While contemplating updating your window treatments, you may find yourself wondering: Where should curtains fall? It's a common question and one that has a multilayered answer. Basically, the best curtain length for each window is determined by what type of curtains you're hanging, what you find most aesthetically pleasing and whether you're installing short curtains or long curtains.

Figuring Out Curtain Length

Windows can be small and boxy, lean, double-wide or a standard rectangular shape. Generally, you know pretty quickly by looking at a window whether you need a short or long curtain length. Once that's established, you can go about getting exact window measurements for curtains.

But even before getting these measurements, you may be wondering where curtain bottoms should end in relation to the bottom window sill, and this can be answered by choosing one of three classic curtain length rules for various windows.

Short length. Café style curtains and standard short curtains are designed for small and medium length windows that don't have much room at the bottom for longer curtains. It's common to find shorter-length windows in kitchens and bathrooms, and they can also show up in other room spaces, depending on the home's design. Short curtain bottoms look most attractive when they fall just below the bottom sill or up to about 1-inch below.

The exception to this rule is when you have short windows in the living room. Long curtains tend to look more appealing in living rooms, so hanging longer curtains from just under the ceiling beam may look better. Going longer is subjective, though, and you may decide to stick with shorter lengths, which is okay.

Standard length. Regardless of window size, whenever you hang long curtains, they should always just hit the floor at the bottom, or bottoms should be no higher than 1/2-inch above the floor. Any higher than this and your curtains have that unappealing "high water" look that shows too much of a gap between curtains and floor. Depending on the length of the window, you may have to raise the rod higher above the top sill to achieve standard length.

Pooling and puddling. You have another length option for long curtains, and it's called pooling. Basically, you allow the bottom of curtains to reach the floor and then some, creating a pool of fabric on the floor that can be glamorous. Puddling is when you let fabric gather a bit at the floor without it spreading out. This option may be your choice if you're concerned about curtains dragging or getting dirty.

Short sheer curtain with long valance. Create soft and beautiful window treatments for smaller windows by pairing short sheer curtains with one long sheer valance. This short and long length combination window treatment works best for shorter-length windows located in dining rooms or living rooms. First, hang the curtains following short length rules. Next, hang the long valance in front of the curtains from the middle of the fabric, so that the bottom ends fall just above the floor. The top corners of the valance are draped over each rod end, creating a lovely crescent shape in the middle.

Long curtain with short valance. Another thing you can do to give long curtains a bit of elegance is to install a short valance in front of the upper areas of curtains. Valances come in all sorts of colors and styles, making it easy to create eye-catching duo-length combinations.

Curtain Fullness

Choose curtains that have enough fabric fullness to completely cover the window when closed. That is, if you plan to close the curtains on occasion. If the fabric isn't wide enough, you could end up with a vertical gap of light running down the middle, which doesn't help you achieve full privacy. A rule of thumb is that curtains should be 2.5 times the width of the window for adequate coverage.

Where Should Curtain Rods Go?

You're ready to install a curtain rod. Now all you need to do is figure out where to place it. Generally, rods are installed between two to six inches above the window sill. If you have high ceilings, you may be able to go even higher with rod placement (up to 12 inches). Use your best judgment within these parameters while paying attention to curtain bottom lengths.

How to Hang Curtains with Hooks

Hooks and curtains go together like bread and butter, and most curtains designed for hooks can be easily hung by following a few easy tips. Drapery hook pins are inserted into the back panel of curtains. Simply slide the long end of the hook into the base of the hemmed fabric, creating eight to nine inches of space between each hook. Make sure the hooks are not poking through any of the fabric and handle the hooks gently. Hang curtains by positioning the curved hook section over the rod and slide the curtain panel out over the rod.

How to Hang Curtains Without Drilling

When you want to hang curtains, but you don't want to damage the walls with drilled holes, you do have an alternative option available. A popular solution is self-adhesive metal hooks, which use a strong adhesive to stick to walls. The key to using these successfully is to find curtain rods that can fit securely inside the hooks, which tend to be smaller than standard brackets. Although these hooks vary in strength, lighter curtains may fare better than heavier ones. Follow package instructions for installing the hooks and be sure to get accurate measurements before applying them to the wall.