in our recent post on bart swindall's home featured in "o at home" magazine, maison21 admired his use of inexpensive and creative decorating ideas, and thought they were rather apropos for our troubled economic times; we also promised to post some cost-cutting ideas of our own, so here's one we used a while back:
in a fit of decorating pique, we decided we hated our dining room, and that we needed to begin again with a fresh look. we were in-between decorating jobs at the time, so instead of focusing on other people's homes, we actually had the time to focus on our own for once, but the downside of being in-between jobs, is that we also felt like we couldn't spend a whole lot of money- as real or imagined, we were just too uncertain of our economic future. sound familiar?
anyway, we painted the room a cheery blue/green- painting is the least expensive thing you can do to perk up a room, but with the biggest impact- and as often happens in decorating, one thing leads to another, and our new paint made our then curtains look positively dingy. so into the trash they went, and we set out looking for a budget alternative.
we decided on a set of cheap $29.99 bright red "merete" grommet top curtains from ikea (they are discontinued in red, but still available in other colors). we choose the ikea curtains because unlike many inexpensive mass-retail curtain panels, they come in lengths greater than 84" inches, and our personal preference is to hang curtains close to the ceiling- especially in rooms with lower ceilings, as it really adds some height. since ikea is brilliant at this kind of DIY thing, they also included iron-on tape to hem the curtains to any length (perfect for the sewing challenged, like moi-self)). you'll note that we hemmed the curtains to fall an inch short pf the floor- not something we would normally ever do or recommend, as we like our curtains to just barely touch the floor- no puddling, please! but here at the maison21 atelier, the furry dust bunnies that accumulate between the cleaning lady's visits are ENORMOUS, so rather than look at them sticking to the bottom of the fabric, we made it so they slide UNDER the curtains instead- one of those tough design decisions one has to make when one has pets!
the iron-on hemming tape gave maison21 his next idea: he loves a tape or ribbon trimmed curtain- it's tailored and chic, and just soooo david hicks (our ultimate decorating hero). so m21 went to the fabric store and bought some super cheap (like .79 cents a yard, cheap) white cotton webbing tape, used for some arcane home sewing purpose, and simply ironed it on with the same hemming tape, to the front and bottom edges of the curtains, folding at the corner for a mitered look.
voila- custom curtains at ikea prices! added bonus, the white tape tied the curtains into the white trim of the room, so we didn't need to add anymore red- something we were loathe to do, as with the bright turquoise walls and black and white furniture, we didn't want things to get too out of hand color-wise. we LOVE color, but sometimes too much, is well, too much.
last, maison21 prefers to leave windows bare if at all possible, but all too often it is neither possible or practical- some views must be blocked, and privacy preserved, and while alternatives like blinds or roman shades are great, sometimes a room just needs pretty curtains to look finished. our dining room definitely falls into the latter category- the wall with the window is basically a walk way, so a furniture piece under the window was out, but something needed to be added on that side of the room so it didn't look bare and ugly, hence the curtain panels; they both soften, and add a pop of color.
another of our priorities is we don't like an ounce of light to be blocked coming into a room, so for privacy, without resorting to keeping the curtains drawn, we added another ikea find: amorf frost window film. it's super simple to apply, and completely obscures the view (we applied it to the lower panes of our windows only, so we could still see outside up top). we liked it so much, we put it on all of our windows- light streams in, but passersby can't view the boringly mundane activities taking place inside the atelier, and since it's only about $4.00 a roll, it is the cheapest window treatment ever!
we hung our david hicks on the cheap curtains over 5 years ago, intending them to be temporary until we did a "for real" window treatment, but ended liking them so much that upgrading them with a pricier alternative has never seemed a priority. all in all, the whole thing, including ikea rods, probably cost about 50.00 bucks, and the coolest part is, we took the money we saved on curtains and invested it in the stock market, and now we're rich!