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Achieving A Custom Look With Ready Made Curtains & Draperies

Let’s face it—in the current economy, hiring a decorator is just too expensive. But everyone still wants to have beautiful, distinctive window treatments that express their own sense of style. What’s the solution? Ready made curtains, draperies and accessories! Curtainworks offers a vast array of fabric types, colors, patterns, styles and constructions that make creating a personalized presentation both easy and affordable.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between ready made and custom window treatments. Ready made window treatments are exactly that: curtains or draperies that are already made in a standard length and width. These differ from custom window treatments, which are measured and made to order to fit a specific window. Custom window coverings typically are purchased through a designer or decorator and are much pricier than ready made window coverings, which typically are sold "off the rack" and are significantly less expensive.

Just because you don’t hire a decorator doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some common techniques to maximize the impact and visual appeal of your window treatments. Here are just a few tips and tricks designed to help you decorate like a pro with ready made window fashions.

Change perceptions:

If your windows are narrow, you can expand the visual focus by extending the drapery rod and treatments beyond the edges of the actual window. Using wider window treatments will make the windows appear larger. Similarly, if your windows are short, you can create the illusion of a taller window by hanging the drapery rod higher on the wall or even at the edge of the ceiling. You also can hang longer draperies and let the excess fabric "puddle" on the floor to create an aura of opulence and luxury.

Use color to your advantage:

You can use bold colors and dramatic patterns to draw attention to your windows, especially in rooms where the paint, furniture and flooring colors are neutral. Conversely, if you would like the windows to visually recede or blend into the walls, use colors similar to those used on the walls or trim. In general, deep rich colors will make a larger area appear more intimate; while neutrals or pastels will visually enlarge the area.

Using shades of gold, yellow or orange will give a warm glow to a room. Shades of blue, green and mauve have a cool, calming effect. Brilliant jewel tones or reds make a bold decorating declaration, especially when you decorate the room with coordinating accessories, including decorative pillows and throws.

Combinations of colors can evoke a particular time period or decorating style. For example, pairing blue and cream can give your home décor a Colonial or Federalist feeling; using blue and yellow gives a Scandinavian twist; and blue and white creates a crisp, Americana look. To make an earthy, eco-friendly declaration, use browns and greens together. To capture a tropical or ethnic feeling, highlight brightened pastels, including pink, yellow, sky blue and orange. Black, white and gray are a must for creating a contemporary aesthetic; using cream, oatmeal and brown put the focus on a casual lifestyle.

Layer your windows:

Nothing makes a more interesting decorating impact than a layered window treatment. Layered treatments combine fashion and function in one decorative statement. The key components in a layered window treatment include the panels, which can be either lightweight curtain panels or heavier drapery panels; a valance or other type of top treatment, such as a scarf; and sheer panels as an under-treatment.

(Please see our Window Treatment Essentials article for more information on the various components of a layered window.)

Mix and match:

One of most common techniques that decorators use to craft a unique decorative window treatment is to mix and match fabrics, patterns, textures and colors. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to select one pattern or color for the window panels, and a complementary pattern or color for the top treatment. For instance, use a classic woven plaid on the panels and a coordinating floral pattern on the valance; or choose a solid texture on the panels and a bold stripe on the valance to create that designer look. You also can create an interesting two-tone look by using two different shades in the same color family—pairing cream and brown, for example, or pale yellow and deeper gold.

(Use Curtainworks' Free Swatch Service to see how your own mix-and-match design will look.)

Use decorative hardware:

Give your window the perfect finishing touch with decorative drapery hardware. Decorative drapery rods or poles and coordinating drapery holdbacks are constructed of metal, wood, resin or plastic. Decorative hardware pieces are available in a wide variety of finishes and colors, including diverse wood tones, metal textures and distressed patinas. The ends of the poles and holdbacks generally are embellished with ornamental finials, which are featured in myriad shapes and styles to fit into virtually any room décor. Many common finial shapes are drawn from architectural elements, including balls, leaves, flowers, acorns, urns, scrolls and crowns. Other decorative hardware pieces that you can incorporate into your window treatment design include decorative drapery clip rings, sconces, swag holders and brackets, all of which can give your window treatments that little extra "something" that sets them apart.

(Please see our "How To Measure & Install" section for more information on selecting the appropriate window coverings to fit your individual needs.)

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