Secrets of Success: Tips on DIY Designer Drapery on a Dime

Porch with white curtainsThe following article is a guest post by Jay Harris. Please see his bio at the end of the article.

Although we would all love showpiece-quality homes, not all of us have the budget for a professional interior designer. Even if you decide to start with something small like designer window treatments, the minute you throw the term “custom” into the mix, dollar signs start popping up everywhere!

Fortunately, you can make your windows look like they were touched by an interior designer without actually having to pay one. With some insider secrets and some out-of-the-box thinking, you can have your window boxes dressed to the nines in no time.

Fabrics for Highlighting Function and Form

In the way that couture gowns and tailored suits look expensive because they were literally made for the person wearing them, you can apply the same philosophy to your windows: even though they look custom, they don’t have to come with a custom price-tag.
When dressing up your windows, lightweight and loosely woven fabrics reign supreme. This is due, in large part, to the way the light filters through them from outside.

But always remember to add a lining. With lightweight materials hanging over a light source, you run the risk of being able to see the back of the fabric when the light shines through. Therefore, like a good slip can make or break a starlet’s red carpet walk, so can a window lining prevent you from seeing anything other than the front of the fabric you have so painstakingly picked out!

Measure Twice
The most important tip to keep in mind is to measure twice, cut and drill once. When customizing your own window treatments, the amount of fabric you need depends on the type of treatment you plan to use and also the way you plan to hang them to cover your windows. Here are some of the basics:

Roman Shades:
First, decide whether you want an inside mount or an outside mount.

For inside mounts, the shades are mounted within the frame of the window (inside the casement). This type of mount provides a clean, custom, built-in look and is a way to leave attractive trim or woodwork exposed and the maximum amount of wall visible around the window. However, if your window frames aren’t deep enough (minimums range from ¾” to 3″ deep, depending on the type of shade), you should consider an outside mount.

To measure for inside mounts: measure the inside width at three locations (top, middle and bottom) and take the smallest of the three numbers – this is your ordering width. Next, measure the inside height at three locations (left side, middle and right side) and take the largest of the three as your ordering length.

Outside mounts are attached to the wall, ceiling or trim/molding surface surrounding the window and are most commonly used when your windows are shallow or when you wish to hide a less attractive window. One bonus to using an outside mount is the optical illusion effect of a larger window, so this is a good choice if your windows are on the smaller side.

To measure for outside mounts:
Measure the entire width you’d like to cover (the window itself plus the casement or trim) plus extra to allow for light seepage (1-1½” per side, 2-3″ total), giving you the ordering width.
Measure the overall height you will cover. This is the ordering length.

Drapery hangs from rings attached to a rod that is mounted above the window frame and extends beyond the sides of the window itself. Whenever possible, to make the entire treatment area look larger and to allow for maximum light and window views when the drapes are open, extend over the edges of your windows as much as 6-12″ per side.
When measuring for total width, measure the entire width you want to cover (which includes the extra per side allotment) and account for the fullness of the fabric. For grommet and ripple fold drapes, use width x 2.0 for your total width. For pleated drapes (pinch and tailored), take the width x 2.5.

For measuring the length:
Be sure to take into account the distance from the hardware to the fabric (determined by the size of the rings you use to hang your drapes);

Hang the drapes as high as you can to create a more dramatic look and enhance your ceiling height;

When you will be leaving them open and want to hide uneven floors or add to the custom look of your drapes, add an extra 1-3″ of length that will “break” on the floor;

When you will be opening and closing them frequently, leaving drapes approximately ½” off of the floors will protect the hems and allow for easier maneuvering.

Now that you are more fully equipped to tackle this DIY project, what types of window treatments are you leaning toward? Do you have any other ideas for cutting costs without sacrificing quality?

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate and contributes regularly to Home Depot?s blog, where he provides advice covering everything from windows to window treatments. Home Depot?s selection of casement windows can be found here. Their selection of roman shades can be found here.