Practically Perfect Puddling – Window Treatments

Hello my MARtians, this week I was happy to team up with the folks at “It’s Relevant TV” again. We were shooting at Green Isle, everyone’s favorite home makeover home, and boy, were there a lot of questions about curtains. I thought I would share what I told everyone at the shoot.

What’s Puddling?

Puddling is not something Violet my Mini-Schnauzer did on the kitchen floor this morning. (She would never!) It’s the word Designers use for the amount of window treatment fabric that puddles on the floor. (Some folks call this pooling, but the definition is the same.) How much puddling do you need? That’s an entirely personal choice. My guidelines can help you make that decision.

Puddling History

It’s believed that puddling originated a long time ago – the 18th and 19th centuries – when silk and tapestries were rare. Intentionally using more fabric than needed was a grand expression of wealth and status. Some history buffs argue that the extra fabric was more about keeping out the drafts from the window jams since puddling was also done with cotton and wool curtains. However, we don’t know for sure which influenced which. Either way, the look has become popular today more as a design feature than merely a signal of opulence or status.

How Big a Puddle?

There are several standard lengths for window treatment puddling. Each has a different effect on your home’s design and makes a unique statement.

  • None: A casual look, perfect for relaxed homes with very laid-back style. The curtain should not actually touch the floor but hover about an inch above.
  • Small break: Just a bit longer than the distance from rod to floor, or about a 1-inch puddle. The curtain touches the floor but has a small break (as in men’s trousers above the shoe.) This look is perfect for modern-styled homes.
  • Small puddle: About two to four extra inches of fabric is the most popular because it adds a touch of luxury without being over the top. Almost any Casual Luxury design could make use of this puddle.
  • True puddle: An opulent six to eight inches of additional fabric. This length allows for full, beautifully fanned and pleated draperies. This is a formal, ultra-opulent look, and one of my favorite ways to design with fabric.

Whichever puddle you prefer, it should fit your home and its personality. New to this? Pick a puddle size and try it out it in the formal areas of your home.

Bonus sMARt tip: Fan your curtain fabric prior to puddling. My grandmother taught me to fold the fabric width like a Chinese accordion fan, using the length of your hand for uniformity. Then lay the extra fabric on the floor and release the fan pleats. Pre-pleated fabric makes for perfect puddles.