WITH SO MUCH RESEARCH on resources for a retro renovation accumulating, I’ve started pulling together mega-posts. So following my recent window treatment blitz, here are my 11 main posts on vintage style curtains, drapes, pinch pleats, blinds and roller shades. (I’ll also transform this into a new Fast & Easy page.)
Window treatments are something that scare a lot of people… we always procrastinate on this… Me, too. They’re intimidating. Yet, once you follow through with a plan, great window treatments can make a huge difference in pulling the room together — giving it that last little bit of design polish. I am very pro-window treatments, even for homes where big windows that bring in the outdoors are a big selling feature. They dress the window, can block out the heat or cold, and are great at night to block out the abyss. Keep that bogeyman away! Good feng shui!
Still intimidated? Another rule of my thumb: If it’s expensive, choose conservatively. If it’s less expensive, take a risk – try something bold or out of your comfort zone. For example: New 2″ aluminum blinds made to measure can be costly. So choose a color that’s neutral. But, it’s not too hard to find vintage barkcloth pinch pleats to fit or rework to fit over the horizontal blinds. So have some fun with that barkcloth. If it doesn’t work, you’re not out too much. (Guess what: The first valence I made for my kitchen was totally wrong. I only got the Melinamade atomic stuff on my second try!) On the other hand, if you are having someone make custom pinch pleats for a big room — that can cost thousands. I have to admit, I’d be pretty conservative on a purchase like that…
What are the other options for windows? I’ve gone through my archives and here are my classic posts, researched to help you to create authentic, midcentury-style window treatments:
- 2″ horizontal blinds… in aluminum… a classic window treatment for your midcentury home. There is just something about the scale of these 2″ blinds that suits the profile of our homes and their windows. I have horizontal blinds in my kitchen, and one bathroom… and could easily see them on other windows as well. I’m a big fan of Hunter-Douglas. Pricey — but I’ve always experienced great quality — and we open and close these guys every single day, so quality counts.
- Vintage valences… If you use horizontal blinds on a wide window, you might want to hide the assembly under a vintage pinch pleat valence like this. If you watch and wait, you can find these on ebay at great prices.
- Homemade valences… I made the valence in my kitchen myself with just one yard of expensive barkcloth by (1) piecing the fabric together including creating a few carefully positioned pleats to hide the seams and also give the piece some design flair (2) stapling the assembly to an 8-foot-long piece of 1″x2″ piece of wood from the hardware store and (3) then screwing the whole thing to the ceiling, attaching to studs. Ok, it will be hard to remove and clean but it’s not near the stove – so far so good 2+ years in.
- Pinch-pleat draperies… Embrace your inner traverse rod. I am a pinch pleat proselytizer. Pinch pleats can be found vintage – that’s how I got mine, really big ones, too. You can piece vintage panels together. Or, you can make your own from scratch.
- Spray paint your traverse rod… Tip: You can spray paint your traverse rod to blend with your wall color. Just extend the traverse rod to the proper length (including stackback) first to minimize scratching after the paint is on.
- Reproduction barkcloth… You know I love Full Swing textiles barkcloth, if you can swing the cost. This fabric would be great for pinch pleat draperies in virtually any room. If you’re looking for a repro barkcloth that’s lower in cost, readers have suggested several other sources in the Comment section.
- Vintage barkcloth… You can also watch for vintage barkcloth on ebay. Mind you, you need a lot to make full-length pinch pleat draperies – you might find enough online to make two pairs of sash-length drapes for a bedroom…
- Online fabricators… Reader California Kathy shared these sources for pinch pleats with us. The second site mentioned might work well for custom-sized sheers — which I love to see underneath printed or woven-fabric pinch pleats.
- Roller shades… Roller shades are also an authentic choice for any number of windows – I have them in two bedrooms. You can also put a cloth valence over these, if you like.
- How make your own fabric roller shades – It’s not too hard and readers have good suggestions, too.
- And woven wood shades…Woven wood shades can still be found new, or vintage. Pom poms – like the ones below in a fantastic time capsule home – optional, of course!
Other posts with design ideas and inspiration: