Home Decor: 5 Easy Curtain Ideas

Five quick and easy solutions to boring windows problems. Advice on design and materials.

Few elements of home decor can transform a room --and define its designer's unique style -- as quickly and dramatically as a change in window treatments. Here are five quick-fixes to your same-old-same-old window problem.

1. Let it snow...

One common dilemma during the long, dark winter months is how to cover a sliding glass door-wall in something other than the standard lined, plain, pleated curtain styles. For a change of pace to add some fun and whimsy to your door-wall, try this quick and easy snowy night-sky idea:

Take a freshly ironed, navy blue, queen-size bed sheet and sew a 1-1/2 inch rod pocket along the sheet's long end. The linen will fit a standard double-door opening with lots of fabric left over at the sides to gather. If your door wall includes an extra glass panel, the new curtain will just fit the enclosure. You'll need three packets (or more, if you prefer) of glittery silver-and-white snowflake stickers to customize your blue panel. The stickers are very inexpensive readily available at Wal-Mart (in the greeting card department) and at most craft stores. Each page of stickers includes many different snowflake sizes and designs. They stick immediately to bed-linens and will remain in place for months.

Simply arrange the snowflakes in any "falling snow" pattern that pleases your eye. For a surprising twist that's sure to delight the youngsters, buy a packet of snowmen stickers and use the little figures as a baseline border down the sides and across the bottom of the new curtain. The dark blue linen will dramatically alter the sometimes harsh, gray winter daylight that penetrates door-walls. In the evening, a well-placed lamp near the door-wall will light up your snowflakes and enliven the entire room.

2. Light and lacy priscilla-cum-cafe tiers

For a light and festive touch in any room, turn your plain white priscillas into instant cafe-style tiers. Take any pair of white priscillas off their typical pocket rod and slip them onto an adjustable tension rod instead. (Measure the width of the INSIDE portion of your window frame, and make sure the tension rod you choose fits snugly into that area of your window.) Measure the length of the inside of the window frame, and position the curtained rod at about the halfway point. (Don't be surprised if the curtains hang well below the window sill.)

To customize your room's look for any special occasion, simply choose an appropriate, changeable tie-back, or trim. The two-inch wide, filmy, glittery wire ribbon found at most craft stores offer a wide choice for tie-backs. Try the navy ribbon with glitzy silver stars along with an 8-inch length of thin, red satin trim for a festive Memorial Day or Fourth of July accent.


3. Add a window topper, customized to celebrate any special occasion or holiday.

This idea works as well with a complementary pair of cafe curtains (see #2 above) or as a stand-alone window dressing. Customizing your new topper or "curtain set" is easy, and limited only by your imagination. Use stickers, iron-on patches, embroidery, ribbons, poster paints, lace trim, bits of fringe, beads, glitter -- whatever suits your fancy. Start with any plain white valance or swag set, any size, any window.

Is it Halloween? Apply of scattering of iron-on pumpkins, spiders, witches, bats and black cats across the white fabric. Along each side of the window hang wispy white webbing enhanced with a few plastic spiders crawling toward the ceiling. Or instead of webbing, hang glittering strands of reflective silver fringe, framed by a window-sized set of tint orange pumpkin lights.

4. Take a tea-bath for a vintage look

Give any pair of old curtains a new lease on life with a warm tea bath and a rich, vintage look. It's easy and quick. Set your curtains to soak well in a tray of cold water. (If the fabric isn't completely and uniformly soaked, chances are the tea-dye will stain unevenly.) Make sure your curtains are made from a dye-able fabric. Test a swatch first if you aren't sure. While the curtains soak, fill a stock pot (16-quart) about half full with cold water and bring to a full boil. Add about a cup of loose black tea (or use a cheesecloth bag) and continue boiling gently for abut 45 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and strain the tea leaves out. When the tea bath is clear of leaves, wring out the curtains and place them immediately into the tea. Turn the heat off and let the curtain soak, covered, for at least 6 hours. Use a wooden spoon to stir the pot periodically. Don't be alarmed if the fabric seems very dark at this point -- the tea-dye always looks darker when wet. Remove curtains to a large bowl and run cold water over them for about two minutes. Remove fabric to a sink of warm soapy water, and wash, rinse and wring gently. Hang to dry on drying rack.

5. Longing for spring?

You can bring instant springtime into any room with this casual window-top treatment. Buy two yards of your favorite springtime fabric, and stitch a one-inch rod pocket across the top. Remember the rule of "half" -- you'll need 72 inches of fabric width for a 36-inch window rod, to allow for gathering. Or, if you're feeling creative, decorate a plain window valance yourself, with stickers and iron-on designs of watering cans, seed packets, suns, clouds and rainbows. Down both sides of bare window below, sprinkle stickers of your "garden bounty" -- flowers, vegetables, ladybugs, lambs, bunnies ... so whatever says "spring" to you is in full view, no matter what the weather.

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