Drapes & Rods: Height, Length, Puddling & Panache!
Because there are always a lot of questions when it comes to drapes, I decided to create a blog post dedicated to the most COMMON questions.
How high should drapes be off of the floor?
Firstly, let’s just clear a few things up.
1. If you have a baseboard heater and you want to hang your drapes above the baseboard heater – think again. This is a well-intentioned, but very awkward look. You’re better off sticking with blinds or roman shades.
2. Your drapes should not be any higher than one inch off of the floor (and even that’s a bit much). And while shorty drapes (63″) can look good in a kid’s room and in the odd cottage or vintage home, generally they’re not cool or remotely trendy, says me, who is so obviously the epitome of cool (wink wink).
OPTION 1: DRAPES HANGING 1/4″ – 1/2″ FROM THE FLOOR
This works great for drapes that are being opened and closed a lot. They hang nicely without any muss or fuss and are still easy to vacuum up to.
OPTION 2: THE PUDDLE (BLAME THE DOG)
Puddling is a technique often used by those of us (no names mentioned….me) who can’t sew. I’ve done this in my bedroom and I open and close my drapes every day and it’s a pain…in…the…butt. Puddling is high-maintenance and really only works well for drapes that are dummy panels, meaning they’re just for show and aren’t opened/closed very often.
There are a few different types of puddling
1-2″ PUDDLE. This can look like you are terrible at measuring and hung the drapes too low. Avoid this…please
3-5″ PUDDLE. Definitely the most popular puddle right now. Looks decorative without looking messy.
6-10″ PUDDLE. This is definitely the most high-maintenance puddle and really needs to be fluffed up and purposefully laid out in order to get the full effect.
How high should my drapery rod be hung on the wall?
Often this is dictated by the length of your drapes, however, hopefully, you can sew…
If you have 84″ drapes you are likely limited to hanging your rod relatively level with the top of your window trim. 84″ drapes don’t usually allow for much more.
OPTION 1: 1/3 – 1/2 WAY UP THE WALL SPACE ABOVE THE WINDOW TRIM
If you have 96″ drapes you have a lot of flexibility. In most applications, hanging the rod approx. 1/3 – 1/2 way between the top of your window trim and your ceiling line (or the bottom of your crown moulding) is a great look.
OPTION 2: CLOSE TO THE CEILING
Drapes can also be hung closer to the ceiling line, depending on the height of the ceiling. If you are left with more than 12″ of wall space between the top of your window trim and the rod it can look awkward and will often need to be fixed with something like bamboo blinds.
Personally, unless it’s done right I think it looks terribly awkward. If there’s a gap of 12″ or more between the top of the blind and the rod, there’s going to be a huge visual disconnect between the two. The above photos really show the max in my books.
What type of top do I want on my drapery panels?
When it comes to the style of drape you choose it comes down to function and THEN fashion. If you open and close your drapes every day you’ll want to pay close attention to how easily you can do that and how good it looks when it’s done.
Usually, the least popular choice, unless you are going to use rings/clips as well…
Rod pockets can be a bit fussy and work in very few applications as the pocket has to be tight enough to hug the rod when it’s pulled open so that it pleats/folds consistently YET if it’s too tight it’s hard to push along the rod. But if you can nail it as shown in the above rooms, it’s a soft, unobtrusive look.
The most popular choice. Grommets are easy to slide back and forth and fold nicely with no muss or fuss. A bit casual for more formal spaces, but great for the ‘average’ room…
These slide open and closed relatively easy and are a good alternative if you don’t like metal grommets or the fussier look of pleats…
TRADITIONAL TAB TOP
They are terrible, don’t buy them. Enough said.
No wait, not enough said. Hidden tabs are okay, but tab tops are just not. With hidden tabs, you can get a nicely draped look without farting around, while traditional tab tops are rarely properly spaces and easily get crisscrossed (not to be confused with the boy band of the early ’90s).
Now, of course, there’s always a million questions when it comes to drapes, however, hopefully, these ones will cover the basics and get you off to a good start!
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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2016, UPDATED IN 2020