Easy Home Projects: DIY Window Treatments

Window treatments can blend in with your walls or stand out as the crown jewel of a room. Once you’ve decided which role your windows should serve, try one of these DIY window treatments to make plain old curtains look like they were customized by a professional designer.

“As far as dressing up curtains, you can add any kind of trim simply with a hot-glue gun,” says Marian Parsons of Mustard Seed Interiors, a blogger and interior designer featured on HGTV.com. “I’ve also seen people add embellishments such as lace doilies.” Try these easy DIY decorating ideas to upgrade your windows.

Trim It
Tailor a custom look for curtains by sewing or gluing a decorative trim along the edges that perfectly complements your space. Your trim of choice may determine the placement. Consider adding it with a running stitch along the top, bottom, or all the way around the edges.


Photo Credit: Marian Parsons for photo and design

A Glimpse of Lace
Lace provides an extra oomph to solid curtains in a room with lots of natural light. Measure your curtains and buy lace cut to the exact measurements of each panel. Use aerosol glue spray to adhere the lace to the back of the panels, taking care to trim the lace to meet the hems of the curtains. (Remember, the lace side might be visible from the outside.) If you want extra security, use thread that matches the existing stitching on your curtains, then rip out the stitching and sew it back with the lace tucked underneath the hems.

Matching Rods and Panels
Often times, the curtain rod is just as important as the window dressings. Make the rod blend in with the curtains by covering it with fabric from an extra panel. Or create more contrast by using a different fabric. You can create a slipcover perfectly tailored for your curtain rod with a simple running stitch. Once the slipcover is in place, secure it with a few more stitches. Curtain rods are far away from viewers’ eyes, so your stitching doesn’t need to be perfect.


Design: 3north
Photo Credit: Kip Dawkins Photography

Dip-Dyed Ombre Effect
The color gradation trend is easy to achieve on your window treatments with a dye of your choice and a container large enough to accommodate your curtain panels and ties-backs. Guide the tops of each panel onto a broomstick to control them during the dyeing process. Cover the floor in your dyeing area with a tarp to avoid stains.

Measure and mark with a straight pin the boundaries between three equal sections from top to bottom on each panel. Don’t dye the top third to achieve the saturated gradient look. Dyeing intervals will vary based on the brand of dye you use, but plan to let both second and third intervals soak in the dye, then soak just the third section for the same amount of time. If it’s lighter than you desire, let it soak a little longer. Leave ties-backs in the dye longer for an even bolder look.

Ribbon Stripes
Vertical stripes add depth and movement to any room. Fake striped curtains by purchasing wide ribbon in a color of your choice. (You can never go wrong with black!) Use a yardstick and a level to mark where you’ll secure the ribbon for stripes. Attach with a running stitch or iron-on adhering tape, making sure to tuck the ribbon ends underneath the curtain for a neat finish. Create even more visual interest by using two or more colors of ribbon. Use leftovers as tie-backs.  


Photo Credit: Erika Bonnell Inc. 

Color-Blocked Tones
Have you found a fabric that would complement your existing decor? Sew a foot-tall border of it onto the bottom of your curtains. This DIY window treatment won’t take long but will make a big statement.


Architect: House + House Architects
Interior Designer: Jeffers Design Group
Photo Credit: Matthew Millman

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Main Photo: Nichole Loiacono Design

A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy

Flat, eggshell, satin, gloss: When it comes to interior décor, there are a lot of confusing terms, but at least the names for paint finishes are fairly straightforward. Even the most novice painter can guess what’s what.

Flat (or matte) is a smooth surface without luster. Eggshell resembles its namesake. Satin has a subtle sheen reminiscent of the popular fabric. And gloss is, well, glossy.

When shopping for paints you’re faced with the inevitable question: What finish? To sheen or not to sheen? But there’s so much more behind choosing a paint finish than just their names. Some finishes work better than others in high-traffic areas. Some hide imperfections that are common in older buildings. And others add extra pizazz for home décor projects.

The next time you’re choosing paint finishes, use this user-friendly paint-finish guide -- with some expert input courtesy of international color expert and designer Maria Killam -- to help you find your perfect paint.

A QUICK-REFERENCE GUIDE TO PAINT FINISHES

The Finish: Flat (aka Matte)

· The Basics: Lacking any sheen whatsoever, flat paint is light-absorbing with a smooth finish. The flat paint finish hides imperfections but also holds dirt and is difficult to clean -- rubbing it with cleanser may even damage the finish.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and ceilings. “If you have walls with a lot of imperfections, flat hides them,” Killam says. “And ceilings should be flat for that same reason.”

· Good to Know: It’s a good idea to keep extra paint on hand to touch up nicks and scratches in flat finishes.

The Finish: Eggshell (aka Low-Luster)

· The Basics: This low-sheen paint finish resembles the shell of an egg (so, no, the name is not a coincidence). Eggshell paint absorbs light just like its flat counterpart above. It’s best used in lower-traffic areas, and is easier to clean than flat.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, entryways, hallways and trims. “I like walls to have a little shine, so I always specify eggshell for the main rooms in a house, hallways, living and family rooms,” Killam says.

The Finish: Satin (aka Pearl, with certain paint brands)

· The Basics: A subtle finish with a soft sheen that reflects light. This is one of the most versatile finishes as it falls in the middle of the spectrum. It can be wiped clean with ease, making it ideal for active areas.

· The Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms, guest or powder baths, laundry rooms, trims, doors and shutters. “Satin is great for bathrooms and kitchens thanks to its high scrub-ability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Semigloss

· The Basics: A step up in sheen from satin, semigloss paint finish reflects more light. It can be scrubbed to keep clean, so it’s a great choice in areas with high traffic.

· The Use: Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, cabinets, doors, trims and moldings. “If you are using latex paint for trim and doors, a higher sheen will give you more durability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Gloss

· The Basics: Gloss paint finishes come with a smooth, high-shine sheen. (Opt for high-gloss paint for the light-reflecting extreme of paint finishes.) Gloss can be scrubbed clean without concern for the finish, so it’s ideal for areas that most often require washing.

· The Use: Kitchens, baths, trims, woodwork, moldings, doors and cabinets. “If you opt to use a high-gloss finish to create an interesting sheen effect, such as on a ceiling or powder room,” Killam says, “spray it on to prevent roller or brush marks in the final finish.”

Window Weather Proofing

Windows contribute enormously to the beauty and personality of our homes. Yet they can also be the single largest source of energy loss. 

Today’s modern windows are extremely efficient when compared to those installed in homes just a decade or two ago, but even if you can’t afford to replace old windows, there are things you can do to help save money on your heating and cooling bill. Follow the steps below to eliminate drafts from the most common areas of a typical single- or double-hung window.

Skill Level: Medium

Time Required: Variable

Tools:

Tack hammer

Caulk gun

Stapler

Materials:

Adhesive-backed V-Channel

High-quality neoprene strips

Metal tension strips

Reinforced felt

Tubular gasket

Clear silicone caulk

Shrink-wrap product

Step One:

Cut metal or vinyl v-strips to fit in the sash channels. Cut them long enough to extend at least one inch beyond the sash ends when the window is closed. Cut vinyl with scissors; cut metal with tin snips.

Step Two:

Remove the adhesive backing and stick the vinyl in place. Tack metal strips in place, driving the tacks flush so that the window sash will not snag on them. Flare out the open ends of the metal V-channels with a putty knife to create a tight seal with the sash.

Step Three:

Wipe down the underside of the bottom sash with a damp rag and wait for it to dry; then attach self-adhesive closed-cell vinyl foam to the edges of the underside. The surface must be at least 50 degrees for self-adhesive strips to stick.

Step Four:

Seal the gap where the top sash meets the bottom sash. For double-hung windows, raise the bottom sash completely to the top, and then lower the upper sash a couple of inches. This reveals the lower rail, which is normally hidden. Seal with V-channel weather stripping. If the top sash is stationary, tack tubular gasket to the outside of the lower sash so that it compresses slightly against the top sash when the window is locked shut.

 

Step Five:

Apply paintable caulk around both the interior and exterior window trim. Smooth the caulk -- a craft stick or even a spoon will get the job done! Once the caulk has dried, paint over it to hide your job well done. 

Window Treatments 101

Window treatments add a finished element to any room. But choosing the perfect window treatments for your space is a complex process. It’s not just about color or pattern; to find a window treatment that’s just right, you’ll need to take into consideration a number of factors -- as well as know some basic terminology.

First, let’s begin with some of the most common window-treatment terms:

 

  • Blackouts: Lined or coated window panels that are made from a heavyweight fabric with the intent of blocking light and insulating windows so that interior air doesn’t escape and outside temperatures can’t penetrate the rooms as easily. Blackout draperies may also be used to reduce exterior noise.
  • Blinds: Window treatments made of plastic, metal, wood or heavy fabric that come in horizontal or vertical slats, kept in place with string, cord or fabric tape.
  • Brackets: A piece of hardware attached to a wall or window frame to support a rod.
  • Cellular shade: A style of multi-layered or pleated shade that has a distinctive “honeycomb” fabric construction, and provides a high level of window insulation.
  • Curtains: Unlined, stationary window coverings made of lightweight fabric that are typically hung over windows using a curtain rod or decorative pole, and are often held back with tiebacks or holdbacks.
  • Draperies: Draperies -- not to be confused with curtains -- are made of heavier fabric. They can be stationary or mobile on a track, and can be paired with fabric tiebacks or fixed holdbacks mounted on either side of the window.
  • Finial: A decorative end piece that comes in a variety of shapes used to finish or cap the ends of a drapery rod or the top of a drapery holdback.
  • Grommet-top: Also known as eyelets, these are metal, plastic or rubber rings used to reinforce a hole in the fabric at the top of the drapery or curtain through which a curtain rod is placed.
  • Holdbacks: Used to hold curtain or drapery panels when pulled to the sides of the window so the panels can remain open.
  • Panel: A single curtain or drapery. Most window treatments require two panels, one for each side.
  • Rod pocket: A horizontal sleeve stitched across the top of curtains or draperies that opens to allow a rod to be slipped through.
  • Roll-up shade and roller shade: Flat shades made of fabric, plastic or vinyl that roll up onto a cylinder. Roller shades are spring loaded, while roll-up shades are drawn up with cords or strings.
  • Roman shade: The classic Roman shade has a fabric that forms pleats as the shade is raised; these pleats are formed by rings threaded with cords or tapes sewn on the back of the fabric that allow the shade to be raised and lowered. 
  • Shade: General term to describe blinds, pleated shades, roller shades and other opaque window coverings that can be adjusted to expose or cover a window. 
  • Sheers: Lightweight, translucent and finely woven fabrics.
  • Swag: A decorative treatment placed atop windows that features a soft, curving semicircle centered on the window top with fabric hanging down on both sides.
  • Tab-top: Fabric loops or tabs sewn across curtain tops through which a curtain rod is threaded creating a window treatment that hangs straight and flat.
  • Valances: Decorative window treatments that cover the top part of a window, used primarily as the top layer of a layered window treatment or alone as a decorative accent.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to purchase your perfect window treatments. To guide you through this complex process, you’ll want to consider both function and form. Here, Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, offers some tips to keep in mind when choosing window treatments.

Window Treatment Factor Number 1: FUNCTION

  • Energy Efficiency. Cold winters and hot summers are no match for window treatments that are designed to be energy efficient. Think about the direction your windows are facing and how much direct sunlight they receive to determine what level of energy-efficient coverage you might need.
  • Light. How much light do you want filtered in the room from the outside? Do you prefer to wake up to natural light in the morning or would you rather have an ultra-dark space that enables you to sleep in? Window fashions with rotating vanes or louvers can be used to direct light where it’s needed most, so consider this option if you prefer the appearance of slat treatments.
  • Convenience. If your windows are large or out of easy reach, you may want to consider remote-control-operated window treatments. Many companies offer a variation on the remote option, including Hunter Douglas -- their PowerRise 2.0 battery-powered remote control options are easy to use (and affordable), and they enable you to move your treatment to your desired position by shade, room, time of day and even activity (for instance, when reducing glare on the TV is an issue).
  • Noise. Window treatments can even help reduce noise. Consider treatments designed with features such as rear fabric air pockets that trap more air to provide sound absorption.
  • Privacy. Your home should be a private refuge from the outside world -- but not necessarily a dark cocoon blocked from natural light. Choose window treatments that provide both privacy and a view. Pair sheer fabric with fabric vanes to keep your view of the outside while maintaining variable light control and privacy both during the day and into the night.
  • Safety. Little ones running around? Keep their safety in consideration when choosing window treatments, including cordless systems.

Window Treatment Factor Number 2: FORM

  • Color. Color is always an important consideration in any home décor purchase. While white is a popular choice for window treatments, you can also add color with soft, light hues that expand the room. Coordinate your window treatments with the wall color, as low contrasts will keep the eye moving around the space. Reverse the technique to draw the eye to the window. You can also make the window or room appear smaller and cozier by using dark, warm colors and high contrast between the window and the wall.
  • Pattern. Pattern, like color, can add intensity on a large surface. Keep size and scale in mind when bringing pattern to your space via window treatments.
  • Proportion. The right window treatment (and placement of such) can help expand and enhance the feel of a room. Choose window treatments s within the overall scale of the space to maintain proper proportions. With a smaller window, try extending the window treatment higher or wider to make the window appear larger. For a window with interesting details, place the window dressing within the frame to keep the architecture visible. 
  • Texture. Texture is needed in every room, whether casual (rough, nubby or earthy) or formal (smooth, elegant fabrics). To easily integrate texture into a space, add it to your windows.
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Photo: Corbis Images

DIY Paint Ideas: Disguise an Ugly Wood Floor With Paint

Replacing an old wood floor can be a time-consuming and expensive home project. If you don’t have the bandwidth or budget to refinish old wood floors, try updating them with paint. All you need are the right tools and a favorite paint color -- and maybe a great pattern idea to create a custom design that will liven up any drab surface (see below for our favorite ideas for home).

Interior designers such as Illinois-based Jeannie Balsam like to use this paint trick for a custom look. She’s executed the technique in several spaces, including her own design studio.

“An inexpensive and easy update is to paint an old stairwell, treads, thresholds or trim with glossy floor paint,” says Balsam. “The space immediately feels fresh and modern. To add a little interest, you can also incorporate numbers or words on the treads.”

Whether you want to paint wood floors, stairs or trim, consider this DIY home décor project to give any surface a dose of personality.

Time: approximately three days

Materials:

Sanding sponge
Sponge
Painter’s tape
Paint roller
Paintbrush
Pencil
Ruler
Porch or floor paint
Polyurethane

Steps:

1. Give the wood floor surface some traction and even out rough spots by grazing over them with a sanding sponge. With a damp sponge, wipe away sanding residue and allow it to dry.

2. Tape off all the areas you want to protect from the paint, such as baseboards. With a paintbrush, begin by painting your base color a few inches around the perimeter of the painting area. With a roller, fill in the rest of the area. Let dry and paint another coat if needed. Let dry overnight.

Skip to step 6 if you’re painting a solid color. If you’re painting a pattern*, follow steps 3 through 5.

3. Measure and tape off your chosen design (remember to measure twice and paint once!). Using painter’s tape, mark the areas you don’t want to paint with an X. Next, rough up the areas to be painted with a sanding sponge. Then wipe away sanded areas and stray pencil marks with a damp sponge (a pencil eraser can damage the base coat). Let dry.

4. With a paintbrush, paint your pattern. Clean up any drips or spills right away with a damp sponge.

5. Before the paint dries, carefully peel away the tape from the floor at an angle.

6. Let paint dry for a day. Once the floor is fully dry, apply a coat of polyurethane with a paint roller to seal in the new design against heavy foot traffic.



*Brush These Patterns On for Size:

Preppy Stripes: Aside from a solid color, this idea requires the least amount of tape. Go broad and bold with two colors for a classic look. Or add funky texture to a kid’s playroom with skinnier strips of three or more colors.

Checks: Don’t think gingham or chessboard -- unless that’s your intention. This pattern is about as versatile as it gets. Two-tone squares magically make everything else in a room seem more cohesive.

Faux Rug: Skip area rug hunting and bring on the double takes by painting one instead. Rather than tape off the whole floor, focus on one area of the room, or just leave a border of unpainted floor around the edges.


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