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How to Update Curtains or Drapes

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Elle loves cooking, home decorating, gardening, sewing, crocheting, and ballroom dancing.

Light and airy curtains

Light and airy curtains

What to Do With Curtain and Drapes

The windows in your house or apartment are very important design elements that contribute much to the overall look and "feel" of your home. Besides letting in warm and flattering natural light, windows add dimension and architectural interest to your space, so the way you dress them can make or break the atmosphere you want to create in your living room, dining room, or bedroom.

Your Window Personality

Believe it or not, the window treatments in your home can also reflect your own personality! What do your windows say about you? Old, fussy sheers, draperies, and valances make a room look tired and dated. Do you want to reflect young, casual elegance instead? It's easy—change out those window treatments!

"But Window Treatments Are Expensive!"

We often keep our old, outdated window treatments because it costs too much to replace them! Updating just one room could set you back hundreds of dollars! The good news is, if you spent a fortune on window coverings in the past, you don't have to make another huge investment to update your look.

You can make simple changes to the treatments you already have and dramatically change the whole look and feel of your room! Here are some easy ways to update your windows without breaking the bank:

Too Many Layers

Too Many Layers

Remove a Layer

If you have formal window coverings—blinds, sheers, drapes, and valances—you can experiment by removing one or more layers:

  • Valances: Removing the valances can dramatically increase the amount of natural light in the room and make the whole atmosphere feel less "heavy." Showing the tops of the sheers between the drapery panels is still elegant and much more up-to-date.
  • Drapes: To let in even more light, remove the drapes! Leaving just breezy sheers and blinds can give new life to a stuffy room.
  • Sheers: Layers of sheers, drapes, and blinds can make windows look outdated. Experiment by leaving the other layers and removing the sheers.
  • Blinds and Shades: Shades are necessary when you need to block out sunlight, but some rooms need all the light they can get. Try removing the blinds or shades and leaving the other treatments. Just remember to remove from the woodwork any hardware you're not using!

Replace Hardware

If removing the valance exposes functional but unattractive drapery hardware, replace the old curtain rods with new decorative rods. You can find them in wood, iron, and even plastic in faux wood or iron finish (who can tell the difference when they're hung so close to the ceiling!) This can cost as little as $20 and give a fresh new look to your existing window treatments.

  • Wood: This is a great, inexpensive option that can go with either formal or casual styles. They usually come with decorative wooden end caps—or finials—to finish off the look. Wooden rods painted black are especially popular right now.
  • Iron: This usually costs a little more, but it's a versatile option that can also be dressed up or down with the style of your window treatments. And, there is an endless array of finials that you can buy to give a high-end, customized look to your room.
Mount the Rod Above the Window Frame

Mount the Rod Above the Window Frame

"Raise the Bar"

Another way to update your windows is to "raise the bar." Simply raising the decorative rod to an area just above the window frame will make your room look fresh and your windows appear larger. If your curtains or drapes come up short (they should be no shorter than a half-inch from the floor), you can easily lengthen them in a number of ways:

  • Use Drapery Rings: If you only need to add an inch or two to the length of your window treatments, drapery rings may be the answer. The rings slip onto the rod and are attached to the tops of your curtains or drapes with clips or pins. This slight drop may be all you need to lower your window treatments to the right length.
  • Give It a Trim: Upholstery trim can go a long way to add length and interest to your curtains or drapes. Fringe, beads, and tassels come in many different sizes so you can choose one that will give you the length you need. Just sew a strip to the bottom of each panel—or make it even easier and use iron-on hem tape or a glue gun!
  • Lower the Hem: You can also let down the hem at the bottom of your curtains or drapes to get the length you need. You'll have to finish the raw edge, but it's an easy job—just a straight line on the sewing machine or a quick press with iron-on hem tape.
  • Open the Top: If you need to add several inches to the length, you can open up the top edge of your curtains or drapes. You'll be eliminating the rod "pocket," so this works well if you're adding drapery rings. You'll have to finish the top edge by sewing or using iron-on hem tape.
  • Add a Border: If you need to add a foot or more to the length of your curtains or drapes, you can add a contrasting border at the bottom of the panels for an up-to-the-minute look. If you can sew a straight line on the sewing machine, you can easily make this alteration yourself.

Rich-Looking, Neutral Paisley Damask Drapes/Curtains

Experiment and Save Money!

Don't settle for tired old window treatments because they're too expensive to replace. Any one of the methods above—or a combination of two or more—can make dramatic changes to your existing curtains or drapes and give your home a fresh new look!

© 2011 elle444


Bubbs on February 25, 2015:

This is a fantastic article! Thank you for sharing your expertise!