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October 21, 2015

Drapery 101: Answers to your most frequently asked questions

by Kim

Custom drapery 101 FAQ

Considering custom drapery for your home? Our drapery-certified designers answer some of the most frequently asked questions they receive from clients during in-home design consultations.

What are the differences between custom-made and ready-made drapery?

Big box retailers carry what they consider to be standard drapery sizes (e.g. 84” or 96” panels). However, most windows vary considerably in width, height and shape, making it difficult to get a perfect fit. Choosing a custom drapery solution means your treatments and rod will be manufactured to your exact window specifications; your panels will be the perfect length and fullness, and your rod will be cut to size, not telescoping. Plus you will have infinitely more fabric, finishing and hardware choices. Remember, drapery should enhance your room, not detract from your decorating scheme, so don’t spend money on an ill-fitting ready-made solution.

What is the average price range for custom drapery?

Drapery price can vary drastically depending on the fabric selection. For example, custom drapery panels with hardware for a standard 48” x 60” window range in price from $550 and $1500.

Is drapery in style? What drapery trends are most popular right now?

Custom drapery has experienced a resurgence in the past few years, thanks to the introduction of more contemporary side panels, hardware and finishing options. Bold and vibrant prints are making big design impacts, with geometric shapes and ethnic patterns like the Ikat continuing as favorites. Florals have staged a comeback, and we’re not talking about 90’s chintz. For the more neutral design scheme, natural fibers like linen and bamboo add a wonderfully rich texture to window treatments.

Although simple and streamlined drapery panels are more preferred by clients, we’re also seeing a renewed interest in high-impact design features, like cornices, decorative tape and panel lengths that puddle, rather than just skim, the floor.

What types of hardware is most popular?

Silver-toned hardware, whether wood or metal, has reigned supreme in home decor for the last decade or so. However, with brass back in vogue, we’re seeing a preference shift toward drapery rods in warm metal finishes, like gold, bronze, copper and rose gold. Combining materials and finishes, such as crystal with wood or bronze with brass is also very popular. Whether you’re looking for something decorative or purely functional, we offer design options to fit every decorating style, from contemporary to traditional.

What types of windows would you not recommend drapery for?

Advances in drapery hardware coupled with the expertise of a professional installer, makes drapery a possibility for nearly all shaped windows, even those that are more challenging to fit, such as bay, arched, corner or stacked. An experienced drapery designer will be able to tell you what drapery styles are possible during you’re free in-home design consultation.

Although most of our installations are at the window, custom drapery can address other decorating challenges, such as concealing a large screen in a media room, creating a canopy bed or dividing a room. Outdoor spaces are another great place to install custom drapery panels. They not only provide coverage from the elements, but also add a pop of color and softness. Weather-resistant hardware and fabrics will ensure your new window treatments will withstand Mother Nature.

Should drapery panels touch the floor?

Just like pants, drapery hems that are too short or too long are considered a major fashion faux pas, which is why most drapery panels are designed to just “kiss” the floor. However, recently we’ve seen a slight shift toward panels that go beyond the slight break and “puddle” on the floor. This trend works surprising well for decorating schemes that are high drama or whimsical, where rule breaking is encouraged.

How high above the window should the drapery rod be placed?

Poorly hung drapery is one of the most common decorating fails. Rods hung too low and/or not wide enough often result in panels that are too long or short. When drapery is hung right, rods are fastened 4-6 inches above and 3-6 inches wider than the window frame. And brackets are mounted a minimum of every 4 feet to ensure proper durability. For a more dramatic effect, hang drapery near the ceiling and the room and window will appear taller. Hiring a professional drapery installer will ensure your new treatments are hung properly.

Can I install another window treatment with my drapery?

Drapery, shades, blinds and shutters each function a bit differently which is why dressing your windows in multiple layers has become so popular. When you add another window covering to the mix, you gain increased privacy and light filtering, while at the same time adding more visual interest to your windows and overall decor. It’s important to choose window treatments that complement, not compete with each other. We love the juxtaposition of bold drapery with understated shutters.

Should drapery match my walls or contrast them?

Choosing a custom drapery solution means you have access to thousands of fabric options, making it possible to achieve any look you desire. If you want your new drapery to be the focal point of the room, select a bold or vibrant print that contrasts with the wall color and furnishings. However, if you don’t want your window treatments to play the starring role, select a fabric that matches your walls and your panels will seamlessly blend in with the rest of your décor.

Can I mix and match patterns with other prints in the room?

Matchy-matchy decorating schemes are losing favor. Create a look that is uniquely you by mixing and matching patterns throughout the room. Not sure what fabric colors and prints work well together? Ask your designer for assistance. Our team of experts can help you select the perfect drapery fabric to complement your furnishings.

What is the difference between a cornice and valance?

A window valance and cornice are decorative top treatments that add the perfect finishing touch to custom window fashions. Each style is installed across the top of the window frame, hiding window treatment hardware.  A valance is a piece of fabric that hangs across the window, and comes in an array of styles, including balloon, box pleat, swag, and pleated, to name a few.

A cornice is a wooden valance that is either stained, painted, or upholstered with foam and fabric. Cornices are a great way to add visual interest to a room that lacks architectural features, like crown molding.

Will drapery help increase my home’s energy efficiency?

When drawn, drapery panels can help increase your home’s energy efficiency by both creating an insulating barrier between you and your windows, as well as blocking bright, hot sun from super-heating the interior of your home. Whether or not you’ll see a difference in you energy bills will depend on the fabric weight and drapery style you choose.

For optimum energy efficiency, combine custom drapery with blinds, shades or shutters for increased insulation at the window.

How should I clean my custom drapery?

Custom draperies require the care of a professional cleaner and should NOT be cleaned or laundered at home. We recommend either taking your panels to the neighborhood dry cleaner (with the exception of silk fabrics) or hiring a service that will come to your home and clean your drapery in place.

How long will my drapery panels last?

Unlike ready-made panels, custom drapery is handmade by master tailors using high-quality fabrics, thread and notions, enabling them to last for decades (when properly cared for of course!). In most instances, a homeowner will replace their window treatments because they are simply tired of them; not because they are no longer functional. Choosing a timeless drapery solution combined with regular care and operation will ensure your window treatments will not only look great, but also stay functional for years to come.

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Kim is a window treatment and drapery certified designer helping clients in Ottawa and surrounding Ontario communities find the perfect window treatments for their homes. She has more than 14 years of experience in interior design and window coverings.

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