How Much Should Drapes Puddle?

By Linda Erlam
Luxurious puddles.

A deep luxurious puddle of drapes enhances a formal decor. It suggests acceptable excess and hints at a devil-may-care attitude of a homeowner not concerned with the mundane logistics of housekeeping. Puddling is not a functional decor element; the only purpose of a large puddle is style. As with any decor element, the depth of the puddle should keep with the overall style of the room.

The 1-Inch Break

Drapes with a 1-inch break will fall in clean, straight lines to just above the floor, and the drapes will bend to rest on the floor, resembling the way good fitting trousers fall to the floor and a small kink appears in the front of the trousers, just above the instep. This is a contemporary decor element but may also be found in more traditional rooms with contemporary elements and is sometimes called a transitional decor style. The excess fabric is the drape length to the floor plus 1 inch, and these drapes will usually function on hand- or cord-drawn systems.

The 2- to 4-Inch Puddle

Most drapery hems are 4 inches and therefore the 4-inch puddle can appear quite definite as the drapes will kick to one side at the hem. The 2-inch puddle can cause the drapes to appear a bit crumpled. This is a more traditional decor element and is also the desired puddle for heat conserving drapes. This depth may be functional on cord-drawn systems but hand dressing may be required.

The 6-Inch or More Puddle

The more the puddle, the more the fabric can fan out onto the floor. Often the lining stops at the floor to allow the puddle to fan softly. If a more dramatic puddle is the desired effect, the full lining is left in place and the puddle is extended to 18 or more inches. This is the classic puddle length; best suited to period decor rooms. The longer the puddle, the more hand dressing is required when opening and closing the window treatments. Puddles of more than 6 inches are meant to be stationary and not operational as drapery.

Housekeeping Considerations

Drapes that puddle must be tied up to clean the floors -- either for a short while for vacuuming or for a longer time if the floor is being washed. The tying up of the drapes may cause creasing or wrinkling. Pets in the home should also be considered when deciding the depth of the drape puddle.

About the Author

Linda Erlam started writing educational manuals in 1979. She also writes a biweekly newspaper column, "Design Dilemmas," in the "Lakeshore News" and has been published in "Design and Drapery Pro" magazine. Erlam is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design and is a practicing interior decorator and drapery workroom operator.