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What size curtains are best?

When choosing curtain sizes, it’s important to consider your room dimensions, window measurements, and aesthetic preferences. Follow these tips on standard curtain sizes, calculating measurements, and pairing curtains for an optimal look and fit.

What size curtains are best?

Curtain size depends primarily on two factors – the size of your window and personal style preferences. Here are some standard width and length recommendations:

Window Width

  • Narrow windows under 30 inches wide: 24-28 inches wide curtains
  • Medium windows 30-56 inches wide: 30-48 inches wide
  • Large windows over 56 inches: 54-90 inches wide
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows: Custom cut 1.5x to 2x the window width

Window Length

  • Standard windows: Length should fall 1/2 inch below windowsill to just above floor
  • Long windows: Puddle length curtains 12+ inches longer than window with weight or heavy fabric to prevent billowing

Use these guidelines combined with room size, window type, and personal style to determine the best curtain size options for your space.

Calculating Your Curtain Size

Follow these steps when calculating custom curtain sizes:

  1. Measure window width from outside edge to outside edge. Round up to the nearest whole inch.

  2. Measure window length/height from top of window trim to bottom sill or floor.

  3. Add extra width if using sheer behind curtains:

    • 12-18 inches for narrow windows
    • 24-36 inches for large windows
  4. Add extra length for puddle effect if desired:

    • 8-18 inches for gathered pencil pleat curtains
    • 12-36 inches for formal or floor-length styles
  5. Adjust to standard sizes based on manufacturer dimensions if ordering premade curtains

Pairing Curtain Panels

Panel widths for a coordinated look:

  • Single panel for narrow windows under 40 inches wide
  • Pair of panels at 1/2 window width for standard windows
  • Pair extra wide panels for floor-to-ceiling windows
  • Layer sheers behind with 12-18 inches more fullness than window width

Use an odd number of panels spaced evenly for large and long windows:

  • 3 panels for bay windows
  • 5 panels for wide sliding doors
  • 7-9 panels for walls of glass

Additional Considerations

Factor in these elements for the most suitable curtain sizes:

  • Room size – scale curtains to space
  • Window type and hardware – accommodate features
  • Light control needs – blackout vs. light filtering
  • Aesthetic style – formal, casual, minimalist
  • Gathering method – pencil pleat, grommet top, rod pocket

Table summarizing optimal curtain measurements by style:

Key Takeaways

  • For optimal fit, customize curtain size to exact window measurements
  • Scale width and length to room size for visual balance
  • Add 12-18+ inches of extra width and length for light/airflow and style
  • Use 1-2 panels for standard windows, 5+ panels for walls of glass
  • Select gathering method suited to curtain style and volume

Choosing suitable curtain sizes does require some calculations and trial-and-error. However, accurately measuring your windows, accounting for additional style factors, and properly pairing curtain panels will guarantee an ideal fit to beautifully showcase your windows.


Determining the optimal curtain sizes for your space depends primarily on carefully measuring window dimensions accurately. Personalize the width, length, and fullness by factoring in room size, style preferences like puddling, and aesthetic goals like blackout conditions or soft, diffused lighting. Use a combination of standard size guidelines, precise calculations, and your desired look to select the perfect custom curtains. Properly fitted window treatments can make a dramatic difference in creating an inviting, stylish, and comfortable room.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How wide should curtains be for standard windows?
    For most medium-sized windows 30-56 inches wide, choose panel widths equal to half the total window width. So a 40-inch window looks best with a pair of 20-inch wide panels.

  2. What size should living room curtains be?
    For living room picture windows 4-6 feet wide, use 4-5 foot wide panels spaced slightly wider than the window trim. Cut length to just above the floor for a clean look.

  3. Should curtain width match window width?
    Matching curtain width exactly to window width is optimal only for certain styles like blackout. Sheers and dressed curtains look best at 1.5-2 times the window width for soft diffused daylight.

  4. How much extra length should curtains have?
    For casual tailored curtains, allow an extra 1/2 inch below the windowsill. Formal styles look best puddling with 8-12 inches of extra length. Floor length panels require 12-18+ inches more length than the window.

  5. What size curtains do I need for 8 foot windows?
    For 8 foot tall windows, choose 8-9 foot long panels cut slightly wider at 110-144 inches wide. Finish the custom floor-length, formal panels with decorative pole pockets or grommets across the top.

  6. Should curtains fall to the floor?
    Whether or not curtains should reach the floor depends on style. Casual shabby-sheik curtains look great framed just below the windowsill. More formal treatments are meant to puddle onto the floor for an elegant effect.

  7. What width curtains for patio door?
    For a single 6 foot sliding patio door, use two 144 inch panels. For wider doors up to 12 feet across, use 4-5 panels at half the total width to evenly frame the door. Cut them long enough to just dust the floor.

  8. How do I calculate panel size?
    To calculate curtain panel size, first measure the exact window width from edge to edge. For a single panel, cut that exact width. For a pair, cut each panel to half the total window width. Always measure length from top of window trim to where you want curtain to fall.

  9. Should curtains cover whole window?
    For standard windows under 60 inches wide, it’s usually recommended to cover just the window trims. But for larger picture windows, covering the entire wall section containing the window creates a classic formal aesthetic.

  10. What size curtains for bay window?
    A bay window containing three standard 30-36 inch wide window sections looks best with five 50-60 inch wide panels spaced to cover each window evenly. Cut the bay window curtains 12-24 inches longer than windows.

  11. Do wider curtains make room look bigger?
    Yes, wider floor length curtains that extend well past the window frames on both sides help make rooms look taller and wider by minimizing wall space and accentuating windows as a focal feature.

  12. What width curtains for 6ft window?
    A 6 foot wide window requires a pair of curtains, each 36 to 48 inches wide. Or for a more seamless custom look, use a single oversized 108-144 inch wide panel tailored to the exact frame opening. Cut length to sill or floor.

  13. What size sheer curtains for 9 foot patio door?
    For a 9 foot patio door, use 2-3 panels of sheer curtain fabric cut to 144 inches wide each. Spacing them wider than the doorway allows soft diffused light into the room from all sides instead of just the center.

  14. What length curtains for 12 foot ceilings?
    For windows in rooms with 12 foot high ceilings, cut floor length curtain panels about 6 inches shy of the baseboard trim to elegantly frame the tall vertical space. Width depends on window size.

  15. How long should curtains be for basement windows?
    For half windows placed high on basement foundation walls, size curtains to cover just the window section itself rather than floor to ceiling. Cut panels 2-3 inches wider than window frames.

  16. What size sheer behind curtains?
    Sheers hung behind standard window curtains should be 12-18 inches wider per panel to create soft-focused light at window edges. Cut length the same as main curtains from top of rod to windowsill or floor.

  17. What width curtains for French doors?
    Treat French doors the same as picture windows when sizing curtains. Determine total width from outer door edge to outer edge. For doors under 8 feet wide, divide width in half for a pair of panels.

  18. How wide for curtains on patio slider door?
    Patio slider doors are usually 6 feet wide. For a tailored look, use two 144 inch panels stacked closely to cover full door trim. For softer lighting effects, space panels wider up to 180 inches each.

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