1. Make sure that you buy the appropriate length.
I see it all the time, drapery panels hung too close to the top of the window. Hanging panels closer to the ceiling will give an illusion of height. It will also make your draperies look more luxurious. Draperies that are too short and hang inches above the ground are to be avoided.
2. Use a drapery pole larger than your window.
When measuring your window add at least 6 inches to the width, not including your finials. This will accomplish two things, this will allow more light into the window, and it will make your window appear larger.
3. Buy enough panels to cover window.
Hanging one panel on each side of you window can look too skimpy, if you have a large window. Measure your windows width, then make sure that your panels can cover the window and still have excess fabric.
Whether they are going to be draw draperies or not, buying more panels will look better. Example: If you have a window that is 79" you would want to buy 4 panels, two for each side.
4. Add drapery rings instead of using tab tops made of fabric.
Your panels will have more of a "custom look" if you use drapery rings with clips. Tab top draperies are inexpensive to make, and they look inexpensive when hung.
5. Use a drapery rod that is substantial with a weight proportionate to the weight of the fabric.
Buying a cheap rod that is light weight will cheapen the look of the window treatment. Invest in good quality hardware.
6. Make sure that your drapery rod has enough support.
Your pole will bow in the middle if your fabric is too heavy for your rod. Use your judgement on this one. If you have a wide window make sure you provide extra support in the middle.
7. Buy drapery brackets with at least a 3" projection.
Hanging draperies too close to the window is a common mistake. Custom draperies done correctly will have at least a 3" projection. Sheers being the exception when hung on a double rod, they will be closer to the wall.
8. Don't use lightweight valances on top of panels.
This is the biggest no-no. Cheap valances cheapen the entire look of your window treatments. It's better to have no valance at all than to have a lightweight valance hanging on top of side panels.
9. Buy panels with lining when possible.
Unless you're going for the gauzy, sheer look, buy panels that are lined. The more weight your panels have the better they will hang.
10. Make sure to read the cleaning instructions before washing your draperies.
If they are 100% cotton or linen, they WILL shrink. Some fabrics will have to be dry cleaned.
11. Skip the tiebacks.
Most ready made panels come with matching tiebacks, unfortunately they're usually not made well, and they detract from the overall look.
12. Use a level when installing drapery hardware.
You'll want to make sure that your draperies are hanging even, and that your rod is following a straight line parallel to the ceiling, to ensure the best possible installation.
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