DIY Curtain Rods for Large Windows
Oct 17, 2012
An important feature of our house is a large window wall facing the screened porch. It's 16 feet wide, and the center windows slide open to create a sort of outdoor extension of the living room when weather allows. I'm generally a window-treatment minimalist, so we have lived for six years without any shades or drapes on these windows. I love the light and the color of the woods this time of year. But come winter, with an expanse of glass that large, it gets a little chilly sitting in front of it at night. The glass is well insulated, but it's not much of a match for those frigid Northern Michigan nights. So I decided to fit some drapes on the window wall for winter only.
This wall features a cove light high above, then continues upward to angle over the loft that serves as my office. The ideal placement for a rod and drapes is right beneath the cove, which means 10-foot-long drapes. I found a fantastic deal on some very well made 120" velvet drapes at Curtainworks. I ordered six panels so that I'd still have a little fullness even when they were closed.
Very David Lynch, don't you think? I let them puddle just the tiniest bit to seal the cold barrier and give them a luxurious feel.
The vintage Milo Baughman swivel chairs are headed for the upholstery shop soon to be covered in a textured taupe velvet with plummy-charcoal welt. I can't wait!
This shot below shows how the color relates to the stair surround painted in my favorite Sherwin-Williams shade, Poetry Plum (SW6019). It's the perfect shifty shade of brown/plum/aubergine. That wall is getting some attention soon. In my dreams, a vintage Cado unit. In reality, a gallery wall over low shelving.
Finding a deal on hardware was quite another story. Have you any idea how expensive a 16-foot drapery rod is? Even two 8-footers were going to run me. Standard drapery rods often have a telescoping design, too, which tends to sag when extended to its limit. Nothing seemed right for this extra-long space (and my budget).
Turns out, the best place to find an affordable drapery rod is not in the window treatment section. Head a few aisles over to electrical, where you will find the well-kept secret called electrical conduit pipe. We bought two 10-foot aluminum conduit pipes and had them cut at the store (free at Lowe's) to our custom 8'3" length. We threw in a coupling to connect them, then went to a craft store for some odd wooden pieces (two 3-inch discs and two miniature flower pots) to make finials. Here are the raw materials. We ended up not using that putty stuff, and substituted Gorilla Glue for the Super Glue after discovering that it wasn't gooey enough to make a good seal.
Here's my finial after painting. Looks a little rough close up, but 10 feet in the air, you'd never know.
Here's the coupling in the middle. We positioned the screws toward the back.
We (meaning my long-suffering husband) first spray-painted the pipe using an automotive primer, then gave it two coats of a bronzey finish. We did the same on the finial pieces, except that primer wasn't needed on the wood. Once everything was dry, we glued the finials together and let them cure during the installation stages. We mounted the curvy brackets I found on clearance at West Elm a couple of years ago ($7 each). One at each end, and two in the middle for extra support, and to make the job of connecting the coupling easier. Both rods slid into position. Next, we "threaded" the grommet-top drapes onto the rods, then finally connected the two with the screw-on coupling in the middle. The last step was wedging the finials into the hollow end of the rod. The mini flowerpots are perfect for this because of their conical shape. They just kind of wedge in there and stay put.
A custom-looking, sturdy curtain hardware solution for under $45. Not bad, considering the similar-looking model I found online was $265 + $100 shipping.
- Brackets: $14.00 on clearance, West Elm, 2010
- Electrical Conduit Rods: $12.34
- Coupling: $2.79
- Automotive Primer: $4.97
- Metallic Bronze Spray Paint: $6.00
- Wooden pieces for finials: $3.78
TIPS FOR MAKING A CURTAIN ROD FROM CONDUIT PIPING
- Choose a diameter in proportion to the placement and length of the rod. Shorter rods should be smaller in diameter.
- Use a primer for metal under the spray paint. The finish has to hold up to movement of the drapes.
- Hang brackets using molly bolts. Especially for long, heavy drapes like mine, strength is crucial to stability.
- Use smart guidelines for hanging drapes of any kind. Hang 'em high, and extend the rod a bit past the edges of the windows if possible. (Here, we were limited by perpendicular walls.)
- Don't mess up your hard work by hanging the wrong drapes. Make sure the length is correct, within 1/2" of the floor. Drapes should be wide enough to maintain adequate fullness when closed. Drapes pulled taut across a window look cheap.
Need help designing ideal window treatments for your home? I can help you choose from off-the-shelf selections or design custom treatments to complement your room. Just email me. —Diane Kolak, Design Consultant
TAGS: how to make drapery curtain rod from conduit pipe piping 16 foot extra long curtain drapery hardware how to hang curtains over a long wide window easy diy curtain rod electrical piping
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