Installing DIY Roman Shades

I have been battling myself over whether or not to add some kind of treatments to our windows.

On one hand, I love the look of naked windows. The lines are clean, uncluttered, and so bright. But on the other hand they are not great for privacy and they are so bright.

We have four (count em, 4!) large-ish windows in our master bedroom and since we are still doing the bedsharing-with-two-toddlers-on-the-floor-bed-thing, I decided we needed to add some fabric curtains or shades to help darken the room at bedtime a little better.

I recently DIY installed roller shades to all our bedrooms, and I really like how they function and look. I chose to not add valances, so they were a little exposed and unsightly. Adding some pretty roman shades as another layer of window treatment would cover up those rollers as well as add color to the room and block out more light.

I tackled the two larger windows first.

Here is what they looked like before:

You may notice the broken window on the left. I don’t want to talk about it. 😂

I decided to attempt DIY Roman Shades because they were different than any curtain I have used before, and since they don’t hang down to the floor all day they will likely stay cleaner. (Our old white curtains in our first house were so gorgeous but got so dirty!)

I did a ton of research on how to make these shades. I read lots of blog posts and watched plenty of videos. There is a lot of information online that can teach you how to make your own roman shades. I won’t be posting a tutorial but here are some good tutorials on how to make DIY roman shades to inspire you:

A Butterfly House – How to Make DIY Roman Shades



Here are a few things I did differently on my shades:

  • I didn’t use dowels on the back
  • I used some regular leftover string I already had instead of buying nylon cord, and it worked fine.

and the most important item to note:

  • I left the wood cornice exposed!

I love that I did this. I think it looks really good. Every tutorial I have seen tells you to wrap the wood with your material and staple it to the front. Well I stained the wood and stapled the fabric to the back and it is very pretty. My husband even said:

“Wow, it looks like you bought those”

best husband


The only problem with the exposed wood was that I had to somehow attach the wood without screws being visible. In most of the tutorials I watched, they screwed the wood in from the bottom and the curtain covered it all up.

I bought some little 90 degree corner brackets and attached them to the back of the shade on both sides. They then had to be screwed into the window frame.

It was slightly difficult to get the drill behind that small space. But after I figured it out, it worked fine and seemed sturdy.

(installing the first shade was really tricky since I had to hold it myself while driving the screws in, I only lost my cool a few times but the second window went much smoother.)

Here you can see the back of my shades with the rings sewn in rows 12 inches apart (we have tall windows).

The other issue I had to tackle was the long strings hanging down. I wish I could have made cordless shades, but this needed to be as cheap as possible. I purchased some electronic-cord holder 3M command strip thingys and made some DIY blind cord-wrap-winder-holder-things. Make sense? (Update, the word I was looking for was ‘cord cleat’.)

Why didn’t I just buy some cord cleats? well, because I thought I was going to install them that very day. I didn’t want to wait for a stinking amazon order to arrive. A few weeks later when I finally installed them, I realized I should have just bought a real cord cleat…. bummer. They work fine, its fine.

With the curtains totally closed, I clipped the strings pretty short and added some beads to make a handle. I salvaged these large woods beads from a second hand necklace. I knew I would find a use for them years later.

The beads look very cute, even though they are hidden, I love them. They totally make the curtains! Here is what they look like wrapped up:

Since I didn’t use dowels on these shades they are a little floofy when you pull them up but that’s fine with me, this is a rustic floofy farmhouse we live in.

Lets talk about the fabric

I spent about a trillion hours looking at different fabrics on Etsy and and Mood. I thought I wanted something more neutral (and grown up?) but I finally realized that no, I am a yellow flower girl and that’s just the way it is. I can droll over those Pinterest photos all day, but my house will never feel right unless it has yellow curtains.

I finally found the right fabric on It is just quilting cotton so I added a white layer behind it, with an additional black layer in the back to block light. The yellow color is more warm than the photos make it look. It is not a bright crazy yellow, it is a little softer, a bit of mustard.

The two large windows got the warm yellow with tiny white flowers, and the two skinnier windows will get the white flower fabric. I think they go well together and the wood cornices will tie them together. Kind of fun.

Here is the view from the couch where I am currently sitting with the shades closed. Now I have checked off two DIY boxes, re-upholster an entire couch, and make your own roman shades!

The curtains are still pretty wrinkled. I will have to get a steamer.

When fully raised, the shades have 5 layers of folds.

Note about that ampersand on the wall: it is cardboard! I painted it and distressed it similar to the method I used on this table.

I am excited for the next two windows, I think they will go well since I know what I am doing now! Let me know what you think!

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