Cindy adds pinch pleat draperies to her 1960s mid-century modern home

Cindy finished a project: Pinch pleat drapes and valences for her adjoining living room, kitchen, dining room and entry in her 1960s mid-century modern house. The draperies are so happy, don’t you think? Cindy is, too, and she has photos — and tips based on her experience — to share.


Cindy writes:

Hi Pam!

Nearly six years after buying my 60’s ranch I figured out what to do about draperies. I would have been perfectly happy without window coverings because I love lots of light, but we’re at the end of a cul de sac and when cars drive down the street the occupants see the entire living room area, so for the sake of privacy I decided to have pinch pleat draperies made of a beautiful fabric I found on www.tonicliving.com after learning about them from one of your reader’s comments. What a great site with so many retro fabric choices!

The fabric I chose is a bold floral that works beautifully with the wall color; as for painting the rods to match…I got that tip from YOU! I was a bit concerned that, given the size of the largest window, it would overpower the room, which it did for about ten minutes. I love it because it feels both retro and contemporary at the same time. I did two windows and three valences to keep the large open area coordinated and also had four pillows made. Although tonicliving.com makes draperies, I had them made locally and was surprised at the cost….the entire project, including the cost of 35 yards of fabric, cost me under $1500. I had another quote from a few years ago for over $4,000!

One valuable lesson I learned is to hire a professional to install such a large rod and draperies. When a carpenter friend offered to help me do it I readily accepted…. six long hours later we had finished, only to discover we had put the rod a bit too low….(a very long story that I now am able to laugh about). The following week I hired a professional installer from a local furniture store to reinstall …. 90 minutes and $75 later they were properly aligned and completely functional. Oh the lessons we learn along the way!

Now on to landscaping….!


Love ’em, Cindy.

  1. bex says:

    I love the fabric at tonicliving (and it’s surprisingly affordable!). I also am a fan of the amazing big bold print fabric at IKEA.

  2. Janice says:

    GREAT tip on the tonicliving.com. I’ve been looking for some retro fabric for a small window. I took a quick peak and love what I’m seeing. Your drapes look fabulous Cindy! I also have pinch pleast draperies in my living room and feel validated that you didn’t take the drapes all the way to the floor. I was tempted to do that to my similar sized window, but decided to keep it real by only hanging it to the window ledge. I see you did the same thing. Isn’t it funny the things we agonize over!

  3. Leslie says:

    I LOVE the fabric you used! We are in a similar predicment as we have all the original draperies in our 60’s ranch house sadly the ones in the kitchen are quite shabby and need to replace. We have recieved some scary price quotes so you have inspired us to see alternatives. Is that fabric new…it’s super fab!!!!

  4. TappanTrailerTami says:

    Cindy, your drapes look great – and pinch pleats to boot! It seems like skillful pinch pleating is probably on its way to becoming yet another lost art, especially in light of tab tops, rod pocket, grommeted, etc. curtains out there now.

    This is just clearly so much better! And HAPPY! Love them, great job!

  5. Gavin Hastings says:

    I love your Euro-radiator….and YES! I would paint that baby right up.
    Ben Moore… Manor Brown-ish.

    I don’t want you competing against me on Ebay…but can I also suggest Iroquios China “Harvest Time” ?

  6. Gavin Hastings says:

    They look great and really give your home a finished look.

    Do-It-Yourselfers: Notice how Cindy’s draperies are pleated “with the pattern”.
    When making draperies, usually you find the spaces and the pleats numerically….finding your center and then measuring and dividing until you reach your return. On a less graphic fabric you might have a return of 2.5 inches….and just create your pleats in a “5 inch pleat/5 inch space” rotation over and over.

    Not so with a bold design or stripe! Notice the valance over the sink: those flowers didn’t just space themselves perfectly by chance. You have to adjust your measurements so that a pleat falls uniformly on the design or stripe.

    Cindy….now you can appreciate your craftsperson even more! They look lovely (although I would have been more than happy to show you how to whip them up yourself….maybe nextime.)

    I hope Gary was able to help you with the walkway.

  7. Cindy says:

    Hi Guy…the rods were bright white traverse rods that I painted to match the walls behind them….brown for the paneling and cantelope colored for the large window…..no white rod glaring at me! (Maybe I should do the same thing with the panel radiators under the windows!)

  8. Guy H. says:

    Amazing. Your house is just incredible to look at! I love the matching pillow!

    I see where you mentioned painting the rods to “match”… is there a picture that shows this? What do they match? The walls or the fabric?

  9. Cindy, the pinch pleats look amazing!! I too just took the pinch pleat plunge but opted to cheap out and do the rods on my own-foolish mistake, so now I will marvel at yours for while and pretend that my own look as good!! 🙂

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