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DIY Curtain Rods (aka Curtain Pipes)

Now that our living room windows (+ 1 smaller kitchen window) have been dressed in shades, we were able to move forward with curtains. While Scott insisted he had grown to like the look of the clean, open windows sans curtains, I pointed out that not only would the curtains hide our speakers, but they’d allow us to add some extra height to that side of the room, balancing out our media wall on the opposing side. Here’s where we left off:

For a handful of weeks, we argued over curtains vs. none, until we came to an agreement that we could both get on board with. We’d move forward with the curtains, but we’d balance them out with an industrial touch; Scott would get a streamlined look, and I’d get the soft texture from the panels. For inspiration, we turned to the studio paper pipes. The plan? One giant pipe – à la these guys from West Elm (but at a fraction of the cost!):

We’ve mentioned that our living room window is over 100″ wide, so we picked up a 1/2″ x 10′ galvanized steel pipe and had it cut down to 112″ at Home Depot – leaving around 6″ on either side of the window for overhang.

In addition, we bought two 1/2″ 90-degree elbows, two 1/2″ floor flanges and two 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ galvanized steel nipples. They piece together like a puzzle, and we did so in the exact same way we made our paper pipes – see here for full details.

The above pieces would act as our curtain rod “arms,” allowing the rail to protrude from the wall far enough for our curtains to hang nicely past the windowsill. Depending on how far your windowsill sticks out (if at all), you simply purchase the appropriately sized pipe. In our case, once they were assembled to the flange and elbow, the “arm” would actually protrude a good 3.5″ from the wall – perfect for us.

Next, we added our curtain rings to the pipe, and screwed our “arms” to the ends. It’s important to put your rings on first, as you’ll be attaching your curtain rod to the wall in one piece.

Finally, and with a bit of weight juggling on our end, we anchored the flanges into the wall. (Again, we used the same method as the paper pipes – measure your curtain rod in place, mark where your anchors will go, and install! It really is that simple.) To be honest, it would have been helpful to have a third person, as our pipe was on the heavier side and a bit awkward.

Rather than clip our curtains right to the top of the panel, we got a little fancy and faked a pinch pleat by clipping behind the panel – genius! We used this easy tutorial to do so.

We sold our yellow-striped curtains at the summer yard sale (they didn’t feel like us anymore – hence the whole tweakscapade!) and replaced them with the Ikea Aina panels in gray. They’re the perfect balance of texture (they look a little canvas-y, but are light and crisp), they hide our speakers and they frame the windows nicely, don’t you think?

The best part of building your own curtain pipes is that this project is fully customizable. As we previously mentioned, our local Home Depot cut the 10′ pipe down to size, and you can mix and match pipe sizes until you get the look you want. For our 100″ window, we spent $30 on our curtain pipe supplies (even after tax, not including our curtain panels)!

As for the living room as a whole, we’ve come a long way from our original tweak-list (shush, we realize the list was made in July, but still):

Makeover our $2 chair. (Done!)
• Reassess the end table situation – or lack thereof.
Swap our venetian blinds for easy, breezy cellular shades. (Done!)
Layer in curtains to hide speakers and add warmth, texture and height. (Done!)
Replace our shaggy rug with something that fits our oddly shaped room. (Done!)
• Re-upholster the lovely chair. (Working on it!)
Re-work our current art display. (Ooh, we’re secretly done – details to follow.)

We’re getting there. So close.

There are so many ways to incorporate this simple project into your home – we love that a simple hook or clip can transform the pipe into a unique way to display art or organize pots and pans. So, what will you make?

PS: Depending on how wide your window is, you could even fake the look with cheaper conduit as your pipe (see this example), however, keep in mind that conduit is not as sturdy as the galvanized steel pipe. We wanted to avoid a middle support, so we went with the steel, and it’s super sturdy.

  • Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d - October 10, 2012 - 8:24 AM

    Love it all. I think you were right to want curtains. If nothing else, they soften the hard lines.

    Actually, I might like it so much because we’ve got something nearly identical in our living room, complete with gray canvas curtains: http://ourhumbleabowedblog.com/2012/08/07/i-just-dyed-in-your-arms-tonight/ Instead of clips, I sewed ribbon snap tabs on the back. Love the look of the pinch pleat so you don’t see the clips! Genius!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 10, 2012 - 6:40 PM

      Amanda, how did I miss that post? Love the way yours turned out!

      Terreur, the total cost for all the rod supplies came to just under $30.

      Thanks, everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Kyley @ Painting Pony - October 10, 2012 - 8:24 AM

    This is so funny, because back when you made the paper hanging rod I LOVED the idea. So I made my husband make me a set of them to use at curtain rods in our bedroom on the windows.

    I love the look of them! Plus the fact that they cost so much less then buying them from west elm is a bonus!ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - October 10, 2012 - 10:50 AM

    Great ideas and thoughts in curtains decor. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • terreur - October 10, 2012 - 1:12 PM

    I have been thinking about pipes about curtain rods for a while so it’s amazing to see it done, and beautifully too! i couldn’t figure out how to put the curtains on the rod while being able to take them off easily for cleaning, the rings + clips are genius! sometimes the answer is easier than we think haha. i love the pinched pleats!

    would you mind sharing costs?ReplyCancel

  • Marie - October 10, 2012 - 5:05 PM

    I really love your style, you’re absolutely fabulous !
    I think I’ll share your very good idea with my husband, we really need to work on this to redecorate our living room.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.ReplyCancel

  • Shannon @ Fabulously Vintage - October 11, 2012 - 9:11 AM

    The curtains add so much to the space – though the shades are also very lovely!

    I actually prefer the look of your curtain rod to the west elm one, plus I love the thriftiness!! Great job! :)

    Shannon
    Fabulously VintageReplyCancel

  • Jane @ the borrowed abode - October 11, 2012 - 12:59 PM

    Awesome! I love it. I used pipe in college as a curtain rod because I couldn’t afford a real rod. We thought we were so cute becuase we got copper pipe and then attached faucets to the ends :) Kind of dorky, but at the same time it did look pretty cool in copper.

    So this past wekeend Ryan and I were buying pipe and flanges for a few decorating projects, and we were dying over the names, like 4 inch black nipple (we were getting black steel) and then we had to buy insert nuts.
    Yeah. . . we felt very immature for laughing at these things. So I felt a little better when I started reading your post! :)ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin @ Desert Domicile - October 15, 2012 - 6:28 PM

    Love this! Probably because I too DIY’d a pipe curtain rod and hung gray Aina drapes on it in our loft! Great minds think alike :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 15, 2012 - 6:35 PM

    Ooh, awesome! We’re so great. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jess Lively - October 16, 2012 - 5:45 PM

    LOL!!!!

    Oh my gosh. I just went to your site to find the tutorial on this since I know you were doing it (I’m thinking about doing one and painting it gold).

    Lo and behold, you just talked about pinching the drapes like I just discovered on my own two days ago! I’ve been walking around all proud of myself for figuring out a better way to clip the curtains and here you have already beat me to it!

    I am sure we aren’t the first ones to come up with it either… but I was pretty darn impressed with myself when I thought it up. A bit of humble pie, huh?ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 16, 2012 - 6:32 PM

    Jess, you are too funny! I found the idea from another blogger, but I thought, it’s so obvious! YAY for custom curtain rods!ReplyCancel

  • Phred - October 18, 2012 - 3:05 PM

    Faking the pinch pleats? Genius. I’ve been tweaking my curtains for two years and you’ve solved my problem.ReplyCancel

  • [...] recently on a trip to Kim’s blog to find her tutorial on how to make your own pipe curtain rods for our bedroom, I discovered she and others had already beat me to the [...]ReplyCancel

  • RACHEL B - December 18, 2013 - 1:05 PM

    First time to your blog. I love this post, really helpful in inspiring me to put some curtains in my otherwise shades only windows.

    Curtain ShopReplyCancel

  • […] store or home improvement center will furnish you with all the materials you need. Head over to Yellow Brick Home for an easy-to-follow project […]ReplyCancel

  • Neema - April 15, 2014 - 12:10 PM

    Silly question… but since you needed your steel pipe cut down to fit your window, you could only screw one side in correct? Did you secure the other end some kind of way?
    They look great, and I plan to make some myself this week, but that part confused me a bit.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 15, 2014 - 12:57 PM

      Neema, not a silly question! When they cut the pipe down for us, it’s also threaded. So it’s not just a harsh cut. The guys at Home Depot will thread it for you automatically!ReplyCancel

  • Liliana - November 27, 2014 - 4:18 PM

    Love this! Can’t wait to make it to see how it is for the woven blanket I have of my pack :)ReplyCancel

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