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Advice for HomeownersBefore and AfterColour RescueDecorating Advice

Elevate Off-the-Shelf Curtains with this Installation Trick

By 09/21/2023October 19th, 202330 Comments

Are your windows feeling a bit naked? Maybe your room missing that sense of soft luxury? Run out and get some inexpensive off-the-shelf curtains.

Because, no matter what your curtains cost, there’s a super easy trick to making any curtain look upscale in your room. And it has to do with how they are installed.

Stay tuned for the magic revealed in this week’s Colour Rescue episode.

Table scape styling

My cousin’s Iittala votives, rescued from the window sill (below) and placed on a coffee table for everyone to admire!

Living room layout before

This weeks Colour Rescue™ happened in the new home of my Cousin Lea and her husband Roger. They recently moved to Edmonton. 

My Favourite Curtain Trick

At first, I thought this rescue was about furniture placement. That’s because the after was such a big transformation (as you’ll see in the video). But in actual fact, I ended up receiving so many comments on the curtains we installed in her living room and dining room.

So while this room transformation was full of styling magic, I realized that many of you needed to learn this curtain installation trick.

upscale curtains

Home Edit

Inexpensive, off-the-shelf curtains (installed CORRECTLY) made her row of small, narrow windows look like they were suddenly transported into an old New York apartment (see above).

Such a powerful decor trick, that anyone can afford.

sofa placement before

A Decorator’s Dream

This space shown below was on the other side of the living room. And it frankly just functioned like an oversized hallway/pass through into the kitchen area.

It was way too big to be a hallway but this space was surrounded by doorways and entrances, so it really couldn’t be anything else except. . . maybe. . . 

Front entry before

I had an IDEA! I realized what the middle of this room needed.

new entry rugMe and my cousin Lea!

This space was the perfect spot for a round table with some ottomans and flowers on the middle of the table. You know, the kind you see in magazines ALL THE TIME.

pedestal table with ottomans

CR Laine

It’s truly a decorator’s dream to have an entry big enough to do this with a round table. 

Pedestal table florals

Hamptons Cottages & Homes

The power of perfectly installed off-the-shelf curtains

Because these Colour Rescue™ videos are typically completed in 1-2 days, I’m always taking inventory of what’s already in the home that could work even better if it was restyled a bit.

As we were leaving my cousin’s home to go shopping, I spied what appeared to be a gate-leg table with a tablecloth on it downstairs.

It turned out to the the perfect size for this hallway area inside this living room. There’s a great story about the source of this table too that will make you smile.

Watch the entire Colour Rescue transformation here.



Related posts:

Colour Rescue: Create Styling Magic

Transform your Room with one Trip to the Store


226 pins


  • Penny says:

    Loved seeing those 2 happy faces admiring their home and what you had done. These practical videos are so good, there is nothing like this out there for people. If I were you I would send these to the TJMaxx headquarters. They need you as a spokesperson! Although, I must say, you have much better luck with purchasing “non-wonky” lamps there than I ever have.

  • LenaM says:

    Brilliant result and a huge improvement! One future little tweak: the empty space between the curtain rod and the top of the window could be filled with something like a coordinating window shade.

  • Liz says:

    Decorating fairies indeed! Very nicely done – and in addition to great decorating tips, it shows how to optimize a layout that is less than ideal. Kudos! 👌🏻🎈

  • Jo S. says:

    Loved the transformations! I’m wondering how to handle the patio door?? Add matching curtains? Same height as the new curtains? How should the patio door curtains open-to the left, to the right or split L/R? Thanks!

  • Lisa says:

    Another beautiful room! I love your round entry table idea with the ottomans for that dead space! Your room redos remind me of my home staging days. We “shopped” our inventory and created a little vignette for each room to make sure everything worked together. I never thought of it as a live mood board but that is exactly what it was!

  • Stacy says:

    I am the lone dissenter….I don’t like videos, so I didn’t watch. If what you did was hang the curtains high and wide, I like that in certain situations, but not all because it leaves a big gap of exposed wall above the window, which I think is often unattractive. When there is beautiful crown molding, I like it.

  • Jennifer says:

    Would you hang curtains the same way in rooms with coved ceilings? Hang them so the top of the curtains/rod is just below where the coving starts or something else?

  • Diane says:

    The table in the entry looks perfect and so pretty. I’m wondering about the purpose of the ottomans, will anyone ever actually sit there? Other than when they are filming a Color Rescue, of course!

    Not sure how high the ceilings are in this house, for ten foot ceilings would you hang the curtains all the way to the ceiling? They look fantastic in this room!

  • Kathi Steele says:

    It would be nice if you showed where the curtains hit the floor.
    But, I agree with the lone dissenter.
    Now you have a big ugly dead space between the window and the curtain height. Which is why many people use valances. They allow the curtains to be elevated and eliminate the dead space.
    In the example you showed, the space was filled with molding as was the area above the curtains. But, in her living room, there is just empty wall.
    Also, the table in the middle of the walkway is pretty, but, the “seating” underneath is too large for the table and too unfunctional to be used for any kind of seating. And, its in the middle of a not so large walkway.
    I would have done an entry table and mirror on the wall as you walk up the entry stairs. A great place to drop keys, etc. and a great place to check face, outfit, etc. on the way out the door, IMHO.

    • Maria Killam says:

      The ottomans underneath work perfectly for extra seating facing the small living room.

      Also, please remember the homeowner is reading the comments so it’s really not necessary to say things like “big ugly dead space above the window”. . . may I remind everyone reading to look at the before photos with the way-too-small-windows, again and ask yourself which space you’d like to live in.

      This is a one day makeover.

      Which means that there are details like ‘a valance above a window to fill the space’ that can be added later.

      These one day makeovers are designed to be relatable and give the homeowner without a designer an inspiring way to make their house look better. We spend a lot of time in our homes and now this home is so much happier to be in. Thanks for your comment. Maria

    • Ann says:

      I don’t think anyone uses valances anymore. That is a VERY outdated style! This is fresh and current and I don’t see anything that could be called ugly. An entry table would be great but it is so common and the round table is an unexpected idea. In the video it appears to not be in the way with a comfortable flow around it.

  • Robin says:

    What magic you wove!! Beautiful! Loved the video. So cute and charming. Those lower windows with the etching are an unbelievable way to let light in and views. All of it is just so pretty. Elevated and beyond! Lol. I loved it all.

  • Maggie S says:

    Maria, I love these quick makeovers- and I think the dissenters are missing the point. I might not like everything but it shows how to freshen up you home by adding the finishing touches that many of us forget to add.!!

  • Bette says:

    Your cousin and her husband seem so nice — in fact, your entire family is delightful.

    But I have to disagree with the room layout. Assuming the drapes are meant to be opened and closed, you now have to climb on the furniture to do so. Further, the round table completely blocks the natural path from front door to LR and kitchen. I would have used the non-door wall you face upon coming upstairs. I suggest doing what Stanford Univ is famous for — deciding where to put sidewalks by the paths students wore in the grass. In this case, putting a table in the middle of a pathway makes no sense. Finally, and this is just my own requirement, I do not like people being able to see into my house at night. The windows by the front door allow people to look directly up into the living room, which, when illuminated (by lamps, of course), provides a clear shot into the house.

  • Nancy says:

    I love the transformation! And I love the round table in that open space. Perfection!

  • Kim says:

    Great transformation. It’s amazing what some color, wall decor and “accessories” do for a space. I have a question that I imagine many others, at least in the US, may have. In our area, all houses 20-25 yrs or newer have at least 9 ft high ceilings. In our great room, they are11 ft high. I have never been able to find any ‘off-the’shelf’ drapes/curtains long enough for my 16′ long wall of windows. Do you have a source for affordable ‘long’ curtains? Like 108″ or longer? Same question for affordable LONG rods? Thanks for sharing this transformation.

    • Penny says:

      IKEA has several 118” long, sold in pairs at affordable prices online. I would check their rods, too.

  • JoDi says:

    What a beautiful transformation! The table and ottomans are such a special moment in this design! It was just a large, awkward, empty space before, and now it adds beauty and function while also creating defined walkways. Genius!

    The color you brought in with the curtains and art is just perfect here. It looks wonderful with the blue sectional!

    Do people really close their drapes anymore? LOL I have blinds on windows I want to cover. The drapes always stay open. Their purpose is decor not function. Based on the fact that they had no window coverings of any kind before the makeover, it seems likely that the need to cover the windows for privacy is not a concern in this space. I don’t think the concern about the sidelights on the front door is warranted either. Sidelights are always going to give people a view into whatever room is just inside the entrance. In our case, it provides a view into the kitchen and living room. Nothing to be done about it unless we cover the sidelights!

    It was fun to watch Lea and Roger’s obvious delight in their new space! These videos are a new favorite treat, and I look forward to each one.

  • Joanna says:

    I loved this short clip. Rearranging her furniture, adding some art, drapes hung wide & high (as they should be), and the round table and ottomans made a huge change. You & Tricia are stars at gathering pieces that will work in a short amount of time and getting to work creating a cohesive space.

  • Sarah says:

    Super helpful. I emailed you about curtains last week. I’m very glad you created this- thanks!

  • Anna says:

    To truly create the look of a larger window, you hang woven shades that go up to the curtain rod. Then you hang the curtains beyond the windows. I always do custom curtains that are lined and interlined and usually double width per panel.

  • Laura H says:

    Beautiful space makeover! The idea about being a spokesperson is excellent! I think Ballard’s in Austin, Texas would be a great place to have a mini conference! Hey, I live near Austin,Texas!!!

  • Lea Reardon says:

    Dear Maria,

    It is such and honor and so fun to see our livingcroom here on your blog. I can’t thank you enough for the transformation you created in our place. I absolutely love it.


  • JC says:

    I know this was a quick makeover, but what are the options for the sliding door near the dining table (if you would have had more time to decorate)? I have a similar situation and don’t know what to replace my vertical blinds with.

  • Kelly K says:

    My issue are my wonderful cats. If I hang curtains to where they can reach (or even use fabric blinds) they will likely get destroyed. I’m left with larger slat blinds that they don’t seem to bother for privacy/sun protection (I live in Texas and have an east/west facing house, so you do not want the sun streaming in 5 months of the year in summer). So I have those blinds, but my family room windows (and other ones) really would look lovely with drapes but… cats?!? Also, how do you handle windows that are grouped but with only about 4-5 inches between each window? Do you frame them with curtains (that you never plan on closing) on just the far ends to group them together? Or put panels between each as you’d have to do if you would close them?

    I also have a high, up to 18′ angled ceiling in the “dining room” (which currently is a where I stream online fitness classes so a dance floor is the only “furniture.” The other cousin makeover you posted that has the “art as wallpaper” would look amazing in that room but until I have furniture, it’s just empty. Do I go ahead and just turn it into a gallery type area (it’s small, like 11′ x 11′, so a lot of furniture wouldn’t fit anyway, but the high ceilings do make it feel bigger) without furniture, or wait? I could be using it a a fitness area (there’s no other room that will work) for quite some time.

    • Kelly K says:

      Oh, and none of the shots show how far the curtains should hang off of the floor? That would be useful to know!

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