HIGH/LOW DESIGN. I’m sure if you’re a design lover like me you’ve heard of the concept. Using knockoffs and DIY projects to make your space look like a million bucks, even if you’ve only spent a few hundred! Every month HGTV magazine does a high/low spread which shows high-end furniture/décor and then similar looks for a fraction of the cost. You may even have seen The High Low Project on HGTV, hosted by Sabrina Soto, where homeowners challenge the designer to create their dream room within their budget. Sabrina manages to pull this off even though she learns the homeowners’ budget after creating the high-end look of their dreams!
Photo via HGTV magazine
I’m a believer in the high/low method. I usually spend my money on key items, like a solid piece of furniture or a great area rug, but scale back my spending on items that can look great with a little creativity and effort. One element of a space that can get pricey if you aren’t careful is the window treatments. Custom window treatments are priced sky-high. Likewise, creating your own curtains using fabric from a fabric store can end up costing an arm and a leg once you realize how many yards of fabric you need! This is especially true because in order to get the correct width for your panels you will need to purchase upholstery fabric that comes on a bolt 52″ or longer, contrasted with the more common bolt size of 44-45″. The larger bolt typically equals a higher price.
But never fear, there are ways to create your own custom look without breaking the bank. I decided to create my own custom curtains for the nursery on a dime. Playing off the colors in the rug, I selected a whimsical Otomi fabric from Spoonflower.
If you’ve never used Spoonflower you are seriously missing out! It’s an online retailer that has thousands of unique fabrics created by graphic designers and other artists. You can find literally any design of fabric on this website. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for you have the option of creating your own! Never fear if you are a person who is very tactile and hates shopping for textiles online. For a small fee, Spoonflower will send you swatches of your desired fabrics as well as a little booklet that includes the pricing and printable width of each type of fabric offered.
The fabric I chose is called Mexico Springtime: United Love and you can find it here. There were a few reasons why I selected this fabric. First, the colors were perfect for my gender neutral nursery design. There is just the right mix of masculine and feminine colors for the fabric to go either way. The colors also look great with my flatweave Ballard rug. The neutral gray background also gave me another jumping off point for elements to incorporate into the nursery, including my subtle polka-dot ceiling. Finally, I simply love Otomi!
The animals, especially in this color palette, scream nursery without being too Old McDonald had a farm-y. I didn’t want to have a themed nursery, but I did want to have some playfulness and Otomi was the perfect fit! While I can appreciate the current trend of a sophisticated nursery in monochrome tones, that just isn’t me. If I’m making a room for a kid, it will be FUN and it will be COLORFUL! It also will probably be a little bit weird.
I contemplated making full curtain panels out of this fabric but decided against it for two reasons (1) the rug is already really busy and I thought the floor-to-ceiling Otomi would be overwhelming and (2) the price. This fabric costs $36/yard, which adds up when you need to buy about eight yards to make adequate length curtains!! Again, this is supposed to be a “low” project. My decision was to purchase one yard of the Otomi fabric, which I would cut into strips to sew across the top of standard panels. Lucky for me, Target had the perfect shade of turquoise panels. Threshold of course!
The panels, the rug and the Otomi make nice friends. It’s a beautiful thing when a plan comes together!
Maybe I’m biased, but I’m a big fan. Let’s rewind so I can show you how I (we) did it.
Believe it or not, I don’t have a sewing machine. My mom brought hers when she came to visit so she helped me make these. She basically did all of the hard labor.
1. After giving everything a good press with the iron, we turned the printed fabric face down against the curtain panel. We measured down from the top of the curtain panel the width of our printed fabric plus a little extra so that there would be enough fabric to sew the top seam. The printed fabric was then pinned into place. After the printed fabric is sewn to the panel you’re going to flip it over so the sewn edge will be at the bottom of your printed fabric panel. As a result, you must remember to make sure that your fabric is laid out so it will be upright once you flip it over!
2. My mom sewed the printed fabric to the curtain panel, removing the pins as she went.
3. After sewing, we had a nice clean line along the bottom edge of the underside of the printed fabric.
4. We flipped the printed fabric over and pressed the seam flat with our iron.
5. After flipping and pressing the fabric there was about an extra inch of fabric peeking over the top of the curtain panel. We folded this over twice to create a smooth seam along the top of the panel.
6. We folded and pinned the fabric all along the top of the panel. To keep your folds smooth and tight, use a small ruler to “iron” your fold down by scraping the flat edge of the ruler over the folded fabric as you pin.
7. We sewed along the top folded seam. After the printed fabric was secured to the panel at the top and the bottom it was time to sew the sides. There was about 2 inches of excess fabric on either side of the panel.
8. As we did with the top seam, we folded the fabric over twice to create a smooth seam down each side, pinned the fabric and sewed it up!
Then we did it all over again for the second panel! The first one took much longer because we needed to make sure our measurements were exact. Once we had all of our measurements written down it was easy to buzz right through the second panel.
Matt was on curtain duty once again. He hung them for me using a Martha Stewart curtain rod we had left over from our old house. I also picked up two packets of curtain rings from Lowe’s that match the brushed nickel finish on the curtain rod. Since I purchased standard 84″ panels, the curtain rings give about two more inches of length allowing the rod to be hung closer to the ceiling, which creates the illusion of a higher ceiling.
Notice in my before/after picture that because the curtains are hung high and wide around the window frame the window doesn’t look any smaller with the curtains. Since this is a baby’s room and sleep is encouraged, I am going to install a roman shade before the little one arrives. I’ll probably get something similar to the faux bamboo shades we use elsewhere in the house.
I love the final product. The small strip of Otomi fabric added just the right touch to the curtains, giving me a custom look for a bargain. The total cost of this project was just under $90 – $50 for the two panels and $36 for the yard of Otomi fabric. My mom provided the labor for free. hehe. If you are sewing machine-less like me and don’t have someone who can lend one to you, the no-sew iron strips available at fabric stores would also do the job for you.
I just realized that I’ve been blabbing on and on ignoring the elephant or, rather, the bull in the room. For those of you curious about my faux bull head, it came from HomeGoods. This guy has been quite controversial amongst my friends and family. Some think it’s super cool and others think it’s super scary. It’s paper mache covered with coiled magazine pages, giving it a rainbow effect. I think it’s badass, works perfectly with the animal print Otomi fabric and adds just the right touch of playfulness to this corner of the room. Only time will tell if baby Bates is terrified by it.
If you’ve been following along with my nursery updates, you’ll remember my chalkboard stripe dresser that I DIYed for Target week of the Inspired Design Challenge. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally decided this was the best place for it. But I’ll talk more about the layout of the room once everything is in place.
Next I’ll be tackling this corner of the room. There’s a big empty space that needs filling and a big brown dresser that needs updating! Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come in the nursery!