One of my favorite parts of decorating any room is deciding on the curtains. Windows are definitely one of the most important architectural features in a house to me (the bigger the better!) and I love for my windows to look pretty.
When we were house shopping, one thing that really drew me to this house is the giant (giant) windows throughout it. Downstairs, the windows are practically floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall in the living and dining room!
These windows have the potential to be fabulous, but they aren’t doing us any favors when they’re naked.
However, there was one major problem – do you have any idea how expensive it is to purchase curtain rods that are 12 feet long? I’ll tell you right now – it’s more than I’m willing to pay! So naturally, Corey and I did what we always do in these situations: we decided to make our own.
I did a little research and quickly learned that there are not many people out there who have attempted to make DIY curtain rods – and most of the people who have tried it have done something that isn’t really our style. So basically, we were on our own here.
I love it when that happens.
Thankfully, our creative muscles are strong and we came up with something that we think is pretty perfect…for a whopping $30 for both windows!
Ready to hear how we did it?
After lots and lots of browsing at Lowe’s, we ended up deciding to go with electrical conduit to make the curtain rods – it’s super cheap, comes in a variety of thicknesses, and has a nice, industrial look to it so we wouldn’t even have to do anything to the finish.
No idea what those are? Yeah, me neither, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
We decided to purchase 3/4″ conduit for no other reason than that it was the one we liked best. They had 1/2″ and 1″ as well, so you could really go with whatever size you prefer – just make sure all of the hardware matches your size and you’re good to go.
After measuring the windows (plus adding on some length on either end so we could hang the curtains wider than the window, making it look even larger), we decided that we wanted 12 feet of curtain rod for the window behind our couch, and 8 feet for the front window.
Of course, conduit only comes in 10 feet lengths, so that meant we were going to have to do some cutting. We wanted the rods to be identical and it just so happened that our lengths worked out perfectly for us to just buy two lengths of conduit have a seam in the middle of each – we cut each one right at six feet, so we ended up with two six foot pieces and two four foot pieces.
Lowe’s couldn’t cut the conduit for us, but thankfully Corey just got a reciprocating saw for Christmas that came with a metal-cutting blade! They sell plenty of tools that can cut the conduit for you, but most of them will run you about $20 – which technically speaking, isn’t much at all. But since Corey had the saw already, we were able to just purchase a super cheap hose clamp from the plumbing aisle to help keep the blade straight. You know we’re all about saving money!
This is what the hose clamp looks like on the conduit – we just measured the conduit at six feet, marked it with a Sharpie, and put the clamp on before cutting:
And after cutting we had this:
So now we had four pieces of conduit that needed to be pieced together to make a two actual curtain rods. This is where the coupling comes in. Here’s what it looks like:
It’s insanely simple to put together. Just put one length of conduit in one end and tighten the screw, then do the same on the other side. And then, you have a curtain rod (almost)!
At this point, the only thing missing to make this look like a real curtain rod is finished ends. Because conduit is used to run electrical wires, it’s hollow in the middle and has holes at the ends – we wanted it to look a little more finished. We talked about actually getting finials for the ends, but we couldn’t find any that we liked (or that were cheap enough for our “keep the price as low as possible” budget). So, we found some caps for the end (they’re technically called knock out seals) and plopped them in.
The only weird thing to keep in mind about the knock out seals is that you have to get a size smaller than your conduit in order for them to fit. I’m not an electrician so I can’t explain why (and I’m sure these things aren’t really even intended for what we did with them), but all I know is we had to buy 1/2″ knock out seals to fit into our 3/4″ conduit.
We’re really glad we went with these rather than an actual finial – you can barely even see them once the curtain rod is hung – it just looks nice and finished. And extremely simple, which is exactly what we were going for.
At this point, we were finally ready to hang them. We wanted to hang ’em high and wide to maximize the visual size of the windows. It sounds like a silly concept, but this little graphic is my favorite way to show how big of a difference it can make:
We measured and marked a spot for the rod based on how long our curtains + curtain hooks were (we’ll get to that in a minute) and I climbed up on the stepladder to hold it in place and make sure we were happy with the location and the way it looked.
Once we were sure we liked how it would look, it was time to hang it! One thing to keep in mind if you tackle something like this is to make sure you put your curtain rings on the rod before hanging it – the rod sits very close to the wall and can’t be taken out nearly as easily as traditional rods, so you’ll want to have the rings already on it and ready to go as soon as you’re done hanging it!
To get our curtain rod on the wall, we used two-hole straps. I have no idea what they actually are, but they look like this:
An important thing to remember here is that you’ll need two straps in the same size as your conduit, and one that is a size larger (so, for example, we used two 3/4″ and one 1″ strap on each curtain rod). The reason for this is that you’ll put a strap on either end and one in the middle – and you have the coupling in the middle of the rod, which adds some bulk to the middle section. Thus, you’ll need a bigger sized strap.
From here on out, it’s easy – measuring, screwing in the straps, and hanging the curtain rod!
We ended up using curtain rings with clips (similar to what we used, ours were on clearance at Ikea) to hang the actual curtains – I wasn’t about to actually sew grommets into the curtains, and this was the easiest (and cheapest) alternative.
We chose the fabric for our curtains several months ago, but seeing the full panels of fabric (rather than just a tiny swatch) in my house was beyond exciting – and a little terrifying. It’s an incredibly bold pattern and combination of colors, which is more than a little intimidating.
But I had spent several hours cutting, ironing, and sewing all that fabric into curtains, so I wasn’t about to back down at this point.
Thank goodness we fell in love once they were up on the wall.
We’re pretty blown away by how much they bring all of the colors in our living room together. The orange ottoman fits in beautifully with them, and they add some (MUCH needed) pattern and fun to the room.
We’re also really happy with how the rods turned out – they have a little bit of an industrial feel, but mostly, they’re just incredibly simple and fade into the background, allowing the curtains to be the star of the show.
Yup, I think I like ’em. This project was quick, simple, cheap, and it turned out beautifully. My favorite kind of DIY project! I’m kind of inspired to make DIY curtain rods for every room in the house now…too much?