the great curtain dilemma


First, please look past any clutter you see on our room divider, and keep your eyes up. Um, yeah. See how that curtain rod is all crooked there? It’s because we didn’t anchor it properly (thought we had a stud), and now it’s coming out of the wall. Sigh. So of course I’ve been thinking about curtains and curtain rods a lot lately. Our living room is one big room that used to be two (as you can see by the ceiling). Now it’s the entire front half of our house, most of it comprised of windows : one huge picture window, a smaller window, and then a clerestory window on the side. As you can see, we have had the curtains all hung at the same level, and even though the windows are all different heights, we also have the curtains at the same length (right now it’s “puddling on the ground”).


Instead of just hemming the drapes and fixing the rod, I’m thinking of changing things up completely. Since we were lucky enough to get a house with fairly high ceilings, I’m thinking we take the rods to right below the crown molding and really accentuate our ceiling height. And even though I love our patterned sheer/curtain combo from IKEA, this post at Retro Renovation has me thinking a more traditional pinch pleat curtain is the way to go for our 1961 rambler. And better still, I’d like to cover those pinch pleats with a groovy cornice box running along the entire front wall, like this one in the poorly scanned photo above from the Winter 2010 issue of Atomic Ranch magazine. I can even see that cornice box working with our current textile situation nicely.


Or I could go modern-industrial, as it’s nice to mix it up a bit, and Mary’s conduit curtain rod suspended from the ceiling would be a fantastic option. And since I was fortunate enough to be in the room for it’s installation, I have a pretty good grasp on how to do it myself (though I bet I could ask the expert for a hand). I’m even thinking that a copper plumbing pipe DIY might be a nice look… Thoughts? ‘Cause it’s obvious I need some help! — Megan B.

Center image by Nancy Nolan for Atomic Ranch.

From our partners
Sarah L.

I like the cornice box. Would not have thought of it for that style. Would you do one spanning across both the windows though or separate?

Megan B

I think I’d want to do one long cornice box with one long rod, so that it unifies the two separate spaces. I think I could construct a simple box and use some sort of cool mesh to make a DIY version of that cornice box. I dunno. I love it, but I think it’s gonna end up being too much work. I have a feeling we will see a long copper plumbing pipe curtain rod…

Mary T.

I like those pinch-pleats — they look so tidy. I actually really like the way draperies look, but I’m too much of a nut for any light we get living here, so I can’t bring myself to cover up our windows more than they are currently. I like being able to pull things far out of the way. since you have the height for it though, the cornice boxes would look cool and tidy. I’m not sure about unifying the whole space, though — I love the idea of it, but since you’re dividing the rooms now, it might not feel right.

Megan B

I know, Mare. I don’t want to build the whole entire thing just to hate it completely. The rods are going just below the molding and out about 2 inches on either side tomorrow. Something about Mark seeing the horror of our LR on the interwebs sets him into action!

Megan B

And Mary — the thing I love most about your conduit rod is how you can pull the curtains totally out of the way. It’s why I’d consider it for our place, too. But I can’t stop thinking about that damn cornice box.

The beauty of pinch pleats on a traverse rod is that they really ARE easiest to open and close. To my eye, they are so tidy, as well. I am sure those are pinch pleats under the cornice in the photo shown.

p.s. As I discuss in my post, paint the traverse road the wall color — and it blends right in. Easier than a cornice.


have you ever thought about hanging with curtain tracks instead of rods? takes away this issue totally. i don’t know my way around a hardware store, but i bought mine at … just a suggestion!!