Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Importance of Curtains: A Few Tips and Tricks For Buying and Installing

This weekend, my husband finally finished the last of the trim staining for our new Andersen windows that were installed last fall. This project took him close to nine months to complete, for several reasons.

1.) It's tedious and time consuming, applying stain and then three coats of varnish, with sanding between coats.

2.) He managed to do the outer frame trim over the winter, but the interior window trim had to be done when the weather was ideal to open windows...not too hot, not too cold.

3.) We've been raising a sixty-five pound Yeti puppy for the past six months. Wild Yetis are tricky things to work around, but Jemma is finally calm enough to let us get stuff done.

First, we had to take down all the curtains, hide them upstairs, and then tape off all the windows. Wow. When the curtains came down, I realized what a big impact they have on the rooms downstairs.

Here's the dining room with no curtains:

And here's the dining room with curtains:

Such a big difference! They make such a statement. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Buffalo much, in fact, that I have to stop myself from inserting it into every room!

Here's the office/library/den without curtains:

And here it is with curtains:

MaryLynn, I added this photo for you! Look! Jemma still uses the gates! LOL!

Here's the family room without curtains:

Aww! Daddy's furry little Yeti helper!

And here's the family room with curtains:

Think of it this way. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the windows must be the eyes to the house. And trust me. This house needs a LOT of mascara! :)  Without curtains, these rooms would be fine. But with the addition of curtains and pretty lighting (also essential!), each room makes a statement.

Here are a few things we've learned about buying and hanging curtains:

1.) Quality counts. A well made curtain will have much better drape and heft. They don't need to be heavy and dark, but they do need form to help them drape properly. I purchased all of the curtains from Ballard Designs, and they were worth every penny. I used to be able to find decent curtains at Target, but these days their decor seems to be very trendy and transitional, and I lean to traditional style. I've also found nice curtains from Walmart Better Homes and Gardens line. Country Curtains is another great source for quality curtains. Occasionally, you can find nice Laura Ashley curtains at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

2.) Where you install the brackets for your rods is very VERY important. Here's why. If you screw them into the wall too close to the trim, then that is where the edge of the curtain will go, and no farther. This means more curtain will cover more of the window, thus blocking out more light. If you don't want too much curtain covering your window, then make sure you screw the bracket into the wall at least three inches from the trim, as we've done here.

I tend to buy my curtain rods from home improvement stores. Typically, they have a very nice selection at good prices. You can also find matching tie backs, as we've done in the office room. I try to match the style and color to the style and color of the light fixtures in each room.

3.) You will want your curtains to touch the floor. If they do not touch the floor, it will look like a kid who's outgrown their pants and is wearing a pair of waders to school. Trust me. No one wants to wear waders. The curtain should have a bit of a break at the bottom hem, similar to the break you would find in a nicely tailored pair of pants.

4.) If you have a not-so-pretty view, or if you need to control the light coming in to the room, you will probably need some sheers. I bought these linen sheers from the Threshold line at Target before our new windows were installed. The new windows are much taller, so I added a few inches to the length by installing these on the rod with rings and clips. As you can see above, they are a little short (see tip number three above!). I'm trying to ignore it because these curtains get a lot of abuse from Jemma. Good enough for now!

We spent a good chunk of change on these curtains. Probably over $700 in total, just for the three rooms downstairs. It was definitely a splurge. Where did we save money? Well, I did reuse the previous curtain rods in the family room, and that saved us a little money. But the biggest savings came by simply finishing the window staining ourselves. Yes, it took a LONG time to finish, but in the end, we probably saved over a thousand dollars that we would have paid to painters to get the job done. And look! We've learned a new skill that we can add to our flipping repertoire.

Another project crossed off the To Do list! Hurray! Next up: painting!



  1. Each room looks so pretty! And I cannot BELIEVE Jemma does not hop the gate. Oh, wait...she saves that for when you go away. (I saw it in the movie!) Nicely done! (You made me laugh at your comment!) Loved the back to school shots too--everyone growing so!! M.L.

    1. I confess, sometimes she just knocks the gates over. She did that one night last week during a thunderstorm...too scary to be all alone downstairs! :)