Venetian to Roman

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the stu-stu-studio, and shame on us for never officially showing you the final outcome! Yes, you’ve seen one half of the room when we debuted grandma’s chair, and you saw the other side when we installed our shelves, but the room as a whole? (Crickets.) I kept telling Scott, just one more tweak!, because in my mind, the room was never really complete. Well, we’ve been tweaking for – what, a few months now? half a year? – and over the weekend, we finished the last big task for the room: the window treatments!

Years ago, we installed plain, white venetian blinds. They were a steal on Overstock, likely because they were nameless, plastic imposters. They’re fine; we’ve never thought much about it either way. But after transitioning the room from dark blue to pale, pretty pink (and painting everything from the ceiling to trim, installing chair rails, a fauxdenza and new lighting and laying down a new rug), we were ready to rid ourselves of these:

Originally, I had dreams of lush, velvet curtains, draped ceiling to floor. I pinned my little heart out, debating between gold, grey and blue. But as I told my friends this idea over dinner, they immediately nixed any further thoughts, reminding me that, um, we have cats! And a dog! And that’s a lot of hair just waiting to suction to my non-existent curtains.

My thoughts turned to faux-silk (me = thrifty), and Scott and I bounced around the idea of DIY pipe rods to mimic the paper pipes on the opposite wall. We quickly realized that the home made rods would stick off of the wall a good 3″ (at least), and dare I say again – this room is a teeny, tiny 8’x10′, with only an 8′ square for usable area. Thinking I’d be stuck with the blinds, I had a change of heart when we saw these roman shades at West Elm:

A-ha! I could have my privacy, keep my precious inches, control my natural light and bring in texture and softness with fabric! It was a win-win-win(-win), and even better, Scott liked it too. Unfortunately, neither one of us was a fan of the $170 price tag (although admittedly, they were thick and durable), so I locked the idea to memory then took to Pinterest for any sort of DIY tutorial – and immediately, I found this one from Jenny at Little Green Notebook.

In summary, her instructions turned cheap, $3 mini blinds into roman shades with few supplies needed – and most importantly, no sewing required! I triple checked with Scott, but we figured that although our blinds weren’t of the super cheap variety, they would still work – and if anything, they’d be a bit more sturdy. We picked up 2 yards of white drapery fabric and decorative trim from our local hobby store, and we made these:

You’ll notice that our decorative trim is at the top of our shade, when the original goal was to apply it to the bottom. We’re still not sure if it was user error (never!), but when we pull our shades up, the bottom flap is no longer exposed (see the West Elm shade, above). I think if we had added an extra slat towards the bottom it would have allowed for a bit more fabric “hang down.” After a mild freak out on my end, Scott assured me that the peek of trim at the top was still good; he promised.

Regardless, the overall process was pretty simple, but I will admit that we each had to read her instructions a few times to make sure we were on the right track. If anything, we learned that there was a bit left to our interpretation, including what was considered the front and the back – in our case, we applied the fabric to the front, so that our lift cord would be hidden behind the panel.

We followed her instructions step by step, and again, you can find Jenny’s write up on Little Green Notebook. After installing them, there may have been a happy tear (or two) shed when the fabric folded in perfect, lifted waves. We chose a mid-weight fabric, but as you can see, the white allows for our slats to show when light filters through. This doesn’t bother us one bit, but keep this in mind if you’d like to give it a go.

And now, we think it’s safe to say, the studio is done! As for my day-to-day workflow, it took me some time to ease into (I spoke of it briefly right here, among red lipstick and other things!), but now? I love it. I love it to the moon and back. Being in this room makes my heart sing. This clearly means I have a date with my tripod, and final photos are in order. Soon (please and thank you).

Has anyone else attempted their own version of roman shades? Hell, I’d be impressed if you sewed your own curtain panels – you know how I feel about those scary machines. Can we see?

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  • I love the trim at the top! It’s a fun detail.ReplyCancel

  • Liliana6.27.12 - 10:25 AM

    I really like how this came out Kim. I had seen the tutorial before, and wanted to give it a try. However, my lack of patience stopped me from attempting this diy project, and I instead purchased roman shades from JCP pretty cheap after sales and free shipping = ) While I’m happy to have the privacy, I do not like them much.

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~ L.ReplyCancel

  • Alexis6.27.12 - 1:16 PM

    I’m ready to redo my sewing area and was thinking of making long curtain panels to hang in front of the window instead of the hideous blinds that live there. Now I’m wondering if roman shades would be a better option, maybe with pom pom trim at the bottom…
    Thanks for the link and inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Dave Coates6.29.12 - 7:03 AM

    Well done! We made our own set of roman blinds and decided ‘never again’ once it was completed. It was a fun experience, but it just takes waaaaay too long. It’s actually more worth my time to work a few more hours and just pay someone to do it. We prefer to focus on the manual labour items like drilling, scraping, painting and leave the sewing to professionals (or our mothers ;))

    Love what you’ve done with your house by the way. Well done!


  • Bella2.26.13 - 6:26 PM

    WOW,,, love your new shades.
    I too have that tutorial pinned, and have been contemplating giving it a try. We have the same blinds as you, the thicker, not $3 ones, and I wasn’t sure how it would work.

    Thanks for giving it a try, and by the look of things, it looks GREAT!!

    How have they been holding up? If you want to wash them, is it possible?

    SO glad I stumbled on your blog today, what a treat!

    Have a wonderful day, and stop by anytime to say hello if you can.
    P.s. After coming back from an extended blogging break, I’ve started a 40 day challenge to get HEALTHY by my birthday. If you get a chance to check it out, I could sure use the support!
    Hugs, Bella :)
    Bella’s 40 Day Challenge ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.27.13 - 8:32 AM

    Bella, thank you! They’ve held up great, but I haven’t had a need to wash them yet. I’m sure they’d be fine with a little spot cleaning if necessary though!ReplyCancel


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