Custom Drapes: Hip or Hype?

Curtains were born out of necessity, providing separation from the outside world and protection from the elements.  As architecture styles shifted and building materials advanced, curtains were no longer needed for protection but stayed a staple in the home. Curtains have evolved from cow hides to linen and eventually cotton, silk and lace. They are still useful for privacy and regulating sunlight- providing temperature control which translates to lower energy bills, but are best known in American homes as a decorative accessory.  Custom curtains allow you to personalize your home, putting your unique style on display. Many people avoid custom curtains due to assumptions about cost because, as part of the social construct, they have long been a sign of wealth – a way to quickly assess one’s home and categorize the occupants into social classes. In some ways this still exists, as many higher end homes utilize custom curtains whose price can be prohibitive to the masses. However, Wendy Williams, President of Anatol’s Fabric Outlet, says “There’s a fabric solution for every budget.”  With that in mind I asked Wendy to answer a few other questions for our readers.

 When should we invest in custom curtains and when (if ever) should we go the  pre-made route?

“We always advocate for the custom solution.  However, there is a personal investment from a time perspective.  If I were assuming a short term lease I might consider the pre-made solution.”

COVID has turned many into online shoppers, what tips do you have for consumers shopping fabric online?

“The majority of our business is online.  We always advocate for samples.  It allows the customer to appreciate the fabric in their lighting conditions.  Every customer is viewing the fabric on-line from different lighting sources, monitors, phones, or other devices, which brings about great discrepancy in their online experience.  We always recommend a monitor that has been calibrated for color. but that is an unrealistic expectation for the average consumer.  Our trade customers understand how the calibrated monitor can move their process along more quickly.  Fabric weight and construction can give a hint to the hand of the fabric, but we always suggest the sample.”

You mentioned curtains are an investment – what is the most classic shape of curtains/drapes that never goes out of style?

“Ripple folds, tailored pleats, and inverted pleats can always be found in any design environment.”

There are millions of prints and colors available – when designing a room, how do you mix and match to get a well decorated room without being over the top?

“There isn’t one answer to this question.  I’m more subtle in my preferences.  Designers typically choose the focal point in the room and make choices that draw the eye to that piece or place.”

For homes with an open floor plan how much (if any) should kitchen and living rooms drapes and fabric match/coordinate?

“Open floor plans can be a little trickier for the timid or first time decorator.  Matching or coordinating solutions are both viable but the choice really revolves around other design decisions.  The focal points of the spaces and how “open” the floor plan is both play significant roles in that decision, as well as size and location of windows and doors.”

How much time and labor goes into making curtains?

“Simple curtains of a nominal size could be completed in an afternoon.  More sophisticated designs and unstable fabrics require master level skills, great attention to detail, and much more time to complete.”

How has this DIY culture and reality TV changed your industry and customer base?

“We appreciate the ambitions of our DIY clients.  Some of those tutorials can be found on common sites like YouTube or TikTok.  We always recommend a little more fabric and a lot more time for those new projects.”

If customers want to make their own curtains what style would you suggest that is easy for beginners?

“A simple panel solution is a forgiving structure that can build confidence in neophyte drape makers.”


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