Home innovation should solve real-life problems and make life better, focusing on the people, not simply the systems, inside. To demonstrate, we decided to build, furnish, and tech out our ideal house: the BHG Innovation Home. Check out these useful and accessible products and ideas.View Slideshow
Dress your windows in easy, casual style with these do-it-yourself window treatments.
You'll need two to four napkins per panel, depending on the size of your window.
Fold under 3 inches at the top of the napkin to create a rod pocket. Sew on five evenly spaced buttons, stitching through both layers of fabric to secure the rod pocket.
Pin a napkin to the bottom of the first one, overlapping it 3 inches. Attach the two napkins with five more buttons. Repeat for each panel until you reach the desired length.
To create this classic window treatment, mount swing-arm rods to the window frame at the top and bottom of the window. Measure the distance between the rods and add 12 inches to get the length of the linen panel. For the width, add 2 inches to the length of the rod.
Mark the fabric 6 inches from each short end and pull out the threads running across the width to ravel the fabric up to the mark. Hem the long sides with a 1/2-inch rolled hem.
Divide the fringe into clusters and tie them around the rods, keeping the rod close to the fabric edge. Trim the ends evenly.
Tablecloths from the 1940s and 1950s make cheerful valances. Look for bargain linens at garage sails, junk shops, and farm auctions for $5 to $35. Even damaged or stained cloths will work if you can cut them and salvage the good portion.
To hang the topper, simply loop the ends through holes in drapery brackets. These are architectural salvage, but you'll find new ones in the drapery departments of sewing and crafts stores.
A faux-silk scarf (approximately 20x90 inches) adds sheer elegance to this window. Look for scarves at consignment shops or thrift stores. Stitch earring hooks (for pierced ears) to one edge to hang the scarf from a decorative nail in the crown molding or window frame.
This type of treatment is best in a breakfast area, where the scarf won't be hit by splashing water or steam from cooking.
Bold painted stripes on an inexpensive vinyl shade make it a focal point for the kitchen. To paint a vinyl shade, carefully unroll it on your work surface and anchor it with something heavy.
Prime the shade with a shellac-base primer sealer designed for glossy or slick surfaces. This will help the paint adhere. Tape off a pair of wide stripes (ours start about 2 inches from each side).
Roll on latex paint with a foam roller. Remove the tape to reveal the white stripes.
Show off a collection of old-fashioned handkerchiefs by clipping them onto a curtain rod covered with a fabric sleeve or a ribbon wrap.
This type of valance could work over a sink because the handkerchiefs would be high enough to escape being splashed. Unless you have a very large collection of handkerchiefs, reserve this treatment for a focal-point window.
Add pattern at the window by stenciling a flat fabric panel that shows off every detail. Line the shade to make the pattern stand out day and night. Leave it unlined to let the sun filter through.
To stencil fabric, use water-base fabrics paints thinned with textile medium following the manufacturer's instructions. Wash the fabric before stenciling but don't use fabric softener.
Stretch the fabric over a plastic-covered work surface, secure the stencil, and pat the stencil paint on with a sponge, blotting off excess paint first on a paper plate.
Turn ordinary inexpensive vinyl shades into custom window treatments with stencils. Prime the front of the shade with a shellac-base primer sealer.
Roll on a white or cream background color, or just use the primer as your base. Use purchased stencils to apply a design that works with your decor. For vintage appeal, vary the paint coverage to suggest wear and fading.
For a more formal look in the breakfast area, use a length of new or vintage toile to make a curtain. A standard 54-inch width of fabric will cover a 26-inch-wide window. For a wider window, cut and piece lengths to get a width generous enough to gather in loose folds along the drapery rod.
Make a rod pocket at the top and hem the sides and bottom. Slide the fabric onto a drapery rod.
Pull the curtain to one side and hold it in place with a ribbon tied to a cup hook.
Fabric panels shirred top and bottom onto tension rods cover the bottom half of these windows to provide privacy. A long glass shelf rests on brackets in front of the windows, offering a clever and efficient solution for displaying collectibles and plants.
Note that when the double-hung windows need to be opened, the bottom tension rods can be released to lift the curtains out of the way.
Look for flatware and old silverware at thrift shops and garage sales. Bend spoons and forks into U shapes. Make a small slit in the curtain to slip the spoon or fork through, and hang the bent handles over the cafe rod.
Incorporate the curtain rod into the window topper by covering it with matching fabric. Combine a creative topper with plain panels to draw the eye upward toward the topper. This gives an illusion of height to the kitchen.
Here, ball finials are covered by hemmed circles of matching gingham fabric. Gimp ties the covers in place.
Instead of conventional tabs, use overall buckles to hang simple panels on a drapery rod. Look for the buckles at a fabrics store.
Make the tabs by stitching strips of fabric into 3-inch-wide tubes about 10 inches long. Turn each tube right side out and press it flat, then thread one end through the buckle and stitch the other end to the back of the curtain panel.
Sew the buttons to the front of the curtain about 1½ inches from the top edge.
Give purchased kitchen curtains personal flair by adding your own tab tops and ties. To make the tabs, fold 10x3½-inch strips of fabric in half lengthwise. Stitch into a tube. Turn each tube to the right side, and press. Turn under the raw edges at the ends, and stitch the ends closed.
Fold the strips in half and stitch the ends to the top edge of the curtain panel, spacing the tabs evenly.
Make ties the same way from 27-inch-long fabric strips. Center each tie over the end of a tab and stitch a ½-inch square in the middle of the tie to secure it to the tab and panel. Tie in a square knot.
If you don't need privacy at the kitchen window, try a tab-top variation that simply swags across the top of the window. Although it looks like one long piece, this treatment is really a series of double-sided oblong sections tied together over the rod with jute.
A treatment like this softens the window and can help reinforce your kitchen color scheme, but it doesn't block light and views.
Make the ties about 7 inches wide and twice the length of the window. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch along the raw edges, leaving an opening for turning the strip right side out.
After turning it right side out, press it flat and hand-stitch the opening closed. Loop the ties over the top of the blinds and tie them at the desired height.
For French doors or for windows that need decoration more than functioning shades, these flat shades are an easy, elegant solution.
Simply stitch two panels of coordinating fabric together and staple the top edge of the shade to a 1-inch-wide board painted to match the woodwork.
Staple pairs of ribbons to the board a few inches from each end. One ribbon in each pair hangs down the back and one down the front of the panel.
Screw the board into the top of the window frame. Roll up the fabric to the desired height and tie it in place with the ribbons.
Have an embroidery shop embellish purchased cotton cafe curtains, or do it yourself if you have a sewing machine equipped to do embroidery. You can also add words using iron-on transfers or create them with fabric paint and stencils.
Café curtains typically hang at the midpoint of windows and are paired with a valance. They provide privacy without blocking all light.
Though cafes are petite in size, they can make a big statement. These panels, made from a whimsical fabric and trimmed with bands of solid-color fabric, casually dangle from rings that are attached to the back of the fabric with drapery pins. Buttons glued to the pinch pleats add playful details.
Made from a vintage tablecloth, this softly draped shade resembles a London shade but is stationary. Simply fold the tablecloth over the drapery rod and use wide ribbons or strips of coordinating fabric to pull the ends into a loose swag.
Dress your windows in colorful style with an assortment of tea towels. Mix and match colors or use identical towels, stitching them together until you have panels long enough to cover each window.
Use Roman-shade tape from a fabrics store and follow the manufacturer's instructions to attach and thread the shade-and-blind cords. The top of each shade is stapled to a 1x2-inch board that can be mounted in the window on L brackets or with screws.
For a softening valance, stitch ribbon ties to a length of scalloped-edge dotted Swiss fabric. Loop the straps over glass drawer pulls screwed into the window frame.
Check hardware sections of salvage stores for drawer pulls that screw through the front; or use double-ended screws to attach pulls that screw in from the back.
To make curtains like these, cut and stitch tea towels or vintage embroidered towels to make panels wide enough for each window. Fold bias tape over the top and bottom edges and stitch it in place. Use the same bias tape to make the loops.