How close to the floor should your drapes hang?

Ask the Expert Style
dina holland

In my last article, I touched on the proper way to hang window draperies and some of the common mistakes homeowners make. I received numerous follow-up questions, so today I’m back to discuss one that came up several times: the various length options with draperies and when each one is appropriate.

There is no absolute when it comes to just how long your drapes should be, but there are a few rules of thumb and functional considerations to keep in mind. Your options are:


The drapes come just above the floor but don’t actually touch it. I prefer a float of ⅜ to ½ inch. Anything more and you get into high-water territory. Just like with pants, high waters aren’t cute on anyone. If you plan to open and close your drapes, this is the best option; you won’t be continually sweeping the floor with them. This is also a good option if you have a heating source under the window because it won’t trap the heat.


The drapes end exactly at the floor, but there is no break in the hemline at all. This is a very custom look and requires meticulous measurement from the rod and rings to the floor. If you like this look, I highly recommend hiring a professional installer.


The drapes extend 1 to 2 inches onto the floor, creating a “break’’ or buckling of the hemline (think men’s trousers). This length is a designer favorite and is a more relaxed look, making it appropriate for less formal spaces like family rooms. If you don’t want to bother with exact measurements, this is a good look for you.


The drapes extend approximately 6 inches onto the floor, creating a “puddle’’ of fabric. This is a very romantic look most appropriate in bedrooms or formal dining rooms as it calls to mind Old World, European styling. It is, however, the most high maintenance length; the drapes require re-positioning when it comes time to vacuum or sweep.

I hope I’ve helped you decode the world of window-treatment lengths a bit more. As with most interior design questions, there are very few absolutes, mostly guidelines. Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you!

Dina Holland is the founder and principal designer of Needham-based Dina Holland Interiors and the blogger behind Honey & Fitz. Submit your questions via Instagram by tagging @honeyandfitz or using the hashtag #honeyandfitzaskthedesigner. You can also e-mail them to [email protected]