There’s nothing like having the right window treatments for the right space. I like to say that a room’s lighting is it’s jewelry so that would make window treatments a room’s jacket.

There are a million different options for window treatments. But I’m going to focus on the three main classifications (i.e. custom, semi-custom, premade) of window treatments that will apply to any type (i.e. curtains & drapes, shades, blinds, etc.). For ease, I’ll stick to curtains & drapes in this post – choosing a type of window treatment is a totally different ball game that we can explore in a later post.

First off, let’s talk about the classifications of window treatments.

Classifications of Window Treatments

  1. Custom. This will be the most expensive choice but also the most customizable option you’ll have.
  2. Semi custom. It’s just what it sounds like – typically your decorator will buy a stock or premade window treatments & embellish them with like trim, additional fabric, or decorative edging. It will essentially be a premade option purchased at a retailer & altered.
  3. Stock/Premade. Premade window treatments are exactly what they sound like – you can go to any store & purchase them off the shelf. They are typically the least expensive but you are also the most restricted in this option.

How To Choose Between Custom, Semi-Custom, & Premade

Premade and semi-custom options are really great budget conscious design options. There are so many to choose from these days, which is awesome for those of us who don’t want to necessarily splurge on window treatments.

So if you’d rather splurge on other large ticket items like:

  • large upholstery items (think sofas, sectionals, or your grandmother’s favorite chair)
  • high quality wood furnishings
  • flooring
  • heirloom quality art

They’re also a great option for those of us who like to change things up a lot.

So let’s say you like to decorate seasonally and like to change out your window treatments depending on the season. In this case custom window treatments are not for you – semi-custom or premade will give you the style you want at a price you’ll love.

This semi-custom Roman Shade was the perfect size for the window & perfect for the client's budget. We jazzed it up a bit with decorative grosgrain ribbon in a contrasting color. Photo: Xtraordinary by Design
This semi-custom Roman Shade was the perfect size for the window & perfect for the client’s budget. We jazzed it up a bit with decorative grosgrain ribbon in a contrasting color. Photo: Xtraordinary by Design

Custom window treatments are an investment that are meant to last a lifetime, sometimes for generations.

So if you change things up a lot I would encourage you to steer clear of custom window treatments. If you want a custom look without the custom price tag, try your hand at semi-custom. I know many people who DIY semi-custom treatments & there are so many IKEA hacks out there where people have taken very inexpensive but very well made IKEA curtains and turn them into masterpieces.

A huge misconception is that if you have oddly shaped windows or all windows that are not a “standard” height (most premade curtains are sold as 63″, 84″, 95″, & 108″) you absolutely must go custom.

Not true at all.

In fact in my own home I have windows of at heights of 108″, 120″, & 144″ floor to ceiling (not including crown molding on the taller windows). You would think that I would need custom window treatments especially for those 120″ & 144″ windows.

In fact, we only have one pair of semi-custom window treatments in our entire home.
The reason is because just as I have explained above I like to change things up from time to time and I don’t want to have to be stuck with the same look for years and years and years.

Besides, these days there’s so many great options stock and semi custom window treatments. Believe it or not two of my favorites are Half Price Drapes and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Yes you read that right. The reason that I love these two retailers is

  1. Half Price offers premade, semi-custom, and custom window treatment options made to your specifications. They also have an excellent trade program with stellar customer service. I have never been disappointed!
  2. BB&B sells only premade window treatments however they stock them in multiple different sizes that you wouldn’t normally be able to find in a regular store. The longer lengths are mostly only found online. But the service is great so if you buy something and you end up not liking it, you can always return it to one of the brick and mortar stores.

Either way many if not all options from either retailer come in multiple sizes, multiple widths, & multiple header types. It’s all about how much money you want to spend or don’t want to spend.

Premade window treatments in an non-standard length.
Premade window treatments in an non-standard length.

Train Curtains & Draperies for a Professional Look

One thing that curtains & draperies have in common is that they need to be “trained” to hang a certain way. Basically all that means is that once you choose your hardware and hang them, they need to be “folded” or styled in the way that you want them to hang and then tied very loosely so that they can “remember” their shape & how to lay beautifully.

Some people steam or iron curtains & draperies to rush this process. That will work to a degree but let’s say for example you have pleated window treatments that you want to hang a certain way – steaming or ironing works temporarily but may not long term & you may not get the folds just as you want them.

So patience is a big key when you’re hanging window treatments whether they are custom, semi-custom, or stock. Give your new window treatments time to acclimate to the environment. After hanging, gather the folds & loosely tie off with soft ribbon or fabric (as shown in the image below). Let them hang in place allowing them to “learn” to hang the way that you want them to hang. I have found that most times this takes no longer than a week.

Custom Window Treatment installation in progress. Pinch pleated cotton blackout draperies being "trained" to fold & lay properly.  Photo: Xtraordinary by Design
Custom Window Treatment installation in progress. Pinch pleated cotton blackout draperies being “trained” to fold & lay properly. Photo: Xtraordinary by Design

On Choosing Custom Window Treatments

A major advantage to custom window treatments is that you get to choose your fabric & trim – which is loads of fun if you like that sort of thing.

But probably most importantly you get to choose how much light filtration your window treatments have. This is the case whether you are choosing drapery, a roller shade, blinds, roman shades, or any other type of window treatment.

Specifically with draperies I almost always go with a lined and interlined drapery because they are heavier in the hang is just beautiful. You can go simply with the lined drapery but the weight will not be a nearly as as heavy so won’t hang as well as if you line and interline them – even using sheer fabrics as the face.

As for light filtration I almost always install complete blackout draperies in bedrooms and media rooms because you want to be able to block out the sun if you need to sleep late in the mornings or when you’re having movie night/movie day.

custom window treatments in a living room
Custom window treatments in a living room where no privacy is needed. They are moveable but are sized to fit between the windows in this bay. Photo: Xtraordinary by Design

A Final Word

Last but not least, always do what you love. Absolutely do not feel like you have to have window treatments that look like what all the designers, decorators, influencers, or whoever else are doing. Right now it’s a really big trend to have window treatments that sit right below the window hardware so that you see the entire rod & rings and entire header (usually Parisian pleats) are sitting just below the hardware.

If you don’t love that look, don’t feel obligated to do it. A great designer will help you come up with an option that you do love.

For example, in my latest installation the header (French pleats) are covering the rod & rings – you don’t see the hardware at all when the window treatments are closed. When they are open you see the rod peeking out in between (like jewelry). The crown molding still shows either way so its continuous around the entire room.

In other rooms we have used a fabric cornice, invisible hardware for stationary draperies, and decorative hardware where we see everything including finials. It all depends on what you love and what the room is being used for and the style of the room – weather casual, formal, or very very relaxed.

If you are in the market for window treatments for a room or for an entire home I hope that this post has given you some excellent information to consider as you’re looking through your options. I love to educate my clients as well as decorate their homes. But even when I’m not the designer of choice I still want you all to be very well informed regardless of who you choose to design your your home or even if you do it yourself.

At the end of the day, design is what you make it it’s about how you live your life. Trends and budgets should not dictate how well you do either.

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