Pros & Cons of Store Bought vs Custom Made Drapery

Choices, choices, choices! When a client is faced with redecorating their room, there are so many options--and options within those options--that in the blink of an eye, people feel overwhelmed! Choosing drapery can be one of those daunting things that can really make a big impact on the overall look of a room, but also the budget--and that can lead to that overwhelmed feeling. Do you go to the big box store and make a selection there? Do you go with blinds or shutters or sheers? There are different header options, hardware options, trim options, light transparency options…but which one is the RIGHT one for your space? There are pros and cons to store bought and custom drapery so I will do my best to highlight what you need to know and help you make this big decision just a little bit easier!

Drapery is a layer I love to add to most rooms as it is elegant and adds sophistication to a space. It makes it feel cozy and layered and put together. If a pattern is chosen it can energize the room and pull all the colors in together creating flow and unity. They absorb sound. They can block out all light, or allow the sunshine to stream through your house. Not all spaces require drapery panels, but if I can use them, I most certainly will!

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Things to consider:

  • Always check the measurements before you head out of the width and the height…and always err on the side of longer rather than shorter. You can always hem something, but stretching it is impossible!
  • Also consider, when appropriate, to extend your rod a few inches on either side of the window frame—especially if you want to have the maximum flow of light—and take that into account when doing the overall measurements.
  • No matter what type of drapery you purchase, the fullness needs to be at least 2x the width of the window. So, if your window is 48” wide, you will actually need to purchase enough panels to cover 96” worth of window—or more.

At times, the drapery needs to be washable; always check your care tags and make sure you purchase something that works with your needs.

Custom Drapery

Store Bought Drapery

Store bought drapery is what you will find most likely in the big box stores…Ikea, Bouclair, Fabricland and Homesense are a few local options. More often than not, there are a limited option of fabrics to choose from, and also a few header options. Store bought drapery certainly has its place; I have used both on my room designs depending on the budget and the wishes of the client. If you are willing to take the time to look online, the options increase significantly but just remember to factor in shipping and always check the return policy!!!

Popular Header Options

Ready Made Drapery

The most popular drapery panel header option I see out there are grommets. This style of drapery is sleek, doesn’t have a lot of fullness, and is readily available at multiple price points. The thing to watch for with this type of drapery is that they can look rather flat—especially when they are pulled shut…and this is not how they are supposed to look! Getting the extra panels to get the 2.5 fullness ratio is a must! I have often found that people don’t do that with this style and when they are closed, they look rather bleak…so be sure to buy what you need so that when the panels are closed, they still have some fullness.

Ready Made Drapery

The biggest Pro to store bought panels is that you literally can purchase your drapery, iron it and hang it all in the same day. That is a game changer right there! If you decide that you don’t like it, then you can always return it as well…also a nice option to have!

The biggest Con I find in purchasing ready made drapery is the limited local selection (unless you were to shop online) and I find they work better for smaller windows rather than the wide expanses you find in condo’s or larger rooms. When you have to start hanging multiple small panels it can get to be looking rather pieced together.

Photos used above are from Pottery Barn 

Ready Made Drapery

The other header option that is easily available is a rod pocket. This is basically an opening at the top of the drapery panel where you insert the rod and then gather them as necessary. They are usually very affordable and Ikea has many options with this style, but the downside is that they are not very easy to open and close--You have to tug at them to move them. They are also often not lined, but I will get into more of that in a minute. If this is going in a room where the curtains are not being opened and closed on a regular basis, it is a great option but if you have a huge expanse of windows that you open regularly—not so much.

Lastly, there are hidden tab drapery. The full out in view tabs are no longer “in vogue” so this is the alternative and is much more attractive! Again, this header is available at many retailers and is a bit easier to move than the rod pocket, but only by a little.

Above is an example of where we used Ready Made Drapery in a Guest bedroom; the client wanted to refresh the room on a budget and these lovely panels from Bouclair were exactly what we needed!

The other limitation is that often store-bought panels are not lined. Lined drapery helps in many different ways; when a panel is not lined, it is exposed to the sun which can cause fading—especially on a window with strong sunlight! Lining also helps the drapery panel to hang nicely rather than the flyaway ends that can happen. If you need blackout drapery, your options are far more limited as not all retailers offer this option.

Custom Drapery Panels

I have to honestly say I am a big fan of custom drapery. I love being able to go into the fabric stores, choose the type of fabric, and have the options of plain or patterned.  Silk-like fabrics, Linen & Cotton are my favorite options, but a good velvet works too! There are different lining options available that I can choose that work with the fabric itself, and also for whatever the client wishes for their room darkening needs. There is Full Blackout, Dim-out, Flannel Interlining (used to help fabrics like Silk and Taffeta drape better), and even Flame Retardant Lining for Commercial Spaces.

When you can customize, options are plentiful!!!  We can do Pinch Pleats, French Pleats, or Box Pleat (also called Inverted Pleats) headers. We can do Roman Blinds that fit perfectly for an inside or outside mount. We can do a tailored valance. We can add trim or a border in a contrasting color. We can size them to fit the height of a  two-story window, work around awkward windows, or layer more than one treatment for a luxurious effect…there are so many possibilities!

The cons of custom drapery are that they take time to make and are not purchase-and-hang-on-the-same-day-available. They take at least 6 weeks in most cases, if the seamstress is not backed up! They are also costlier as you are paying for the fabric, and the labor on top of that; but generally, the longevity of a custom made drapery treatment, if lined properly, will last a very long time!

Drapery workrooms often charge by the panel, so depending on how large the window is and how many lengths you need, that will determine the overall price. For instance, if you need two panels a side (four panels total) you will be charged the per panel price x 4. In Hamilton we have an excellent fabric district where you will find lovely designer fabrics for less than the to-the-trade options. That being said, there are so many more options that are available in the designer-only fabric showrooms that you can access when you hire a professional. A small roman blind in a bedroom or powder room might be worth the extra splurge of a decadent fabric because you will only need two yards to make that statement…totally worth it!

Custom Drapery Custom Drapery

To the left are the custom curtains I had made for my living room and dining room. As a lover of blue and white, this pattern is perfection for my space as it makes a bold statement that I won't get tired of! To read more about my fabric choices and the process of choosing this pattern, check out the post where I share it all with you!

Custom Drapery Custom Drapery

Custom Roman Blind and Grommet Full length Panels (Above) were used in one of our most popular renovations of this Lakeview Kitchen project.

The gorgeous velvet full length drapery (Left Photo) was used in this client's living room and bar to add drama and coziness to these lounge spaces.

Warm Colors with a traditional pattern energized this kitchen and family room space (Below) and made a significant change to the dynamic of this family home!

There are also companies like Tonic Living in Toronto where you can purchase custom panels online by choosing from their selection of fabrics and providing the necessary details; they fabricate them and ship them to you ready to go. A lot of people and designers alike go to places like this as sometimes the search for fabric is easier this way than physically going and searching for it on your own.

No matter whether you choose store bought drapery panels or customized options, Bella Casa Interiors can certainly help you make the right choice and offer the guidance you need in all the options out there! As I said before, we have used both options on our projects and here are a few examples of our work. Be inspired and not overwhelmed…we can assist you with every detail and make the process of decorating your home a lot more fun!

Custom Drapery

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