Affordable, Beautiful, and Functional Bay Window Drapes
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
I’ve never been a huge fan of drapes, mainly for practical reasons (allergies, dust, cleaning etc.), but after hanging drapes in our master bedroom, I am now considering getting them for our family room as well! Drapes can transform a room into a cozier and more inviting space. Of course, that wasn’t the main reason for getting them in our master bedroom! Read on to find out why…
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When my hubby and I first moved in to our home several years ago, we had to get new coverings for the bay windows in our master bedroom. I've always liked natural woven shades, so I decided to purchase these roman shades from Smith & Noble, and added privacy lining for each shade. My choice would have been great in most situations, but since our bedroom is east-facing, light and heat poured through the shades on spring and summer mornings! I had made a basic mistake of not getting light-blocking or blackout lining for my shades.
So, fast forward to the beginning of 2022, and I set about finding some affordable light-blocking drapes (and hardware) for our bay windows. I can use a sewing machine (just) but to sew four sets of wide drapes would have taken far too long and required greater skills than I possess (lol)! I also set myself a budget of $500 for the total project (drapes, rods, rings, and hooks).
I looked at photos of bay window drapes on Houzz and Pinterest. I read blogs (similar to this one) to get ideas about ideal height (above window frame and below ceiling), width, stack back, etc., and to find out how others had tackled bay window drapery design. If I could sew well, and had the time, I probably would have purchased IKEA’s RITVA drapes and then attached a blackout lining to them. In the end, I believe that I ended up with the best solution for my skill set and budget. I am also very fortunate to have a DIY-capable hubby who worked his magic on installing the rods and the bay window corner pieces. There are a few tips for measuring and installing the hardware and drapes later in this post.
My final product choice was a faux-linen drape from Half-Price Drapes on Amazon. They are affordable, great material, and come in a variety of colors. I read pretty much every review and looked at every photo I could find on Amazon! I then ordered two drapes (50” x 96”) one in 'Birch', and the other in ''Oyster'. In the meantime, I also ordered these drapery rods in two different lengths. Exact sizes and number are shown later in this post under Product List. My hubby installed the rods and adjustable corner pieces 98” above the floor (2” higher than the drapes to allow for rod width and ring drop). I prepared both drapes using the hooks and rings, and we hung the panels to check the drape height and to choose the color. The color decision was not an easy one because the 'Birch' color has a hint of pink, and 'Oyster' has a hint of blue. So, neither color seemed 100% perfect for my Benjamin Moore Classic Gray walls. In the end, we looked at both colors at different times of the day and night before deciding on 'Birch'. I eventually ordered 4 panels measuring 96" x 100" to cover all the bay windows. The drapes look really elegant in our master bedroom! They are also very functional, and truly light-blocking. They are not blackout curtains, but let’s just say it’s sometimes very difficult to tell whether it’s morning or not! They are also surprisingly insulating, from the cold in winter, and the heat in summer.
The drape fabric is weighty and hangs beautifully. When the drapes were first hung, they had a few creases from the packaging. Most of these fall out naturally, but there were some stubborn ones that needed a bit of persuasion! I remembered a few Amazon reviews where people had mentioned dealing with the creases with a garment steamer. I thought it might be useful to have a garment steamer, not only for this project, but for laundry in general. This is the one I found on Amazon, with great reviews, and it works extremely well.
Another tip - to block the light from coming through the gap between the window and the end of the drapes - add a small eyelet screw next to the end support bracket and use a hook to fasten the end of the drape to it. Your next hook will then go on the first ring, which is usually between the rod support and the end cap (or finial).
Our Project Criteria
It’s always a good idea to know what you'd like to achieve before starting your project. My criteria for the master bedroom project were as follows:
Affordable (my budget was $500 in total)
Good quality materials (as evidenced by excellent reviews)
Easy to clean drapes (machine-wash or dry clean)
Weighty material that hangs nicely
Light-blocking or blackout fabric backing or separate blackout liner
Neutral color drapes
Drape panel length 96”- 98"
Variety of widths available (50” and 100”)
Variety of hanging options (rod pocket, back tab, ability to use hooks and rings)
Adjustable, steel hardware rod, 1” wide and available in different lengths
Good quality matte-black drapery rings
Good quality (sharp) drapery pin-on hooks
Adjustable bay window corner pieces
Tips for Measuring and Hanging Rods and Drapes
Decide how you will hang the drapes, whether slightly off the floor, touching the floor, or puddled on the floor. We wanted our drapes to be slightly off the floor.
We have 9' ceilings in our master bedroom, so ceiling-to-floor drapes would have been 108". However, I wanted ours to be just below the ceiling, so I chose 96" long drapes, and to have the rod 10" below the ceiling.
My hubby recommends measuring floor-to-rod height rather than ceiling-to-rod height. This is because in our house the ceilings are not straight!
Add (if needed) additional inches to your floor-to-rod height if using rings and hooks to hang your drapes. Our drapes are 96" long, so we added 2” to our overall height, with the rod at 98" above the floor.
Make sure the rods are spirit-level straight.
Place drapery hooks about 1.5”- 2.0” below the top of the drape.
Once hung and steamed, you may notice that some drapes are higher off the floor than others. This is very likely to be an uneven floor issue (as it was in our case). Our master bedroom floor is not sagging but the bay window area is about an inch lower in the middle than on the sides. We decided to raise the rods by 1” to compensate. I also moved the pin-on hooks and rings slightly in some areas to make everything level to the eye.
HPD Faux-Linen Drapes in Birch - The link is to the 50" x 96" panels, but we actually purchased 4 of the wider panels (100" x 96), which are currently unavailable. Amazon Customer Service may be able to help with items that are currently unavailable. These drapes are very popular so they are often on back-order, rather than completely unavailable.
Ivilon Drapery Window Curtain Rod - End Cap Style Design 1 Inch Pole:
Urbanest Solid Metal Window Drapery Curtain Panel Ring with Eyelet, 1.5" Inner Diameter, Fits Up to 1.25" Rod, Set of 28 - Black x 2
Graber Heavy-Duty Offset Pin-On Drapery Hooks, 14 Hooks per Pack x 3
Anndason Heavy Duty Hinged Elbow Connector Curtain Rod Corner Connector Elbow Connector for 1" Bay Window Curtain Rods, Black Color, (Set of 2)
1"Small Eyelet Screws x 1 packet