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Dapper drapes

Local experts emphasize importance of curtain hardware

When it comes to curtains, the supporting hardware may come as an afterthought. But local experts remind drape shoppers that while the hardware may come last, it's definitely not the least.

Often, the hardware from wood to wrought iron, can end up being a significant part of the overall price tag.

"Costs for hardware can range from $100 to $1,000," said Shari Schoenecker, designer at Interiors & Textiles in Palo Alto. "The hardware can end up costing more than the fabric."

This comes as a shock to many people, she said, and clients often don't realize how many options they have.

In the company's Palo Alto showroom, customers who walk past Schoenecker's desk can see more than 10 finials, which are decorative ends that can be added to curtain rods. Then, as they continue through the showroom, she points out sleek, metal rods with a more modern look; lined cord; a classic baton with rings; brass options; wood choices; and more.

"The options are almost endless," she said. "That's why we help clients narrow it down."

Schoenecker has been in the business for more than 35 years, starting with a high school job that sparked her interest in the industry. She works with staff at Interiors & Textiles to gauge the customer's style and needs, including practical things like dimensions and light needs.

"We have thousands of books with samples to help people pick something for their home," said Alyene Daggett, an Interiors and Textiles design assistant.

Once the customer's needs are narrowed and draperies are chosen, hardware is the last piece of the puzzle.

The curtain rods alone can range in material from metal to wood or wrought iron. Each of these options are all customizable, with orders taking about 10 to 12 weeks for delivery, she said.

When it comes to opening drapes, she said, pull rods are preferred nowadays over "old school" strings that pull curtains open. For the tech savvy Bay Area customer, it's also possible to get motorized draperies.

Schoenecker said the company Hunter Douglas has been an industry leader in motorization.

"It's still in the infancy stages," Schoenecker said. "It's still high end and not every one can do it."

Andrea Brownstein, owner and interior decorator of Drape Designers, has seen the same tech trend in her time in the Bay Area.

"The limit on motorized rods is budgetary more than anything," she said.

The benefits of motorization can be seen in bigger, taller windows, Brownstein said. The motor allows for easy opening and closing of the larger heavy drapes, or it gives the option of opening drapes for a set of six windows all at one time.

One obvious key to curtain hardware is functionality. The rods and brackets need to be able to support the weight of the drapes, so they usually need to be 1-to 2-inches in diameter.

She works directly with clients to ensure the curtains not only work but also match their style. This can boil down to having wrought-iron rods painted to match even small details, such as drawer pulls.

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This article appeared in print in the Spring Home + Garden Design 2016 publication.

Freelance writer Brenna Malmberg can be emailed at brenna@brennamedia.com.

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