Window Treatments: The D.Y.I. perscription

We lovers of design always appreciate a beautiful window treatment. But, how does one go about accomplishing this fantasy drapery design on your own? After practicing the art of window treatments AND installation for over 20 years, I will share with you how it's done.... and well.

First: Design-start with a very clear image of the design you would like to create and install.  And and ask yourself if this design will "work" with the style of home or business that you have. If you don't know what your design might be, you will need a great reference book to get the creative juices flowing. I like to use The New Curtain Book by Stephanie Hoppen. Located inside are photographs of clean and simple shades, all the way up to the most elaborately hand embroidered, smocked taffeta, 25 foot drapery installations fit for a Saudi King.  

Second: Functionality-  Ask yourself, will it "preform" the way I need it too? To determine this performance factor, answer the following questions: Do you need to let light in or out? Do you need privacy? Do you need to manage the temperature of the room with the curtain? How big will the curtain(s) need to be? How will these window coverings operate? And lastly, what will the physical weight be of the final installation be including hardware?

Third: Textile/material selection- If you are dealing with Sunlight, and most of you are, you would need to select materials that can withstand a certain amount of light. Have you ever seen what sunlight does to fabric, leather, and wood? Basically it bleaches then it deteriorates it. Silk will be the first to be destroyed by sunlight. I've seen silk sheers look like a cat snuck in and decided to sharpen it's claws on it after being hung in a window with out UV protection. If you insist on having delicate materials in your design, then you must treat the windows with a UV coating, or just plan on replacing them every 1-2 years. I like to use a 3M product to accomplish the UV coating on my clients windows. If you don't know anything about fabrics and how they preform, take a look at this link for Textiles.

Fourth: Hardware selection- Select a rod, finial, rings, hooks, tieback, and brackets, that hold enough weight of your new drapery design, while complimenting the existing hardware in the room. There are retailers that sell hardware as well as wholesalers. The latter will have a wider range of product selection, and detailed weight loads, and installations recommendations. Many say that the hardware of the room is the proverbial "jewelry" of the room. Don't skimp in this area! Here is a link with general rules of thumb of how to determine your hardware installation. The Bradley Collection hardware is one of my favorites and is sold in San Francisco through Donghia at the SF Design Center. You will need a designer or purchasing service to access this, and if you don't want to go that route, West Elm has some easy and simple designs.

Fifth: Installation- The weight of the drapery design adds up. Make sure to do the math on this. You will need to locate and install your bracket (that suspends the rod) in a stud.  If your walls lack a stud in the area you need the bracket, have a contractor install corner blocking in the wall to support and suspend your amazing design. If you don't do this, there is a great chance that the rod or pole hung with drapery will come tumbling down. There are professional window covering installers, and I highly recommend that you use them. I like to use Michael's Installations in the San Francisco Bay area.  

And lastly, always install the rods and brackets the same day you install the drapes. Do not install the brackets before the drapery has been delivered to the job site. Many times the drapery length or width has changed during the sewing process and your floors and windows are not level. This can instantly throw off the installation and become a huge headache for all of the trades involved.  I have seen wool drapery shrink or lengthen due to temperature.  Once hung, a local seamstress can come out to your projects site and hand hem the drapery during its suspension.