Green and Frugal Decorating Ideas: My Inexpensive Curtains (Repurposing Canvas Drop Cloths)
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.”)
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.
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!
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.
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:
- Kimba over at A Soft Place to Land added trim to her drop cloth curtains.
- Over at Beauty and Bedlam, a painted PVC pipe is used as a curtain rod instead of the metal conduit that I used.
- Traci at Beneath my Heart used hooks that screw into the wall. (She’s used drop cloth curtains in many rooms in her house and even recovered a chair with a drop cloth!)
- The Lettered Cottage makes the point that drop cloth curtains are a Pottery Barn knock off.
- Counting to Ten blog shows you how to stencil on the drop cloth curtains. I’m think I’m going to do some stenciling to the curtains in my son’s room.
- The Yellow Cape Cod blog shows how to makeover plain curtains into bold striped curtains. I think it’d be easy to do this with the drop cloths and some black fabric. You could even paint the stripes on there with fabric paint.
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!