And now – to announce a new and very exciting contest – courtesy of a long time sponsor – The Antique Drapery Rod Company! They are a sponsor because I am a client – and have been for years and years. Almost every curtain rod I’ve ever used is from their company.
John Fowler – the greatest curtain designer of the 20th century. He meticulously drew out the details of the swags and jabots of his creations:
Fowler’s sketch and the actual curtain created from it. Picture courtesy of Little Augury
As you know, in my opinion, professionally designed, sewn, and hung curtains are one of the most important elements in creating a finished look in a room. Installing curtains is something I beg a client to do – and most clients will fight me on this to the end. But – when the job is finished, I’ve rarely had a client say they regretted the decision to pay the extra expense.
Another 20th century master of curtains – Mario Buatta – shown here in a beautiful Houston house that was recently totally renovated into a mid-century, Hollywood glam fiasco.
Curtains provide an element that is hard to duplicate any other way. They add a texture, a coziness, and a sophistication to a room. Additionally, they add interest and color and create a look of professionalism. Curtains also quiet a room – the yards of fabric add a softness that actually muffles sound. It’s hard to deny their importance in a design.
Miles Redd, the John Fowler of the 21st century. His curtains are a fantasy – would this room be as spectacular without his fabulous creations?
I wrote an extensive story about curtains around six years ago – it is worth reading if you haven’t or if you need a primer on do’s and don’ts of curtains – read HERE.
Miles Redd, again, here with a beautifully constructed ruffle on the leading edge.
David Easton is another classic designer who uses elaborate window treatments – with swags and valances. The simple check pattern (although I’m sure the fabric is a pricey silk) keeps the curtains from being quite so fussy. This kind of treatment is expensive to make, much more so than simple panels. But, the architecture and the windows and the ceiling height calls for such a curtain.
In a NYC townhouse, Mario Buatta used silk panels of different colors sewn together and then swagged them over the rod. It’s supposed to look like one panel of fabric casually thrown over the rod, but actually, its three pieces carefully sewn together.
How blah would this room be with the curtains? This solid fabric is dressed up by the details – the scalloped lead edge and the soft, fabric valance.
There are exceptions of course. If you own a beautifully designed house – with gorgeous steel windows – going without curtains is probably preferable (although, here, I would have used creamy solid linen curtains myself.) A room like this works without curtains.
I’ve always loved how the designer used the fabric color to draw attention to the trim color of the boiserie. By keeping the panels simply – hung from a rod, the room seems a mix of contemporary and classic. One of the most gorgeous rooms!!
A rather simple room without much architectural detail – the curtains provide a much needed element – without them, this room would look bare and unfinished. The valances add the classic feel.
A beautiful room – with panels and shades. The room has a contemporary feel and the style of the curtains add to this. Today – rods have become more important since valances are not as popular as they once were.
Mary Tait from New Orleans is credited with creating “ballgown” silk curtains – full, luscious clouds of silk, with no pleats and fabulous headers. With ballgown panels, decorative rods became more important. Today, headers are much plainer and curtains don’t puddle 10 and 12 inches. With silk panels, I like to keep the puddle to 3” – with linen, I go with 1” now. I prefer just a slight break rather than straight columns of ironed in pleats.
My favorite curtains – the ballgown silk panels of today. Tory Burch’s living room, maybe my all time favorite room ever! I love silk panels when the pleats are not ironed it. Gorgeous!
Well, this is another all time favorite living room – Carol Glasser’s in Houston. She loves color – and the pattern in the fabric is perfect, just enough. The velvet sofa in peach is to die for!! Carol chose to use a rod with panels instead of a more fancy treatment. Either style would have been appropriate, but this more simple treatment seems more 21th century.
Well, wait. Now THIS is favorite living room! How many does that make just today? Seriously – for a young person, who doesn’t want just antiques or outright glam – who wants to mix new with old – this is my idea of a perfect mix. The contemporary light fixture, the modern lamps and art, the antique chairs and table – it’s just a perfect mix – not too much and not too little. I love the pops of color mixed with the whites and stripes. And the curtains are perfect. Shannon Bowers.
Schuyler Samperton – love this in pinks and whites. Without these panels, there wouldn’t be enough pink in here to make such a statement. Again – this is a perfect mix if you don’t want too much new.
Ginger Barber added a trio of panels to repeat the trio of chandeliers in this large living/dining room. Ginger likes to hang panels with ironed in pleats. This is classic – for the new decade.
Another living room that I adore – fabric valances and patterned fabric liven up a classic, sophisticated room.
My favorite window treatment – raised to the ceiling, the panels elevate the ceiling – making the room seem taller. The shade adds needed texture AND hides the dead zone (the large area of drywall between the top of the window and the ceiling.) With the dead zone hidden – the window’s dimensions are hidden and it seems as if they are larger. This is a particularly handy trick to use when the windows or the ceiling is too low.
When you have double height windows – try to go as high as possible. The designer stopped at the double height – and left the triple height bare. This was a good solution for troublesome windows – something that builders seem to love to design.
A lesson in shades and panels:
DON’T: In an actual house found on the internet: first, this owner should have used a bronze rod for less contrast. Second, the rod should have been placed at the ceiling. Third, there should be just one blind instead of two, outside mounted, placed right under the rod – for a more cohesive, smoother look. This way – the dead zone is hidden behind the shade, the windows looks taller and larger and the ceiling appears higher.
The solution: perfection! There is one shade instead of two at each window. The rod is at the ceiling – right under the molding. The shade covers the dead zone – so it appears the window is higher, along with the ceiling. It’s a more cohesive look, a more finished look, a better look.
I like this arrangement – and I like the curtains and shades, BUT: there should be a rod!! I think this looks a little strange without a rod. It makes no sense. It just reinforces that the curtains don’t close, that they are just decorative. It looks phony. Honesty in design!
Another beautiful living room with tall panels brought to the ceiling instead of to the top of the window. Gorgeous! Miles Redd, of course.
Suzanne Rheinstein covered her dead zone with fabric valances – another option instead of using textured blinds. Her rods are beautiful. While I use plain rods – I do love a beautiful rod, like these.
A pretty, soft room. Again, the valances hide the dead zone.
A simple room, with leggy antiques in white – creamy silk provides the ballgown look – a very feminine expression.
Gawd. The gorgeousness!!!! The handpainted wallpaper with the vivid silk ballgown panels. The color of the silk is so pretty. Perfection!!!!!! Miles, again.
Mario Buatta in Houston again – with a double swag. Such a beautiful chandelier.
I’ve always loved this Houston dining room with the beautiful table and chairs and I love the curtains with their soft pattern. Nicole Zarr.
Another favorite – the skirted table in green with blue leather chairs and blue panels.
A bed – between two windows – please, always use curtains in this instance!!
And again – curtains frame the bed like a painting.
I love this – the long row of white curtains, lined and interlined, covering the drywall between the windows. It looks so finished and professionally designed.
An all time favorite bedroom – by Pamela Pierce. Those curtains in blush silk are perfection!! No pleats – they are feminine ballgowns. What a gorgeous room!!
David Easton – again – a simple check, a fancy treatment.
Miles Redd used a soft ruffle on the curtains and on the bed’s canopy. I love the rug.
This great bedroom that Ashley Goforth designed – is all in white with black accents and taupe silk curtains.
Another beautiful bedroom – the fabric shades are in a chintz print that adds just enough of color and femininity to this room.
Lilac chintz. The valances hide the dead zone – and make the windows taller, along with the ceiling.
Pure classic English. A mix of patterns and colors. The creamy cotton is perfect with just a hint of colored trim.
I have a formula that I use on most of the draperies – here it is in case you are interested:
Cote de Texas Curtain Formula:
This is the formula I mostly use. If you take this to your seamstress and she follows it exactly, you should have a set of curtains you will be proud of and love!
1. Use either 1 1/2 or 2 widths of fabric depending on the size of the window. Always err on the wider amount. A small window will probably take 1 1/2 widths just fine. Do NOT go by standard measurements – or else you will end up with one width of fabric panels, which will look skimpy and cheap. Note: It’s better to use an inexpensive linen than to skimp on an expensive silk! Consider using the more expensive fabric on a pillow instead – curtains require a lot of fabric! Double width on a regular height room is approximately 12 yards of fabric.
2. Have the seamstress add wide hems on the leading edges and at the bottom. This way, the lining on the side will be sure not to show.
3. Be sure to order NO IRONED OR TACKED IN pleats!!! Very important – or else you will end up with two stiff, stone concrete columns of fabric.
4. Always use lining and interlining unless you are using a sheer. I use either bump or blackout linings. If the fabric is dense, bump may be all that is required, but the blackout lining adds so much. First it creates a heavy weight which makes the curtains drape better and second, the sun doesn’t come through blackout lining – especially important when using silk and see through fabrics. Tip: I also ALWAYS use blackout lining when making skirted tables and bedskirts for the same reasons: weight, draping, and sun rays coming through. I like to see the fabric, I don’t like to see through the fabric!
5. Measure the curtains from the top molding or ceiling to elongate the line.
6. If adding blinds – use outside mount and place the blinds right under the rod.
7. You don’t need to splurge on expensive rods – the thinner the better is fine in most cases. If you don’t like finials get a rod that attaches directly to the wall.
8. Go easy on the embellishments: contrasting tape is great on valances and in transitional settings. Trim is nice down the edges or the hem, but use a light touch – too much becomes goopy fast!
9. Don’t make your drapes too short. If you want them just “kissing” the floor, be sure you have a great workroom , measurer, and installer, this is very difficult to get exactly right. With silk, I usually order a 3” puddle which allows me to grab the hem, step back, and let the curtain fall gracefully in place. You might prefer just a slight ‘break” in your hem. With linen and cotton I use 1” on the floor. Be sure to discuss the proper length with the measurer so there are no surprises. It’s always easier to fix a too long hem - a too short hem can be a disaster!
In Houston, I use Monica Hancock to measure and work with the workroom on all my curtains, bedding and softgoods. She also sells textured blinds at a great price. To contact Monica call 832-443-1931.
A few of my window designs – all are rods from Antique Drapery Rod:
My design – in this large family room/breakfast room – I used white linen panels mixed with brown textured shades to hide the dead zone. Of course the iron rod comes from Antique Drapery Rod. These days I prefer really small rods with tiny rings.
In my living room – I tried to hide a number of gross 1980s windows behind four silk panels. There are six windows, but hopefully it looks like there are only three. By bringing the panels up to the tall ceiling, it creates a cleaner line.
In my family room – I used the textured blinds to hide the dead zone. The panels at each French door hide the dry wall between them and make the long wall look more cohesively designed – and finished. One super, super long rod – by Antique Drapery Rod. Notice how small it is – it’s not black, but rather a brushed bronze finish.
I probably should have used textured shades to hide the dead zone, but I wanted a dressier look in my dining room. No pleats create the ballgown look. Antique Drapery Rod.
In my bedroom – one large, wide window which is too low – is hidden by a four panels and one long textured blind – turning it into three windows. I wish you could see the entire wall – but it looks so much better as three faux windows instead of one long, low 80s abhorrence!!!! Antique Drapery Rod.
For this client, she had an entire room filled with windows and doors that didn’t match. I hid this behind striped linen panels and textured shades. The curtains cozied up the room and quieted it at the same time. As always – I used blackout lining to create a heavy feel to the curtains to make them drape better – AND – to keep the sun from shining through the fabric making it impossible to see the pattern on the fabric. I always line and then doublelined curtains with the blackout material. Antique Drapery Rod.
For this client – in her living room and dining room across the foyer – we used the same fabric in both rooms for continuity. Of course the rods came from the Antique Drapery Rod Company.
For this client – she had two mismatched windows that I tried to create a feeling of symmetry – typical 90s bad architecture. I widened the right window by extending the rod past the tiny window – the panels cover dry wall, not window. The shades hide dead zone – that is different on each side. And finally, the solid white linen doesn’t attract the eye to the mismatched asymmetry. Yes, you know where the rods came from!
And now for the contest:
The owner of The Antique Drapery Rod Company approached me to host a large giveaway. But what – we wondered? Eventually we decided on a number. An amount – that will be gifted to a winner – a gift certificate for anything they want from the company.
There will be TEN winners over the next TEN months. Each winner will receive $1,500.00!!!
Yes. That’s right!!! $1,500.00 – to be used for anything you want. And there is so much to want! Here is a small assortment of what is available for the ten winners – and for everyone else. It’s not just rods – at all.
Here is a small assortment of the various rods – in 1, 2, and 3 inches. There are many, many choices. Look on the web site to choose!
They also sell curtains! You can order them lined and interlined with blackout! Up to 24’ long. If you need curtains – this is a great way to get them – the fabrics are linen and silk, classic.
They also sell things like this corona which would like great over any bed.
They also sell a large number of iron canopies – see below for a few examples:
Be sure to look at Grace Hardware, a division of Antique Drapery Rod – they have wonderful items, like these cornices.
Here are some of the finishes available on rods, cornices, canopies, etc.
Antique Drapery Rod Company is an American company – almost everything is made here in the USA using ecologically sensitive materials such as recycled elements and non toxic paints, etc. They also have a hiring program for homeless people. It’s a great company and I am thrilled they want to generously give something back to so many readers.
NOW – how to enter:
1. Go to the Antique Drapery Rod Company HERE and pick out what you like. This is fantasy only – if you are a winner, you will get a gift certificate to purchase whatever you like.
2. Come back here and leave me a comment telling my what item you liked! Be SURE to leave your email address or you can’t win!
3. That’s all!
4. You have a week to enter – contest closes next Saturday, April 25th at 11:59 pm.
The winner will get a $1500.00 gift certificate. There will be ten winners. Each month – we will ask you to leave a new entry so you will have ten chances to win.
Just think – maybe you have always wanted creamy silk curtains, but couldn’t afford them – well, if you win – you can!!!
Good luck to the first winner and a HUGE thank you to the Antique Drapery Rod Company!!!