Home Ec

Home Ec: How to Save Money on Window Treatments

by Grace Bonney

One of the most surprising home expenses that can build up quickly are window treatments. Every time I work with someone to help them find shades, curtains or blinds for their house, we’re both blown away by the price tags. Not that well-made textiles aren’t worth the cost (they are), but when you have more than a few windows, it can add up quickly and feel like you’re outfitting your entire house, not just the windows. When we moved upstate I splurged on cordless Roman shades for the two rooms we live in the most (our living room and bedroom) and even those seven shades (purchased during a huge post-Christmas sale) left me reeling.

So today I thought I’d tackle ways to bring privacy and sun-protection to your rooms without breaking the bank. Each of these DIY ideas can be tackled by a crafting beginner, even the roller shades, and can be done over a weekend — some even over just an hour or two. I’ve included a wide range of styles, from full curtains to decorative privacy film if you really want to let in as much light as possible. As with any textile, to give it the longest life, be sure to shake them out, lightly vacuum and dust as often as you can to prevent any set-in stains — and to protect your investment and DIY time! If you have any clever ideas for window treatments that you’ve saved money on or made yourself, we’d love to hear about them or see them in the comment section below. Or, if you just have a favorite inexpensive brand you think are a great solution everyone should know about, let us all know below! xo, grace

*If you need any more window treatment inspiration, check out our favorites from past hour tours here!


This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

Copper Curtain Rods: Save money on store-bought rods by turning everyday hardware store piping into a clean, modern curtain rod.
DIY Roller Blinds: I love roller blinds. They're cordless, clean and they are infinitely customizable depending on what type or texture of fabric you choose to use. This project from Brett Bara is one of our most popular from the DIY archives and will save you at least $100 per window, depending on your fabric choice.
Painted Roller Blinds at Bambula: Want to customize your blinds but don't feel like making them yourself? This tutorial will show you how to upgrade inexpensive roller blinds so they feel custom.
DIY Vintage Scarf Window Treatments: Have a great scarf collection you'd like to display but don't want to hide them in frames? This DIY project will show you how to transform them into a bold and colorful window treatment instead. You can of course use white or neutral colored handkerchiefs if you'd like to keep the treatment less whimsical and more traditional.
DIY Window Films: If you want to maximize light in your space, but don't want to compromise on some privacy, these cling films are a great solution. This project teaches you to make them a bit more decorative, but you can also keep them mostly filled-in for maximum privacy.
Basic Sewn Curtains: For simple curtains you can sew in a snap and have up in no time, this project is perfect. You can use inexpensive muslin or drop-cloths as fabric if you want to save even more money.
Pleated and Lined Drapes: For something a step above simple hanging curtains, these pleated and lined curtains that Brett Bara taught us to make are a great solution. They look like professionally made pieces and will last a LONG time if you keep them shaken out and aired out every season.
DIY Stenciled Drop Cloth Curtains from Shine Your Light: Drop Cloths make for the easiest and most inexpensive curtains and this tutorial shows you how to bump them up a notch with a stenciled pattern.
No Sew Curtains from Young House Love: If you're like me and sewing machines feel daunting, this no-sew project from YHL is right up our alley.
Grommet-top Curtains: If you prefer to use grommets at the top of your curtain and attach them to a simple dowel from the hardware store (or even a strong-but-thin branch from your yard!), you can easily adapt this shower curtain DIY to fit your window dimensions.
DIY Faux Window Panes: This isn't for privacy, but if you want to add a little architectural detail to your windows, this DIY faux French windows project is a fun way to get the look without all the cost.
DIY Greek Key Roman Shades from The Nesting Game: This project is genius because it utilizes everyday inexpensive nylon blinds as the base. It's probably my favorite look for curtains in about half the time and cost of hiring someone to make them or buying them off the rack. If you're up for a little weekend DIY-ing, this is a fantastic and clever project.
DIY Tie-Backs: Use some craft store basics to make your own colorful tie-backs!

Suggested For You


  • A great ready-made curtain/drape: Flat sheets. Endless colors and patterns, and the top band can just be opened at each end to insert the rod through. Best part, they are wide and long.

  • Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been looking for window treatments for our bedroom for almost 3 years (since we moved in) and what an ordeal it’s been. I had bookmarked similar Pottery Barn shades ages ago, but when I finally measured our windows, I was bummed to realize the PB ones only came in one or two sizes. But thanks to your link, I now know they’ve expanded their offerings and fingers crossed, I think they might actually work!

    At the other end of the affordability spectrum, Hunter-Douglas has some wonderful fabric roller shades. We used them in our living and dining rooms when I found out that the fabulous The Shade Store blinds wouldn’t work in our small 1950s window wells. I had hoped to use the H-D shades in our bedroom, but after spending $2K to cover one bay window and 2 regular windows, our budget was tapped out!

    thanks again!

  • ikea has really great white cotton curtains – floor-to-ceiling, 2 panels, 30$ (in Canada, probably less in the US).

    You can’t usually buy fabric that cheap… And as long as they’re cotton, you can stencil/dye/etc to make a more colourful look as needed.

  • In my tiny house, with floor space at a premium, Roman shades make sense as they need no space to hang to the floor. They are a mathematical project as much as a sewing project but quite easy to make once you figure them out. Supplies for them are inexpensive: minimal fabric, a 1″ x 2″ for the mounting board, various parts and fine cord from the hardware store. Thin insulation is available to pad them out and provide some protection from the climate. They are extremely expensive to have made but that’s all I have in my home because I made them. I love them!

  • tablecloths can also be used with rings and clips since they come in similar sizes as window panels. Usually less expensive than curtains and another variety of colors and patterns. I also like to use flat sheets to line my curtains too.

  • I found some great curtains for the living room on clearance, but the store was a few pairs short of what I needed. I bought complementary panels in another color, and hung those in the middle of each set of drapes. People compliment me on the ‘accent’ panel, but it was really desperation :)

  • I love textiles, but traditional curtains or drapes are fabric hogs! For lining, white sheets are great. For maximum flexibility (renters, especially), rods or thick dowels with clip on rings turn simple fabric panels (lined with white sheets to give them more oomph) into curtains fast. And my favorite solution is taking vintage linen tablecloths and using them as sheers.

  • I work at a small specialty window covering store. One of the most important things to think about when buying window coverings is what happens if they break? When you spend so much money on them and no one can repair them, they become useless. Hunter Douglas may be expensive but they are made in the U.S. and have a lifetime warranty. Just thought you all might like to know.

  • Great topic! I too was floored by the prices of window treatments when I first started researching options. I decided to go with the West Elm curtains and rods and the price was very reasonable given the quality. I went with their regal blue velvet curtains and antique brass rods, which come in multiple lengths and sizes respectively. I am also a fan of Ikea’s curtain panels (they look more like blinds than curtains). You can use them for other things as well, such as a liner for an open bookcase to create a custom room divider. And at $13 each they are very affordable. I posted pics of the installed curtains and curtain panels on my instagram @aliscollection if you want to see what they look like in a home setting beyond the store websites.

  • I agree that windows can be expensive to maintain. I do think it’s awesome you are showing tips and DIY’s to help us find less expensive methods for window treatments. I am curious to try these out on my windows here.

  • Seriously? I didn’t even think to go to a hardware store and look at the pipes and materials. I absolutely love the copper in the first picture, I’m sold. It would go so well with so many themes. Thanks for sharing :)

  • It’s true Stephanie Smith, going to a hardware store and simply looking at the raw materials helps you understand what kind of a look might fit your style. My wife and I went to 5 different hardware stores before deciding what style we wanted our rods and curtains to be. It helped give us a better idea of how the new windows would flow with the rest of our decor in the house. I hope to redo our lounge room with fresh paint and wallpaper next, since all our windows are finished.

  • Thanks for the tips! There are a few windows in my house that don’t have anything covering them because I can’t afford to hang curtains on all of them. I like your idea to make my own Roman shades. It seems like they’re really easy to make, so I should work on making a few sets of cordless Roman shades so that I can have something covering the rest of my windows.

  • Recently, I bought new curtains and they were a lot more expensive than I imagined they would be. I ended up only taking care of the windows in my room, but have needed to get more for the rest of the house. Thanks for taking the time to post, I will keep these ideas in mind.

  • Great post! I really never realized any of this about window treatments. I am in the process of remodeling my home and will definitely keep all of what you said in mind. Unfortunately, I’m not too big on dusting but I really need to get better at that, especially with the blinds. Do you know of any tricks to make dusting blinds easier?

  • I love the idea of a no-sew curtain. Just like it says, I’m not much of a sewer but like to have unique pieces in my home. I’ll have to try my hand and doing it without a machine. Thanks for putting these ideas together!

  • This are some really awesome tips about saving money on your windows. I never would of thought that cleaning your curtains could save you money. My wife the other day was vacuuming our curtains and I thought it was weird, but she told me she read it online. Thanks for posting this article, I was just curious to learn more about it.

  • You are certainly right about the costs adding up with window treatments. Any time I go shopping for curtains, blinds, curtain rods, ect. I spend a fortune. But, in the end it is well worth it.

  • Thanks for sharing this tips on how to spend less on window treatments. I’m always looking for new ways to make my home look new and beautiful. I have already bookmarked this article so that I can come back and try these tricks out later. I’m sure that my place will look new in no time.

  • That is cool that you can get different prints for your draperies. I love your striped drapes that you have in your living room. I would love to find a fun drape style that you I could put in my kitchen to give it a new vibe.

  • The third slide with painted roller blinds looks really great. I love the edgy black, white, and grey blinds using a sharp triangular design. This design with the sleek and simple elements of these blinds would be perfect for any room that wants a modern and edgy twist.

  • I really like your advice to try and save money by using things like store-bought rods. That really can make a difference when you are trying to save a few bucks. That being said, you need to be careful and get the right ones for the best price. Do you have any tips specifically about choosing the right blinds given your home’s style?