I think there is a time and a place for both ready-made and custom drapery. Let's talk about how the different options work for different scenarios.


Custom drapery or custom window treatments allow you to not just cover a window, but enhance the decor in the whole room. Well chosen drapery or valance fabric can help tie your whole colour scheme together, plus offer options for further accessorizing with the same fabric in cushions or a piece of upholstery.

Roll-pleated tied back drapery suits this window beside a bed. Photo Attributed to: J. Hirsch Interior Design, LLC
Roll-pleated tied back drapery suits this window beside a bed. Photo Attributed to: J. Hirsch Interior Design, LLC

When you are buying custom it allows you a large array of choice in fabric colour and pattern as well as offering style options that can solve problems with "difficult" windows. Windows that are in a key room in the house and are very large are more easily and beautifully treated when you choose custom. It can be difficult to get the right wow effect from ready-made drapery.

This apple green printed valance with ties looks so fresh in this white kitchen. It finishes the window while still allowing plenty of view and sunshine.



Last week I had this very question from a senior client. She wanted to update the two bedrooms and the diningroom. Her budget priority was to focus on the diningroom, not the bedrooms. The window in the master bedroom was not very large and the client wanted to keep a close eye on the budget in this space.  In this scenario, ready-made drapery is a viable option to keep costs reasonable and meet most of the design requirements. I suggested modifying ready-made sheers for that space. The sheers will dress the window and keep it light and soft over a roller blind. I will have the sewing workroom add a centre seam and hem them to the right length. In this case, the client saved approximately 50% off the cost of fully custom sheers but the modifications were necessary to make ready-made drapery fit the window.  Saving money on the bedroom allowed for more budget space in the other rooms.

 I was able to help the client further enhance the decor and create a stylish and coordinating look for a great price. I had the perfect colour in my collection of remnant fabrics for cushions and a drapery tieback. The room will look more customized with the rosy wine coloured tieback and cushions matching the stained glass lamp. I will also do a green cushion to tie in the artwork which has rose, wine and green tones. The client is happy to keep her artwork and to save money on her drapery for that space.

We chose a valance for the small guest bedroom and this time went with a custom fabric and design as it did not require very much fabric. I was able to show her the perfect striped fabric which tied together the green paint and the green and golden tones of the quilt. When she saw how well the fabric enhanced the whole space she quickly decided on the tailored valance style that I suggested. Right fabric, right style, right price... sometimes custom just works better!

The diningroom has a very large picture window and she was not willing to have seams in her sheers in this room, so ready-made would just not do. We found the perfect, well-priced sheer fabric from a huge selection of sheers by Alendel Fabrics. Now she can have the style of pleat she likes in the exact length and width her window and rod height requires. This room is a main feature room of the house and it makes sense to spend a few extra dollars in this space to make it right.

These tall windows are beautifully dressed with asymmetrical, fringed valances and side panels. They really help feature the focal point of this room.



When windows are very tall or wide or off-centre in a space, often custom drapery is the only way to effectively cover it. Sometimes unusual windows offer an opportunity to be more creative. 

I have used the same sewing workroom for many years of business--the owner, Houda and I have had a great working relationship. She has the experience to advise me when I have questions and offers wonderful quality workmanship from her workroom. It is worth the drive to Ottawa to get this kind of service and excellence in the finished product.

Custom drapery can be luxurious and chic with beading, and other embellishments, using beautiful fabric. When the budget allows, I can design elegant custom drapery to complement a sophisticated room. Drapery hardware has a huge price range. About 10 years ago, a client and I had fun with a decorative drapery rod where the finials (decorative rod ends) were monkeys...not in a tacky, childish design but elegant...these were not inexpensive but they did create a wow effect.

I love the way the band on the drapery matches the accent colour of the bookcase.

Custom drapery on the other hand can be quite cost effective, especially if the result is something you'll love for 10+ years. When fabric is properly lined and well made it can last many, many years and often can be moved to a different window. Except for sheers, I always have drapery lined to suit the situation. Different linings serve different purposes. I recently had a client, Paula, choose drapery for over the wood blinds in her bedroom. She really needed something to darken the room but she was feeling cautious about spending the price for custom.  We were able to customize a beautiful set of ready-made drapery panels that I carry. The neutral embroidered fabric suited her to a T. I had the workroom remove the grommets, add double pleats and used blackout lining. Grommet tops are fine for stationary side panels but not for drapery that you want to open and close every day...believe me, I have been there and it is a nuisance to adjust those folds every day. I supplied rings that matched her drapery rod and the pleated drapery fell beautifully, enhancing the pretty room as well as darkening the room for sleep. A couple of matching feather-filled pillows plus a pair of silky red pillows for accent to complement the artwork, and the effect was gorgeous. This would be difficult to accomplish straight out of a package...often hem lengths are wrong or uneven, and the lining is inadequate. The ubiquitous ready-made drapery with grommets  can be both boring and non-functional, and of course, you are much more limited in fabric, size and style.


Layering drapery over roman shades gives a beautiful look and is very functional. You can pair up coordinating fabrics and have great control over light and privacy.

A gorgeous tailored tone on tone roman shade with valance offers privacy options

Ok, so sometimes I hear another objection to custom window coverings. What if I get bored with them and they have cost me so much? First of all, if you chose well you will not get bored too quickly because they look soooo good and perform well. I had this discussion a couple of days ago with a friend who purchased custom drapery from me about 8 years ago...she plans to keep the drapery but enhance it with fabric paint. Sometimes I suggest the client change the rod or the colour of the tiebacks.  I have considered the painted fabric idea for my home but I think I will add a band of fabric to my plain neutral drapery instead. I now want a bit more colour for balance to that side of my livingroom and I don't need to change my drapery...just add to it. My sewing workroom can easily do a perfect job of that. I will add a turquoise band to my perfectly good neutral drapery, possibly add button trim to the pleats, make a matching accent cushion and voila! I am excited about my drapery all over again for less than the cost of a pair of ready-made panels and with way more style. When I get this done I will post a picture. 

To summarize, I have a great selection of ready-made drapery to suit clients' needs and modifying them can make them a more versatile option.  There will always be times when custom drapery is the smartest choice to satisfy both style and function - I have a large array of samples to choose from. You'll appreciate the convenience of being able to explore the options with my assistance in the comfort of your own home.

Comments: 1 (Discussion closed)
  • #1

    Sandra (Sunday, 15 February 2015)

    Karen has been extremely helpful as a design consultant for our home,she takes the stress out of
    Pricey decisions and has actually saved us money with her design ideas and experience .
    I've hired Karen many times and have always been pleased with the end product.

    Sandra M

Remodeling and Home Design