Most would agree that eyes serve as windows into the human soul, offering insight into one’s personality and raison d’être. It might seem like a stretch to apply this same concept to the typical home, but windows — whether of the stained-glass, wooden-trimmed or low-E variety — all evoke a decidedly unique vibe when they are adorned with curtains. While this simple addition has long been employed to ensure privacy while buffering the effects of direct sunlight, somewhere along the way, homeowners and apartment dwellers became positively smitten with the visually transformative power of window coverings to not merely just address our practical needs, but also our desire to have a little fun in the process. As it turns out, shrewdly selected and arranged fabric swaths can take the basic rooms into the realm of design elite. Dress your windows in just the right way and you’ll be able to speak volumes about what really makes you tick without uttering a single word. No need to contemplate the damage that this seemingly whimsical décor distraction will inflict upon your bank account. That’s because you’re going to pull off an eyeball-popping window makeover using nothing more than other people’s unwanted trash. You know that our culture is locked in a perpetual acquisition and disposal mindset. Make the most of that sad reality by turning someone else’s lemons into your recycled curtain lemonade.
Create one-of-a-kind, no-sew curtains out of a vintage duvet cover or a bed sheet decorated with contrasting ribbon. Piece together small squares of random fabric for a country quilt feel, but be forewarned: This sewing project is best suited to those who are truly gung-ho about wielding a needle and thread due to the significant time commitment. Turn old aprons into curtains. Yup, you can do the same thing with dishtowels, too, not to mention thrift store “granny” smocks and button-down uniform work shirts! Jazz up old, humdrum curtains with reclaimed fabric strips gleaned from no-longer-worn clothing, trim the edges with repurposed designer fabric remnants or just enhance them with carefully applied paint. For those who shy away from complicated hand-sewn projects, take advantage of the built-in DIY power of repurposed shower curtains. Quickly cinched burlap coffee sacks with intentionally frayed edges are ideal for earthy-looking window valances — no sewing skills necessary. Broadcast your audiophile inclinations with a recycled vinyl record curtain, which is quick to assemble and offers an added light-blocking bonus. The plastic-based foam used to make flip-flops wears out rather fast, so rather than tossing your old beach footwear into the trashcan, transform it into colorful and irresistibly squishable curtains. Create a beaded curtain effect by adorning yarn strands of varying thicknesses with different shades of paint. Trace a repetitive pattern — such as circles, rectangles or stars — onto the flattened aluminum gleaned from multiple beverage cans. Using sharp scissors, cut each shape out and then create a curtain by connecting several circular, rectangular or star-shaped strands together. Then again, you could just hang loads of soda cans up in your window au naturel. Magazine paper beads offer a festive, rainbow-tinted option. Slices of reclaimed glass beverage bottles can make the metamorphosis into elegant, glistening curtains when strung together with clear, heavy-gauge fishing line, or for a far more post-modern pop-art feel, execute this idea with recycled plastic bottle caps. Kodachrome slides can form the foundation of a privacy-maintaining curtain that, during peak sunlight hours, will also create a kaleidoscope effect. Transform a canvas drop cloth into a customized curtain with the aid of stencils and fabric paint. Add graphic flair to your digs by turning a PVC-polyester fabric billboard into a full-length curtain. Reclaimed bubble wrap makes for an interesting window-shading choice, especially if you like the lace-like effect that it creates.