If you’re anything like me, you love natural light. I am a huge fan of opening up the windows and letting the glorious light shine through. I also love the freedom to close my windows when I choose. The idea that someone might be able to peep through my windows at night time is creepy. And sometimes, the sunlight is at just the right spot to blind me while I try to work.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had, though, is choosing the right curtain length. When you look at images of people’s homes online – or scenes on TV – it seems as though every living room curtain goes all the way to the floor. The question is, do they have to? The answer is more simple than it might seem: it’s completely up to you.
Pros of Floor-Length Living Room Curtains
There are a few reasons to consider getting curtains that touch your floor. The first is that they tend to add a little bit of elegance to your room, especially when paired well with the furniture and other décor.
The second reason is that it can create the illusion of a larger room. If you feel like your space is a bit too small, long curtains can be a pretty budget-friendly way to make a change. Be careful with the color though, as dark colors can actually have the opposite effect and make a room look smaller.
Cons of Floor-Length Living Room Curtains
According to “experts,” curtains that touch the floor are more stylish than others. However, this is not always the case. And let’s be truthful: style doesn’t always beat function.
Personally, I love the look of full-length curtains, but I hate having them in my home. I have kids – four to be exact. They’re all old enough now that they don’t try to climb or swing on the curtains, but parents with young children know just how tempting this can be for little ones.
While I have no little Tarzans anymore, we still have some other issues. For example, someone is always spilling or knocking over some type of liquid. And as the laws of parenting go, if it’s spilled, it will certainly find its way to the most difficult thing to clean. No, it’s not a documented rule, but it should be.
So the liquid finds its way to the bottom of the curtains. If, for some reason, we don’t notice it or aren’t told about it, that mess stays on the curtain. It stains, of course, and often starts to smell – and finding the source of the smell can be difficult. If you have pets, the same problems apply.
Another issue is that as my children walk or play, they sometimes step on the bottom of the curtain. Outside of the footprints this can leave, they have actually jerked the curtains off the wall before – simply by playing.
One other issue I’ve found is how hard it can be to open up long curtains. This doesn’t happen all the time, of course. It’s more common if you place a heavy piece of furniture in front of the window, such as a sofa. I don’t care how well you set it up, if anyone sits on the sofa, it’s a problem.
After a while, it can get pushed back so far that it blocks your ability to move the curtains. I’ve actually had a sofa end up sitting on the bottom of the curtains before. We didn’t notice until the curtains fell down – right on our heads during a movie.
The point is that, in a perfect world, you could have long curtains in your living room with no trouble. However, if you actually do any living in your living room, you might want to consider another curtain length. Below, you’ll find a quick guide to the different available lengths and when to consider each.
Curtain Length Options
The following are those curtain lengths we were talking about. Now, you’ll run across each of them being called different things, but we’re just going to stick to basic size categories.
When you hear floor length, you might have one particular length in mind. However, there are actually a few different variations. Actual floor-length curtains hang a little above the floor – anywhere from half an inch to two inches, depending on how high you hang them. If you have kids or pets and really want long curtains, these are probably your best bet.
Another option is those that actually touch and bunch up or puddle on the floor. These can be absolutely gorgeous, but they are not very practical if you, your children, your pets, or your furniture will be anywhere near the window. And even if you don’t, you’ll still be dealing with dust bunnies gathering there.
Mid-length curtains are those that usually come only to the bottom of the window sill or an inch or two longer. These can be great for homes with children and pets, and for anyone who wants to reduce the number of times they need to clean their curtains.
Another time these come in handy is if you have a radiator or other item below the window that doesn’t need to be obstructed.
There are also short curtains, like cafe-style windows.
These are typically great for kitchens and even bathrooms, but they often look out of place in a living room. However, don’t forget that it’s your living room. If you want to hang tiny curtains and you like how they look, it’s completely up to you.
Which Length Should I Choose?
Again, the final decision about which curtain length to hang in your living room is just that – your decision. The following is a review of the tips from above, but they should only be used as guidelines – not rules.
- If you have floor-to-ceiling windows, then long curtains are best, of course. You don’t want anyone being able to peek in on you, and it would probably look a bit odd anyway.
- Shorter curtains are best for those with kids and pets and who don’t want to constantly clean their curtains. If you choose long curtains, try to find some you love that hover just above the ground. The curtains in the picture below – gorgeous! They wouldn’t look that good in a house with life for more than a week.
- If you have an obstruction below your window, for the sake of safety and your sanity, go with shorter curtains.