Window Coverings On A Shoestring

Last summer, we put a window in our dining room, for free. Last week, I put a curtain on it – a project that cost us a total of $10. We love how it all turned out, and I thought I’d share the details.

Until we put in that window, our house only had two south-facing windows. One average-sized window in the kitchen, and one tiny window in the laundry room. The laundry room is isolated from the rest of the house, so that window only brings light into that small room and the hall that leads to it.

But the dining room had a big south-facing wall that was begging for a window, and we had talked about putting one in ever since we bought the house. We had planned to buy a used window at the recycled building supply store. But then I was out going to some garage sales in June with my mother in law, and we noticed a really nice window leaning against a wall at one of the garage sales. I went to check the price and saw it had a big “free” sign on it. Sold! We loaded it up, tied the back hatch of our car shut, since it didn’t quite fit, and slowly drove home.

My parents helped us install the window, which was a huge bonus. We got it installed in one day, and then I spent the next few evenings staining and varnishing the wood around the window, patching the drywall, caulking, and painting. It’s been six months now, and we love that window. The dining room feels so much more bright and spacious with all that extra light, and it brings in a nice warm sunbeam on cold days.

At first, we didn’t put up any sort of window covering. The window faces our side yard, so privacy wasn’t really an issue. But as fall headed into winter, and the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, we found that we were getting too much sunshine in the dining room during lunch – it was shining right in our faces when we were eating. So I went on a mission to find a window covering.

I found a simple white curtain at Goodwill for three dollars. Then I went looking for a way to hang it. New curtain rods are pretty expensive. I looked for a second-hand one that day, but didn’t see any that I liked. So I stopped at Home Depot on the way home and bought a 3/4 inch dowel and a pair of café rod brackets. Those set me back a total of seven dollars.

When we got home, I rubbed some stain and polyurethane onto the dowel, and then our son helped me mount the rod on the wall above the window, like this:


It works perfectly. At lunch, when the sun is shining straight onto the table, we close the curtain. And at night, we close the curtain. Otherwise, we leave it pushed to the side during the day, and it’s very unobtrusive.


That little bench in the picture above was another free find. A neighbor was moving a few years ago and set out a bunch of free stuff on the curb. It’s a perfect place to keep all of our winter boots, right by the back door and out of the way.


I like that the curtain is white and not too thick, so that when we close it during lunch, plenty of light still comes through it.


Last month, I wrote about the frugal curtain I made – from a sheet – to divide our basement bathroom and the under-stairs storage area. And next month, I’ll be installing a curtain in our new basement guest room. For that project, I got the curtain at Goodwill, the rod at the used building supply store, and brackets on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond (the whole setup was $20, but it’s a bigger window and everything is a bit fancier). Apparently we’re on a frugal curtain roll around here!

Hope you all had one great holiday weekend, with another one coming up. Happy New Year!

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