You've redecorated; the furniture is perfect, the rugs are down. But the windows are gaping undressed and the budget is blown. There are ways to finish off an elegant room without spending a fortune or remortgaging the house -- and they range from simple valances to floor-length drapes. Some of the fabric can come from the attic, and some from the hardware store. All you need is a smidgen of creativity and a curtain rod.
Cheap cheesecloth doesn't look cheap when it becomes simple, filmy curtains that diffuse light and the view to soften windows. Just cut unbleached, not hemmed cheesecloth about 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet longer than the window, attach a curtain rod to the top of the window frame and drape the cloth over the rod, letting the loose end hang down from the top in front like a valance.
Dust Sheet Drapes
Canvas dust sheets are long, linen-like and cheap. For dramatic drapes in a neutral shade that will complement antiques and hand-hooked rugs, sew or pin tabs on the top edge of the dust sheets and hang them on a curtain rod over the window. The dust sheets come hemmed -- if they are too long for the space, trim at the top, fold over and stitch a "sleeve" to slip over the curtain rod. You have instant, floor-length drapes that can be repurposed as real dust sheets in your next home, once you can afford raw silk and velvet window treatments.
Hang a length of natural linen, wide enough to cover a window. Near the top of the window covering, insert a metal grommet dead centre. Run a cord through the grommet, down the front of the linen panel and up the back. Pull the cord just tight enough to lift the bottom of the linen panel so it forms a "fan" and reveals some of the view and a lot of the light beyond the window. Tie off the cord for an elegant window treatment that acts as a privacy screen without plunging the room into shadows.
Use old saris, Indian lengths of silk, to hang from curtain rods or drape over the rods as valances. Saris are plain, vibrant colours, hand-embroidered or bold panels of fabric, usually silk, that are translucent in the light but still provide privacy. If you don't have some stashed in the attic, hunt in the Little India sections of big cities, look online or check flea markets and thrift stores. Run a hem along the top of a sari and just thread it over a rod for an instant drape. Use two mismatched saris for a pair of drapes in a neutral room. Tie big, loose knots at both ends of a sari and drape it over a curtain rod so the middle hangs down in an arc and the ends are "finished" on both sides of the window. Use bamboo or paper shades on the windows beneath the sari drapes and valances.