If there’s one thing you can guarantee when you move into a house that hasn’t had much love for a while… it’s replacing curtains and rods. Even more than old floral wallpaper, curtains seem to really date a house and clash with everything that you want to put in it!
Our house had a mixture of floral, 90s and plain – all of them pretty awful and ready for tearing down. Curtain tracks and fittings included. I actually washed and kept one of the floral ones, as I don’t mind the fabric – just hated it hanging from a curtain track. I like to keep pieces of the original house and repurpose them in a way that I prefer – it adds to the story and keeps a place interesting I think.
We lived with this mismatch of curtain ugliness until we got some crisp white roller blinds, and then down they came! But I refuse to call windows dressed without some “proper” rods and curtains – they look like a person missing their eyebrows.
I began with a couple of quotes from the usual window furnishing suspects. I don’t remember much from that experience other than one quote for a curtain and rod for just the french doors… $1000! …Now I do know that is not actually unreasonable and plenty of friends have swallowed similar costs in renovating and building their own houses. But… I like to make life difficult for myself in the name of doing this reno on a strict budget, so I immediately switched my brain to DIY mode. Starting with the rods.
There are loads of blog posts out there on DIY curtain rods. Some of them pretty elaborate, some definitely not my style, and others quite simple and modern. I started with this one, but then just worked with the best options available in NZ.
So… here goes the boring bit about sourcing parts, expenses, and getting them ready for hanging.
I started at Bunnings, and browsed the electrical and plumbing sections, which is where steel pipe and appropriate fittings seem to be in the US. I couldn’t find anything particularly useful there though… There was some galvanised tube in the back where you get steel channel and angle bits (technical name?!) but it would have worked out more expensive (although stronger) than the lengths of curtain rod available. The two standard diameters for curtain rods and fittings are 16mm and 19mm. I went for 19mm, for strength and because the 16mm would have looked a bit insignificant hung high on our 2.7m walls.
The 19mm galvanised pipe was $30.76 for 3m as compared with the same length of curtain rod for $38.05. But with having to prime and paint the galvanised pipe it would have worked out more in the end. So if you’re happy to go with the standard finishes available for the curtain rod, this might be your best option.
My problem was I had seen a sample of “Anodized Pewter” from a curtain rod manufacturer, and after that Satin Chrome or Wrought Iron just weren’t right for me. Sigh!
With Andre able to get a trade discount we ended up taking a small gamble on some raw steel pipe from Easy Steel (Fletchers). Raw steel does rust very easily, so Andre thought there might be some chance it’d have a few spots of rust on arrival, or at least need to be rust proofed right away.
It arrived in pretty good condition and we stored it in a dry place until I got to priming it. I used an enamel one called “Motortech”. As long as it’ll work for raw steel and keep the rust at bay it’s good.
My options for end caps and brackets ended up pretty limited. NZ seems to have veered right away from steel plumbing or electrical fittings and brackets – most of the bits were plastic. So I didn’t find anything that I could use that would have looked any good, and especially at a price to make it worthwhile. So back I went to the curtain department to pick up the only non-ugly end caps/finials and the only brackets that would work for us.
They came in satin chrome finish, so I was up for sanding and painting those too.
The “anodized pewter” finish I’d seen was a graphite kind of colour – charcoal really, but with enough of a sparkle in it to keep it from being a flat grey. It was my choice because it made enough of a statement (a room needs eyebrows) but not so much that it was all you notice in the room. Plus it tied in with the concrete floor and darker tones in the kitchen, alongside the dining area, where the rod will be most noticeable.
I’d pinned some coloured rods on my Pinterest boards as a fun option for the bedrooms, but decided to keep some uniformity for now!
So that was my next challenge… I searched online, I tried the Guthrie Bowron trade store, who special ordered some paint in for me. I tried the car painting place who made my custom spray paint for the kitchen pendants but their prices had skyrocketed. Then Andre suggested looking at Repco to see what standard colours they had available for auto touch ups. Voila!
At $18.49 a can it wasn’t cheap (and I ended up needing 3 cans) but still cheaper than the custom option, and I got my perfect colour. Yes! (I can’t remember the colour name but the brand is Duplicolour and the code at Repco is DSN24.)
I did find it hard to get a finish that wasn’t patchy (a fourth can might have helped for one last go over) so don’t look too close if you come and visit!
Now for the cost breakdown (note we got trade discount on the pipe, and curtain caps and brackets):
Steel pipe (EWR 19 x 1.2) 3 lengths of 5.5m = $94.98 (incl $30 delivery – pick up wasn’t available)
End caps (9 pairs) = $85.05
Brackets (11 pairs*) = $87.78
Spray primer = $8.89
Spraypaint = $55.47
Grand total = $332.17
*For the three longest rods we used a centre bracket, which is why I needed two pairs more than the number of rods, and we were left with one bracket over.
So after a few weeks of priming and painting at moments when dry weather and kids sleeping aligned, the rods and bits were ready to hang.
Apparently hanging curtain rods is a DIY job that “everybody hates”. In this case “everybody” means Andre. So it took some convincing to get around to it, but he ran out of excuses last weekend with rain and cold meaning deck demo and other outdoor jobs were on hold.
He was pleasantly surprised to get all but the two smallest rods in the kids bedroom hung in a bit over an hour, finishing off a couple of nights later. And I’ve thanked him profusely many times since!
Pictures…. next week. Really sorry about that but I’ve exhausted my blogging energy already with collating prices and months old photos for today’s post. And we’re hungry…
Have a lovely weekend!