Daunting Drapery

Recently, Carly became a new homeowner and is wading deep into the endless sea of decisions that comes with designing your new home. We’ve been chatting back and forth with her about this and that the last week or two and wanted to cover this topic here on the blog (Way back, we did a style file for her sister, Natalie). As a preface, Carly has a great room living area that has immense floor to ceiling windows that are currently covered by aluminum mini blinds *shudder* which she can’t wait to ditch. She was interested in drapes and sent this pic from move-in weekend (when the blinds are up, you can see there are three windows situated in each set). We’ll cover other design bits later, but for now, windows & curtains…


Q:  I am dying to fix the window coverings in that room but am not really sure how to go about that.  Does having the 3 windows in one frame make it harder?  Where will the drapes sit when open?  On both sides?  Or will there be some in the middle?

A: Don’t despair, Carly! When hanging drapes, you generally treat the window frame as one big window for purposes of hanging rods and arranging curtain panels, despite it being split up by 2, 3, 4 separate actual windows. Blinds are a little different and you have options… But, for now, let’s talk curtains, long drapey flowy curtains. The special issues you have here are that 1) the separate windows are very close together and often join in a corner making end-space tight for traditional curtain rods and the finials that usually come on them and 2) the large size of the windows themselves, width and height, means you have a hefty amount of window to sufficiently cover without breaking the bank, on one hand, or having chincy-looking fullness from your curtain panels, on the other. Let’s just focus on the windows in the blue half of the room first, with the angled walls. There are tons of options, but we would recommend a set-up that, when open, results in fabric going from above the window framing to the floor on either side of each window frame (triplet of windows=one window frame).

There are special drapery hardware angle brackets  for window architecture  just like yours. The rods would connect in the angle bends from one window to the other in special brackets for this purpose. You could have nice chunky decorative finials on the  outermost areas of your rod expansion. You can get just about any special hardware you need at the drapery department of JC Penny. They are one of the few “custom” department stores left that carry it all and can special order. They do have sales on all that stuff too! As for finish, we see oiled bronze in your house. Or, if you are more of a silver girl, then a pewter look would work. If you hang your drapes by rings, they too should match the rods.

For the draperies themselves, we are thinking linen drapes, in either flax or slate blue on the windows in the navy area. It would be a clean neutral backdrop for patterned chairs, tables and whatever decorative items you decide to sprinkle throughout the room. Keep in mind that draperies aren’t something you want to replace too often unless you win lotto (even rods and hardware can get pricey) so neutral = economical. Linen also drapes so beautifully and comes in many price points from custom to World Market, Pier One, West Elm, JC Penny and the list goes on. Flat panels are going to be the most economical, either sheered onto the rod using a rod-pocket drapery or hung using large pinch rings, like the below pic. Remember  fullness is so important. Your drapery width should be 2 1/2 to 3 times the width, probably closer to 3 times the width in a living room. To do this with store bought panels, you will layer multiple panels together (most curtain panels come only about 42-54″ wide, so depending on your measurements, you may end up with mutiple panels over a single window).

You want to think a little about warmth with such large windows in your main living area in Chicago. Winters get cold in the Midwest! Lined drapes would be ideal. Alternatively, you could plan to use double rods with sheers hanging behind the curtains, but only if you have enough space in the corners to hang separate rods at each window frame. This would also give you more privacy, even with the curtains open because the sheer panels would always stay closed. Another option for layering would be to layer with blinds, but not the aluminum mini blinds that are currently up! Love the framing contrast on these curtain panels. This is a great example of layering simple bamboo blinds (=affordable) under the curtains. You could do it in phases to be easier on the wallet. Currently, the blinds are outside mount, meaning they just cover the whole window and frame. With inside mounts, you would have a blind hanging within each separate window, or one large blind covering all three windows (depending on the actual dimensions), but within the window frame… with curtains mounted outside of the framing, hence the layering effect.

Woven blinds are such a warm look and would be beautiful with linen draperies. If you’re still unsure of all the drapery decisions, but you like this look, it helps the budget along to get the warm tone woven blinds hung and then you can take your time a bit more to find the perfect draperies at the perfect price… or win the lottery and go custom!

Also love this look, the neutral, lux design is a little closer to what we are thinking for your house too…

Here, instead of the woven blind on the windows, the natural wood trunks impart a warm feel. This room is very neutral, which allows you to add color that is ever changeable in pillows, art, rugs and so on. Well, best wishes with phase 1… we are anxious to hear what options appeal to you and we can help with next steps! Oh, and if you plan to paint the wall, do it now! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Daunting Drapery

  1. Have you thought about using 2 wide panels @ 2/3 so there is an overlap of 1/3 in the middle. Pull each to the side with a cool hold back. There would be an overlap that could be accented with edging. Lighter weight fabric can be gathered easily and make a soft look. Depending on what is on the outside of the windows, there are some nice looking sheer type pull down shades or with the overlap headers of the panels, some corded balloon/gathering panels could work. Just a though from your uncle. Later girls.

    • Wow, those are some really great & specific ideas! So you overlap where you hang the curtains towards the center so the top stays “closed” and you pull back the middles with hold-backs? Sounds like a more formal look than straight curtains… another great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You hit it on the nose when you said that we may need to consider warmth with curtains. With these days that have been in the single digits, this room has gotten cold! So, this is something we will be exploring along with making it a nice look. Thanks for all of the help, we’ll be reporting back soon!

  3. Love your ideas, Lindsey! And how cool that your Uncle Steve chimes in with his ideas – your mom’s whole family has such talent and we non-artistic types love it when you share it. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: Style File: Carly’s Great Room | Family Style Living

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