Condo Guest Bedroom poll window treatments

Out of Curiosity: Short Drapes?

Last Updated on December 26, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

You would not believe how much time I spent last week trying to finalize my office design.  I’m pretty sure I changed my mind at least 20 times.  And even now, I’m pretty sure I have a design in mind, but I’m not 100% sure.

When I purchased the drapery fabric last week, I was planning on having my desk and an entire wall of built-in cabinets along the one long wall in the room, which is the first thing you see when you walk in the room.  Then I planned on having an upholstered chair by the one window in the room for a little reading corner.  So I ordered enough drapery fabric for full-length draperies on the window as well as on the closet (which will be used for something other than a closet).

green chevron fabric

That design just wasn’t setting well with me.  Now plans have changed.

I’ve decided to move the desk and built-ins to the one wall with the window so that they won’t be the focal point of the room, which means that I can no longer use full-length draperies since there will be a desk in the way.

So I started considering my options, and I’m actually considering short draperies.

I know that the idea, and even the mere mention of short draperies, horrifies many people as visions of 1960s décor flashes through their minds.  But I’ve seen short draperies used in situations like this one where they look fantastic!  Here are a few examples…

short draperies in kitchen holly mathis interiors

Short draperies on a kitchen window, from Holly Mathis Interiors via Pinterest


short draperies in office from rambling renovators

Short draperies used in a home office from Rambling Renovators, via Pinterest


Condo 120

Short draperies used in home office, via Design Sponge

Those are all very nice, right?  I’m sure they’re nothing like those visions of short 1960s curtains that you had in your head.  And interestingly, after a few days of wrestling with this idea of short draperies, I checked my e-mail this morning and found the new issue of House of Fifty waiting for me.  Did you see it yet?  Did you see the article by Emily A. Clark starting on page 20 about short draperies?  How very timely!

I’m taking that as a sign.  It’s meant to be for my office.  I’m definitely going to do it…I think.  I’m pretty sure that I’m 100% positive.  I’m almost certain that I’m definitely going to do it.

So what’s your take on the use of short draperies?  Do you avoid them like the plague?  Do you think there are appropriate times to use them?  Do still have your short draperies from the 60s hanging on the windows of your home in anticipation of their return as the next great thing in home decorating?

Tell me what you think.

Have you used short draperies/curtains in your own home?  Have you seen other examples of them used in a way that you think looks great?  If so, leave a link in the comments below!  Do you think I’m going to completely ruin my office if I use short draperies?  If so, I’d love to hear from you also.  State your case!


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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Samantha Aida
    August 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I think in the examples you showed, they are totally appropriate and look great. So if it'll be something like that in your office, I think it would work!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I agree with the pole. I would use them is the built ins were in the way. And no, these do not look like what I was thinking about. That's a good thing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I take this as a sign for me also! ~ I would like to hang curtains in my bfast nook similar to Emily's, and I was debating about going short but thought "that's not really in right now, is it?" I have a 3 year old and the thought of what she does to her bedroom curtains made me think about going short.  I follow Emily's blog and never noticed her curtains were short ~ since my area is more casual I am going for it.  In the above photos, short totally works.  You should go for it ~

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    I've been thinking of the same thing lately.  We are redoing our kitchen.  Our eating area is surrounded by windows. I want to put curtains on the windows, but I have 3 boys eating in front of those windows.  I'm concerned that the bottoms of the curtains would get covered with food.  So, I've considered shorter curtains.  Right now, however, I'm leaning towards just doing shades instead.  What would you do in this situation?  I appreciate you bringing the topic up!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    In my opinion (for what it's worth) the drapes should go until they stop….either window seat, desk or floor…whichever comes first.  I know some are showing short drapes with visible wall beneath, but it looks a bit hokey to me….like they were trying to save money.  

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    In all the versions you're showing, they're going to a "resting" point, like a built in or what not. I think as long as they're going somewhere (usually they go to the floor, but here there's something in the way) it works fine. It's the ones where they just stop midway down the wall that look so very 60s.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maury Kilgo
    August 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I've been thinking about the same thing in our office! My rule of thumb: only use short drapes if there's something in the way like a desk or built-in. I've seen them in the magazines and they seem to be coming back, but somehow they don't do it for me. the other option: maybe roman blinds out of the fabric?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I have been going through the same thing in my bedroom.  In fact, there are only blinds on the windows right now because I can't decide what to do.  I have a double hung window with a vanity under the window.  Now I did have a short drapes that I made to match my comforter up there, took them down to paint.  I tried hanging long sheers up from another room to see if I would like it.  Then I couldn't decide if I should treat each window individially or one big window.  The more that I looked at it the more I thought I should put the short ones back up.  The vanity gets in the way of long drapes, and I really don't have another place to put the vanity.  So I would love to read what everyone advises.


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Metal Wall Art
    August 2, 2011 at 8:37 am

    The mood and the you want to create should also be a factor in making the right color choices.Color is everything when it comes to setting the right tone for your walls.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    C B
    August 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I prefer floor length drapes. Because of baseboard heaters I had to make shorter curtains and they look like they're waiting for a flood. ( I think shorter curtains can only work if they are above a built in or resting on a windowsill. But just floating in midair looks odd. In that case roman shades might be a better idea, I wish I had made them for my living room instead.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I would make Roman shades instead, but the short draperies in the pictures you shared looked nice.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I don't know how to vote on this. I am such a window treatment rookie. 🙁 Things I see on A2D look so cute, and then I try them in my own house and, well, not so much.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Actually…. I'm in the process of picking fabric from some swatches I ordered… gonna make short drapes for the breakfast area of my kitchen.  I flirted with the idea of valances and blinds, then window shades… but I keep coming back to the idea of short drapes.  They will just skim the window sill and will be wide enough to close at night if I need privacy, but wide open during the day to let the sunshine in.  Can't wait to get them made!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    C B
    August 2, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Not sure why the link didn't work but here it is again:

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    August 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I love them – they remind me of an updated cafe curtain and just a great unexpected look in the right space and a wow fabric.   Hang them from the top or 3/4 way down.. that kind of thing.  I look forward to putting them in my next sewing room as I plan to set the counter/cabinets right in front of a long bank of windows.   
    Anyway – I wanted to share a version of short drapes I used in our master bath. I just finished that project a few days ago.  I needed a quick fix to get our house on the market and dressed up a pair of 63" Pottery Barn drapes using a remnant I had.  Not super short — but similar concept.  It's not at all what I planned to do but I'm happy with the results.  You can see some pics and read about in this link.