Inexpensive sun blocking drapes

January 27, 2014

I’m thinking more about the master bedroom redo lately. I’ve made changes over the past six months or so – I started painting (and stopped, but now I know my direction and I’m going to start again), made a new headboard and made a couple other changes along the way.

I sold our old bed so I have $500 to spend on the redo and so far I’ve spent about $350 (including items from today’s post) to start the transformation. That includes bedding, the headboard, all new window treatments and some of the paint.

The only part of the redo that won’t be covered by that $500 are the new floors…which we decided we will go ahead with next month.

Lately my focus has been on the windows. Up till about Christmas they've been nekked (I took the old drapes down months ago) with only some wonky roman shades up:

The roman shades are about seven years old, maybe older. These are the shades I spray painted years ago. (Yes, spray painted.) The new color held up great – the shades themselves didn’t. You can see in that pic that the left one wouldn’t go higher than half way.

I got tired of the room being so dark during the day so I finally got some new ones over the holidays and hung them a few weeks back. This time I went higher above the window and did the outside mount instead of inside the actual window frame:


In this pic they are pulled all the way up to top of the window – LOVE it. It lets so much more light in the room and also makes the windows feel bigger. (More on that in a bit.)

That was a big change but I knew I wanted something else to soften them up. I’ve had my eye out for drapery fabric for months but wasn’t finding anything that worked that worked with the busy bedding. I wanted something really simple and it wasn’t till I was in IKEA a couple weeks ago that I realized a solid color would be perfect:

sanela panels ikea

They are the Sanela curtains – they look like velvet and I got the dark gray. Because the roman shades are hung higher I needed to clear those so I went with the 118 inch drapes. ($70 for two panels.)

Turns out I had to cut about 17 inches off the bottom and hem them to make them work so I was thisclose to being able to get the cheaper (shorter) ones, but I’m glad I went with with these in the end.

Anyway. I had picked up a long drapery rod at HomeGoods a couple months back so I got that up yesterday. Hanging drapery rods is one of my least favorite jobs, really. It’s easy, just tedious. The hardest part is making sure you place the hardware in the exact same spot on both sides of the window. Once you get your measurements figured out, mark where you need to drill, then use a stud finder to see if you need to use anchors or not:

how to hang drapery hardwarehow to hang drapery hardware

You know Mama went out when the nails are painted. :)

The stud finders are sometimes wrong, so I always use a drill bit to make my holes first. If I hit wood I know I don’t need an anchor there. The finder said there was no wood in this spot, but when I drilled the top one hit wood:

how to hang drapery hardwarehow to hang drapery hardware  

Now that I show you in photos it seems like the easiest project ever, gah. Like I said, it’s not hard…just time consuming to get all the parts level and secure in the wall.

So these drapes have grommets and I LOVE them. I’ve never used grommeted drapes before and the fact that they hang so nicely and you don’t need rings/hooks is awesome.

Our window is so close to one wall (shakes fists in air at home builders) that I don’t even put the decorative finial on that side:

hanging drapery hardware

You can’t even tell when it’s up. Also, if you’re going to use your drapes (we are in here) then I always recommend placing one drapery ring (or in this case one grommet) on the end, on the other side of the hanging hardware. Does that make sense? This keeps that end of the drapes from moving when you pull them shut.

I love the pretty glass finials on this rod:

hanging drapery hardware

I used to go big and chunky with our window rods and finials but over the past few years I’ve moved to lighter and thinner.

I waited to take pics this morning which was DUMB. This room is impossible to photograph, especially in the morning, but this gives you an idea of how it came together:

hanging window treatments high above window

YES, the walls are still two different colors and YES I still haven’t finished painting the wall to the left, but I’m sure of what I’m doing now so I’m moving forward…finally. :)

Let’s just pretend the walls are all painted, OK?

I got them up and REALLY loved how they looked. They are sophisticated and a little sexy and I love them. When the walls are all the light gray they will stand out even more. I get a lot of questions about how well the bamboo shades filter light -- these are the shades I always get from Home Depot and they have a tighter weave then most:

bamboo roman shades

Keep in mind all that sun across the floor is from the reflection in the mirror.

In general I think they are fine without liners (I’ve found bamboo shade liners at Lowe’s), although there is one point in the morning when the sun moves across a sliver in the shade and is like a laser beam into my face, which I’m so not cool with. I wanted to make sure the drapes would be thick enough to block it out and our room was so dark this morning, it was awesome.

Here’s the same shot, same time of day with the drapes closed:

sanela ikea curtains

All that light is coming from the other side of the house. The room stayed nice and dark.

So quickly, here’s my thought on hanging window treatments high above a window. I think most of the time it really can make a huge difference – it can make a smallish window look and feel much bigger. Hanging my bamboo shades higher really does let a lot more light in too. BUT – I think sometimes doing this can look really awkward too. I recommend hanging your blinds/shades higher if you plan to hang your drapes higher too. Otherwise the illusion is ruined, if that makes any sense. You can see the true height of the window if the shades are hung using the inside mount and if you hang the drapes a foot higher it still makes the window seem small, you know what I mean? I think when both are hung higher than the window it comes together nicely.

You know, the real issues in life…where to hang your drapes. :)

I decided a while back that I wanted our bedroom to be more sophisticated then it’s been in the past, but also soothing. I’m usually not one to use similar tones throughout a room like this, but I’m loving how it’s coming together.

Once this wall is painted and the floors are redone I think it’s going to be really pretty, I’m really excited about it:

And YES I still have a magazine problem.

Other than painting I have a wall treatment idea in mind, I’m planning on a redo for that floor length mirror and I hope to recover the bench at the end of our bed. Lots to do but I’m happy with how it’s coming together.

Do you love roman shades or are you a blinds girl? Do you hang your drapes high or like them low?

Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. Hmmm...If I didn't know better I would think your old shades are my current shades. I have decided this is a roman shade issue. We have had ours for almost 10 years and they are starting to do the same thing! Breaking! They go up, but not evenly. Since you asked...I hang mine above the window, lets more light in. Love the Roman Shades. I like the texture and naturalness they lend. As far as liners...don't buy them...go get drapery liner from Joanns (look in the remnant bins, even cheaper) hem the edges, staple to the top of the blind, use an exacto knife and cut small slits (no need to hem or sew) for the metal loop to go thru (this require unstringing and restringing, but I have faith you can do this). restring and you have liners for about $4.00. (Sorry if you already thought of this) I did this will all of ours when we first hung them (house faces East/West) and they have held up...Can't say the same for the shades. PS-I do like your curtains and your magazine pile :-)

    1. Sometimes I find the cord gets stuck in the little rings on the back and you can get them out to help it -- check that out, it may be the problem! I couldn't figure out how to fix these.

    2. Unfortunately...the threads on the shades that the rings are looped thru are starting to break. Some of them I have looped thru other parts, but some of them I have done this too many times and there is no place left to thread. Time for replacement. However, I have had the problem you are speaking of, that's actually a nice treat to find that vs. broken threads. The loops are a booger to move. :-)

  2. I love your new drapes! The gray is very pretty. I like your stud finding technique, too!

  3. depends on the room (hows that for helpful HA!) If possible I prefer to hang higher rather than lower though :o) Love the color of those curtains - looks great!

  4. Love the roman shades and I love them hung high. Looks amazing. Hugs, Marty

  5. Hi - this isn't blind or drape related (sorry!) but I just saw your grey settee/bench next to the window! Can you tell me where you got it and/or what brand and style it is? I've been looking for a similar style and would love to know!

    Thank you bunches!

  6. Ok, now I'm rethinking my roman shade/drapery combo in terms of height. My roman shades are hung lower and my drapes are hung higher. I might have to make some tweaks after looking at yours!

  7. Dang, I love me some IKEA drapes. You get so much bang for your buck! These look great. I've never used the grommet style, but maybe I'll try it in my next room? I found this post today about bedroom redesigns...good tips, too!

  8. I like the texture of the roman shades. I ordered liners for mine since they are in my fam room and I didn't want drapes to deal with on the sliding glass door. The liners work great. You do have to patient and let the fabric"train itself" to hang nicely. I guess you could iron the liners but after I got them on the last thing I wanted to do was take them off and iron them and put them back on.

  9. It's looking good! The colors are so pretty and soft. I love my bamboo blinds we have on the back of the house. I just wish I had splurged for cordless! I'm too lazy to wrap the cords up because I'm always adjusting them as the light changes in the room. I hang mine inside the window, but that's because I didn't want to cover up my DIY window trim. Otherwise they would have been hung high, too.

  10. Love the direction you're headed. Where or where did you get that gold table? Love, love love it!

  11. What a difference the outside mount makes! And I do love the way curtains soften the look of windows. Love the choices you made. I have had my eye on those velvet curtains from Ikea for a while. I am in love with the turquoise ones, but don't have anywhere to use them {yet}!

    - Tasha @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {}

  12. I love the new drapes and I love all the light you get in your room! natural light is the absolute best!

  13. So pretty! This cold weather is killing me!!

  14. I love love love the finials, so pretty. We recently got curtains for our room and our spare room. Silly me took my husband to IKEA with me (note to oneself NEVER EVER do that again!!!). We have two windows in the spare room and I got the ones with grommets. For the three in our room after a 'discussion' we got the ones that need hooks because he is a shift worker he thought it would be let light in through the gromments. We picked up the wrong hooks (IKEA four hours away) so we got some from a local hardware store. Again they didn't work so we got more. We finally got them up with the help of a pair of pliers and I don't think they will come down anytime soon for washing. I did get in a couple of times though how much quicker cheaper and easier it was with the grommet ones and the ones in the spare room don't let light in. :):) Louise

  15. It turned out so nicely! Love the direction you're headed with this room. I've commented before that we have the same bed that you sold -- you got $500 for it? Wow. I could do a lot of decorating damage with $500...

    It's funny that you posted this today; when my husband goes out of town next week, my white wood blinds are coming down in the living room, and bamboo roman shades are going up! Thanks for the HD link; now I don't have to think about which ones to get!

  16. I'm also looking for window treatments aka curtains for my bedroom windows, I think a trip to Ikea might be necessary, I like their selection, though I might need to add block out liners :(
    I love the look of the grommeted drapes with the roman shades...sophistication ;)

  17. I actually have some new drapes that I purchased a couple of weekends ago but absolutely hate hanging the hardware also. Thanks for inspiring me to get the ladder out and get these drapes up. Quick did you hang the pictures above the chair? Looks like just a frame around a that right? Thanks!

  18. Oh goodness! I LOVE the drapes! I also love the settee! It's so cute!

  19. Love your curtains and everything else I saw in your room, quite good sized room you have to work with. The colors in your room are so soft, restful. I've been contemplating painting our room a light gray. I recently bought clearance table cloths at Target to make new drapes for our room. 60x104" great width and length for $8.48 each. Going to line them so it stays cooler in our room in summer. Our room faces east also.
    Whomever built this house put the cooler vents only in front of house, not in back. We have a single wide mfg. home 16x80 so in summer the back part where our room and bathroom are get pretty hot, we have a good ceiling fan in our room and a window fan.
    I have learned so much about buying drapes, how to hang drapes in or outside window frame, roman/bamboo shades. We have bamboo shades I bought when we bought our house and they've been up ever since. Kinda afraid to take them down to clean as they might fall apart. I do use a dirt devil dust vacuum on them few times a year. Our house faces west/east and get strong sun two times of day, living room windows are on west/east side. In summer I am putting shades down/curtains closed to try to keep room cooler so think those bamboo shades might have gotten a good workout since 2006, ya think? lol.
    I have some drapes that have the grommets and love them above any others. I'd like to try to put some grommets in myself to avoid having to pay for new drapes. I have drapes that are for summer and some for winter for l/r windows. Should leave winter ones up all year but like something lighter looking in summer. Oh goodness what a conundrum, decisions, decisions.
    Enjoy your blog, learn a lot about decorating, always feel I can learn something new every day and reading blogs I sure do. Might be old dog but not afraid to open my mind to new ideas. Happy weekend


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!