Custom Look Curtains and a Fall Dining Room

October 21, 2009

One of my favorite things to do when the weather turns is transition the dining room.  It’s a space that serves us for both casual and formal dinners, so it has to multitask.  Last May, I transitioned the space for summer, adding off-white slipcovers and garden roses.  However, with the first autumn rain, it was time again to change the slipcovers on the chairs and update the tablescape.  This year, I also changed the window treatments.  A few candlesticks, seasonal pumpkins, and some earth toned linens, and the dining room is ready for homemade hot soups and pumpkin pie.  Yum.

place setting

One thing I wanted to change this year was the window panels.  The existing dark brown panels with a botanical pattern looked great in summertime contrasted with the crisp white slipcovers.  But in winter, with a brown rug and brown slipcovers, the whole space was looking a little, well, a little too brown.  So I opted for something lighter, and simpler.  Soft green linen look panels customized to fit my French doors.

Let’s face it.  Custom window panels are just to die for.  But they are crazy expensive.  Years ago, when I was working a high-paying full time job, I could afford to splurge on custom window panels in my living room.  Bronze silk double panels, fully lined, and sewn to my exact specifications.  Remember Hilary Swank’s gown from the Oscars of 2000 ?  It was my inspiration for the curtains in my living room that I had made by Calico Corners many years ago.  I still love them to this day.

living room curtains comparisonThese days, I don’t have the luxury of custom window panels.  And quite frankly, with the tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years, I wouldn’t pay for custom curtains when I’ve learned how to get the look at a fraction of the cost.

For my everyday dining space, I purchased some insulated sage green panels that resemble linen, but without the wrinkled nature or the high end price.  The standard 84” length is too short and 96” is too long.  Sometimes you can’t find the longer length, or you want to save money by not purchasing the 96” panel.  For me, one of the tricks I use is to lengthen an inexpensive 84” store bought window panel by pulling out the hem and then adding some rings to the top.  I also like to give the panels a quick pleat with my sewing machine. 

sew pleat

The pleat can be done by hand as well, it just takes a little more time.

sew by hand

I attach some wood rings. . .

sew rings

And I get this custom pleated look, with just a little effort.

pleated curtains

To add more length to the bottom, I pull out the hem, iron the seam, then use fusible webbing for a clean, straight, no sew hem. 

pull out hem

fusible web 

Voila ! 

Store bought window panels in a custom length and look.

window panels after

For the table, I pulled out some favorite green striped scalloped edge placemats, a plain white plate, and some gold rimmed bowls handed down from Mr. CG’s grandmother.

grandmas plate

Add some complimentary floral napkins and a beaded napkin ring.

sparkly napkin ring

Don’t forget the gold rimmed wine glasses.   Necessary in my house – we love our red wine. 

gold trimmed wine glass

Add some candlesticks and vanilla pillars.

candlesticks on table

Loving these fall pumpkins and squash. 

fall gourds

And my fall tablescape is born.

place setting

My fall themed dining room in warmer tones.  

dining room 

dining room with curtains

Casual, with elegant touches.  And most important at this time in my life?  It’s equipped with kid friendly slipcovers !  As much as I would love cream colored button tufted beauties, that would not be practical.  These dining room chairs have changeable washable velvet slipcovers.  These are the full length Latte velvet from Ballard Designs.   I use the shorter pleated version in the same fabric to cover the side chairs. They put up with a lot of kid smudges, and still look great year after year. 

ballard slipcover

Over the years, I’ve collected an inspiration folder of amazing, swoon worthy, designer dining room spaces.  (See them featured both here and here.)  But for now what I have is perfectly lovely, and suits our family’s lifestyle so well.  Bon appétit !

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53 Responses to “Custom Look Curtains and a Fall Dining Room”

  1. Kitty says:

    I have got to get a sewing machine… and learn how to use it. :)

  2. lovely, lovely, lovely – the details are fabulous & those new round placemats are such a great unusual shape. I’m so digging those drapes you made!

  3. Leslie says:

    I love it! Definitely inspired me… and I’m eyeing your buffett/hutch. It’s awesome!

  4. cme says:

    I am loving your blog! Can you tell me about the “linen look” panels? Who makes them and where you found them? I nearly fainted when I priced custom curtains for $2,000. For a died in the wool GW shopper it was a non-starter. Thanks. You’re an inspiration.

  5. I love your dining room, Kate! It’s so pretty and your drapes look great. Great wall color, too.

  6. Debra says:

    Looks fabulous. The curtains are great. You make it look so easy.
    Fall is such a wonderful decorating time. The colors are so cosy and warm.

  7. susan says:

    The drapes look great– I have had the same problem with the length. Thanks for the tip about the rings and hem! I LOVE those Ballard chair covers! Beautiful!

  8. Welcome back! Great ideas. I did a post last week on ways to get a custom look for your window treatments on a budget. I’m always looking for new ideas.

  9. Laurel says:

    Love your drapes and love the dishes you use. Do you leave your table set? I’m not sure about that, yet? Your room looks amazing.

  10. suzanne says:

    Love the drapes, Kate………I am itching to change mine out, too……..hmmmm…..


  11. I love to make my own drapes. They are so easy to do with just side hems and top and bottom hems. Picking out the fabric is the most fun part too. Yours look wonderful and great tip for those that don’t sew. Beautiful tablescape also. Hugs, Marty

  12. Carol says:

    I’m going to be making some drapes for my livingroom out of drop cloths. I’m going to try your pleats in them! ThankS

  13. Sarah says:

    How come I’ve never thought to put pleats into store-bought panels? Great idea! Adding such a tailored, custom touch is just my style and I love the colors in your dining room!


  14. Brie says:

    Looks very inviting! I really like your placemats. I’m making your French Onion soup for my hubby this week. Hope he likes it!

  15. Theresa says:

    Love the look! In the past, I also splurged on custom drapes in my bedroom. They are so expensive! Why not recreate the look yourself? By the way, I love the neutral paint color that you have used in the room. Can you share with me the brand and color? Thanks!


  17. Catherine says:

    Beautiful DR, love the drapes, the china cabinet, the candlesticks too. Did you paint the candlesticks and can you tell the paint colors and steps to achieve that gorgeous color?

  18. Shelia says:

    Hi! Oh, what a beautiful dining room you have! I love your tips on making your draperies just right! They look great with the pleats! You’re too good! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  19. Nancy says:

    Your home is beautiful. Every room looks like straight out of a catalog. I love reading your blog for inspiration to turn my totally lived in messing place into a gem one day.

  20. I love that no-sew webbing! It is amazing. I also love putting the rings on my curtains to make them longer, not to mention easier to open and close. Great looking room!

  21. Macy says:

    It looks faaabulous daahling just faaabulous. i plan on tackling curtains too as soon as I find the right fabric. Am I too picky? I must be just too picky because it’s taking FOREVER

  22. Michelle Marsh says:

    WOW…very beautiful and thanks so much for the visual instructions for your drapes! Wonderful!!! Could you tell us where you got your gorgeous piece above your china cabinet? The white antique piece? Lovely!! Also, I am looking high and low for shades similar to what you have in your living room — which I would LOVE to see more of by the way. The room is stunning! If you have a good source for shades, I would be so appreciative!

  23. Heather says:


  24. Christina says:

    Love looking at your gorgeous table. The colors are just beautiful. Love the addition of the china from your grandmother. Pretty touch. Beautiful room!

  25. Beautimous! :) The detail that stood out to me the most was the napkin ring…maybe b/c I like bling? ;) Such a talented girl you are!!

  26. Wow it all looks fantastic! The colors look fresh, but still very autumn-like. I love how everything is kid-friendly but still fabulous!

  27. Struggler says:

    Love your autumn table look!
    Can you tell us, do you close the curtains at night, or just leave them as is? I too am spooked by the cost of custom but my windows are wider than the typical widths offered. Yours look pretty wide too so I’m thinking perhaps you don’t need privacy at night…

  28. Mai-Brit says:

    I don’t know how you do it! Everything in your home is beautiful including those new drapes.
    Thanks for always have fun ideas and projects on the blog – I love seeing what you come up with!

    All the best,

  29. LaTasha says:

    Glad to see you back and posting. Thanks for the no-sew machine steps. Please keep doing that. Some of us are sewing challenged. BTW, I see your Goodwill chair by the piano. Still looking good!

  30. I love your new autumn look. Fabulous!!!

  31. Victoria Kageni says:

    Your home is warm and beautiful.You do us all proud with great ideas to lift up our spirits.Simply gorgeous.

  32. susan says:

    your table is absolutely stunning. and I love your idea for lengthening your curtains! thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

  33. Barb Boyack says:

    Kate, all I can say is WOW…my whole house needs window panels and I am sooo what you did.

  34. Bonzaibeads says:

    WOW looks fabulous!!!

  35. Barb Boyack says:

    Kate all I can say is W.O.W. Our whole house needs panels and I am sooo stuck..

  36. :::Lyzz::: says:

    Man, images like these makes me want to have a dining room. We have only a dining space off of the kitchen and living room, but now I want something formal! Great job on the decor and the curtains.

  37. Lisa says:

    Kate – I love the drapes. Could you tell us more about them? We’ve been looking for drapes for a while and these look great!

  38. Abbey G. says:

    So pretty! Love the custom curtains, you make it look easy enough for even me!

  39. Lauren says:


    You have no idea how happy you made me. The people we bought our house from left some thick study curtain rods in the guest bath and guest room with those same kind of rings on them but no drapes. I had never seen those kind of rings before and I had no idea how to attach a curtain to them. I knew the drapes the people had were custom made. I just did not know how I was going to use the rod/rings but I knew I wanted to because the rods are great. NOW I know how! Thanks I have been looking online forever for how people hang curtains from those rings. Thank you!!!

  40. Michelle Jones says:

    I love using natural elements when decorating for the seasons! Beatutiful. Could you tell me where you purchased your placematts and if it was recent purchase? Luuurrvvve them!

  41. this is beautiful. I need to change mine as well. I love what you do with the drapes.

  42. It looks phenominal, Kate! Love those chair covers and the candlesticks just sing to my heart!

  43. rugger says:

    Nothing completes a room like window treatments/drapes. You made the room look fresh and seasonal. Well done! Thanks for the tutorial and sharing.

  44. Sue says:

    It is absolutely beautiful. It is warm and inviting, without being stuffy. Yet, it is also elegant. I love the window treatments.


  45. Erin says:

    I agree that the room looks great and very well put together. Just a small sewing suggestion from a seasoned drape maker: if you attach the rings where the pleat begins, they will hang much prettier. Try one panel and check the difference! Good eye you have!

  46. catherine says:

    Re the ring attached to the pleat where it begins >>>> do you mean at the fold? Thanks Erin, I’m a bit challanged with drapes !!!!

  47. Melanie says:

    I love the placemats! Love the strips.

  48. Jan Jessup says:

    For all those who are drapery or sewing challenged–custom draperies are not as expensive as you may think! The Calico Corners – Calico Home stores have recently added value-priced Savvy fabrics to their selection of Quick Ship draperies. These custom draperies are made to fit your windows exactly–and are shipped in just two weeks! A single custom 96″ long panel starts at $99 for rod pocket draperies (including the fabric), $103 for grommet panels or $113 for fan pleated or pinch pleated panels. You may choose to add cotton deluxe lining, blackout lining and/or interlining for an additional charge.

    These Quick Ship draperies will arrive in about the same time as off-the-shelf catalog products–but the Calico draperies will actually fit your windows as they are made with just the right number of widths and to the exact length desired. More than 200 fabrics are available in a wide variety of colors, textures and patterns. Here’s a link to this program on the Calico website:

  49. Erin says:

    I absolutely love the drapes! Gorgeous fabric and such a great idea for customizing the length!

  50. Sherri S says:

    Everything is beautiful! LOVE the green. And want your placemats. LOL Pretty shiny napkin rings. And the last photo …love that pumpkin on the table. Simple elegance for sure!

  51. Amber says:

    Your fall table is so festive and beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  52. Veranice says:

    This is a really smart idea and a cost saver. I just have a couple of questions please;what is your spacing for the pleats is it every 2-e inches or do you just eye ball it? Also, how many panels did you use for each side of the French doors?

  53. Jaida says:

    I love your idea………..I will like to know where did you purchased the panels from, because I love the fabric.

    Thanx for the ideas!

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