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Design Myth Busters: The “Real Cost” of Custom Drapery

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the ultimate family-friendly media room + wet bar

I don’t know about you but I am legitimately mystified by what custom things in the design world really cost. Even me, a person who has actual access to most of the answers gets overwhelmed at just the idea of “the cost” when it comes to things like custom drapery, reupholstered furniture, CUSTOM furniture, etc. I am usually in a “there’s no way I could afford that” camp despite everything I want being nearly a bajillion dollars. I toyed A LOT with this issue during the design process of my Makeover Takeover (MOTO). I was having such a hard time finding what I wanted that I was ready to become my own personal product designer. Dramatic? Sure, because I ended up finding items I loved but I did need to design and have some pieces made by my very gracious and (free-labor) father.

I have started to tease my bedroom MOTO for a while and I am sorry to report that it’s nowhere near done. One reason there has been a holdup is that I need custom drapes to hide my very/too tall “closet.” My dad is a button sewing wizard but curtains are sadly a no go. If only I had paid more attention when my mom was sewing all of my middle school’s Dickens’ Carolers costumes maybe I could attempt it?

Now, I am also in a unique position that there may be a chance a company would be willing to work with me to gift drapes but there is never a guarantee on that front. Also, transparency is one of EHD’s most valued commodities so I wanted to know what this sort of service really cost outside of a very incredible potential job perk because if I’m curious, I bet a lot of you are, as well. That being said, welcome to our new “The Real Cost of…” series where we do the heavy lifting of asking the questions and getting the quotes so you’re armed with more information on the front end before embarking on your own “custom” project (or maybe even it’s more of an “oh, wow, I thought that would be more” scenario which is as nice as finding a crisp 20 in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn for a year).

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 7
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: The Griffith Park Master Bedroom Reveal

In my first “investigative report,” I spoke with three of our current go-to custom drapery companies Decorview, Tonic Living and (most recently) Barn & Willow. Each has a slightly different approach to their custom drapery services and were gracious enough to answer all of my burning drapery questions.

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 6
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Elliot’s Nursery Reveal + Get The Look

But actually, before we get to the cold hard facts and professional tips, let’s talk about these three companies so you can get a better idea of where they are coming from and what they offer. Also just to be clear, this post is in no way sponsored. These are truly three companies we love and use and like I just said, were kind enough to answer my questions. Okay, here we go. 🙂

  • Decorview takes care of literally everything, soup to nuts (as Arlyn would say). You basically don’t even need to know what drapery is because they will come to you to talk about your needs, show you samples, measure and even do final install. They also have a plethora of features (like automated options) to choose from. Needless to say, they aren’t the most budget option on the market but they are undeniably worth it. The service, quality and the insane amount of options they provide are incredible. EHD has used them a bunch (Portland project and mountain house, most recently) and can absolutely vouch for their beautiful work.
  • Tonic Living is another EHD favorite that not only customizes drapery but also pillows and cushions! But in terms of their drapery (since that is the topic at hand), they have an incredible selection of patterned and solid fabrics and will work with you to create what you are looking for. They do offer in-home consultations but are located in Canada so luckily as long as you know your measurements, they will help via email AND they ship worldwide. Both Brady’s Roman shades in his bedroom and soon Julie’s bedroom shades are both through Tonic Living.
  • Last but not least is Barn & Willow. In Bowser’s hunt for the perfect drapery for her bedroom and living room (stay tuned), she found Barn & Willow, a direct-to-consumer custom drapery company. They create beautiful neutral toned drapes and Roman shades that you can get customized to your exact measurements with their extremely user-friendly website. But if you need help deciding, they also offer design services. Bowser and EHD approved.

Alright, now let’s get to the goods…

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 5
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: The Design Milk Family Room Reveal + Get The Look

Overall Cost

The first thing I wanted to know (and I’m sure everyone reading this) was what a rough all-in, full-on window coverings budget should be before starting a project. Between the three companies, they said that $1,500 to 2,500 is a good place to start. That number sounds scary, right? Well, they reassured me that there are a bunch of ways that that number can go up or (thankfully) down depending on how many windows you need to cover. You also have to consider things like fabric choice, type of drapery (curtains, Roman shades, stationary side panels, etc.), size, lining, special features like type of pleating or even automation. SO much to think about but also that’s the beauty of customization right? It’s going to be exactly what you want. When I asked about the price point, Tonic Living said, “We often get clients who have ‘cheapened out’ on window treatments and regretted the decision.” That makes a lot of sense to me. Been there, done that.

Now I’m not suggesting to go ham and throw your drapery budget to the wind but much like anything custom, the point is that it’s an investment in quality and making reasonable financial choices to make sure you are going to love them for a veerrrry long time is ultimately the right call. It’s like ordering a burrito and skipping the guacamole. Is your wallet and maybe waistline pleased? Sure. But are your tastebuds sad? YES. You should just spend the $2….or in this case more like a few hundred. Tomayto, tomahto. 🙂

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 2
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Portland Master Bedroom Reveal (And How To Pull Together A Your Own Dreamy Suite)

Starting Cost of a Standard Size Window

Next, I wanted to get a little more specific and see what a starting price of standard window-sized curtain and Roman shade would be. Again, there are a lot of variables but the base price for a pair of simple linen panels from Tonic Living and Barn & Willow is under $500 and a Roman shade is under $450. Yes, when you compare that to the cost of ready-made options, it might feel steep, but even some off-the-rack curtains can run several hundred dollars unless they’re truly budget picks. So, for high-quality custom window treatments made to your exact needs and specifications, it’s not a far jump budget-wise from standard retail.


But now let’s kick it up a notch and see what “add ons” you might want to consider. Privacy or blackout lining was recommended by all three of the companies for rooms that need it, like a bedroom (or a living room where you’re trying to block glare for TV viewing). Decorview said, “A blackout liner would be a couple hundred as an extra cost.” Tonic also echoed this sentiment saying that blackout lining is nearly double the cost of a muslin lining. Despite the sizable increase of cost, sunshine and sleep are not great together so that may be an add on you don’t want to skimp on where needed. Other things like top pleating, added fullness (more fabric), and type of hardware are other details that will increase your bill. The last thing that Tonic Living enlightened me on was pattern matching. “Large pattern repeats can greatly increase the amount of fabric required and therefore the price will increase. You will get more value with a solid or simple stripe.” Who knew?! Well, now we all do. 🙂

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 9
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Brady’s Bedroom Makeover With Parachute+ Shop The Look

Fabric Selection

Speaking of fabric, Decorview said “when it comes to pricing, fabric makes a big difference. The more ornate the fabric, the more expensive.” When I asked Tonic Living if there was a big price difference between say linen and velvet fabrics, they noted that their “most popular Tuscany Linen fabric runs at $20.95 USD per yard while our Mason Velvets comes in at $43.95 USD. It’s important to note, many velvets cannot be made into drapery or may have limited options on the top pleat style. Double check the listings to see which is appropriate for window treatments.” Double the price…good to know! However, the great thing about Barn & Willow, who focuses on neutral and natural tones fabrics, is that there isn’t a big difference between the price points of their offerings. All in all, it really just depends on what you are looking for and then deciding if it can fit into your budget.

Emily Henderson The Real Cost Custom Drapery 1
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: In Defense of the Comfy Sectional—A Friend’s Almost-Finished Family Room

Avoiding Sun Damage

Custom drapery is an investment (is the dead horse beaten enough yet?) so protecting them and making sure they look great longterm is of the utmost importance. Enemy number #1 is the sun. To help with this nemesis, Barn & Willow says that “adding blackout lining and interlining will provide the most protection against the sun and elongate the lifespan of your drapery by creating a barrier between the harsh sun rays and the fabric.” Now, Decorview has a great rule of thumb when it comes to choosing fabrics and fade resistance, “man-made fabrics or synthetic fabrics are generally more color resistant due to either the color being ‘built-in’ to the fiber, or the ability to take stronger more caustic dyes. As with anything, the darker and more saturated the hue, the more prone to fading it is.” But as Tonic Living pointed out, even with the right lining, “all drapery fabric is susceptible to fading/damage over time.”

Bowser Bedroom Lores 111
Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Bedroom “After” Is Unrecognizable From The “Before”

Ways to Save

Alright, let’s get into the insider tips on how to save. As we’ve already learned, fabric choice was number one. Lots of dollars can be saved by simply choosing a more budget-friendly option. However, Decorview says don’t skimp on the hardware. The last thing you want is to have put all of your budget into the drapery and then only have enough money for a poor quality rod that might sag or even break. Then according to Tonic Living, “a hidden back tab and grommet style are more expensive compared to pinch pleat or flat panel.”

Fullness (or less) is an easy way to cut costs because, well, there is less fabric. Going from a 2x to a 1.5x is a simple switch if you still like a full look. Also, another option is stationary side panels or a faux Roman shade. Yep, if you really just want that “wow moment” or decorative touch and don’t need the actual function of privacy then both those options will save money because again, less fabric is needed. Another tip is to choose a solid, neutral fabric or one that has a small pattern because according to Tonic Living, “choosing something classic and neutral will make the style more timeless and long lasting.” And as we learned earlier “a solid fabric or a fabric with a small pattern repeat saves on waste/fabric required to pattern match.” Lastly Barn & Willow makes the overall point that, “by purchasing quality window treatments, you’ll save a hefty amount not having to change out tattered and faded window treatments after a year or two.”

Emily Henderson Modern English Cottage Tudor Charlies Room Reveal13 Edited
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Charlie’s Big Boy Room + Shop The Look

Final Thoughts

The last question I asked was if they had any final thoughts or advice for someone who is considering custom drapery. Here’s what they said:

  • Decorview: “Be open to different possibilities because even with a more modest budget, there are lots of options.”
  • Barn & Willow: “Quality hardware with sturdy brackets will withstand the bowing of heavy panels even after years of use, unlike the quality of off-the-shelf hardware which is thin and dents easily.”
  • Tonic Living: Aside from being 100% worth it in terms of quality and function, they recommend getting professional installation for heavy drapery if you have the spare budget. “Seriously, save yourself the headache!”

Man, pulling back that custom curtain feels great (there’s my one pun, okay?). I hope, like me, you learned a lot and if you have been thinking about investing in some custom drapery that now you have a better idea of what that entails. Also, if you all are into it, we would love to make this a series and dive into other topics like reupholstery, custom furniture, built-ins, custom closets/shelving, etc. If you have any suggestions of what you would like us to dive into, let us know in the comments. And thank you again to Decorview, Tonic Living and Barn & Willow. There are truly wonderful companies that we can’t recommend enough if you are looking.

Love you, mean it.

For more on all things window coverings, here are more posts to dive into: 


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73 thoughts on “Design Myth Busters: The “Real Cost” of Custom Drapery

  1. I’m a shade gal myself. Cleaner modern look. All that long dust-collecting fabric hanging around windows just feels heavy and claustrophobic to me. I know, I know. I would be tossed out of the Stylists Sorority. 😉

  2. I love this post – it’s so helpful to hear what things legitimately cost. I know you’ve written frequently about reupholstery but I’d love to hear more- we have many estate sales around here (Long Island) and I’d love to buy a quality armchair and have it redone but I’m worried costs would spiral.

    FYI I wanted roman shades in my daughters room and I found someone on Etsy who only does roman shades with fabric you provide. It was $110 per shade for the fabric, shipping, Blackout liners and construction. They’re not perfect – there are a few stray threads etc, but they are gorgeous and you can’t tell they’re not perfect unless you look closely, plus we raise and lower them every day and they’ve been very durable. So I’d advise folks who are willing to measure / design themselves to check out Etsy!

    1. I definitely would love to do a post on reupholstery and how the cost can vary depending on where you live! Also thanks for the Etsy tip! xx

      1. YEARS ago there was an excellent, in depth post about reupholstery. It was incredibly helpful and informative. That would be a great topic for this series. If I can find the old post I’ll try to send it to ehd. This one was great too, thank you!

    2. You are giving me hope. I have been waiting 3 months for my custom shades from a woman on Etsy. She insists she’s just back logged, but man am I tired of living with fabric pinned to my windows. A lot of these companies guarantee their products within a certain time frame. There is definitely something to said for your time too.

  3. Etsy’s also a great resource for custom draperies. I purchased four panels of a white cross-hatch sheer curtains with poms from a gal in Greece. They are amazing! When I went back to buy more for other rooms in my house, her Esty shop was closed. Bummer. But anyways, the good thing with Etsy is you get to choose the tab style, fabric, and of course – length (no more iron-on hemming tape from Ikea!). Most sellers provide fabric samples too. All this being said, none of it helps with getting the rod on the wall – securely if possible (ahem to my husband, haha).

  4. Always wondered about custom home-anything! Please do more of these!!

    Though i will add that I have cheapish curtains and they’ve never “tattered or faded” and certainly not in 2 yrs!! It’s just a matter of looks to me.

  5. Please do a post about media walls—different ways to design a media wall. I know you did a post about credenzas but I’m stuck on my media wall and need inspiration badly!

  6. Color me surprised. In a good way. I went with budget curtains (with blackout lining) from Target and they turned out great but I had a few surprises along the way. Never assume the window is the same size in two nearly identical bedrooms… oops.

  7. After years of sewing custom valances and shades for family and friends, I graduated to full-length, pinch pleated, lined draperies…5 sets this year! I’m no professional, but these are a do-able DIY project, just lots of long straight stitches. You need a big flat work space (mine’s a ping pong table!)and a good Google connection! I will ditto the advice to not skimp on hardware…these puppies are heavy! Watch for sales on decor fabric and you can go totally custom without breaking the bank!

    1. I am with you! If there is an accessible DIY sewing challenge, it is curtains. Shop the sales, line beautifully textured cloths with inexpensive, contrasting material. So many options when you are the one customizing. Or, stick to Target or IKEA. Custom anything is an inaccessible novelty for me.

    2. Absolutely with you – curtains are pretty straightforward, very little sewing skill required. Shades are also surprisingly easy; I’ve even made some without sewing when I thought the seams would ruin the sleek look. You can find some heavy duty fusible bonding that requires only an iron. That and a 2×1, staple gun and a few dowels is really all you need. Lots and lots of tutorials online. The few hours of effort can save you hundreds of dollars and you can use whatever fabric you choose.

  8. I have always dreamt of having stunning drapery like this. I also am really excited about finding Tonic living. I am Canadian and love learning about great Canadian companies.

  9. I ordered custom curtains from The Shade Store for the sliders off our family room. All in it was around $2800, including installation, for 110″ wide lined drapes. I can’t believe I spent that much, but this is the main living space, so I didn’t want to cheap out. I am so glad we went for it, because they are beautiful. Totally worth it.

    (I promise I don’t work for them, just wanted to throw a real life number out there for people.)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing!! The Shade Store is wonderful too and so glad you love them xx

  10. For those on a tighter budget – We have the premier Roman shades from Home Depot and cant recommend them enough. Sure they probably aren’t heirloom quality but we raise and lower them daily with no issues. Also, they replaced aluminum mini blinds so tbh they feel downright luxurious in our starter home. Cost was between $170-$245 per shade and we had no problem installing them ourselves (we’re NOT handy.) We got to choose the size, color, cord/cordless options, lining, fold type and more. For better or worse, you can fully price out and order online without speaking to anyone. I will say the fabric color was not what I expected given the screen swatch, but they are neutral and beautiful so it was nbd. If you have a specific vision it might be wise to order a sample – which is an option.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with Home Depot! We love hearing real-life stories and so glad you love them xx

  11. “What does it cost – reupholstery” please! –
    1. it seems like price varies widely across the country and depending on if you have an ‘in’ someplace
    2. and most important to me, how/where do you find upholsterers willing to do really good seat cushions? And what terminology do you use for that? I am tired of only finding places that just do fabric around foam. I would really like the same cushions we have on our couch – springs, wrapped in fabric, wrapped in batting, and then feathers and then lined. What is the standard cost difference for that over foam? Where do you find people willing to put in that work?

    1. I love these questions! I really want to cover this topic and will absolutely use your questions. Knowing terminology is SO useful. Thank you!

  12. Great topic… Drapes can be such an investment… I would love to hear about custom closets next!

  13. Oh, Jess, given that this is a fabulously international blog, best to do due diligence by keeping abreast of leading international news stories.

    In Australia, we are currently gripped by a horrendous revelation about the immense cruelty borne by ex-race horses once they don’t win anymore.
    TV is overloaded with the truly gut wrenching footage of these horses being beaten, electrocuted, stabbed, throats cut……horrendous…and all done under the cover of darkness. This “meat” is then exported to Europe and a couple of other places. (We don’t generally eat horse meat in Australia)

    So, when ANY Aussie read your “is the dead horse beaten enough yet?” comment……we cringed, BIG TIME.

    In fact, even without this face slapping news story that needed to be told and had to be told, that comment is truly cringe worthy.

    I ask, without prejudice, that a little more thought is given to rise above possibly flippant, out-dated cliches and dig deeper to find something truly witty, or just leave it out if something appropriate can’t be ‘discovered’.

    No harm meant, eitger way, I’m sure. I needed to shine a light on it, for the sake of kindness, broad thinking and the difference between drumming out of date cliches where something else (even nothing) would have been better placed. Just sayin’.

    1. I was definitely not aware of this horrific news. In the future, I will consider other phrases and be more mindful.

      1. Jess, thank you for responding and “getting” what I was saying. I was concerned that I’d be priverbially ‘flogged’ by other readers tor pointing it out. It means a lot that you took on what I shared.
        Thank you ?

  14. As someone who has worked in custom window coverings for years – a big THANK YOU for this post. When done right, custom window treatments will last you a decade or more. So many people try to make off-the-shelf work, only to discover that the poor fit, quality and DIY installation ruins the potential wow moment at the window.

    I also wanted to mention that in-home consultations are usually free, so folks interested in a custom solution can shop samples and will have the chance to ask as many questions as they want before making the investment.

    1. I am so happy you liked the post! And that is such a great point that in-home consultations are typically free.

  15. I use plantation shutters on most windows in my house because you can shut out the light completely, and you can also leave them open a bit to let air come through (we don’t have air conditioning in Seattle so having cool air come in at night is great) but still have privacy. They are not cheap, but we installed ours 18 years ago and they are still doing great. I just dust them regularly and wipe them with a damp sponge once a year or so.

    I like drapes for some uses, too, and if you go to the fabric houses in the design centers, you will see that the fabric is insanely expensive.

  16. I would love to know what drapery rods are recommended. We just put up super cheap Ikea rods and lovely curtains I sewed myself from a linen blend fabric. The Ikea rods I am sure won’t last, but are there for now because I could not afford anything that cost more for an 8′ and 12′ picture window wrapping a corner! We won’t use the curtains more than a handful of times a year so fingers crossed. I just want to know what to save up for replacement rods down the road.

  17. I decided to see if I could sew my own drapery panels. I went with a simple unlined linen because I wanted filtered bright light. I have a lot of sewing skills but the measuring for the pleating was MONSTROUSLY hard. I spent every spare hour for a week trying to get the spacing just perfect. Then I did the other panel. It was a whole summers worth of work. Omg. Now I have one larger window to cover and I’m just too chicken to even start the project.

    Barn & Willow may end up making me a dupe for that window in the other room – soooo worth it in terms of time. Seriously maybe I could get faster…but it is a skill set.

    I second the quality hardware. I will be needing that for the other larger window…

    1. I am so impressed you tackled pleating! But like you said, sometimes just paying someone else to do a project that could possibly make you crazy is WELL worth it:)

  18. Choosing custom draperies is one of the best avenues for your home’s window treatments. If you have ever bought curtains or draperies from a department store you already know just how limited your choices are. Be unique and choose to show your personality with custom draperies made just for you. If your really want to get some vintage draperies find sellers on .

  19. I used Decorview for a project this year – pinch pleat curtains for a bay window. They are so beautiful and a real statement. Installers steamed and placed them nicely. I also wanted to add that for a budget-friendly Roman shade option I like Selectblinds too. I ordered a beautiful shade this year for under $200. I just made sure to get cordless and with the extra lining. Love me some custom window treatments! ?

  20. I ordered custom Roman shades from Tonic Living after reading your Velux USA partnership post where you brightened up the bedroom of the lovely deserving couple. The shades turned out perfectly and working with Tonic Living was a breeze. This was A FIRST for me and worth every penny (2 custom Roman blinds for under $600!!) Thank you for sharing your sources. Love, LOVE the guidence your blog provides.

    1. O this makes us SO happy!! We love sharing wonderful companies and we are so pumped that you are just as happy as we always are with their work.

    2. Nicole! This makes me so happy, Jess shared this comment with me so I had to come and reply as well. I am getting my shades from them tomorrow and am so excited! Your comment means the world to us and I am passing it along to the Tonic Living team cause I know how much it would mean to them to know how happy you are with them. Have a wonderful weekend!

  21. Louann, I agree with your dust catcher comment and I suppose I would be thrown out of the sorority as well! I have beautiful mountain and garden views from my large windows and traded my expensive, lined, Belgian linen draperies in the LR and FR for a grommet style (lined PB and unlined Ikea) draperies that allow me to completely and tightly stack them to maximize the view. They almost always remain open. The Ikea Mirette are easy to throw into the washer and dryer, iron, and rehang but the PB have to be dry-cleaned at $75.00 per panel. In other rooms I also have easily cleanable, wide-slat blinds, some are paired with draperies, that tilt to filter the sun but still allow a view. Obviously I prefer a linear and modern design. I would encourage you to consider your design aesthetic, your climate, your aversion to dust, and your view beyond the window before you talk to a design consultant. Then be open to the consultant’s suggested options that you might not have previously considered! Pinch pleated might be exactly what you need … on professional hardware!

  22. We just got a bunch of estimates for Hunter Douglas roller shades in the past few weeks. We have 11 windows that needed roller shades plus a sliding door. Just for the windows we got estimates ranging from 7k to 14k. For the exact same specs but different sales reps for Hunter Douglas. These were motorized roller shades (bc the husband has to have things automated!).

    For the sliding door, we got an estimate for drapery. That was going to be between 4-5k. Adding a motor brought it to 7k. For one drape for the slider!!!

    So shop around when getting quotes 🙂

  23. My current project is stationary panels. Since dealing with all that fabric is the hardest part of drapery DIY, I purchased textured solid panels from Target. Now I’m taking out their stitching and sewing my own pinch pleats. Kinda custom? $25 per panel and looks professional!

  24. Love your posts, but I think custom treatments are for the wealthy or those who never change their mind. I had a company give me a quote- it was 3000.00 for two panels and hardware. I was flabbergasted at that huge number . I ended up installing my own rods and getting four lined panels for a total of 293.00 . Is the quality the same? Maybe not, but the visual result is. AND I can change my mind ten times before I get to that original quote. Not everyone can splurge, some of us have to have a budget.

    1. I agree – I couldn’t commit to anything that cost so much that I might want to change and can’t always take with me on a move. I completely appreciate why they are so expensive but I could never spend hundreds or thousands on window treatments unless I was fabulously wealthy.

    2. I agree completely. Even some nice panels and rods from stores can add up to a very high amount quickly. Most people cant even afford C&B or PB drapes and rods. If I had a million dollar house I might see more sense in buying expensive custom drapes though. Unfortunatelly, I can’t relate to this. Also, a ready made panel can last a decade. I really wouldn’t want an older drapes in my house anyway. I bought a house with 48 year old carpets and custom drapes, I got rid of it immediately.

  25. Did you ever use Smith and Noble? Used them for my whole house and loved working with them. Tons of options and very good customer service. I wonder how they compare to the companies you listed. I remember feeling at the time that it was a huge expense but worth it.

  26. What about the cost for a custom tufted banquette??? :). Thanks for the enlightenment on draperies!

  27. This post is absolutely amazing! My mom started her own custom drapery company before I was even born and now I get to work alongside her and design beautiful and efficient window treatments! It is a surreal feeling when I see our clients fall in love with their windows/home on install day. Fun Fact: We are based in Dallas, TX and most of the newly built homes have super high windows (over 20 ft) so we get calls all the time from people who do not know what to do with their windows because they can’t find those measurements in a store!

  28. Another option to consider is doing Graber custom window treatments through Costco. You get 10-15% back on a Costco card, so at least that helps a little. We put curtains on two windows and Roman shades on 3 windows in our living room and I think it cost around $4500 total. It’s a scary number that I never thought I’d be willing to spend, but to me it was worth it to get exactly what I wanted.

  29. Interesting information, but I have to agree with the posters who commented that all of this is completely beyond the budgets of most people. I’d appreciate more information on how to make purchased panels and shades look their best, besides using decent hardware. There is no way I would ever spend $500 on one window, especially as that estimate was for a simple pair of panels. And I’m middle-class, in a fairly large home. Online sites provide much more variety than I can find in stores, but I’d love help with how to maximize those mid-price panels, shades, and hardware purchases that I CAN afford to make my home look and function better.

  30. Any suggestions for shade solutions for a window directly above a kitchen sink? The window gets splashed with water nearly every time we use it, so fabric shades feel like a poor choice, but anything plastic I suspect will look cheap. Is there a happy middle ground that looks on trend, creates privacy, blocks hot summer sun, and doesn’t get ruined by the sink?

    1. I would suggest a faux wood blind that matches your trim or cabinetry. There are some nice ones out there that look just like real wood.

  31. After forty-two years of going custom window treatments, I can honestly say that when it comes to window coverings, most people have no clue as to where to begin. Sure, they know in advance how much they plan on spending on a Sub-Zero fridge or an eight burner Thermador stove and even smile when they reveal how much it cost as if it’s some sort of status symbol. Kind of like a new Mercedes or BMW, these items get more attention probably because they are more interactive parts of our daily lives. When it comes to window treatments, most people do it once and don’t think about it again. In the 1980’s, decorators couldn’t sell enough fabric, trim and hardware. Jabots and swags, side hangings, brush and tassel trims draped over four inch poles with huge ball finials were the standard. My, how things have changed. Thanks to periodicals and Sunday newspaper home sections focusing on expansive open spaces, the need or thought of window coverings faded somewhat away. Suddenly the view outside became a rooms focal point. Views of Manhattan from the 30th floor were worth the investment. Magazine photos of a beautiful blue day looking out the window of a 4500 square foot “cabin” in the Rockies confirmed that less is more. As a result, my business has taken a plunge. I don’t go to the design center for fabric samples as often as I used to. My clients never heard of Donghia, Kravet or Robert Allen. Instead, I’m asked to remake or customize drapery panels and hang rods from RH or West Elm because someone thought doing what I do for a living is as easy as following the prompts on a website. I say nothing about how much grief and aggravation – even money – they could have saved if they scrolled beyond the window treatment ads in their Google search. How do I stay in business in the 21st century? Well, as they say, an educated consumer is your best client. So that’s what I do. I start with the basics. Roller shades and pleated shades and the difference between room darkening and light filtering. From there, we move to fabric, how much one width is pleated down to and if interlining is necessary. It’s a process of baby steps but my clients not only respect my knowledge, they greatly appreciate it. It’s not uncommon that within a year after I install the undertreatments, I’m called back for draperies. The hardest part of selling window treatments is being competitive. As the world gets smaller and choices get bigger via the internet, I am constantly having to think for my clients about a budget. I have a love/hate relationship with one of the larger and more notable blind and shade companies. I’d like to tell them that I could sell more of their products if they spent less money on their sample books and made their products more affordable. My clients are not interested in the leather bound sample books with the coordinating straps and chrome buckles. They’re interested in quality, affordability, variety and me standing behind it all. I realised a long time ago that I’m not going to get rich in this business. Maybe not financially but in my opinion, you can’t put a price on knowing that you did your best and gained a happy customer. However, I’d like to see more trim.

  32. Great post! I’d second the comments about custom curtains being a realistic DIY project, though. I am, at best, a novice sewer (sewist?) and I’ve made all of the drapery in my house – from Roman shades to panels. I can do the basic math required of sewing but can basically only sew straight lines. Totally doable and a great way to get exactly what you want without breaking the bank. I sewed four, lined panels for our bedroom in a designer fabric (found online for a steal) for a grand total of $160. Had I bought them retail, it would have been around that for ONE- and higher still had I gone the custom route. Don’t get me wrong though- if I had the budget, I’d go custom all the way. Beautiful window treatments make a world of difference!

  33. Great sources and insight. What about Calico Corners? Aren’t Emily’s Draper for the Tudor gifted from there?

    Also, there are so many local sources for drapes. Just look around your area. I think it’s so great to give the work to a local craftsman if possible!

  34. This was such a great post! Clients always have major sticker shock over the price of draperies and it’s so challenging to break it down for them so they will find value in what they are purchasing. I will definitely refer to this in the future. Thanks, as always! So enjoy your blog and insta posts 🙂

  35. I but the mid-range quality ready-to-hang pinch pleat drapes with built-in block out (for the Australian intense summer heat!). I buy 1/3 extra width and everyone thinks they’re custom because of the generous extra fabric. Hehehe! ?

  36. I can sew, and have made my own custom valances and altered high end ready-made panels for a more custom look. I’ve also done custom Roman shades (online) and shutters (with a consultant at my house). I think going custom is completely worth it if you know what you want. The quality is worth it, as is not having to spend hours pattern matching and sewing.

    I’d love to hear more about reupholstering. When Emily has mentioned it in other posts, I’ve been surprised about the reasonable prices. I think I’ve been afraid of it, because I know how much the fabric would cost and the work that goes into it. I’m too much a DIYer, and I really want to preserve my time by outsourcing more. Thanks for a great post!

  37. I just got my curtains done and they are beautiful! I struggled to find tall curtains after moving in our 12.5ft ceiling apartment. I tried DIY using table cloths but didn’t like the flimsy finish. After a lot of research I went with Loft Curtains because they had great reviews and was the most reasonably priced for the custom sizes we needed. I couldn’t be more pleased with our curtains. I highly recommend them!

  38. Those shelves on your friends’ house is what my dreams are made of! I don’t know how I missed the original post but those shelves are what I’ve been searching for! Any chance you guys can do a DIY version? Just stunning!

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