DIY Custom Window Treatments: Roller Shades

If you have spent any time at all in the window treatment section of your local big box home improvement store, you have undoubtedly found that the cost of purchasing a professionally manufactured item is not only cost prohibitive, but will also set you up for some rather bland window fare. Fortunately, with just a bit of know-how and some rather inexpensive materials you have the opportunity to craft some DIY custom window treatments that will be sure to be unique and a perfect fit for your home d�©cor.

First things first: measure your window.

Oh sure, you can eyeball it and then have a treatment that is just a tat too short or too long, or your can spend 10 minutes and prepare for a perfect fit! If you are looking to create an inside mounted custom window treatment, you will in fact be underscoring the look of the window.

Thus, even as the shade takes a backseat to the overall design of the window, its very fit will make or break the design. Use a measuring tape and round down (yes, I know what your math teacher used to tell you!) to the nearest 1/8th of an inch. Take three measurements from the top to the bottom and three from side to side to ensure that the window is evenly sized all the way around.

If you decide to go ahead with an outside mount, you will have the opportunity to cover over a multitude of design flaws and installation sins but will forgo the precision look. Essentially the shade will be hanging outside the frame and thus obscuring much of it.

So which way does the cookie crumble (or the shade roll)?

Next you must decide how your shade will move. Most any custom made window treatment will have a box at the top that will contain the mechanism for lowering the shade and that will also hide the shades when they are drawn up. Assuming that your windows will have shades, your treatment option may include a Roman fold, a hobbled appearance, or an angled box. Be careful with the latter if the d�©cor of your room relies heavily on curves and ovals; arches may be too much of a counterpoint to truly fit in. Conversely, if you are looking to keep the integrity of the window frame intact, then your best bet is the purist approach of a basic roller without a box.

Improve a current product or get out the sewing kit?

Sure, you could sew your window treatments from scratch but if you are embroidery-challenged and do not seem to have a knack for making a successful go of the complete do-it-yourself idea, then perhaps you will be better served by improving upon an already existing product.

Instructions for a basic roller shade

Perfect for a child’s room or the small window in your bathroom, the instructions are amazingly simple:

1. Purchase a blank white roller shade. They are cheap and may be found for as little as $3.50.

2. Purchase paint (from a hobby store or your local big box home improvement store) that will adhere to the material. If you choose a plastic shade pick paints that adhere well to the medium, such as acrylics, while a fabric shade with do better with either tempera or bona fide fabric paint. Stay away from water miscible oils, since they will require further prepping of the shade and may not offer a congruent result. Make sure the colors you choose complement the overall scheme of the room or just plan on picking a neutral color.

3. Find a stencil you would like to use. If the room contains a lot of furniture or decorations, you will be well served in keeping the design simple, while a room that is low on furniture and knickknacks will appreciate a highly detailed focal point that is more intricate. Websites abound where you may download your free stencils – think Spray Paint Stencils or Buckingham Stencils – and you have the option of creating an intricate or simple stencil for any occasion.

4. Depending on the intricacy of the stencil design, purchase stencil brushes in �½ or 3/8 inch sizing.

5. Work in a room that has sufficient ventilation to let you air out the paint fumes but not so much that it will cause dust and debris to cover your work surface.

6. Finish your creation with a satin finish spray varnish that will protect the artwork from fingerprints, moisture, and other influences that might destroy it.

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