Design Archives - Transitions Drapery

Expert Advice on Buying Curtains or Drapes

April 1, 2018 / Category: Drapes and Curtains, Projects, Window Treatments

buying curtains or drapes woman measuring window

Expert advice on buying curtains or drapes

Curtains or drapes genuinely “dress” windows and make a statement in a room.

The hard part is getting from naked to dressed!

So how do we…

Get from here?

buying curtains or drapes blank window

To here?

custom made draperies for cream colored family room

When buying curtains or drapes, take time to estimate the cost and decide on a budget.

Marketplace choices

Consumers can purchase custom-made draperies through professionals or ready-made at stores ranging from Home Depot to Potterybarn.

Take these items into consideration before buying curtains or drapes


A window treatment professional will provide design advice and expertise for your home.  They come armed with experience and education in fabrics, hardware, and design.

Ready-made panels come in a variety of current styles and designs created by professional designers to please a wide range of tastes.

buying curtains or drapes professional advice
Lani (Transitions Drapery) and Danielle (All Dressed Windows)


Obviously, custom-made items are handmade and ready-made are mass produced.

The beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  There is no right or wrong.


Fabric choices for custom-made items are unlimited.  You’ll have a choice of quality, colors, patterns, and weights.

Fabric choices for ready-made items are limited. However, stores do carry a variety of styles.

Regarding drapery lining, a pro will know which lining works best for your room.  Pros take into account the amount of sun or drafts coming into the window.  They provide the correct type of lining for privacy, insulation or room darkening.

Some ready-made panels do come with linings.  Unfortunately, this is where manufacturers skimp on quality to save on cost.

fabric selections


Have you ever seen curtains look like a flat sheet hung on a window?  Not the best look.

Consider the draperies below.  The fabric is full and covers abundantly in width and height regardless if they’re open or closed.

buying curtains or drapes window coverage


A pro will design a full look to cover the wall, or a portion of it, on either side of a window.

You can achieve a full look with ready-mades merely by purchasing two or three panels per side instead of one per side.


For a polished look, panels look best when hung slightly below or two-to-four inches below the ceiling.  Panel bottoms need to hover right above the floor or can be longer (see the article on breaks or puddling.)

Ready-made panels are often too short.   Workaround this by purchasing a longer length and have them shortened to fit your needs.

Estimating the costs of custom-made curtains or drapes

The price of custom-made curtains or drapes varies by geographic area and professional.  Take into account the following five costs to estimate the cost of buying curtains or drapes.

1.  Design service

A pro will come to your home, give advice and recommendations on design, functionality, fabrics, and hardware.  Most importantly, they will accurately measure your windows.

2.  Fabric quality and yardage

One of the most significant factors affecting the price of window treatments is the quality and size.   Think about the size of your window and how much material it will cost to cover when closed.

3.  Hardware

What equipment is needed to hang your window treatments?    Consider the price of hardware such as brackets, poles, finials, and tiebacks which can range in price from $19.99 to $499.99 and more.

4.  Fabrication

The pro then orders all the material, lining, trim and hardware and handmakes your drapery.  Like a custom tailored suit, they will fit perfectly and look exceptional in your home.

No mass production, each piece is uniquely handcrafted.

buying curtains or drapes sewing

5.  Installation

Have you ever hung window treatments and ended up with five extra drilled holes in your wall?

Or have you told your family not to touch the curtains because they may crash down on someone’s head?

Let’s just say mounting hardware can be a pain.

Leave it to professional installers who have the right drills, screws, and nails at their fingertips.

They don’t need to make 18 trips to the basement for the right tool.

installation costs of curtains or drapes

Cost of Ready-made

Ready-made curtains or drapes vary in price from $5 to $300 or more per panel.

Cost of Custom-made

To take some of the sticker-shock out of the process, here are two general pricing rules to use when buying curtains or drapes:

General rule #1:  The cost of custom draperies with mid-range fabric and hardware will be approximately $500-$1500 for each window.

General rule #2:  Take your home’s value times 3% to 5%.   For example, if your home is worth $300,000, you can expect to spend anywhere between $9,000 to $15,000 on complete custom window treatments for the entire house.

Yes, window treatments, in general, are a significant purchase.  Here’s my advice:

Invest the most money in highly used and visible rooms.  Not all windows need custom-made window treatments.  Purchase a mixture of custom-made and ready-made.

Tip: Put your money where it gets the most visibility.

Interested in custom draperies for your home?

Contact me for more information.