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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