Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Decorator's Secret To Store Bought Curtains

Loft apartment in downtown Allentown PA designed by LoveYourRoom
Ok, here are the "do's and don'ts" of store bought drapes as promised, and as seen on WFMZ 69 News at Sunrise today.
Eve Tannery and Shosh

Thanks for having me Eve!

This blog details what I look for when searching store bought curtains.  It also includes how to hang them correctly.  I have learned this through countless client projects I have tackled where budget was key.  A retail window drape can still look fabulous if you apply these tips! 

The Hunt For A Store Bought Window Curtain 

I narrow my search down by looking for the following criteria:

1.  Stick To Back Tab or Grommet Header – Back tabs are hidden tabs located in the back of the drape that you slide the window rod through.  This gives the drape elegant soft vertical folds at the top of the window.  A grommet header uses metal eyelets that the curtain rod slides through.  This also gives the drape a soft folds but is considered more contemporary because you can see the curtain rod through the folds.  Both of these options allow the drape to hang well from the curtain rod AND make it easy to open and close the curtain.   The grommet header is a more contemporary look of the two.
Back Tab


*Why I do not use rings with drapery hooks or clips.  I have found that the drape never hangs right this way unless it is done professionally, or by someone who knows how to do it right.  With drapery hooks the fabric, unless pleated, looks pierced and ‘puckered’ at the top, and with rings that use clips, the curtain tends to sag between them because its being pulled up by the clip. 

2. Go For Lining – Lining not only adds weight and color depth (by less lighting peeking through) to the drape so it looks better, but helps insulate and there is less fading of the material from the sunlight.   For a bedroom or media room I opt for ‘lining with black out’ so no sun gets through. 
Lining Sample A
Lining Sample B
3.  Height Is Key – I always measure my window from the very top (this includes window trim) to the floor.  AND I measure the ceiling to the top of the window.   This is so important because store bought drapes typically run 7’, 8’ and 9’. Long.  If your window height (top of window to the floor) is not exactly one of those lengths than you need to mount it above the window, closer to the ceiling.  Knowing how much room you have to that ceiling is key!  See example below:

4. Width May/May Not Be Important – Rule of thumb is that a single window requires one pair of curtains to have the ability to open and close completely.  This is called ‘Functional Curtain.’  If you have a double window (larger in size), then you will need two pairs of curtains to be a ‘functional curtain’. 

If you only require the curtain to be hung for aesthetics, and not have the ability to open and close completely, it is called ‘Non Functional Curtain.’  For a double window, in this case, you only need a pair of curtains. 

When do I use a 'non functional' curtain?  If the window already has a shade or blind, I use the curtain to simply soften the edges of the hard treatment.   Another example of when I use non functional curtains is if I am dressing a pair of windows that are either side of a fireplace.  There may not be room on the side of the windows closest to the mantel.  In this case I would hang a curtain on the outer walls of the window.  It looks symmetrical and beautiful!

IMPORTANT: Measure Your Window Curtain

So you have your curtains, your window rod, and are ready to hang them!  Please oh please measure the length of each store bought curtain again.  Why?  Because this just happened to me at a clients' home......

Installing A Window Curtain

The Wrong Way:

I cannot tell you how many times I get to a clients home for the first time and am shown curtain rods that are hung right on the window frame and the brackets are on the trim itself or screwed in right next to the trim.  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!  And I bet if you are reading this you are nodding that you know what I mean.

When I see the rod hung like this, the curtain is typically dragging on the floor or an inch above the floor, and the entire width of the curtain is inside the window when opened.  Then the client tells me that they never want curtains again because it looks like this.   And I say ‘It’s not supposed to look like this!’ 

Treat your curtains like you would a pair of pants.  They should be flattering and the leg pant should end at the right spot, not look yanked up high like you are walking through mud, or so long you are tripping over the bottom hem. 

The Right Way:

To find the right height is a TWO PERSON JOB. One person places the curtain onto the curtain rod and holds it up to the window.  The other person then looks to see where the bottom of the curtain is just touching the floor ('kissing it').  It is at that point on the wall, where the rod should be installed.  

The brackets should not be placed directly on either side of the window frame or on the frame itself.  If possible keep the bracket two inches or so from the frame on either side.  This allows you see more window and less fabric when fully opened.

 Good luck with your next curtain project! -Shosh

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