up or if your windows have a unique shape that would make finding suitable curtains difficult. In this case, you can look into custom-made curtains, but you might determine that the hassle isn’t worth it.
All that said, if you want curtains for privacy reasons or you think they’ll go well with your kitchen’s design, go ahead! Just be aware that you don’t have to get them if you don’t want to.
How can you dress your kitchen windows without curtains?
We’ve already talked about options for dressing a window without curtains in a previous post, but we’ll focus specifically on good choices for kitchen décor here. The good news is that you have an abundance of options for decorating your windows if you want something other than traditional curtains. We’ll provide a quick overview of some choices you have.
Alternate window coverings
Blinds, shades, and shutters have long been reliable alternatives to curtains. You can seek out different varieties that either let some light in even when they’re closed or block it out entirely. Also, consider whether you want an option with connected, adjustable slats, as these will let you choose exactly how much light enters the room.
If you value your privacy, but still would like to have some light in your room as needed, try something adjustable, like a Roman shade.
If you’re more interested in decorating your windows than blocking light, you can consider other options. Shelves, for instance, can be installed above your window. This gives you a bit more storage space and makes the kitchen look unique and festive with the decorations you choose to keep there. You can also install extra lighting fixtures over the window to improve visibility. If you want to get creative, try hanging a piece of wood with a stenciled message across the top of the window.
Nothing at All!
Lastly, you could always decide that the best window dressing is no dressing at all! Some homeowners may decide that their kitchen looks great without window decorations, and if you fall into that category or nothing you try suits your tastes, that’s perfectly fine!
These choices scratch the surface of what you can do when dressing your kitchen windows. We could talk in much more depth on this topic (and we have in another post), but these selections give you an idea of what’s out there.
When you’re thinking about how you can dress your kitchen windows to complement the room’s décor, you have plenty of options. You can go with curtains or any other dressing as you see fit. Just take your time and choose some kitchen decorations that you’ll enjoy seeing whenever it’s time to make dinner!