Should curtains touch the floor?

UK Home Improvement

Should curtains touch the floor?

It’s fair to say that curtains are a common decorative sight in almost every home in the UK. 

Used in front of windows as a stylish way to block light while also improving the aesthetic of a room, these days there are so many different types of curtains available. With this in mind, choosing the right type for your room can be an overwhelming task. This is particularly the case when you consider that often curtains can be tailored specifically to each room of the house.

One common question people have when installing new curtains is ‘should curtains touch the floor?’ 

While their functionality is a priority, people also want to be rest assured that their curtains will look good. This is why people will usually consider a variety of curtain lengths, also known as drop length, before deciding on the type of curtain that is right for them.

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether curtains should touch the floor, as well as outline everything you need to know about selecting the right curtains for your home.

The benefits of curtains 

Before we examine whether curtains should touch the floor, let’s first look at why they’ve become so popular in homes in the UK.

Curtains started replacing wooden shutters in Great Britain at some point in the 16th century, so they’ve been part of our lives for at least 500 years. 

They provide a whole host of benefits to properties, including:

  • Privacy – One of the biggest benefits of curtains is that they can enhance your home’s privacy. By blocking the view into your home from the outside, you can relax in the knowledge that no nosy neighbours, or worse opportunistic thieves, will be able to see what’s going on inside your property. This is particularly useful for terraced houses or properties that open out onto the street. Furthermore, they can also help reduce noise from the street interfering with your day-to-day activities, by acting as a sound barrier.   
  • Light control – While most people love the sunshine, the blinding light it sometimes brings can be irritating and uncomfortable. This is particularly the case for south or east-facing homes that get more sunlight. Curtains help control the amount of natural light entering your home, meaning you can dictate the atmosphere. 
  • Protecting furniture – Staying on the topic of sunlight, UV rays have the potential to be harmful – especially to furniture. For instance, sofas chairs, flooring, artwork and more can all fade over time if exposed to significant or long periods of rays from the sun. Curtains will help prevent this from happening. 
  • Enhancing aesthetics – As well as their range of functional benefits, curtains are also great at enhancing the aesthetics of a room. These days, curtains are available in a wide range of colours, patterns, textures and designs. This means no matter what your personal style is, you’re bound to find options that boost your interior design efforts.  
  • Minimising heat loss – Yes, that’s right, curtains can even act as a form of insulation. Thicker curtains are great at keeping heat inside your property during the winter months and preventing rooms from overheating if in the view of direct sunlight in the summer. 

Should curtains touch the floor? 

Now that we’ve covered the variety of benefits curtains can bring to a property, let’s consider the question ‘should curtains touch the floor?’

As with many interior design queries, whether or not curtains should touch the floor is entirely down to you, your preferences and the type of room you’re installing them in. 

Curtains that touch the floor, or floor length curtains, as well as options that hover above the ground both have their various advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal taste and the specific requirements of the room. Feel free to experiment with a variety of options to see what works best for you. Adjustable curtains can even be installed if you remain unsure.

Either way, let’s take a look at some of the most common curtain types you can buy. 

Floor length curtains  

If you’re looking to achieve a contemporary, minimalist design then floor length curtains are a wonderful option. This type provides an elegant, tailored look and is typically the design of choice for rooms that are used for more formal occasions such as dinner parties or gatherings with loved ones. 

Having curtains touching the floor is also a great way to create a streamlined look that makes a room seem neat and in order even if it’s not!   

Puddle curtains 

Inspired by curtain styles more common on the continent, the European puddle curtain is also now a popular choice in the UK. While slightly more traditional than floor length curtains, puddle curtains are purposely longer so that they ‘puddle’ on the floor. This type of design works particularly well for curtains that are made of more elegant materials like velvet.  

Floating curtains 

If you want a more practical solution, then floating curtains are the way to go. Extremely easy to create, you just need to let the curtain hem hover a few inches above the ground. The easiest type of curtain to measure, they’re also ideal if you have pets or young children that could potentially damage the fabric if it’s touching the floor. Plus, this means you won’t have to lift up the curtains when vacuuming; the style of choice for the busy homeowner.  

Sill length curtains 

Sill length, or short, curtains are curtains that extend to the windowsills or slightly below. Again, these are a great choice for those with pets or young children who are concerned about damage. They’re also great if you have a radiator below the window and don’t want it to be obscured by curtain fabric. 

Typically, this curtain style can be found in children’s bedrooms and period properties. 

How long should curtains be? 

Many people wonder where curtains should fall or how long they should be.

As mentioned above, there are a variety of curtain lengths available. 

But the style you’re looking to achieve will determine the optimum length of curtain you’ll require. 

If you’re going for floor-length curtains, you should measure from the curtain rod directly to the floor. 

Alternatively, you should add 3-4 inches for puddled curtains, take away around half an inch for floating curtains and measure to the window sill for sill length. 


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