Some people hate curtains. I am not one of those people. I think they can do a lot for a space, whether it’s just about adding color, texture, or pattern:
Or totally transforming a space, as in the case of our apartment living room:
But I have never been comfortable with how expensive curtains are, especially since I am usually using them mostly decoratively and have sheer curtains and blinds on each window for actual privacy and light-blocking (which I find preferable to constantly opening and closing curtains).
Even a pretty inexpensive panel from Target is usually $20-$30, which means $40-$60 for a single window and much more if you have multiple windows in a room. And of course that’s really the low end, curtains from higher end places can cost much much more and custom drapes look amazing but would really be a splurge for me.
Over the years, I’ve found a few ways to have more affordable curtains — more like $20-$25 per window. These cheaper options aren’t right for every space, but using them where they work means more money available to spend a bit more in other rooms when needed. I thought I’d share a few of these ideas with you today!
We all know IKEA is an amazing source for affordable home goods, and curtains are no exception. The selection can be limited, but especially if you’re looking for something pretty basic and neutral you can get a pretty good deal. For instance, these Merete curtains are available for $29.99 for a 98″ pair:Personally I don’t love grommet top curtains, but you could easily cut off the top and use them with rings — that’s actually exactly what I did in our apartment living room, pictured earlier in the post.
2) Turn a shower curtain into regular curtains
When you’re looking for something more colorful or exciting, it can be hard to find good options. When I was on the hunt for curtains for our bedroom, I just couldn’t find ones I liked. And then one day I decided to look in the shower curtain aisle at Target instead, and found a million amazing options. I ended up picking a gray sunburst shower curtain from Target (no longer available) that cost about $20, and picked up two of them (one for each window). I cut each one right down the middle to create two panels per original shower curtain, turned down the top edges where the holes for shower curtain rings are, and hemmed the raw and top edges to create a totally clean look.
The two things you have to be careful with here are a) material, and b) dimensions. For material, make sure you pick cotton or something else that will make nice curtains — a lot of shower curtains are polyester or other materials that would seem weird as regular curtains.
For dimensions, most shower curtains are 72″ long which means when they are cut in half they still make nice full panels for a standard window size. (Again, I don’t tend to actually close my curtains very often, so the panels don’t need to be super full.) However, shower curtains are usually just 72″ long as well — so that means they are not going to make floor-length curtains. You *can* get extra long shower curtains, but they come in fewer variations and they’re usually ~84″ so even they won’t make floor length curtains for most people’s ceiling heights. Typically I prefer floor length curtains, but sometimes I don’t mind a shorter look, for instance in my bedroom I think it works just fine.
3) Make your own — with a twist
When you’re looking for the most flexibility in color and pattern, sewing your own curtains is a great option. I’ve found Fabric.com to be a really great place for affordable fabric in a really wide array of styles — often for as little as $9/yard even for drapery weight fabric.
But even sewing your own can get expensive — if you want 96″ panels, you’d need to buy 5.5 yards to do two panels. So even at a very reasonable $9/yard, you’re still looking at almost $50 per window.
Since I’m often just using curtains decoratively, however, I’ve found that I can get away with a little trick that halves the amount of fabric I need. Fabric usually comes in widths of 54″, so I will buy just 2.5 yards (the length I would need for a single panel) and then cut it right down the middle vertically to create two skinny panels.
Yes the panels end up looking pretty thin, and they obviously won’t work well if you want to use them for privacy or light blocking. But if you’re just going for a little color, texture, or pattern in the room, this can work really well.
I did this in my living room, where we have a big picture window that I was not trying to make functional curtains for. To do two windows (four panels) was just $50.
I also did it in our guest bedroom, where we have roller shades for light blocking and I really just wanted the curtains to add color to the room. I spent just $20 on the fabric for these.
In this room, we wouldn’t even want to be able to draw closed the curtains because then they would block the radiator.
One quick tip: when you’re hemming your own curtains, be sure to do a double-fold hem so the raw edges aren’t visible even on the back side. This means that rather than just folding the fabric over once and sewing it down, you folder it over once and then again, sewing that down so the raw edge is encased inside the hem. Here you can see my double-fold hem along both the top and the side:
This creates a cleaner look, and helps protect against fraying especially when you wash the curtains. Here’s a great tutorial on sewing double-fold hems (you can pin and iron like she recommends, or be super lazy like me and skip those steps…).
Again, these tricks are not going to work for every space — sometimes what you really want or need is a floor length, full pair of curtains in a color or pattern that you just can’t find somewhere like IKEA. But maybe these tricks will help you save a little money in some rooms so you have a bit more in the budget when it’s time to splurge on nicer window treatments!
What do you think, would you ever try one of these in your home?
(Sharing at Pin Worthy Wednesday, Weekend Retreat Link Party, I Heart Naptime, Inspiration Monday, Two Uses Tuesday, Totally Terrific Tuesday, Tip Me Tuesday, Think and Make Thursday, Your Turn to Shine Link Party, Remodelaholics Anonymous, Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before and Afters, Link Party Palooza, and Create It Thursday.)