I’ve got a new Designer Trick post lined up for you today! I spent a few hours perusing the fabric store and chatting with my workroom this week, in an effort to nail down window treatments & upholstery for our little camper makeover. While in the fabric store, I was thinking this could make a helpful and interesting blog post. I talk about window treatments frequently here on the blog, as I believe they make a big difference in the look and functionality of a home. However, I’ve never really shared what goes into specifying window treatments from a designer’s point-of-view. Specifying window treatments actually used to be a big part of my job when I was working full-time as an interior designer. The firm I used to work for had our own studio workroom and seamstresses on staff to create whatever we could dream up with an array of designer fabrics. Whether you’re looking to go the custom route or would like tips on making budget-friendly readymade options look more customized, I hope this post sheds light on a variety of options for any style or budget. I’ve also included lots of helpful stylistic visuals. Click through for a fun post on window treatments from a design education perspective… I’m sharing numbers to know, tips, aesthetics, and more!
While I used to do a LOT of window treatment design plans for clients, I’ll admit- I feel like this part of interior design is more about math, measuring, and excellent planning skills… as opposed to pure creativity. It’s one of those areas where coloring outside the design lines won’t give you the best results. It’s also an area in design that requires a lot of basic knowledge: design rules, scale, functionality, etc. Ready to dive in? I crammed lots of info into this post!
Establish a Budget
The first thing to do before diving into ordering window treatments is to establish a budget. Whether the budget is for your own home or for a client, you’ll need to a solid idea of how much you’d like to spend. Why not wing it? Window treatments vary greatly in price. To be transparent, you can find $20 roman shades from Amazon installed throughout our home to $5k custom window treatments with designer fabric. I’m all about mixing, but having a budget to begin with will help save time, energy, and keep you on track with feasible options. Regardless of how much you want to spend- the process is the same for both readymade and high-end options…
Measurements & Planning
I always begin with measurements. If you’re using a workroom- they may have their own printout and measurement chart for you to use. Another workroom note- they may or may not work with non-trade professionals. If you find a workroom that works with the public- keep in mind, they are there to produce your vision, not your design. If you’re looking for design help, try a retailer that has designers on staff- like Calico. If you’re using a workroom, you’ll be expected to submit items yourself… specs, measurements, fabric choices, etc. I just wanted to share that in case it wasn’t common knowledge. Hopefully you’ll understand all of that information and be equipped after reading this blog post.
Don’t forget to consider nearby items like doorways, millwork, or light switches. These items can be noted on the worksheet and might influence which direction the curtains open…. here’s an example: center draw curtain panels with the pull device on the left-hand side.
The type of window treatment you are ordering will influence the type of hardware needed. There are lots of components to consider: curtain tracks, French rods, straight rods, drapery hooks, curtain rings & clips, automated & remote systems, the opening device- like a string pull or pole open, etc. If you’re taking the custom workroom route, you’ll also need to specify placement of some of these. For example- if you have a string pull opening device… you could say you want it hidden on the right-hand side of the window.
Another thing to consider during the hardware planning phase… is your window really long? If so, you’ll need to consider center brackets for added support. I’ve watched designers and colleagues order beautiful window treatments that have sagged or ripped the hardware from the wall because of their weight or size. Make sure to add additional support if you’re working with heavy fabric or an extra long drapery rod.
Design & Aesthetic
Once you’ve selected your fabric or material, you’ll need to design the other drapery or shade elements. The top portion of your drapery panels- where the curtains meet the rod or hardware is called the heading style. When specifying drapery, that’s the first stylistic element I begin with. I pulled together a little drapery panel guide with photos of different pleat styles for you…
Similarly, with shades, you’ll also need to define what style you’d like. With roman shades, depending on your window style, you’ll either need to specify an inside mount (mounted inside the window trim) or an outside mount (mounted to the wall). My personal preference is always inside mount. I think it has a more tailored, customized look. Here is another stylistic visual I put together for you on roman shades…
Custom Window Treatments
If you’re looking for custom window treatments, you have some options…
- Go through a workroom… you’re responsible for all the details.
- Find a local seamstress… you’re responsible for all the details.
- Make them yourself… you’re responsible for all the details & manufacturing.
- Go through a retailer like Calico… they have designers on staff to assist.
- Find semi-custom options on Etsy… the manufacturer can assist.
- Find semi-custom options online… retailers like Blindsgalore.
The path you choose will really depend on how much work & time you can invest, and your comfort level of design specifications.
Readymade Window Treatments
I’m all about mixing high & low. As I previously mentioned, I have both custom and readymade window treatments installed throughout my home. It’s all about finding what fits the budget and making textiles feel intentional and more customized. I’ve got some easy tips for making readymade options feel more custom…
- Order the right size… or size them yourself- adjust the hem, etc.
- Modify as needed… add pleats, install an appliqué or border, dye the fabric, etc.
- Install as you would custom treatments… use things like pleating hooks, curtain rings, nice drapery hardware, or a valence or cornice to hide mechanical components.
- Don’t be afraid to DIY… take a stab at sewing, or if you can’t sew- try fusing a hem with hemming tape (which just requires an iron).
At the design firm, we worked with the same professionals for installation… it was nice to see the same person for each installation because he eventually learned how I preferred my window treatments to look. For example, I prefer drapery panels to barely kiss the floor… meaning they hover ~1/2″ above the ground. That influences how high the drapery rod needs to be installed. Will there be curtain rings? How about drapery hooks? All of these added pieces of hardware need to be considered when figuring out the hanging height. You should also consider the weight of the drapery panels and the material used- because they can stretch, adding a bit of length. Quite a bit of math goes into this part of the process! My point here? Measure twice, drill once… and stick to your initial plan! Here are some quick basic tips:
- Hang your drapery panels high and wide to make your window look larger.
- Opt for inside mount roman shades, if possible.
- Always have your initial measurements and workroom order with you during installation.
- Keep a notepad and calculator on hand for quick math.
- Do visualize the window treatment prior to drilling… have someone hold them up for you.
- Float drapery panels just above the floor.
- Take into account the weight and material for stretching, which can add length.
- Do steam, train, and style your curtains once they’re installed for a clean look.
Other tools that make installation a bit easier? I’ll drop them into a slider below… the laser level is a must!
If you missed any of the topics highlighted throughout the Designer Trick series, I’ll link them for you below. Are you still finding this series interesting and helpful? Let me know if there are specific topics you’d like me to cover next!
- Examine a Room in 2-D
- Selecting the Right Rug
- Artwork Installation
- Tips for Getting Scale Right
- Choosing the Perfect Paint Color
- Making Moodboards & Conceptualizing a Room
- Floor Planning
- Mixing High & Low
- Planning & Managing Projects
- Choosing Fabric
- Mixing Metals
- Choosing Lighting Temperature & Bulbs
I hope this post was helpful! Here’s to hoping it wasn’t information overload. Be sure to save or pin this one for future reference, too!
If you’re curious about my camper makeover and where I landed on those window treatments- my plan is to modify some readymade cafe curtains to keep it low budget. Since I’m saving there, I decided to drop off our dinette cushions at the workroom to have those professionally reupholstered. I want to use vinyl for durability, and I’m not confident my little sewing machine can handle sewing through a heavy material like that. I hope you’re all having a good week so far! We’re nearing closer to that 3-day weekend, friends. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below…