DIY & READY MADE CURTAINS VS CUSTOM WINDOW TREATMENTS: ADVICE FOR THE DIY CURTAIN

A potential client recently asked, “I would like draperies for my home.  Do I need custom curtains/draperies, or can I go to the Mall to buy curtains?”

I run into this question occasionally, and thought I’d address it here.

It depends on your windows, your design needs and your budget.  I’ve seen really pretty draperies atRestoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.  If the height of your ceiling to floor, or at least 4-6″ of wall space above the window, falls within the finished lengths provided, then they can look nice. Many houses have very tall ceilings and very wide windows; in that case ready made draperies or curtains are not a possibility.

Where to hang drapery rod?

I’ve been fabricating custom, hand made window treatments for 22 years. Even though I’m biased toward custom draperies, I’ve also helped clients with ready made curtains when the need arises. I’m working with a man now who lives in Nashville part time and wants to dress up his apartment without spending a bundle, so he has hired me to purchase the right length, right color, right hardware — store bought variety.

Awful Blue Curtains, much too short

Awful Blue Curtains, much too short

Curtain length is very important since a big visual difference between custom and ready made is length.   I found this photo on Google Images, but I really have seen curtains this short in homes.

 

CORRECT PLACEMENT OF DRAPERIES:

-hanging right at the floor, 1/4-1/2″ off of floor

-barely touching

– 1/2 – 1″ on the floor to break, like a man’s cuff

-or 2″ – 4″ to puddle, or more.

A dead give away that the draperies are ready made (store bought) is if they are too short.

White curtains, installed too low, too short

White curtains, installed too low, too short

These white curtains are a perfect example of “pretty, but not quite right”.  As discussed, these are not long enough.  More than a 1/2″ off of the floor, and curtains look too short.  I would rather see 1/8-1/4″ off of the floor, preferably barely touching. But worse than the fact that these curtains are an inch or more off of the floor is that they’re hung too close to the window molding.  You don’t want to hang the rod on or at the molding, for a custom look.  (Of course, there are are special circumstances when we need to bend the rules.)  This window has plenty of space to install the rod well above the window.  The rule of thumb is to hang the rod no closer than 4-6″ above the molding, and preferably at the crown.  Some of the designers with whom I work like to install the drapery hardware 2-4″ below the crown if the ceilings are very high.  That’s a beautiful look as well.

Below are custom draperies made in the correct proportion.  I want you to see the difference. These bedrooms and draperies were designed by Carolyn Campbell of Nashville TN and we fabricated them.

Draperies installed below the crown, 2" puddle

Draperies installed below the crown, 2" puddle

Red Velvet draperies, installed at crown molding with 2" puddle

Red Velvet draperies, installed at crown molding with 2" puddle

Here is a Pottery Barn drapery which has been installed correctly and the room looks wonderful. (I got this photo from Google Images and I can’t figure out how to make this photo larger.)

Perfectly Installed Pottery Barn Draperies

Perfectly Installed Pottery Barn Draperies

Good luck and happy decorating!