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Bay Window Curtain Length: A Comprehensive Guide

04 Mar 2024 0 Comments
Bay Window Curtain Length

Bay windows are a popular architectural feature that adds charm and character to a home. With their angled sides and ample natural light, bay windows make an excellent spot for a cozy reading nook or a bright, cheerful breakfast area.

However, decorating a bay window can be tricky when it comes to selecting the right window treatments.

In particular, choosing the appropriate curtain length for your bay window is key to creating a polished, pulled-together look. Get this wrong, and your bay window curtains will look awkward and out of proportion.

As the owner of Doclewe, an online store specializing in custom curtains and drapes for over 10 years, I've helped countless homeowners perfectly dress their bay windows.

I'll share my expert advice on selecting the ideal bay window curtain length for your space, along with tips on taking measurements and hanging your curtains.

What is a Bay Window? - Definition and types of bay windows (box, bow, angled) - Aesthetic and functional purposes of bay windows
Key Factors Influencing Bay Window Curtain Length - Aesthetic goals (formal vs. casual spaces) - Window height and room proportions - Privacy and light control needs
Measuring Bay Windows for Curtains - Step-by-step instructions for measuring width and height - Accounting for angled side windows - Calculating total width for proper curtain fullness
Hanging Bay Window Curtains - Curtain rod position recommendations - Need for ceiling brackets for support - Achieving desired curtain fullness
Styles for Bay Windows - Suitable curtain styles (cafe, Roman shades, blackout, floor-length, puddle-length, tie-back) - Using curtains 1.5-2 times window width for fullness


What is a Bay Window?

bow bay window in a stylish living room

Before diving into curtain lengths, let's review the basics. A bay window refers to a window space with at least three sections - usually a large, centered picture window flanked by two narrower side windows set at 30- or 45-degree angles.

Common bay window types include:

  • Box bay: Rectangular shape that extends outward from a room

  • Bow bay: Curved bay window with gently arched sides

  • Angled bay: Triangle shape with two angled window panes

No matter the specific style, bay windows serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

Visually, they add depth, architectural interest, and a focal point to a room. Functionally, they allow more natural sunlight into a space.

Key Factors Influencing Bay Window Curtain Length

Elegant floor-length curtains in a formal setting

When selecting curtains for your bay window, the most important factor to consider is the overall length. Get this right, and your bay window will look fabulously dressed.

Choose a length that's too short or too long, however, and the balance of proportions will feel off.

Aesthetic Goals

Think about the overall look and feel you want to achieve in your space.

  • In formal living rooms or dining spaces, floor-length curtains spanning 96 to 108 inches impart an elegant, luxurious ambiance. The long panels beautifully frame the window while drawing the eye upwards to showcase high ceilings.

  • For casual spaces like kitchens, breakfast nooks, or kids' rooms, opt for sill-length or puddle-length curtains. These lengths range from 60 to 84 inches long. The relaxed vibe pairs perfectly with the cozy functionality of a bay window banquette or bench seat.

Window Height and Room Proportions

Carefully evaluate the height of your bay window and dimensions of your room. Oversized floor-length curtains can overwhelm a low bay window, making the room feel squat and boxy.

Conversely, skimpy cafe-length panels fail to balance out soaring cathedral ceilings.

Take measurements and take stock of proportions to determine an appropriate curtain length. As a general rule of thumb:

  • Use longer, floor-length curtains to elongate spaces with high ceilings

  • Shorter sill or puddle lengths work well with average 8- to 9-feet ceiling heights

Privacy and Light Control

Blackout lining offers another reason to consider floor-length curtains for your bay window.

The full-length panels provide maximum privacy and light control - ideal if your bay window is located in a bedroom.

Simply draw the curtains fully closed to block outside light for uninterrupted sleep.

Measuring Bay Windows for Curtains

To determine the perfect curtain length, accurate measurements are essential. Follow these steps when measuring for bay window curtains:

Gather Supplies

You'll need:

  • Cloth tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Paper

  • Step stool or ladder (for tall windows)

Measure Width

To measure the width, stand directly in front of the bay window and measure across the full width - from edge to edge where you plan to install the curtain rod. 

For the most accurate read, take measurements at both the top and bottom of the window frame. Record these numbers.

Measure Height

Measure from the top of the window frame to where you want curtains to fall (sill, floor, or in between).

For floor-length panels, measure from the ceiling for the most precise floor clearance. Again, note measurements.

Note: Start by measuring the distance from the ceiling to where you want your curtain pole to sit.

Account for Angles

Since the two side panes likely sit at angles, their height and width may differ from the central window. Measure these individually.

Calculate Total Width

Add together the width of all three windows to determine the total width for curtain panels. Remember to add extra width for optimal fullness and light blocking. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the total window width by 1.5 or 2.

Hanging Bay Window Curtains

polished look curtain placement

Once you've selected panels in the ideal length, follow these tips for smoothly installing your bay window curtains:

Curtain Rod Position

Install the rod so curtains will hang 4 to 6 inches above the window frame itself.

Any lower and panels drape onto the frame, while any higher makes the window look awkwardly small.

Ceiling Brackets

In most cases, you'll need to install ceiling brackets anchored into wall studs for the greatest support. Wall anchors alone rarely suffice to handle the span and weight of bay window rods and curtains.

Curtain Fullness

When hanging panels, allow the fabric to generously puddle for the best look. Curtains should appear approximately 1.5 to 2 times the width of the window for optimal fullness.

Styles for Bay Windows

Bay Window Curtains Installation Tips

From casual to formal and everything in between, consider these top curtain styles for beautifully dressing bay windows:

  • Café curtains: Short tiered curtains offering privacy while still allowing light through the shirred upper portion.

  • Roman shades: Sophisticated gathered shades that stack neatly when raised. Mount them outside the window frame as an elegant alternative to curtains.

  • Blackout curtains: Essential for bedrooms, these fully block outside light when closed. Choose full-length panels.

  • Floor length curtains: Elegant, formal, and perfect for emphasizing high ceilings and elongating spaces.

  • Puddle length curtains: These curtains puddle onto the floor by just an inch or two, creating a softly romantic vibe.

  • Tie-back curtains: Keep panels from blocking window light by tying them back. Great for wide windows.

No matter your style choice, opt for panels approximately 1.5 to 2 times the width of your bay window for best fullness. And consider adding lining or dual curtain rods to take your window to the next level.

Shop The Perfect Curtains For Bay Windows

Ready to finally dress those bare bay windows? At Doclewe, I offer custom-made curtains specifically tailored to your unique bay window measurements.

Choose from a variety of fabrics, colors, patterns, and lining options perfectly suited to your room's decor. I also provide complementary design consultations to ensure complete satisfaction.

My custom curtains start at just $26.99. Receive free shipping for orders over $199. New customers also get 10% off their first order.

Revamp your bay window and take advantage of special savings today! Reach out now to get the ball rolling on achieving your dream bay window curtains.

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