Friday, September 28, 2012

Drapery Design Dilemma

As if I don't already have enough going on right now, with planning for our Greyhounds Rock benefit in November, sewing martingale collars for our booth at three shows over the next two weekends, and all of the other normal everyday stuff that happens ... I'm working on a plan to make drapes for our dining room and family room. 

Up until now, I have been satisfied with our undressed windows.  I'm getting the urge to cozy things up a bit, though, and I want to add some color at the same time.  (I will show you the fabric I chose later ... that's not part of my dilemma.)  I have simple panels in mind, gathered on a large rod ... floor to ceiling, pulled back beyond the window glass so we still get maximum light.  This plan falls apart when I try to figure out how to accomplish this in the family room bay.

This is a photo taken at the end of our renovation of this room in 2007 ... right after the heartpine floors were refinished.
To give you an idea of the scale of this room, the windows are 5 feet, 7 inches high, they are 3 feet from the floor, and the ceiling is 9 1/2 feet high.  Little cute curtains will not do in a space like this ... it's going to take something with presence ... Here is my inspiration photo:
The 4-sided bay windows in our house are a very distinctive Gothic Revival design feature, both inside and outside.  The previous owners of our house made very traditional, old-fashioned choices with window treatments ... attractive, but not my style.
Here is a floorplan, to give you a visual on the space I'm talking about.
There is a mere two inches between the edge of the window and the side wall.  I would love to treat the two windows as one unit and put a long panel on either side, on the same plane as the windows, but there is so little room in which to do this.  Panels hung this way would cover the window more than I want. 
I thought about putting a panel in the center, to perhaps help with the balance, but that still doesn't solve my problem. How do I design and hang panels in this space with its odd angles and close clearances?
The other three windows in my plan will be very straight-forward to deal with ... rod across the top above the molding with panels hanging on each side.  Easy peasy.
The bay window has me in fits, so I'm asking everyone for suggestions.  Any ideas you have on how to do this will be extremely appreciated.  In my mind's eye, I see this requiring a weird multi-angled rod system in the bay, but there has to be a simpler way to do this that I am overlooking.
Thanks in advance for any ideas that you have to contribute.
Now I'm off to work outside.  I have a special visitor coming this afternoon and I have to finish getting things ready.
Edited to add:  We have little need for privacy here, being out in the country the way we are, and these drapes will never, ever be closed.  They will be gathered dummy panels, for decoration only, so function is not part of the dilemma. 
11/26/12.  Edited again.  Still haven't made the drapes for the family room, but at least I know where I'm going with them now.  The ones in the dining room are finished, and they are beautiful.  Click HERE to see them.


  1. I absolutely love your inspirational photo room... and I am of NO help when it comes to window treatments.

  2. Connie love your photos and ideas but alas I'm not one to help. Most of my windows are bare! Hugs, Linda

  3. I have this same problem with my bay windows in the dining room and sitting room - but mine are shallow - not deep like yours. If you didn't have those little 2.5' walls, I would say take the two panels and hang them on either side of the "nook". But who am I to say anything I tore all the curtains off our windows the day we moved in and have't hung anything up since ;)

  4. Truly a dilemma, Connie. I would proceed exactly as you plan for the other windows. It will be stunning. In the bay, I would carry the drapery fabric by making valences for both windows. It may not give you the snuggly feeling you want at night but it will give you the luxury of light as winter days approach. As always, admiration for your greyhound endeavors. Happy weekend.

  5. Can you make drapes for the bay as a unit? If you want to keep them open all or most of the time I think this would work and give the illusion of one large window. When you closed the drapes it would create a little nook for the dog bed. The curtains wouldn't hang straight bc of the chair, you would just have to decide how much that bothers you.

    I like the idea of the valance on these windows too. You could go either way.

    It is an out of the box solution, but that's what bloggers are good for!

  6. I'd also do a good search for curved curtain rods, and see if you could get a rod, or combination of rods, that would cover all 4 walls.

    Yes, I'm still thinking.

  7. If you look at the top of the bay windows the molding goes all the way to the ceiling. Connie’s inspiration picture shows the rod above the molding. There are reverse backwards vee rods but they are ugly and plain white. Not good for drawing curtains or drapes back. Now I’m thinking café curtains out of the same fabric for privacy and expose the woodwork entirely in the bay.

  8. I'd have a really hard time covering that woodwork, which means I'd probably have to go with inset, so the woodwork would still show. Another thing that would drive me crazy, is drapes that puddle on the floor. In my house, that just means they get dirty quicker. I just wish I had some windows in my living room, to have to worry about.

    Good luck! With your great taste and abilities, whatever you choose will be wonderful!

  9. Not sure if this would work or not, Connie...but what about those short drapery rods that swing? They tend to be shorter, don't they? Just a thought! :) What a beautiful space to have such a dilemma, though...! lol!

    xoxo laurie

  10. Why not put a curtain rod across the molding on the 'outside' of your v-shaped window area? This creates a bit of a nook in that window area when the curtains are closed and it would have the same look as what you plan to do with your other curtains.

  11. I would do one of two things. 1) hang your rod across the outside of the alcove and do floor to ceiling drapes there. 2) make cafe curtains for the lower half of each window and leave off a valance. Make sure you hang some art (botanical prints?) on the bare wall on either side of the window.

  12. Am I also add another opinion? That alcove is screaming to have a window seat built in!

  13. I can see several options working here -
    1) One long rod at ceiling height across the entire space w/ floor length drapes pulled to either side of the nook. The windows themselves would remain uncovered for pup & kitty viewing to the outside (very important!).
    2) A soft plain valance in your drape fabric hung at ceiling height over each window. Something hung on each nook side wall that wouldn't fade (plates, trays, plaques).
    3) Cafes in a sheer alone or w/ a valance of your drape fabric.

    Many people are uncomfortable w/ doing different styles on windows in the same room. As long as the fabric matches or relates, and the header used (soft gathers, pleated, etc.) compliments - it can all look coordinated and intended - not like an afterthought.

  14. How about putting the rod on the outside of the alcove and hanging the drapes there and then just valances on the windows in the alcove to match.
    Carole R.

  15. I would hang the curtains on the outside of the bay so you can enjoy the light and the window all day and in the evening close them. They might cover a bit of the molding but I think it would be a cohesive look with your other windows.

  16. Sadly- I'm no help- decorating is not my calling-- but I just want to say that your home is so lovely!! Good luck with all your projects- you are one busy lady!

  17. Don't fight the angles--
    --Hang a faux, or dummy panel on each side of the flat wall (before it dives into the 4 angles of the bay) to go with your other windows.
    --Then have fun with texture at each bay window. Like tortoise-bamboo roman shades, and add a trim of the drapery fabric at the "hem" of the blinds.
    It will look very custom, coordinate and look natural with the rest of the room, and some type of blind will give you a cozy feeling with privacy and light control.
    I've done these windows a hundred times, and still love them!

  18. I really like the others' suggestion of using panels to create a nook. My other thought would be to do as you suggested and treat the bay windows as one unit with a panel hanging on the outside edge of either window. If you went with a smaller scale rod you could hold the inside end on each rod up with a small bracket (similar to the center support brackets used on longer cafe rods) and even paint the brackets to match the window trim to camouflage them. The rods could even be camouflaged as well so only the panels contrasted with the wall and trim color. I think that's the way I'd do it if faced with the same challenge.

  19. Your inspirational photo is wonderful!

  20. Look what I just came across!

    Be sure to let us know what you decide - I really love the quirky-ness of old house bits like this nook.

  21. Nancy, you have just given me the fuel that may have me well on my way to a solution to my drapery dilemma. I will be in Northern Virginia tomorrow morning, and I have to go right past Ikea on my way home ... I'm sure I can spare a bit of time to search their drapery department for the connector that Emily shared in her blog post. Thank you VERY much!!!


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