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Custom Drapery for the Living Room

You know how when you watch Sarah Richardson (of Sarah 101 fame) she always manages to find some beautiful fabrics and have throw pillows and custom curtains made? Well, I always wonder: Is that actually a realistic option or is that just something designers can not only know how to do, but also, afford to do.

In the end, I decided to find out for myself. I mean, why not, right? I’d already taken the leap into throw pillows, so I’m practically a certified interior designer now (please, all interior designers, know that I am joking and only wish I had your talent!).

I turned to where I usually turn to for inspiration in these matters — blogs, of course! And I’d noticed some fellow bloggers had been hiring a company by the name of Tonic Living. Rambling Renovators, as example, shared the drapery she had made for her master bedroom and I felt mighty inspired! And Little House Blog spoke very highly about her experience having curtains made for their nursery room.

So off I went to order some samples. That’s how it works, this custom drapery business. You order fabric samples for $1 a piece and select from there. I’d liken it to selecting a paint colour based on a tiny paint sample chip. It feels a little nerve-wracking.

I need window coverings for virtually every room in our home (we moved in a little over a year ago), so I might have gone a little crazy on the samples. But I couldn’t help it! Honestly, there are just soooo many fabrics to fall in love with from Tonic Living. No mortal human could resist. I swear. (They aren’t all showing in this image. There’s about 25 in total.)

Fabric Samples from Tonic Living

Both Hubby and I immediately fell for a fabric by the name of Gate Stitch, Expresso. But clearly, we are blessed with champagne taste (despite our beer budget!) because at $33.95 per yard, it was not exactly the least expensive one of the bunch. However, we did want beautiful drapes that we would have for ages and ages. And it is in our front sitting/living room. (Ahem, I am quite good at justifying expenses – ha ha!)

Anyhows … here is how the fabric swatch looked held up against our newly painted Benjamin Moore Cloud White walls.

Gate Stitch Fabric and Cloud White Walls

Like I said, the process was slightly nerve-wracking, but Tonic Living walked me through the whole thing gracefully and really seemed to care that I was going to get the absolute best final result.

After some back and forth, Hubby and I decided on the “hidden back tab,” as shown in this Tonic Living photo below. This raised the cost by about $95 but it meant we’d also avoid having to buy rings, which run about $55-60 for a set.

Hidden Tab Drapery

All up, here’s how my order ended up shaking out:

  • Fabric = Gate Stitch, Expresso
  • Window Width (the window only, not the overhang width) = 108 inches
  • Complete window width of rod = 114 inches
  • Length (from rod to grazing the floor, this leaves a 3/8″ clearance from the floor) = 91.5 inches

This totalled $365 per curtain, including both labour and fabric, for a total of $730. The cost of fabric alone was about $390 (both curtains) so if this total cost does not suit your budget and you have your heart set on custom drapes, fear not, it’s definitely possible to create them at a lower cost just by changing up your fabric choice.

I’ll be the first to admit it was not a “cheap and cheerful” choice. But I have not lived to regret it! They have arrived and even though our current curtain rod is not long enough for this wall space, I will show you the finished result. (See how they just graze right above the floor — I love that!)

Custom Drapery from Tonic Living

Okay, so the room itself does not look so grand. But use your imagination — on the left, that buffet from my parents’ basement will one day be replaced with a piano since Stella has really taken to her piano lessons. And on the right, I will have a dedicated reading nook. I’m thinking a big lounge chair with foot stool, and a large standing light.

What I love most about these curtains, besides how easy it was to pick and order them in the first place, is the texture of the fabric. It’s a colour and design that I’m certain we won’t ever grow tired of and it will blend in with whatever we end up finally furnishing this room with.

Gate Stitch Drapery

Next up in terms of priorities on the home decor front are: (1) sorting out a closet solution for Stella, (2) dining room chairs for the dining table that Hubby has almost finished building, and (3) yes, more custom drapery — I’m thinking of this Damask fabric is the way to go for our dining room — thoughts?



  1. ErinMarshall says:

    You’re so fancy pants. I love it.The In-Laws brought home some nifty flooring samples in the past few weeks. Together – M-I-L, F-I-L, Jason and I – we chose a ceramic for the bathroom, a ceramic for the kitchen, and a hard-wood looking laminate for everywhere else. Jason says he’s going to start working on laying the laminate this weekend. He’s going to salvage the existing laminate in the bedrooms to relay in the basement family room – which I use as a playroom when I babysit TheNiece and TheNephew and as an office in the afternoons and as a TV room the rest of the time.
    We need curtains in our bedroom, but first we need the new flooring, and paint, and bed linens – I doubt that I’ll be able to negotiate new linens, it’s been less than 4 months since I last bought a duvet cover and shams. 

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @ErinMarshall I know, just call me Julie Fancy-Pants from now on! :) Oh, just listening to all the decisions you’ve been making (and all the people involved) makes me feel exhausted! But it sounds like you are making major progress. It can feel so overwhelming sometimes, eh? But we are taking it one step at a time and saving up for each item as it comes. No need to rush. 

      • ErinMarshall says:

         @coffeewithjulie  I still thinks it’s fantastic that your hubby is making furniture. Future heirlooms for your family to pass down from generation to generation. 

  2. These are the amazing designs and resource on the curtains. I really enjoyed being on your post. I am glad I visited here.

  3. great choice!

  4. I really hope the resource you shared will help me in enhancing the look of my home interiors with the help of your guide. I really enjoyed your article.

  5. naturally like your web-sitebut you need to take a look at the spelloing on quite a few of your posts.
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  1. […] first discovered Tonic Living through a post by Ottawa’s Julie Harrison about her custom draperies. Jennifer at Rambling Renovators and Lindsay of Little House Blog have […]

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