Affordable hardware & drapes for BIG windows

January 09, 2018

One of the first things we noticed about this house when we walked through the studs months ago was the number of windows and how BIG and tall some of them were. 

I'm a lover of natural light so I was really excited about that:

As you can see, in our family room the windows are extra high -- they have the transom windows above so it makes them even taller than the rest of the house. LOVE them. And most of the year we can keep them open no problem -- when the leaves are on the trees we have tons of privacy, but this time of year it feels like we're living in a fish bowl. ;)
Tall family room big windows

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Around Christmas Home Depot had a sale on their bamboo roman shades and they were such a good deal I was able to purchase for most of the house. I got them all up, but we were stumped as to what to do with these windows. They are tricky because of the transoms and the length. 

On the smaller ones I could have hung the blinds under the transoms, but I wasn't sure I'd like that look and how it would cut off the window. And the big window requires a way to secure the shade in the middle (the wider ones have three brackets). The horizontal area between the windows is vinyl, not wood, so we can't secure the brackets in there. (I mean, we could, but I don't want to.)

I could have looked into custom bamboo shades, but they wouldn't match the rest of the house. SO. I knew I'd have to do drapes of some kind, and figured because they were going to be so long (132 inches), I'd have to go custom. I was planning to shop for fabric but quickly realized with the number of yards I'd need, it was going to be hard to do this affordably, especially adding a liner. (I needed four panels so that they would cover the whole wall when closed.)

Then I started looking online, just to see what I could find ready made. I found just what I wanted on Amazon -- to the rescue again!! And I was able to get them super quick, score! I found 52" by 132" lined drapes for $36 each. That's pretty darn good for such long curtains. Still an investment but I was thrilled to find them for that price. They came in a medium gray color which was exactly what I was looking for in this room. 

I was able to hang these myself -- it was AWESOME to get something done after weeks of not being able to do much (I have a herniated disc that is slowly but surely healing). I took it suuuuper slow but with some help from my husband, we were able to get it done. The hardest part was getting them wrinkle free, more on that in a bit!

They were just a couple inches too long, so I used my hemming tape to hem them up just a bit. I've been singing the praises of this stuff for years -- if you haven't heard of it, it's fusible webbing "tape" that you use an iron on to hem just about any fabric: 

no sew hem drapes

You just figure out where you want your hem, fold over with the tape inside and then use the iron with high steam to warm it up. It fuses the fabrics together: 
easy way to hem drapes

That little ironing board is from IKEA -- I've had one for years and LOVE it because it's small and so easy to pull out for quick stuff like this. 

You can see that these have just a slight sheen -- I was a little worried at first because I didn't want that look. But it's very minor and I quite like the texture of the fabric. It looks like linen.

I could have left them to hang and get some of the wrinkles out, but it was driving me crazy. So I used my handheld steamer (this is the one I use). This took FOREVER. Longer than it took to hang the dang things. But it made a big difference!:
how to get wrinkles out of drapes

Over the years I've fallen in love with drapes with grommets. They save on any additional hardware and look SO nice when the curtains are open:
drapes with grommets

They pleat beautifully, which is especially nice if you're really going to actually use your drapes. Also -- the grommets make opening and closing the drapes super smooth. 

A little trick if you'll be opening and closing your drapes often -- put one ring/hook/grommet on the outside of the drapery hardware. So when you open the drapes, the end will stay put. Otherwise the whole curtain will go flying across the rod and you'll constantly be adjusting. Hope that makes sense!

I used two on each side of the window so we can cover the whole wall. We couldn't believe what a difference they made in the room! Fabric on these windows makes the room feel so much warmer:
inexpensive drapes for tall windows

I found this table about a week ago at HomeGoods for this spot (before the drapes) and used one of my favorite lamps. Because it disappears a bit I'm switching it out with another one, but you get the idea. ;)
small table with lamp

Another decorative item that instantly warms up a room? Lamps. We didn't have any in here and I love the soft light! 

I'm going to have to move the drapery bracket over just a bit so the drapes can fall better next to that table. But the thought of patching holes in my brand new walls makes me want to cry, so I'll do it when I feel like tackling some hole filling:  
small table with lamp by window

They aren't light blocking but we don't need that anyway. We'll rarely close them (if ever) during the day. They do have a nice white liner so look great from the outside. 

We close them at night and it only takes seconds because the grommets make it so easy:
inexpensive drapes for big windows

I almost forgot to tell you about the long curtain rod! I looked EVERYWHERE for long rods that weren't crazy expensive. I was going to make them with metal rods from the hardware store, but those weren't long enough. I finally realized that IKEA carries really long drapery rods...but even those weren't quite long enough. I thought I was pretty smart when I realized I could just grab two sets of the rods and put them together. Then the other day when I was there I saw they actually suggest doing just that for wide windows. Ha! I'll list exactly what I used at the bottom of this post. (Only cost me $12!)

Here they are opened up. The fabric is super thin and light so even though there's two drapes on each side they don't take up much room: 
hardware for wide windows

Here's a view I haven't shown you just yet -- you can see how our dining area is situated here: 
great room dining combo

Because I LOVE before and afters I have to share this one -- this room is coming together even better than I had hoped! The before: 

And how the room looks now:
family room with tall ceilings and big windows

Eventually we may look into fabric shades for these windows maybe? I'm not sure though. I know that won't be cheap and I like having them so open.

I have big plans in mind for our fireplace wall but am working them out in my head before I tackle that project. :) I'm obsessed with the symmetry of this room! I was really pleased to see how the visual weight of the drapes balanced out the room even more -- our stairs are on the other side:
family room with pitched ceiling and big windows

I have learned over the years that I save SO much money if I'm just patient. You want to do all the things in a new house but waiting to find just the right thing always pays off for me!

I listed all of the resources for this room at the bottom of this post -- check that out if you're interested in anything! 

Here's what I used for these windows:
  • Racka curtain rod x2 (Hugad is a bit thicker and what I wanted, but they were out) from IKEA
  • Betydlig brackets x3 from IKEA
  • Raffig finials (two in the set) from IKEA
  • These are the curtains I purchased and they have tons of lengths available. (One even longer!)
My total cost for the whole window was $160 -- which is still a lot but I saved a TON by taking my time and looking around for deals. Even if I had purchased the fabric myself and made them I would have spent quite a bit more. And the hardware was SUPER cheap.

If you have any questions, please let me know! I was thrilled to find these for such a great price so as always, I like to pass them along.

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  1. The room looks great! Personally I think your HG table is adorable but too wide with the addition of the curtains.

    1. I love it now, when I move the drapes over it will be even better. :)

  2. Those curtains make a tremendous difference in the feel of the room! Definitely bring balance. How long before your eye twitches at the table/curtain scenario! ? :)

  3. Thank you, thank you for the source on loooong draperies.

  4. I love the addition of the curtains. I have also used the hemming tape to "connect" two drapery panels together so there isn't a sliver of light coming through between them (OCD maybe?). I used binding tape the same color as the drape and opened it up for a thin piece of fabric to place over the hem tape on the back of the pair of curtain panels. (curtains + hem tape + binding tape sandwiched together...does that make sense?) Anyway, the system has worked for me!

  5. Just a thought ... perhaps if you pulled your new little table away from the wall a couple of inches the drapes would fall nicely behind them and then you wouldn't have to refigure anything?

    1. Was thinking this exactly. The drapes are beautiful but feel they should be a little wider when open and this or moving the table altogether would accomplish this. Your room looks so good though!

  6. I'm with Susan on moving the table a bit...I would cry over patching and painting new walls, too!

  7. I took our new drapes to local dry cleaner and had them pressed only. They charged by the total width and ended up costing only $16 for 108 x 81 drapes.

  8. Hi, what are your tips or experiences with actually using your curtain (with grommets or otherwise) when the curtain rod has a bump? The kind that is a telescoping rod when you buy it in a store and when you extend it the little diameter difference makes the curtain not slide right. Maybe I'm the only one with this problem as I've NEVER heard a soul mention it anywhere in life (shocking these days) but I continually struggle with opening and closing curtains that don't slide smoothly. I'm always reaching over couches or chairs wildly flinging my arms trying to get the curtain to open or close. It always gets stuck and I feel like I'm going to pull the whole thing off the wall with the effort I'm taking. And I think "there must be a better way!".

    1. I will mention the bump in the rod causing fits of frustration. Drives me crazy also. That one thing is, in my opinion, the only negative to grommets. If you find a solution, I'd love to hear it.

    2. I hear you on this, Robin. I have a PB telescoping rod. 2 thoughts: Is there a direction the bump (or possibly shorter end) could be placed that it would be more convenient? Meaning, flip rod the other way? Or do both sides see exact same amount and distance of use. Curtain rod diagram-
      o--------b-----------l-----------------o Hahaha The o's are the finials, "l" in center is a support bracket, & "b" is the bump where it telescopes. With mine it makes a difference in accessibility that I have flipped the "b" to the right hand side.
      If that makes no difference for your set up, option 2 is to occasionally go over the bump with waxed paper. ? It might help. Chrissy

    3. I have this same problem! All the curtain rods I've had seem to be extending ones so they have the bump, a new one I just got has the same issue which is annoying me all the more as the rod is an antique gold colour and it is glaringly obvious where the bump is as it's almost black. I can't think of anyway to solve the problem than spend loads of money on a custom rod (no idea where I'd even go to get a metal one) with no extending needed.

    4. SO glad I'm not the only one!! We open and close our curtain every morning and every night in many rooms so it's a common problem.

    5. That’s another thing grommets help with! They don’t catch nearly as bad, at least in my experience. Maybe wrapping the part that connects the two rods with some electrical tape might help smooth it out so it doesn’t catch as much? Or even just clear scotch tape, that might even work better!

  9. I love the softness the draperies give to the room. With regard to the crowding of the table, I wouldn't go to the trouble of putting new holes in the wall. I would leave them as is and either get a slimmer table or remove it altogether and use a floor lamp along with the artwork for the soft light you want at that location. Whatever you do, it will be beautiful.

    1. I agree. The table is sweet but it looks a little crowded in that space. What about moving it to the wall by the stairs?

    2. The table is staying in this spot. :) It really doesn’t bother me, I promise! I don’t sweat it when it will all be solved by moving the bracket over. I swear everyone, it will be OK. 😂😊

  10. Wow Sarah, what a lovely addition! And that is an amazing price all said and done, too! I'm so happy for you for your new and beautiful house, and happy for ME to get to watch the process as it becomes a more customized, cozy home. xo Chrissy

  11. I just discovered Ikea drapery hardware this weekend, and I'm kicking myself for not using it earlier! I was SO impressed with the quality, especially for the price! I used the Hugad in our nursery, and now I'm eyeing my more-expensive drapery rods in all the other rooms, wanting to get rid of them!

  12. Love the drapes! But, I have a question about the chandelier in your dining room. Love it! However, when I look it up to purchase it, the chandelier doesn't have a chain to hang it from like yours does. Can it be hung from a slanted ceiling?

  13. I love the IKEA curtain rods! I used them on every window in my house. I was impressed with the quality for the price, but even more the ability to raise and lower them slightly without making a new hole! I would definitely buy them again.

  14. I am in the process of beginning to build your dining room builtin bookcase. I just loved it and could also see it in my dining room.
    I was curious what measurements you used in between the shelves. I know you mentioned the space between the first shelf was more than the rest and I love that idea too. I have standard 8 foot ceilings and was just curious as to your measurements. I know you no longer live in that home and may not remember.

  15. How tall is your ceiling that the curtain is hanging on? I have 12ft ceilings with transom windows in my family room and I'm trying to decide if that would look ok to do a curtain that high??

    Also, I did white honeycomb shades in my family room on all ten windows. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my windows and didn't want to cover them...but wanted privacy and sunblocking at times. The honeycombs are nice becuase when they are up, you don't really even realize they are there...I just see all the windows and let them show off their glory! But at night I can close them. Having said that, we did the mechanical raise/lower to not have a rod hanging down which added to the cost quite a bit. But we also wanted this because we have TEN windows that need to be shut at they are now on a timer and they lower and raise at the same time everyday. It's awesome! I didn't mind spending the money as we will be here forever...and are taking time to get things we want as we go. I did them through Hunter Douglas and they have some without a rod that you can raise/lower by hand too...ours were just too tall to do that. If you decide to get more privacy you should check them out...they come in super wide widths too.

    Anyway...thanks for your share would love to know the height of your celings in there!

  16. Fascinating! We very recently moved into a house with wide 12' and 8' windows wrapping around the corner of the living room so I was curious how you decided to handle your huge window challenge. I also bought the Ikea Racka rods, but made the curtains myself while we renovated before the move. I used a natural color linen blend fabric from Joann with two stacked coupons, didn't need lining or privacy, just glare reduction for the tv. I think I spent about $220 on fabric, equivalent to 9 panels of curtains, so about $24/panel. Plus hours of sewing! My decorating budget is tiny so it was the best solution. We went with the Ikea "bamboo" roller shades because it was about half the cost of the Home Depot roman shades and a similar look. Everything is sitting in the closet waiting to be installed, LOL. But we have it.

  17. This is gorgeous! And I have to say that your windows look much bigger with all your furniture in it, it was hard to see scale in the unfinished photos. Let there be light!


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