15 Shade and Curtain Projects to Personalize Your Windows

rod pocket curtains
Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Curtains are a grand presence in the home. Measured just right to glass windows, they can make a house feel more open or ensure better privacy for those living indoors. If you want to change the look of an entire room, doing so is simple when you dress up windows with easy curtains, valances, or shades. Best of all, it's possible to make these statement-making accessories yourself. If you are going to tackle a curtain or shade project, however, keep a few things in mind. In the bedroom, a grommet top creates wide, dreamy folds and lets the long draping curtains slide easily to open or close. In a humid environment like the bathroom, durability is everything. That's why composite or faux wood blinds are a perfect solution. They have a convincingly natural look, but they won't fade, crack, warp, or peel. In the dining room, where privacy may be less important, this sheer panel brings a nice presence of color and softly filtered light.

Rooms look best with coordinated colors and materials. If you have green hand towels and kitchenware, for example, look for a pair of window treatments in the same shade. Think about how these pieces impact the scale of the space, too: If you have a small kitchen, light colors can make it look larger, while dark colors can make an oversized kitchen feel more inviting. And if you have a set of three bay windows in a breakfast nook? They don't need ornate window treatments to look chic. White Roman shades soften any harsh sunlight that comes through the windows but also allows for plenty of bright, organic light. The pairing of a rich solid curtain and coordinating printed sheer on a single rod creates the illusion of layers.

Window treatments never need be plain—little embellishments like bows or pom-poms, can add a bit of flair to your home. And because curtains are so expansive, a little embellishment won't look overbearing. Just tap into your creativity, open your windows, and see the possibilities. Ahead, browse our best shade and curtain projects that you can make at home.

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Tea Towel Café Curtain

tea towel curtains hanging in bright window
Dane Tashima

An assortment of mix-and-match tea towels make up this chic and simple café curtain. Cut an assortment of same-size dishcloths (we used semi-sheer linen iterations) up the middle, and hem the raw edges; then mix and match the panels, alternating prints and colors. When you find a combination that works, stitch the sections together and attach the finished curtain to a simple rod for a custom creation that's easy—and breezy.

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Smocked Curtain

Dana Gallagher

Gingham's perfect squares provide a guide for stitching when smocking the top of a curtain. This one is made from slubby linen in a hushed beige shade sophisticated enough for an adult's bedroom.

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Reversible Linen Curtain

reversible linen curtain

Two looks, one simple solution: This linen curtain utilizes small loops tacked onto its lower corners. Leave the shade down to keep a room cool, or flip it up and attach the loops to hooks you've screwed into the sides of the window frame. You'll let in light and reveal a pretty contrasting color, no cords needed.

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Roman Shade


This simple and elegant shade is a sleek alternative to a traditional curtain treatment. To make it, stitch rings to the hemmed edge of pockets, forming three columns: one up the center and one two inches from each long side.

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Simple Window Shade


Whether you have an odd-shaped window or want to use a pretty fabric, this easy treatment is a quick and inexpensive way to get the look of a Roman shade. To make it, measure fabric to fit the inside of the window, adding a few inches to the height, for sewing channels at the bottom and top, and one inch for sewing side seams. Machine-sew the hems and seams, and then slip tension rods through the channels.

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Wallpaper Window Shade

johnny Mi l l e r

A length of wallpaper is all it takes to turn a plain roller shade into a work of art—complete with its own frame. Showcase a very special piece, a favorite vintage paper, or a remnant. You can tie the room together with a pattern that echoes an existing motif, or build a head-to-toe look by using the same paper that's on the walls. A reverse roll-shade (meaning a shade that rolls from front) works best. For using the proper adhesive, ask your local wallpaper dealer for guidance. Some papers come pre-glued and need only to be dampened; others call for paste. To apply wallpaper, lay the shade flat on a work surface, and mount paper by working from one end to the other and smoothing any bubbles with a rolling pin. To protect delicate papers, spray with a matte finish for papers (available at art-supply stores) before installing the shade.

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Botanical Appliqué Curtains


A border of pale-green appliqués dresses up sheer linen curtains without blocking the sunshine. The botanical motif evokes the foliage inside and out, and the cutouts' positioning can be adjusted to suit any panel size.

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Formal Shade


Deep bottom pleats and a patterned fabric give this shade an elegance suited to traditional rooms. It's designed to remain partially raised, accentuating its lovely form. A lightweight cotton liner instead of blackout fabric lets the floral design sparkle in the sunlight.

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Roller Shade with Twisted-Cord Tassel Pull

Joseph De Leo

Tailor a roller shade to suit your style with a twisted-cord tassel pull. The neck on this five-inch-long linen tassel pull serves as a grip; gold-and-burgundy threads were wrapped around the neck at the same time to create a striped effect. Pick a contrasting color for impact and a sturdy fiber to ensure longevity.

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Linen-Trim Curtains


Create tone-on-tone sophistication by trimming silk-organza sheers with linen in a slightly deeper shade. Green linen panels on silk-organza sheers give just the right touch of color to a living room dressed in neutral hues. You'll need sheers that measure the height of your windows, plus an extra 14 inches or more for the flounce; a band of linen at the bottom will extend your curtains to the floor.

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Simple Cafe Curtains


Fashion a charming pair of cafe curtains using linen fabric and orange twill tape. To make them, sew a simple straight stitch along the edge of the twill tape (which should be 1 1/2 inches longer than the curtain's width). To make the channel for the rod, use the same straight stitch to hem the edge, then fold over two inches for the channel. Hand-sew the twill tape, using a tacking stitch, to give the panel a professionally finished look (about three to five stitches will secure the ends). Before hanging, press the curtain, and slide the curtain rod through the channel. Use socket brackets for hanging.

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Map Textile Roller Shade

Dana Gallagher

Made of sturdy cotton or linen, map-printed tablecloths can endure all manner of crafting. We transformed a Florida design into a roller shade by fusing the fabric to linen and then stapling it to the roller of a store-bought shade. To sew a rod pocket, fold the bottom up 1/2 inch, then 1 1/2 inches, then pin and edge-stitch. Insert the dowel from your store-bought shade; and sew a decorative pull to the back of the shade, if desired.

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Scalloped Window Shade


Carve a scalloped pattern into an everyday shade and you'll have a pretty way to let the sun shine in: Daylight will peep through the slits, adding a bright touch to your window decor while creating a shadow effect. Download and print our template, positioning the design about 1 1/2 inches from bottom edge using masking tape and a ruler. Place the shade on a cutting mat, and use a craft knife to cut through shade along the lines of the template. Make sure to leave space between cuts as marked to keep bottom of shade attached.

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Stenciled Roller Shade

stencilled roller shade
Mikkel Vang

There are as many ways to integrate stenciling into your décor—on tables, curtains, even lampshades—as there are sources of inspiration. On this roller shade, vines traced from an Early American stencil wind down a pale-gray roller shade in four columns that mirror one another. This charming white-on-gray pattern shows up best on a vinyl blackout shade.

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Ribboned Roller Shade


A fabric shade adorned with ribbon can light up a room even when it's pulled down. Choose a length of ribbon—ours is grosgrain—or decorative trim that works well in your room. Use fusible webbing to attach it to the shade. (Some trims already have a fusible backing.) You'll find the supplies at sewing stores—but there's no sewing necessary.

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