RM Blog Inside, Out10/26/2010

Hands On With Amy Devers: No More Scary Curtains

Dear Amy,

Why are curtain rods so expensive?! Are they any DIY or cheaper options out there that aren’t necessarily marketed as “drapery hardware”? I’m seriously considering just using a staple gun and calling it a day.

Ooh, wait, please stop! I hope I got to you before you just stapled your curtains up to the wall. I know you wouldnt want to live with anything that half-ass for very long. It’ll make you feel cheap and itinerant, like a hobo. Curtains control your natural light, privacy, and to some degree, temperature. Plus, they play a major design role in creating ambiance and mood through texture, pattern, and light play. The hardware is equally important because its what allows you to use your curtains most effectively and caps off the composition. Slap-dash or inappropriate hardware choices will haunt you daily. No lie. Dont ever underestimate or under-serve your curtains because they can definitely make the difference between warm, welcoming comfort and a get-me-out-of-this-cargo-hold-like feeling.

Heres the deal: Some curtain rods are expensive because they have elaborate patinas or finials, have been hand-forged, or have some other costly fanciness built into them. Other “drapery systems” are expensive because they’ve had a fair amount of R&D invested into their functionality so they’ll work well with heavier drapes or with a variety of window configurations. If you just want something clean and basic, you could go DIY, but the truth is, you would probably spend just as much in money on materials, and even more in time and labor getting them up as you would on some of lesser expensive options out there. Have you checked out Ikea.com? The Deka curtain wire includes the hardware and clips for $5.99. You seriously cant even buy the stuff to make it for cheaper than that. Its low-profile enough to make it an inoffensive option no matter your taste. But still, if sleek, minimal stainless is not your cup o’ tea, then the Beskada rod set is the alternative and at $7.99 still a bargain.

If you’re talking about strictly decorative curtain panels, the kind that frame a window but dont ever have to move back and forth, then by all means its cheaper to DIY. Heres a quick and dirty method: Paint a section of 2×2 the same color as the wall and screw it into place, then staple the stationery curtain panel to the 2×4 making sure to gather, wrap, and tuck the fabric as necessary to give it a natural hang and conceal the 2×2. If any of the staples show, you will need to paint them the color of the fabric so that they dont catch the light and blow your cover. (FYI, you can use nail polish, craft paint, or even Liquid Paper if you dont want to spring for a special can o’ staple paint.)

Now, if you actually ARE a hobo, or “thrifty vagabond” if you prefer, you can use your stick (as a rod) and bandana (as a curtain) to make a temporary window treatment for your cargo hold. Just prop the stick across the opening, and fasten with releasable cable ties. (Try these or these.)

Stretch the bandana across like a curtain panel and tie 2 corners to the stick.  In the a.m., just untie the bandana, put your things in the center, tie all corners onto the end of the stick, throw it over your shoulder and move on down the line.