Custom drape ideas for your home

Having your own custom drape ideas is not difficult. I bet when you've admired the drapery treatments you've seen in a book or magazine you've wondered, "There are so many different ones! How on earth will I choose one for my own window?"

Yes, there are a lot! And then there are the variations on each one. Followed by all the accessories you could add... But fear not. You can make your decisions much more easily when you separate draperies into categories.

There are only four of them:

  1. Curtains hung from a track, rod or pole.
  2. Cornice boxes (pelmet).
  3. Valances.
  4. Swags and other more ornate effects.

Of course there can be overlaps, such as small swags on a cornice box for example. But usually your choice of design will fall into one of the above four categories.

tassel tiebacksTassel tiebacks will add style to your drapes.

If you want to make your custom drape ideas special you can do so by the use of tie backs, hold backs, borders, rolled edges, tassel fringes ... and so on.

So even if you use a simple solution such as a track, you can still have wonderful drapery over your window.

Custom drape ideas

Rods and poles

illustration of pole over windowPoles are an easy way to add character to your scheme.

Poles are a great way to add character to your window in a simple way.

Using rods (narrow diameter such as wrought iron) or poles (often wood, thicker than rods) are the easiest ways to obtain really great window treatments.

For a simple custom drape idea use a plain rod or pole. Examples would be a thin brushed steel or iron rod. For an elaborate effect use a thicker wood pole. These can be painted in all sorts of finishes, or stained to keep their natural finish. They also come in a twisted rope form, and fluted or other attractive finishes.

Then there are the finials you can use. (Finials are the blob bits which fit on the ends.) These can be simple ball finials, acorn or pineapple finials, or a host of other designs.

Cornice Boxes (Pelmets)

cornice box illustrationA cornice box is not difficult to make and provides a professional looking finish to any window.

A cornice box 'frames' the window in a stylish way.

Upholstered cornice boxes give a great finish to a treatment. They can be straight ones, or shaped. They can be left plain or embellished with borders, trims, ropes and more.

If you want a formal yet straightforward treatment, this is one option you should consider. And they're not difficult to make! I'll show you the best methods.


curtain with valance illustrationValances can be shaped as well as straight. They can provide a softer effect than a cornice.

This gives a softer look than a cornice. But like cornices they can be shaped. They can have all the different heading designs which are used for the tops of curtains. The base can have trims and fringes added as well.

Valances are very useful if you prefer softness over the rigid structure of a cornice. They are often used in bedrooms, but I use them anywhere, as long as the fabric and design suit the room.

Swags and cascades (tails)

illustration of curtains and swagsSwag treatments are the most sophisticated, but well within the ability of anyone to make.

To make simple swags many people think all you have to do is get a long piece of fabric and drape it around a pole. Actually, all you'll get is a mess! There's more to it than meets the eye.

These are the most complex top treatments, but it's well within anyone's ability to make them.

The number of variations is vast, and I'll give you some guidelines so you can select the best finish for your window.


It's best to decide first which type you'd like to use for your window.

When you've made that decision, then you can start to think about the particular style, shape and accessories you'd like to include.

By making your decisions one step at a time you'll be able to select a treatment which suits both your window and you.

These may be of interest...

  • Designing window swags

    Window swags can be any size you want, but some sizes are better than others! Find out how to design your swags here.

  • Making swags - the final stage

    The final stage of making swags is sewing the fabric, lining and interlining together to form the final shape.

  • How to line curtains

    If you want to learn how to line curtains you'll find the details here in easy to follow instructions.

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