Dressing a Large Window


I have successfully moved into my new studio!  It was quite an ordeal, as well as expensive (…as moving often is), but I am settling in quite nicely.  I have recently been focusing on a new project, which I didn’t anticipate a need for until living in the apartment for a bit (isn’t that always how it goes?).

My last apartment was a basement walkout, so when I was looking for the perfect apartment to move into, I was ready for a brighter, more spacious living area.  So, when I found this unit, I was absolutely enchanted with the high ceilings (12 feet!) and the large window (9 ft x 9 ft).  The behemoth window is fitted with a lovely, custom-made roller shade, which I thought would be adequate.  Although I thought about window treatments, I decided they weren’t necessary since the shade would provide privacy, and the light was something I craved.

Unfortunately, as a medical resident, I occasionally need to sleep during the day and learned very quickly after moving in that I need complete darkness in order to sleep comfortably.  I seldom had difficulty sleeping during the day in my old apartment, since I had room darkening (though not total blackout) curtains.  These were enough to make my room comfortable enough to sleep in, given the small amount of light that entered the north-facing windows.  My new apartment is east-facing, and with no foliage to help block the light, a lot brighter than my basement digs.  My initial plan of using a face mask was not all that successful, so I have been working on dressing the window with new blackout curtains.  I have made my plans and am currently in the stage of waiting for all my shipments to come in.

Let me share my plans with you!

This is the window in question; sorry for the poor lighting, it was hard to photograph with all the back light.


You can see the roller shade at the top (when open it looks like a projector screen! Not really my style, but maybe useful at some point in the future?).  Below are some drawings I did of the window.  On the left is the schematic with the measurements, while on the right are my plans.  I’m not an artist, but this is the best I could do. :)


Blackout Panels

These are the blackout panels I chose for the window.  I chose the ivory colorway because I thought they would be most versatile for future apartments (I figured I could hem them if needed).  They are 100% blackout, which was super important to me. If you are shopping for blackout curtains, be careful to find 100% blackouts; many that are labeled blackout are really just room darkening.

When I am shopping for the best items for my home, I often start at The Sweethome or Wirecutter websites.  I find that they are a great introduction to the world of whatever item I am shopping for, teaching me important points to consider before buying.  I honestly usually end up buying their #1 choices because the articles are so well-written and comprehensive.  Here is the Sweethome article on blackout curtains.  I ended up opting for their #1 choice.

The blackout panels will go from the ceiling to the sill (108″ curtains).  I chose that length because as the largest option on this page, I initially thought they were the longest I could get.  Just in case you’re looking for longer panels, I eventually encountered a 144″ version of this same curtain on the Bed, Bath, & Beyond website.  Unfortunately, the 144″ version does not have as many color options.  In addition to the fewer colors, I also ultimately decided against the longer panels because with my desk underneath the window, it would be very difficult to draw them closed.  The panels are 50″ wide, so I decided to go with 4 panels for my 106″ window.

As a side note, if you are buying something from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, you can give them an e-mail address and they will send you a 20% off code!  That, in addition to a few codes that my mother had (she always seems to have BB&B coupons lying around), I ended up getting 20% off all of my panels.  Moral of the story: never pay full price at Bed, Bath, & Beyond!

Decorative Panels

After deciding on the 108″ blackouts, I realized I needed some decorative panels as well.  My idea is that they will hang on the side of the windows because 1. floor-length curtains will look better than sill-length curtains, and 2. they will hide the blackout panels when not in use.

I was hoping to find some 144″ panels online, but all I could find that were long enough had grommet attachments, which I kind of hate. :/  I prefer back-tab panels because of the simple pleats they create when hung.  Ultimately, I decided to make my own so I could have the color and fabric I wanted.  The following links are tutorials that I plan on following once the fabric arrives.

  1. View Along the Way: This is one of the most comprehensive tutorials I found.  Her instructions were useful, and her post helped me consider everything I needed to as I was planning my project.
  2. Freshly Handmade: I liked this tutorial because it had very clear stitching/hemming directions. Additionally, it showed me how to best hang my blackout panels (which are rod-pocket style).
  3. Dans le Lakehouse:  I liked this tutorial because the back-tabs style she used seemed more durable than the ribbon ones that The View Along the Way used.

I shopped for my curtain fabric online at fabric.com.  They had a great selection and reasonable prices.  Additionally, they have discounted prices if you order above a certain yardage.  I ordered several samples (each were $3).  They arrived within 1 week, and they were super helpful when choosing a color. One word of caution: I would provide them with an e-mail address you don’t check regularly (in other words, a junk e-mail), because they send a lot of promotional e-mails.  Regardless of how many times I unsubscribed, they continued sending the e-mails. Eventually g-mail was able to get me off the list, but it was annoying to deal with for a week.

Below, you can see the main fabric I chose, “European 100% Linen Cadet Grey.”  I also ordered a standard white drapery lining, “Roc-Lon White Drapery Lining.”


The grey is a nice medium-weight linen that is more of a grey-blue, not a grey-brown like the image shows.  Additionally, the image looks almost velvety/suede-y, but it is definitely a nicely woven, yet slub-y linen. The drapery lining is nice and heavy and I think it is going to help the panels hang very nicely.

Curtain Rod

This was one of the most difficult-to-find items of the project.  I wanted the curtains to be easy to open and close, but I also wanted the rod to be attractive. Ultimately, I found this rod from Lowes.  It is perfect!

680656134818Not only is it attractive, it is also a traverse rod, which will allow me to easily open and close the blackout curtains, despite their length.  I love how the rollers run underneath the supports, allowing me to use as many supports as needed without interfering with the curtain’s movement.  The rollers have rings on them (below left), which will allow me to hang the blackouts with drapery pins (below right), based on the “Freshly Handmade” tutorial.

The only problem I had to solve was how to hang the blackouts and the decorative panels at the same time.  I started shopping around for different options, and thought this rod could work with these rings:

Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure the back rod would support the weight of the blackouts (4.37lbs each, for a total of 17.5lbs).  Additionally, adding extra supports would prevent me from sliding the blackouts all the way to the edge of the rod.  I put it on the back burner and continued to shop.  Then, I found this picture:680656134795It’s a double version of the single traverse rod I already selected!  Unfortunately, it is no longer available, but I discovered this bracket (below).   The two C-shaped spaces are equal in size, allowing two single rods to be hung on these brackets.680656134900Unfortunately, the whole project ends up being a lot more expensive because I have to buy two rods, as well as 5 supports (just to make sure the weight is well-supported).

The Final Breakdown

I have to warn you, this isn’t pretty.  Given the fact that I was in a hurry to put this project together, it ended up costing a lot more then I would have liked.  Here is the breakdown, for those who are interested.


Ultimately, it is a lot more than I wanted to spend, but I’m not sure I could have put curtains up on this window for much cheaper (it’s just too big). I considered holding off on the decorative panels until I earn a few more paychecks, but decided it was worth it to just arrange the entire set-up at once, since it will be a pain to install them.

Now, just to find someone to hang the whole apparatus. I’m crossing my fingers that the apartment maintenance team will come and do it for me, given my tall ceilings.  If not, I’ll need to get a little more creative. :/




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