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Green and Frugal Decorating Ideas: My Inexpensive Curtains (Repurposing Canvas Drop Cloths)

09/19/2011

I don’t know if ya’ll have noticed, but good curtains are expensive. Even plain white sheers are are about $7 per panel at Wal-Mart or Target. And you’ll also need the hardware to hang up the curtains. I’m a little picky too, so I didn’t want the plain white metal extension rods. When we moved to our current home a little over a  year ago, we needed curtains for four windows in our front two rooms, two of which are fairly large. We also needed them to provide privacy since we didn’t want to hang up any type of blind or mini-blind. And we needed it to be super cheap. Here’s the solution we came up with. (The “we” I’m referring to in this post is my husband, mother-in-law, and myself. Don’t worry. I don’t usually refer to myself with the “royal we.”)

Curtains

Instead of buying curtain panels, we used canvas drop cloths from a local home improvement store. At the time, they had “value drop cloths” and you could buy a 2-pack for between $9 and $10, so around $5 per panel. We bought 3 packages, so 6 drop cloths total. Two panels for the large windows and 1 panel each for the small windows.

dropclothcurtains2

Curtains Rods and Hardware

The rods and hardware for the curtains are also expensive. A basic curtain rod from Walmart is $7.84 and it extends up to 4 feet. One of our front windows needed a 9 foot rod, the other large window needed a 7 foot rod. The two smaller ones needed 4 foot rods. Instead of buying rods, we got some 1/2 inch metal conduit (my father-in-law had a bunch of it that he didn’t need, so it was free!), cut it to size, and then painted it black. Ten feet of 1/2 inch conduit is $2.10 and I bet if you asked nicely, someone at your local home improvement store would cut it to size for you. We used black grill paint because we already had that lying around the house. So the cost for the rods for us was $0! Sweet!

dropclothcurtains3

Even though the rods didn’t cost anything, we still needed hardware to hang them, and some curtain rings. This is where we spent the most money. We wanted the rings with the little clips so I didn’t have to do any sewing (we like that look). The brackets were about $6 per pair and I needed 5 pairs. (The large windows needed a bracket in the middle. And, just so you know, those aren’t the exact brackets we got. I can’t find them online, but that’ll give you the idea.) The rings were $4 or $5 per packet, found by my mother-in-law at Big Lots. (Recently she discovered a whole bag of them at Goodwill for a couple of dollars.) We used 3 packets of the rings.

dropclothcurtains1.jpg

So for four windows, two of which are very large, we were able to outfit them with curtains that fit our criteria for about $75 total, or $18.75 per window. That sounds like a lot to my frugal ears, but considering one of them is a large picture window, and we started from scratch, it’s fairly reasonable. Obviously if you already have the hardware, you can do a curtain makeover for a lot less than our complete installation.

Some other ideas for the curtains:

Have you repurposed drop cloths in your home before? Have any other ideas about frugal window coverings? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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14 Comments
  1. Karie permalink
    09/19/2011 7:14 am

    My favorite curtains are the ones I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond. They were having their huge clearance (end of season) sale and were actually tablecloths. Ended up costing me around $10 I think and I think they are beautiful.

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:38 pm

      Your curtains are very beautiful! I thought about using shower curtains too, but at the time, the drop cloths were cheaper.

  2. 09/19/2011 7:16 am

    While in college I had a loft in a 100 year old building with 7′ tall windows. The hardware was already there, but no curtians. Being frugal and on a college budget I came up with the Idea to use twin flat sheets. I found them in colors/paterns that I liked at the dollar store. I just had to remove a few stitches at the top so I could thread the rod thru them. I covered 4 windows for under $10.

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:25 pm

      That’s a great idea! I’ve seen twin flat sheets sewn together to make a duvet cover before too. So many uses! I wonder if the dollar store still carries sheets….. I don’t remember seeing any, but it’d be worth it to check.

  3. 09/19/2011 3:31 pm

    You’re so right – curtains, and window coverings in general, are so expensive! I’ve been wanting to add some curtains around our house, but don’t want to spend the money (we have wooden blinds that came with the house, so we don’t have to worry about privacy). I have found a couple sets of curtains at garage sales for pretty cheap, but I like the idea of using drop cloths! Thanks for the idea and all the great links!

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:26 pm

      I’m always on the look out for inexpensive curtains at yard sales and thrift stores. I found my daughter a matching set of curtains for her room. I’d originally paid $9 per panel (so $18 for curtains for her window. I know. It was kind of a lot for me, but I love the curtains.) I found a PAIR of them at a thrift store for $5. Score!

  4. 09/19/2011 3:56 pm

    Wow….when you post, you POST! Well done. So impressed with your thoroughness on so many posts recently!

    • Kate permalink*
      09/19/2011 9:27 pm

      Are you ready to go out and buy drop cloths now. :) With Primark, you don’t really need to do that, though. Probably cost more to buy the drop cloths! I miss Primark.

  5. 10/03/2011 9:51 pm

    OH MAN! What a great idea! Our bathroom has the tallest curtain rod ever which we cannot move. I haven’t had time (or money) to make my own curtains and our bath in neutral. This will be the best fix! Thanks for the idea!

  6. 10/07/2011 8:13 am

    That is a great idea! If we have to do any more curtains, I’ll be stopping back by for this tutorial. We were lucky that my grandmother actually made all of our curtains out of some white linen she found at an estate sale. What a huge blessing that was!

  7. 10/24/2011 7:27 pm

    I bought drop cloths recently and used them to cover big pillows I bought for our bed. We have never gotten around to getting or making a headboard. The wall is basically an outside wall since the garage is on the other side, and usually the wall is cold. I’ve been meaning to embroider or stencil the pillow covers, and I think that will happen in my copious free time. :)

  8. 12/06/2011 10:39 am

    I am thinking of using drop cloth curtains for my living room. But the hardware is quite expensive, so I love your ideas for creating inexpensive rods. They look lovely! What a great tip for saving money while keeping to a style that you love!

  9. 12/30/2011 9:46 pm

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  10. 02/02/2013 5:10 am

    This post was interesting…thanks for the info….

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