Tuesday Tips: Window Treatments

I love looking out my kitchen window while I'm making breakfast in the mornings. But I sure don't want people looking in on me as I do this in my green and pink butterfly pajamas. That's why window treatments are a home's necessary evil. They not only keep out peering eyes but they also keep a house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. But they're evil because they can also be so expensive. So here are some tips for buying window treatments on a budget:

Tip #1: Custom-made curtain panels are one of the most affordable type of window treatments. The labor isn't as intense, so the cost will be somewhat lower than something more intricate like valances.

Tip #2: If custom-made treatments are out of the picture, places like Target and Wal-Mart have lots of options. But look for window treatments that are lined. "Not only does this create a look of uniformity from the outside of your home, but it gives the curtain a higher quality appearance," says Beth Bates, founder and creative director of The Sew Teacher, an Alexandria-based company that teaches people how to sew through classes and videos. Bates also says curtain panels made of natural fabric like cotton or linen will make a lower-cost window treatment look more like a custom-made investment.

Tip #3: Take lessons if you want to learn to make your own window treatments. Once you've had a good sewing lesson, you can save money on not only window treatments but all kinds of home d├ęcor like throw pillows and slipcovers. Bates says your first homemade window treatment should be for a room that's not on display for guests, such as a laundry room or a bathroom. "This gives you a chance to work out any quirks before you invest in quality fabric," Bates says.

Tip #4: Buy a plain Roman shade and line the edges with a decorative piece of ribbon. It makes the window treatment look a little more unique without having to spend a lot of money on something that's custom made.

Tip #5: Look for quality fabrics on the remnant tables in fabric stores. You'll find high-end decorator fabrics that are either discontinued or ones that are nearing the end of their supply. "Fabric stores generally want to move these fabrics out to make way for new fabrics," Bates says. "The name brand fabrics are often as low as $8 a yard." Fabric stores also have sales at the end of the season when stores are making way for the next season's new colors.

Tip #6: Be creative with the hardware. Decorators are using lots of organic options like bamboo sticks as curtain rods. Bates says she's seen clients use metal wire between two eye hooks, as well as hockey sticks and fairy wands in children's rooms. A PVC pipe wrapped in a coordinating fabric is another cheap option.

So where do you get your window treatments? What are some other ways to save on window decor without taking out a second mortgage?

By Tania Anderson |  April 28, 2009; 12:00 AM ET General Interest , Home Improvement
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Help! I was quoted $1600 for wood shutters for three average-size windows. Anybody have any referrals for a more affordable vendor?

Posted by: trace1 | April 28, 2009 6:59 AM

Another question: Does anyone have any suggestions for vendors who can handle difficult window treatments? I'm looking to add curtains to a window that's about 10 ft tall and 20 ft. long, and starts about 15 ft. off the floor. I've been struggling to find a vendor that can both make and install window treatments. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Posted by: kirschl | April 28, 2009 8:14 AM

I love my custom drapes that I ordered from G Street Fabrics four years ago. They really updated the look of my living room. Worth every penny!

Posted by: LittleRed1 | April 28, 2009 11:38 AM

Pier One has some interesting panels. Sad that expo Design is gone -- they had great items in this category.

Posted by: conchfc | April 28, 2009 11:45 AM

If curtain panels are not in your budget, consider using tablecloths. The edges are already finished, and they can be clipped to curtain rings on a decorative rod. This is often much cheaper than buying fabric.

Posted by: bluesette01 | April 30, 2009 10:41 AM

If you're in MD, you might try V2K Window Decor and More - they made and installed my custom sized drapes last year.

Posted by: smallcitygirl | April 30, 2009 11:05 AM

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