Re-style the curtains for a second life

Changing Times

I remember that when Ikea opened in Canada most of us in the design world daintily turned up our collective nose. Flat-packs? Indeed. The first ready-made drapery panels generally available were just awful. Window blinds and shades for odd-sized windows used to cost an arm and a leg.  Even just a few years ago, if you wanted to update the widow treatment, the trend was to chuck what was in place and start over. Changing Times. Read on.

Updating, reusing, repurposing: the mantra’s of simplified decorating. Sometimes all you need is a second set of eyes. I was recently asked to help a gal find some new drapes for the living room. Budget was a concern and she was thinking of selling so we wanted to spend our money wisely.  The transformation happened so quickly I didn’t even think to snap a picture, but the rendering on the left is basically what we started with and the rendering on the right is what happened when we removed the valance. Period. The printed panels were part of the drapes so they couldn’t be removed, but without the valance they weren’t so bad. And the actual traverse rod was white, which worked even better than the black rod in this photo. Time this took: 20 minutes.

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Ikea furniture is now regarded as the fore-runner of quality, readily available, stylish and affordable furniture for an average household. They have warranties and guarantees that tell us they believe in their products and those products stand up to the test. They found their market and continue to adapt to its changes; there are few households around that don’t have something from Ikea.

I wrote a column about drapery panels a few years ago. I had experienced an unusual run on altering them, and was appalled at the poor quality of fabric and pitiful workmanship and I warned you all to steer clear. I was working on some panels the other day; they were straight, sewn well, and even with the alteration costs were priced lower than just the fabric would be if it came from a designer book. With a bit of tweaking, these panels can be remade into functional drapery to fit your specific window. There is still a place for custom, but these ready-mades provide a really viable alternative. (I’m working on a video on how to personalize ready-mades.)

I was asked to supply some wood blinds for three office windows. After I presented the quote, the client gently informed me he didn’t want a new office, just three blinds. I was able to find a comparable product custom made to his odd-sized windows at less than half the price. Sure, the new blinds don’t have a 15 or 20 year guarantee, but as one of my gals said, “ Honey, I’m not going to be around in 15 years.” Or maybe you will want to change the blinds in a few years. There are alternatives to these hight costs, you just have to know where they are. And did you know that the company that produces the Rolls Royces of window coverings bought a lower-end line and now the lower-end line has components suspiciously similar to the high-end line?

And my business is changing, too. Because I am out there, looking at products, comparing prices and finding alternatives; it just makes sense for me to offer a shopping and installation service for ready-made window coverings.

I’ve put together a few numbers to help you make an informed decision when looking for window coverings. I gathered prices on a blind 48 inches wide and 48 inches long. I looked at a mass-produced Off-The-Shelf product for the low starting point, at two mid-range  options, and for the top end I went to the Rolls Royce of blinds company. These numbers are meant to give you a good starting point so you can have some idea what this stuff costs. The prices here are PER SQUARE FOOT.

A 1-inch metal venetian ranged from 2.50 to 13.00; midrange around 4.00

A 2-inch faux wood venetian blind: low 3.60, high 22.00 midrange around 9.50.

Cell shade: regular corded, low 3.00, high 21.00 midrange, 9.50

Cell shade: Blackout: low 6.00, high 25.00, midrange 15.00

Cell shade: Top Down Bottom UP: low 7.00, high 43.00, midrange 24.00

A patio curtain,fabric with blackout lining, including rod, 70.00 per foot.

A patio curtain from ready-made panels and an Off-The Shelf rod: 40.00 per foot.


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