How To Make Budget Window Treatments Look Expensive

 

Dear Laurel,

Believe it or not, amidst all of the hideousness going on right now, we closed on a house late last month. We’re not in a high-density area for the virus, like you are. However, we’re still under the same restrictions.

 

The house needs some updating. (understatement)

 

It’s a 60s center hall colonial. And, yes, the previous owners had granny decor taste. Lots of ditzy flowers and ruffles and stained oak.  Fortunately, I don’t have a husband who turns into the incredible hulk if you even mention painting the stained wood. He totally gets it and is handy that way.

I’m an art teacher in an elementary school. I’ll get paid even if they cancel school for the rest of eternity. However, I guess they could decide to cut art if the economy keeps on tanking. Gosh, if that happens, I am so screwed. Sigh, as we know, they’re so fond of cutting the classes that give some of these kids a reason to live. Did you ever hear of a kid who HAD to have algebra or else he was going to jump off a bridge?

 

Sorry, I guess that was inappropriate. I’m tired, Laurel. I was so looking forward to spring break after our move. But, I don’t know what to think anymore.

 

My husband works at another school, but in the same school district, as the band teacher. Yeah, another occupation with great job security. (That’s sarcasm in case that’s not clear.) He plays the trumpet and used to give trumpet lessons to about a dozen kids after school and on Saturday. That “extra” income was going to be used for our decorating budget. I mean, wouldn’t you know that he teaches the one instrument that’s spewing out billions of aerosolized God-knows-what, with every toot of the horn.

 

How are we even alive? I don’t understand what’s going on. We’ve lived with viruses and bacteria all of our lives. But, rarely do they kill anyone who started out as healthy.

 

Oh gosh, sorry for the rambling, Laurel. I know you must have better things to do than to listen to my whining. It’s that we’re house poor and have 21 windows that are covered in paper shades.

So, I looked at some of your ultimate window treatment guide. And, from what I can ascertain, not including installation, it would be thousands of dollars; uh, like tens of thousands. I asked a friend who has a gorgeous professionally decorated home. And yep. That’s what it is.

 

We just don’t have that kind of money to spend.

 

But, dang, we work hard. I do want something nice. God forbid, we have anything one might construe as “granny decor.” I laughed so hard when I read that post, I think I fractured a rib. No worries, it was probably just a little gas.

Well anyway, the absolute most we can afford right now for all 21 windows is $3,000.

We need budget window treatments that don’t look it!  You’re probably sitting there, rolling your eyes, thinking I’m barking mad. I just hope you can pull something out of your magic hat, Laurel. Of course, I mean in a blog post. I love your ideas!

Best,

Sara Covideo

 

*********

 

Thanks so much Sara. Wow, she sounds so much like me. I guess ’cause it IS me. haha Or, rather, one of my fictional pieces.

So, I’ll go easy on “Mrs. Covideo.”

 

But, here’s what really did happen that inspired this post about budget window treatments. I wrote Sunday about 18 affordable home decor ideas you’re going to love. And boy did you. Sunday and Monday together were a two-day record number of page views on this website! Thanks guys!

 

One of my favorite time-wasters is to watch real-time on Google analytics.

 

This is a little esoteric, but it’s like Tetris, but without the anxiety. If this is mildly interesting to you, here is a screen shot from Monday at 12:20 pm. (if you couldn’t care less, please skip ahead.)

real time Monday - April 13, 12:20pm
I took the shot because 213 is my lucky number. It was my late brother’s birthday. Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with GA real-time, the lines on the right are page views per second on my website. If there is nothing, that second did not get a new page view. Others got 1 – 3 page views. The most page views I’ve ever gotten in a minute is about 105. And, in one hour, the most is about 4,000 page views. That’s pretty rare. I know. Crazy!

 

The graph on the left are the last 30 minutes.

 

And, how many page views per minute. When I discovered this massive time-waster in 2013, I was getting maybe two or three page views an HOUR! That’s at a peak time. lol Otherwise, maybe nothing at all in the wee hours. However, the blog was growing rapidly, starting at the end of 2013.

So, you can see how far I’ve come in 6.5 years. This is about double the normal traffic for a Monday mid-day.

 

Okay, sorry for that bit of self-indulgence.

 

Except, if you have a website and want to know how a computerphobe managed to accomplish this, please look into my blogging guide. It is actually my favorite product of all of my guides. I love them all, but the blogging guide is my heart and soul.

 

Back to the topic at hand.

 

The next day, I realized that there is a glaring omission in that post. There’s no mention of budget window treatments.

But, here’s what’s kind of funny. Before I wrote that post, I received a lovely email with a photo from Beverly, another talented reader. She sent it to me after the post about the kitchen renovation featuring the way cool Roman shades.

And, I can see why.

 

Blue and White Chinoiserie bathroom - Roman Shade - Bed, Bath and Beyond - budget window treatments

Isn’t this an awesome bathroom?

And, get this. She told me the Roman shade was from Bed, Bath & Beyond! But, she added the trim. Well, just holy wow! I am totally impressed.

Here is a good tutorial that shows how one clever blogger added a flat trim to a similar Roman Shade.

 

I know. You want to know where the wallpaper is from.

 

Yes, I’d like to know that, too. I’d try to find it, but I figure it would be better to get a little sleep, at this point. Did you know? In the back of Laurel’s Rolodex is a section that tells you a clever trick on how to find the source of anything when you have no idea where it’s from. I have about a 75% success rate using this method.

Note nine hours after publishing: A kind reader emailed to let me know that the wallpaper is Luzon by Thibaut.

There may be some online sources that sell this wallpaper. Warning to those, not in the trade, be verrry careful with the roll size. Pay no attention to the terms double or single roll. Pay attention to the actual size of the roll, square-foot it covers and repeat. And, allow at least 10% more for waste.

 

So, I want to share with you some ideas you may or may not have thought of to get the look for less money.

 

A lot less in many cases.

 

Via Royal Design Studio Chippa_Sunshine_Khanjali_Ikat_grand- budget window treatmentse

This talented designer, Darnetha, actually stenciled the shade.

But, not only do I love the stencil design, her use of color is gorgeous.

 

stenciled roller shade - budget window treatments

Please check out her beautiful blog where she shares exactly how she did all of this.

You can purchase the stencil here.

 

Custom window treatments are very expensive. Therefore, we’re going to go over some ways you can create the custom look for a fraction of the price.

 

Before I go on… I realize that a number of readers are professional designers and there are also some fabulous window treatment workrooms represented here. And, I can see the smoke blowing out of your ears.

 

I want to make it perfectly clear to consumers, that if you can swing it, there is nothing like custom curtains, draperies, valances, shades, etc. That is because these are going to be crafted by hand. And, a great workroom is going to create your window treatments with love and pride in the work that they do. And so many details can be customized. There is a choice of lining, header, and on and on…

Unless you know how to sew and have an eight-foot work table, it won’t be quite the same.

However, if you can’t afford custom window treatments, all is not hopeless.

 

There is a lot of talk about using drop cloths or sheets.

Sure, drop clothes are cheap. But, they’re a very stiff canvas. I don’t know. But, it seems like there would need to be a lot of washing and ironing involved. I’m not sure if it’s worth it. If someone has experience with that one way or the other, please let us know.

And, then there are some no-sew options using those unorthodox materials. I’ve heard mixed reviews about stitch witchery. Therefore, I can no longer recommend it. My friend and interior and kitchen designer, Deborah Von Donop and I were chatting and she was telling me about a powder that’s supposed to work really well to make no-sew window treatments.

 

Does anyone know anything about that?

 

Please forgive me. This post is more about what is possible to make budget window treatments look expensive; not so much the process.

But, since I don’t know a lot about that, and it sounds like a LOT of work, I’m going to stick with the ready-made variety of curtains. And, from there, we can look into our embellishment options.

I found some great deals at Pottery Barn, Overstock, BBB, JC Penny and I’m sure there are also window treatments art Target. On and on… I’ve linked to some in a widget coming up.

Pottery barn Emery Linen curtains - budget window treatments

Pottery Barn linen curtains

 

But, the first idea, is what we can do with a plain white linen, cotton, or linen/cotton blend curtain. I would recommend one that isn’t too sheer, if you are planning on adding some trim. An exception would be if you are planning on stenciling or painting the trim on.

 

pale avocado living room - LH Palette Collection
This is one of my favorite mood boards from the Laurel Home paint and palette collection. There are 40 of these boards and 40 palettes. And, guess what my favorite part is? Yeah, the curtains with that awesome trim.

I swiped the design from darling Kelly Wearstler. Remember her? She’s the decorator who got arrested in Florida for practicing without a license.

Sorry, (but not really) for the click bate. It’s a very entertaining post. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

cool draperies - Greek Key trim - Kelly Wearstler - Viceroy Hotel Palm Springs image - ish and chi - blog
Originally, I think I saw this on Pinterest. And, I had no idea of course, where it was from. Eventually, my editor, Elizabeth tracked it down to Kelly. The place is the Viceroy Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. And, I tracked this image down of the cool draperies – to the ish and chi – blog from seven years ago!

Well, I loved this trim so much (and still do) that I used it in at least four or five of the boards in my palette collection. But, I had no idea what the trim actually looked like, not folded up.

 

I began doing searches for running Greek key trim.

 

Or, I used its other term, “meander.” I used the word, “modern.” I spent a couple of hours on this.

I know. Nuts. But, actually, I love doing the research. I love that more than putting it all together. But, of course, I have to do that! haha. It’s just not as much fun.

Okay, so what did I do?  Well, I went on picmonkey and created a grid and then I started recreating the parts I could see.

original graphic Greek Key
Part one. I did a screenshot and saved it. And then I came back and added the screenshot to what you see above, only I turned it upside down.

custom key border copy 2OMG! That’s it! I was so excited.

custom key border
Then, I created the entire pattern including the top and bottom trim. The height of the trim is about 12″ – 14″. But, you could scale it a little bigger, if you need to. Kelly’s actually, IS bigger. Or, at least it is when it’s used as a valance.

In fact, I did find the pattern AFTER I had recreated it. I was glad that I got to figure it out. But, of course, if I had gone back and read my guide, I would’ve found it before I did the design.

creating on picmonkey - Greek Key border
This is a screenshot of my design on picmonkey. If you want what I think is a helpful tutorial on how to use picmonkey, click here. It’s not difficult and it’s a lot of fun. I’m completely self-taught. And, remember , I’m a (former) computerphobe.

note ten hours after publishing. I use picmonkey for all of my graphics including my mood boards. The images on the board are from photographs.

 

THE-VICEROY-PALM-SPRINGSAbove, is from one of the hotel rooms at the Viceroy in Palm Springs designed by Kelly Wearstler.

So, now the question is, how do you make this design on the bottom of a linen or cotton curtain?

Thank you, that is a very good question. I’m afraid that my abilities are more conceptual than actual. haha. This is why I rarely make anything. I lack the patience or fine motor skills, or something. It’s just not fun for me.

greek key trim diagram roman shade

original source unknown

 

However, Kristi from Addicted 2 Decorating, loves doing this stuff. And, she’s super good at it. In this post, she puts together a gorgeous drape with one of my favorite Greek Key corner trims. The one above isn’t hers. But, her design is very similar.

In addition, you can see other posts I’ve done on the blog such as this one about all kinds of Roman shades and some great ideas to dress them up.

And, then there’s this post that I love that has some awesome dressed up roller shades.

Oh, my, I just found my sketch in the post above for the similar Roman shades my client has.

 

So, one way to create the design is with the tape, ala Kristi.

Another way would be to paint the design on. That would require a stencil and a tremendous amount of patience. But, it could be done.

 

greek-key-drapery-trim - LBI - custom window treatments

And, of course, you can always add a beautiful trim down the fronts of the drapes. Above is from a job we did a few years ago.

Those, of course, are professionally created.

And, this post has a gorgeous Greek Key design on a Roman shade.

 

But, I want to talk about another favorite way to make budget window treatments look amazing.

 

And, this idea also works if your current drapes are too short.

 

World Market ikat curtains - budget window treatments

 

These ikat curtains from World Market are super cheap. (and great reviews, too) However, they are also 84″ long.

tsk, tsk… 84″ is so 1992. We don’t do 84″ curtains any longer unless our ceiling height is only 7 feet or so. 84″ is too short for an 8-foot ceiling.

 

before and after contrast hem - budget window treatments - look expensive

The solution is to add a deep hem. We can also add a border to the front, but that isn’t essential. The fabric looks like it has a slight pattern because the ikat is showing through. I did that so that the folds would still show. But, usually, we do a solid pattern. I adore this look! And, have done it for clients who possessed some curtains that were too short. That was a gratifying solution.

 

Now, we need to go over some things NOT to do when working with budget window treatments.

 

Obviously, the hem is too deep. This is a ready-made, but if it was custom, this is a wonderful example of a low sill that is the perfect height for the hem. The drapes should be longer as well and go up several inches above the window.

Usually, the hem is from 14″ – 18″

Please remember not to use the back tabs on curtains. The only time I would ever consider using a rod pocket on a curtain is if it’s a stationary panel and gathered, like below.

 


pocket drape with a Kenney Turino rod and finial.

 

Otherwise, I feel that this treatment looks unprofessional and cheap. If you feel otherwise, it’s okay. But, to my eye, it just looks wrong.

We’ve been through this before, but since the marketplace is still so bound and determined to foist this on us, I feel compelled to remind those who might be swayed to understand that this is a 21st century abomination.

 

Here’s another one that’s wrong. Lovely panel, but the header looks like it’s stuck to the rod, not hanging from the rod.

What to do instead?

Always use rings with hooks.

And no clips, please, unless it’s a super casual room.

 

budget window treatments - EFF-Signature-Antique-Lace-French-Linen-Sheer-Curtain-Panel from overstock

The curtain is supposed to be hanging on rings, like the pretty one above so that you can see the rod. Ideally. But I’ll forgive you if you did it like this. The manufacturers are not helping with this! They didn’t get that memo either!

 

For an extensive post about drapery hardware go here.

 

Another great looking and inexpensive window treatment are these bamboo blinds, below. They’re great alone, or layered with curtains.

 

budget window treatments - woven wood blind

Arlo Blinds

 

These are so cheap, I am wondering if they are okay. But the reviews are splendid. And they have many styles and sizes to choose from. (info in the link)

Please note that these are clearly NOT LINED. That means that they are not private. They will make the room darker, but at night, folks can see through them.

These blinds are terrific alone or underneath your curtains or drapes. You can see an example in this post.

 

For an extensive post about woven wood blinds, please go here.

 

And please enjoy more curtains, drapes and hardware in the widget.

(please click on the individual images for more info. Also, a few of these treatments are not super cheap, but not super expensive either. But, totally lovely, I think.)

 

 

xo,

 

PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES And, actually, there are a lot of mid-week updates to see, this week.

Doing some shopping on Amazon? Please click the graphic below before you do your shopping. Thanks so much!

 

Amazon ad

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Susie - June 12, 2020 - 3:12 PM

    Wonderful ideas here; my problem is that I don’t know what to use to drill into solid concrete exterior walls for hanging rods? My house is 100+ years old and ‘solid as a rock’ as they say…literally! Tips?ReplyCancel

  • Alisha - May 24, 2020 - 8:24 PM

    This is all so informative, thanks for the helpful article! I’m curious what your thoughts might be on when it could be acceptable to use a short curtain length. We’ve been in our cape cod for 1 year and the master bedroom is a converted attic with a window at the top of the stairs and also 2 dormer windows. Currently these windows only use one panel that covers the whole width of the window and also touches the ground. But I wonder what sort of treatment would be best there. The long length seems a little awkward to me and makes the window look short, but I know short curtains are sort of taboo.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 24, 2020 - 11:14 PM

      Alisha,

      It’s very difficult to give advice without seeing the situation, preferably, in person.ReplyCancel

  • Denise Manno - April 21, 2020 - 9:29 PM

    The wallpaper looks like Thibaut Luzon to me. I love their chinoiserie prints, and just completed a fabulous powder room in one.ReplyCancel

  • ac - April 20, 2020 - 12:05 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Wow, I had to comment because my birthday is also 213 (1951). My lucky number has always been 13. I’m so sorry about your brother. I enjoy your posts, you always make me laugh.

    Wishing you many laughs amidst the ongoing goings on.ReplyCancel

  • Lora - April 17, 2020 - 12:52 PM

    When I made my own roman shades I sewed heavy duty velcro on the back at the top and affixed the other half of Velcro to the board that we mounted to the window. That way I could twke them down to clean. I always prewash my fabrics so that I can wash curtains in the future. Btw the Velcro does not budge, they are solidly attached. Having family members allergic to dust mites and being of Dutch descent 😏I like to be able to wash and clean everything.ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - April 16, 2020 - 10:52 PM

    Now you told me that I can use clips on my draperies in this house!! After I’ve spent hours hand-sewing down the tabs on ready-made panels and sewing on rings for the clips. 😉 Not sure I like the way it looks anyway and I have fallen in love with Parisian pleats. Oh. Well.ReplyCancel

  • Darla Cutler - April 16, 2020 - 4:45 PM

    Laura – Good Evening! I love your blog! I have spent hours reading it! I have a question that I can’t find the answer to on your blog though I’m sure you’ve covered. How do decorate your living room with a tv on one wall and the fireplace directly opposite. I want to get a painting to cover the TV. We also need to maximize space for guests. Our living room is 20′ W x 22′ D.

    Thank you so much!! I’m a decorating newbie! Darla Cutler, Indpls, INReplyCancel

  • Susan - April 16, 2020 - 1:42 PM

    Laurel, I simply CANNOT BELIEVE you JUST chose this topic for your post!! In February, we purchased a house built in ’92 that has 8′ ceilings in every room with the exception of the great room. In addition, the former one owner was a smoker, so we had to remove EVERY window treatment. We live in SWFL so I have a number of sliders, three traditional style windows, one full sunburst and two half sunburst windows. When I got estimates for window treatments, I was in shock for days–so expensive, and now because we are housebound, I have no job. On Sunday, I wished that you would do a post on how to buy ready made window treatments that don’t look cheesy! And voila…..HERE IT IS!!!! I am one grateful and devoted fan!!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy Wittenberg - April 16, 2020 - 7:44 AM

    Laurel, thank you for another brilliant post! This is sure to help countless people with their homes. What is your opinion on adding length to curtains using the same fabric? I purchased a couple dozen beautiful heavy velvet curtain panels secondhand, from a high end hotel when they were renovating. They’re pleated and are lined with blackout. They were the perfect length for the house we had just purchased, but I never had a chance to hang them. Our present house has 10 foot ceilings, and I’d like to use them, but they’re only 92″ (99″ to the raw edge if I let the hem out). Because I now have far more panels than I need, I was thinking of adding length by sewing the hems of some panels to the bottoms of others. I have an industrial sewing machine. Do you think that this would look acceptable? They’re a very dark charcoal, ,so I don’t think that the seam would be very visible. It also crossed my mind to use a trim at the seam to make it appear like it wasn’t a mistake.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - April 15, 2020 - 6:31 PM

    Thank you for liberating me! I’ve been overthinking this for months!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - April 15, 2020 - 5:48 PM

    Laurel, thank you for this post. And thanks to Beverly for sharing her drop-dead-gorgeous bathroom. Now I’m inspired to add trim to my drapes! As another reader said, we are boosting your page views because we all want to spruce up our homes, but on a budget, since we’ve been furloughed or we aren’t sure about our long-term job security. You’ve created such a fun blog. This is my happy place!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - April 15, 2020 - 3:11 PM

    I have had excellent luck with Half Price Drapes.
    I find them on Amazon. They have a direct website too though I have sometimes found better pricing in their shop on Amazon. Their curtains are all weighted and hang nicely, and the fabric quality is nice. I hang them with hooks and rings also found on Amazon, and use the black Amazon Basics room darkening rods.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - April 15, 2020 - 2:06 PM

    Hello from a former Bronxville-ite! I’d love to know what the wallpaper is behind the lucite rod. It’s lovely!ReplyCancel

  • suzanne - April 15, 2020 - 1:59 PM

    Nicole, I read a blog post where a woman bought one bamboo blind and cut it into 3 pieces. It was a wide blind so more expensive. She folded and stapled the tops to a square pice of wood cut to size and I think she just folded and glued the bottom to a thin dowel. It looked great. She had curtains layered as well.ReplyCancel

  • Ina - April 15, 2020 - 1:02 PM

    I do find Roman shades beautiful, but how
    does one clean them especailly if the background is white and how often should you clean them?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 3:14 PM

      Well, I’ve never cleaned mine. I just give them a good shake now and then. I suppose there are spray-on cleaners, but not sure. They don’t come down as they are deeply screwed into the moulding and require a power screwdriver to uninstall. Then, they would have to be re-installed. Plus, they are attached to a small board, so they would require a professional dry cleaner, I think. Good question. I’ve never been asked it before.ReplyCancel

  • Tracey - April 15, 2020 - 12:59 PM

    I just spent the last ten minutes googling ‘Kelly Gallagher’. Ha ha ha!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 3:07 PM

      haha! I would’ve done the same. I met Kelly at a private showing of her furniture line for a small group of us at High Point a few years ago. I’m pretty sure that she would fit into a shot glass. You can’t tell from her photos, but she is surprisingly petite with delicate features. She’s also very sweet, and unassuming. I can’t imagine anyone arresting her for anything unless being drop-dead gorgeous is deemed to be a criminal offense. lolReplyCancel

  • Chris - April 15, 2020 - 12:41 PM

    Six pair of white Aina curtains are due for delivery here tomorrow! I waited a year and a half to catch them on sale at $49 per pair. (Retiree on a fixed income.) I plan to hang them in my living and dining rooms (two windows each) and also in my bedroom (another two windows). I got another two pairs in blue on “last chance” at $39 in the store for another bedroom. Still have to get rods and rings and will be sourcing a closeout price on decorative tapes for trim. I’ll have to wait until I have some help to hang them.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - April 15, 2020 - 11:38 AM

    I also have been using drop cloths as curtains. But my house is super-duper casual. I have found them reasonable to work with, but I have a Sailrite sewing machine. I do spend time trying to match the shade in a store…sometimes the panels have a bluish cast and others have yellowish cast. I always line them and create pinch pleat headers–pins, rings, etc.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:54 PM

      I have immense admiration for people who sew. I have ten thumbs, apparently. And, a paucity of patience.

      ps: I learned all of my big words from wasband. ;]ReplyCancel

  • Tsippi - April 15, 2020 - 11:26 AM

    Great post, Laurel! I’ve made large round tablecloths from drop cloths and they came out great. As Marsha said, it’s important to preshrink the cloth fully, especially if you’re planning to wash the items in the future. The canvas takes dye beautifully, btw, so if you get tired of white, you can have some fun with a few boxes of Rit dye. For people who can sew a straight line, I also want to recommend videos by the Rowley company. You’re absolutely right that long, wide drapes require a huge table or young knees that can handle working on the floor, but smaller treatments, like faux Roman shades (London shades) or light weight panels are not really hard to make if one is motivated and willing to forego doing the lining the professional way. (There is a cheaters way, which you’ll find on various websites. Or, just do unlined panels.)ReplyCancel

  • Emily - April 15, 2020 - 11:24 AM

    Yes! IKEA panels are inexpensive and very long, probably because ceilings in Europe are often high. We bought some when we lived in Europe, because we knew we would only be there for two years and didn’t want to spend a lot of money. The price was not bad, and although they didn’t look obnoxiously cheap, they didn’t look high-eve on their own, because they were kind of thin and not lined. Layering is a great idea, especially for those of us who are not handy.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - April 15, 2020 - 11:17 AM

    Thank you for the post! I think your Google stats show that everyone is all about doing things on a budget right now, and making their homes as pleasant as possible, since we are all stuck in them, One way we saved a ton of money on window treatments for our new house with 29 windows was to use white “wood” blinds in all the kid areas and our master bath. Our window treatment lady suggested adding fabric tapes to some of them to make them look a little classier. We did darker actual wood blinds with a masculine fabric tape on the triple window in my husband’s navy blue office with white wainscoting, which faces west and has glaring sun in the afternoon, and they look great and let him easily change from looking outside in the morning to blocking out the blazing sun in the afternoon. I know some of your readers may turn their noses up at wood or faux wood blinds, but they are very affordable, easy to clean, (I learned my lesson having silk drapes in kids’ rooms in our last house – never again!) ) and functional for varying levels of light and privacy. Most importantly, they left some room in the budget for nicer window treatments in the more public areas of the house. We did all 29 windows for under $6,000. (We live in NC, which I realize is a lot less expensive than the Northeast.)

    Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’d love to see a post on “budget” improvements to porches and decks.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:43 PM

      Sounds, great Emily. I did wood blinds at least a dozen times in my taking on clients years. And, yes, always did a beautiful tape. I have touched on porches in a post or two. I know for sure one within the last couple of years. The problem is that readers who don’t have a porch won’t be interested. And, there could be a myriad of individual issues and some unique to you. Plus, it’s a home’s exterior. It’s not my area of expertise, for sure. I know what I like, but even if everyone had a porch, proposing budget improvements unless it’s paint or decorative in nature, wouldn’t be appropriate. But, getting back to paint. That is one of the best budget improvements one can do. You could also try googling it and/or looking on pinterest.

      Oh, you said decks too. Well, they are different, of course, from porches. I’d just google it and get inspiration from pinterest.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - April 15, 2020 - 11:02 AM

    I have used drop cloths as curtains. They were not stiff at all! Very lightweight and pliable fabric. Perhaps there are different grades of drop cloth?

    I was pleased with the results, but I imagine they would frustrate some. The edges are usually not straight and the whole weave can be kind of wonky. But in a pinch, well, they are very cheap and do have a sort of casual elegance.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:31 PM

      Hi Kelsey,

      Yes, I guess they do come in different weights. I had never looked into it before now. And, yes, I can see the casual elegance like the Lynne Knowlton aesthetic, is a great example. I love her style!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine Gervais - April 15, 2020 - 10:49 AM

    IKEA has some velvet curtains I’m dying to try. Just really into velvet right now. What about layering, though? I want to do double rods with sheers underneath, for light control and privacy. Is that not designer-y?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:27 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      A few times I have done sheers, usually in a bedroom and once in a living room. The latter, I used a linen sheer and it was so lovely. I love it when just a few inches of the linen sheer is visible behind the main fabric. You don’t see that a lot, but I think it’s a beautiful look and quite stylish. I have also used cotton and wool sheers, but not for quite some time. Have I ever used the standard polyester sheer? Well, not the cheap stuff, for sure. There was one fabric from Norbar that I loved that I used numerous times but actually as the main fabric. It was definitely only semi-sheer and had a lovely texture and no shine. And, it draped beautifully. Plus, it was very inexpensive.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - April 15, 2020 - 9:50 AM

    I LOVE the look of the bamboo shades mounted on the outside, just under the curtain rod. However, my windows are long and would require an 81” shade….meaning they will have to be custom made and more expensive.
    Since I’m really just using them for texture and could close the curtains for privacy, would it be awful to just buy the shorter, ready made shades? Is that a decorating sin???ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:21 PM

      Hi Nicole,

      IMO, if you’re never going to lower more than half-way down, you’re the only person who will ever know that they don’t completely cover the glass if they are all the way down. I think as long as there are still a few folds when the shade is as down as far as you’re going to put it, then absolutely. Save the money and go for the ready-made shades.ReplyCancel

  • emily - April 15, 2020 - 9:30 AM

    Thank you so much for this post! I found a gorgeous fabric that I wanted to use for drapes, but sadly my budget wouldn’t allow for full panels. I was able to add a panel to the top of an old pair of IKEA curtains (due to weird room layout, furniture covered the bottom panel, and I wanted to make sure that I could see my beautiful fabric). I think they look great, I had enough left over that I was able to sew a cafe curtain for the quirky alcove above my closet.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:19 PM

      Hi Emily,

      I’ve also done something similar by doing an overlay of the expensive fabric over the cheap fabric for the header. It’s not a valance because it’s hanging from the rod, but it’s a beautiful look. It’s like a bib. I did it a couple of times and depending on the height of the window, it should be from about 14″ to 18″ or so if a ten foot or higher ceiling.ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - April 15, 2020 - 9:17 AM

    Huge congrats on the page views Laurel! That’s amazing! I have done draperies with painters canvas drop cloths like Carolyn and most people don’t realize they are not homespun linen. I used clips because that was before I knew that was a no-no, but I love her idea of the pleater tape! You have to wash and dry the drop cloths to shrink them first. It does require patient ironing especially on the hems to make them look right. And one tip: don’t buy drop cloths larger than 9 x 12 because the factory will seam them and you’ll get different colors of canvas sewn together strangely.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:14 PM

      Hi Marsha,

      Actually, with a rustic home like yours and a drop cloth fabric, I wouldn’t be averse to clips. In fact, they can be used to make a type of “pleat.” But, thanks for all of the great info and tips.

      I actually saw a post where a woman took dark brown drop cloths and bleached them to be white. omg! Just go out and get new ones! Too much work and bleach, plus, rinsing, rinsing, rinsing and finally a vinegar rinse so the fabric doesn’t disintegrate and your home doesn’t smell like a pool. lol Of course, all of that is done outside. Just spend the 30 bucks to get a 9 x 12 canvas drop cloth that’s already off-white.ReplyCancel

  • emily remphrey - April 15, 2020 - 8:53 AM

    Love your ideas and advice Laurel. I would really appreciate window treatment ideas for rooms with many windows. For instance, we have a sunroom with 5 sets of 3 casement windows plus a patio door. I think 7 panels would look too busy but think that thee is a tremendous decorating opportunity there if I had the creativity. I am sure others have the same issue – multiple windows in a room. Thanks for considering!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 2:05 PM

      Hi Emily,

      I’ve done a lot of rooms such as the one you’re describing. I probably won’t do a post about this because there are too many variations and considerations. Plus, a lot of readers don’t have this situation. This is really a case where a professional consultation is advisable.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - April 15, 2020 - 8:50 AM

    Another wonderful post, Laurel! I would like to add a suggestion of Ikea for panels. They carry a lovely creamy white linen panel (Aina) that is a whopping 98″ long, easily hemmed, and looks much more expensive than the $59/per pair you pay. I’ve used them in two bedrooms and my office. From what I’ve saved on the panels, I’ve spent a little more on nice rods, rings, and hooks (yes, the panels are compatible with hooks). Most of Ikea’s other curtains are hit-or-miss, but Aina is very nice. Ritva panels also get good marks.ReplyCancel

  • Liz Pa;mer - April 15, 2020 - 8:44 AM

    Something I do when a client is on a tight budget is use PB linen drapes, and have my workroom remake the top into a pinch pleat style. It looks custom but a lot less money.ReplyCancel

  • Diana M. Bier - April 15, 2020 - 7:40 AM

    Very informative post, Laurel, and so useful. I love custom window treatments, but as you note,they are so expensive! The ready-made panels can be lovely, but another problem with them is using too few panels, so they look skimpy. Especially the sheer panels, you need to use more of them than is suggested.
    And I’m not a fan of those grommet type headings, to me they look like shower curtains.
    By the way, the wallpaper in the bathroom photo is Luzon, by Thibaut designs, in Blue, from their “Enchantment” collection. It’s amazing that the shade was ready-made from BBBY–the fit is perfect!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2020 - 1:55 PM

      Thanks so much for the info Diana. Someone emailed me before I saw your comment about the wallpaper. I linked to it in the post. Actually, when I saw it on the Thibaut website, I recognized it immediately in the aqua/coral colorway.

      And, yes, you are so right about the ready-mades being too skimpy for some windows, I would say wider than 40″ or so. I didn’t want to get into using more than one panel. But, it also depends on the fabric and the look one is going for, I think. Ideally, for most windows a panel and a half is ideal. But, again, this is one of the drawbacks of ready-mades. I do wish they’d at least offer a double panel option. AND, offer a 90″ version!!!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - April 15, 2020 - 6:50 AM

    Thank you Laurel for bringing a sense of “normalcy” to everyone. You asked if someone hd experience using a drop cloth for windows treatments. I made drapes for my Very large doors in my living room. Having drapes made was not in the budget! I purchased 9’ x 12’ drop clothes from H….D…. I washed them, added pleater tape and they were ready to hang. An experienced eye would know that they are not linen, however, most people think they are linen. I did not line them as that would have been beyond my skill level. I did get a very good custom rod as those suckers are heavy. Thanks again Laurel.
    I am grateful for so many things and your posts are in that long list. Be well.ReplyCancel