How to Paint Curtains

I am in the midst of changing my family room color scheme from black, red and aqua to gray, aqua and yellow.  My first step after painting the walls was to tackle the windows.  I knew I wanted to let in more light so I settled on bamboo shades which was a perfect solution.  However, I needed curtains to soften up the lines and give us privacy when necessary. Painting plain curtain panels allows you to get the exact design and color you want.  I always seem to have a hard time finding curtains that I like.  I searched around looking for striped curtains. I was inspired by the Crate & Barrel Alston Panels for $99 a piece. So they were either way out of my price range or not long enough. I decided to customize some plain curtain panels from IKEA by painting gray stripes on them.  They look amazing and totally changed the look of my family room.

how to paint curtains

Inspiration: Crate & Barrel Alston Ivory/Gray Curtain Panel – $99 each.


I purchased two Merete panels at IKEA for $24.99. That is a steal! They were 98” long so I just hemmed them down just a bit.  I used a gray colored flat paint (Stonewall Jackson) from Dutch Boy.  I like using DB for this project because their paint is generally thinner which soaks into the fabric well.


curtain panels (mine is the Merete bleached color from IKEA for $24.99 for two panels)

1/3 gallon of flat paint (Stonewall Jackson – Dutch Boy)

foam roller and tray


tape measure

Scotch Blue tape

plastic to protect floor

long straight edge (I used a piece of MDF)

knee pads (trust me!)

1.  I started out hemming the curtains.  I hung the curtain rod first (Allen + Roth Brushed Nickel Curtain Rod from Lowes) and then marked the length and sewed them up.  IKEA makes it really easy and includes some iron on hem tape in the package but I like to sew them.

2.  Next I laid the curtains on the plastic.  I determined I wanted 5 grey stripes so then I did some math.  I decided each of my stripes would be 9 13/16”.  I also wanted to begin my stripes after the grommets with the dark stripe first to draw your eye up.  I started measuring from the grommet hem down marking 9 13/16” on both the left and and the right side of the curtain.

measuring curtain stripes

3.  Next I taped the grommet off by placing the tape right on the stitch line.  Then I used a straight edge piece of MDF and laid it perfectly on the first mark left and right.  That allowed me to tape a straight line.

taping stripes

Tip:  If you are taping off the stripe that will be painted lay the straight edge board’s bottom edge on top of the line.  If you are taping off a stripe that won’t be painted the straight edge board top will sit below the line. (See photo below)taping off stripes

4.  Burnish (press hard!) the tape onto the curtain before you paint each stripe.  With a white foam roller roll the paint back and forth to saturate the fabric.  I usually went back and forth 8 times each pass to really get the paint saturated into the fabric to make sure it was opaque.  I also worked in about a 10” section at a time.

painting stripes on fabric

5.  Remove the tape right away. I usually painted two stripes and then removed the tape from one of them so the tape didn’t sit long and give a chance for bleeding.

removing tape to reveal stripes

striped merete curtain

6.  Let them dry and then hang them up.  When they are hung you should be able to see any spots that need touch up.  Roll in the same direction and pressure to touch the paint up.

touch up painted curtain

gray and white curtains

striped curtains

striped gray curtains

Next up is the paint my red lamps yellow!  What do you think?  Do you think you’d take the time to paint your own curtains?

Here is some colorful painted striped curtains I did as well.

DIY striped and painted curtains

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  1. They look amazing! I am not sure I would have thought to paint plain curtains. Super job and great tutorial.

  2. They turned out wonderful! My painted curtain extravaganza a few months back was a bust……I must have painted the stripes at least 3 times (a dark tan also inspired by the same Crate and Barrel curtains!)and every time I hung them up they looked splotchy and horrible. I love how yours brightens up that wall. Great job!

  3. I want striped curtains so bad! Yours look wonderful. Our bedroom is a little too floral for my husband (i thought it would be neutral-ish because the main colors are brown and blue, but apparently not) and I though wide and bold striped blue and brown curtains would add a bit more masculinity to the room. But finding them on a budget has been impossible. I have keeping my eyes open for the right blue or Brown curtains, but no luck yet…

  4. I’ve been trying to get up the guts to do this in my dining room, but with black and white stripes. I love your results! Guess now its time for me to bite the bullet and try! Thanks for the tips!

  5. Yours look soooo good! I did this last year also with IKEA panels and I love them…but, on mine the paint bled through to the back so they look bad from the back side….I can see you didn’t have that problem…is there anything you did to prevent that from happening?

    • You want them to bleed through and saturate the fabric all the way through so it doesn’t look splotchy on the back if you fabric is thinner. So my guess is the paint didn’t soak in enough on yours. Which IKEA panels did you use? The ones I used the fabric was pretty thick so i didn’t have any issues with bleed through.

  6. I absolutely would – and have plans to do something very similar in pattern and color for my son’s room. I already practiced on my wall 😉 You did a great job. I live in the country with no neighboring homes within view so I don’t have many window coverings – but I’ve been contemplating them for a long time. I love bamboo shades as well and think they are the perfect backdrop to a soft curtain. Love the look you achieved!

  7. Beautiful job, Beckie! I love that you didn’t settle or give up on getting what you wanted. I think I might do this type of project if I was in a similar situation. Love these and you can’t beat the price difference from your inspiration drapes.

  8. I had no idea you could paint curtain panels. This is amazing! Now I want stripes on all of the curtains in our house. 🙂

  9. I love these! Question though – are your curtains stiff or crunchy? Just curious since you were using regular paint and not fabric paint.

    • They are slightly stiff but I like it because they lay nicer because they have a little bit of body to them. You could use fabric paint or a medium but I have found that using a textile medium makes them less stiff but it is still stiffer so I opted not to put it on because I didn’t wan to add to the expense and didn’t mind stiffer curtains.

  10. They look awesome!!! I’ve been waiting to see how you did this every since you posted that teaser on FB. 🙂
    Can you believe I found Gray curtains (target brand) at Goodwill? I was thinking of painting them either with stripes or a stencil. Thanks for all the tips and inspiration!!!

  11. I definitely would have never thought of painting curtains, but I also wondered if your curtains are now stiff? And are you able to wash them, or how would you go about cleaning them?

    Looks great!

    • Yes they are stiff but not crazy stiff. They actually hang nicer because it gives it more body. And yes I can wash them when painted with latex paint.

  12. They look great!! A couple of questions – did you wash them before you painted them? AND it seems as though you did not need to use the additive to your paint for fabric?

    • Marg – I did not prewash them. And I did not add any textile medium. The only reason for textile medium is to make it less stiff. I can totally throw these in the wash with the latex paint on them.

      • Marg Joyner says:

        Thanks for the reply Beckie! I haven’t had time to read your blog today, but it looks like you’ve posted many tips on painting fabric…yeah for you!! Love, love these curtains and will be painting stripes soon. Looked at at the Merete curtains – did you buy the whitewashed or the cream ones? They look white, but know that colors on the computer can be off.

  13. I have the exact ikea curtains hanging up now and was also inspired by the crate and barrell ones. I just haven’t dared try it yet. Yours turned out great. I have the same question about being able to wash them now? Did you add anything to the paint? Thanks for the info. Great job!

    • Yes you can wash them but no I did not use any textile medium. Anytime you paint latex on fabric it is washable. The textile medium only makes it less stiff.

  14. jen @ Tatertots & Jello says:

    Beckie!! Your curtains turned out AMAZING!! LOVE them my friend. Perfect stripes!!


  15. These look great Becky! I love how you used MDF to get straight lines! pinning!

  16. I am planning on doing this and was wondering what color panels you have. The IKEA website says they come in beige and bleached (white) and I wanted to know which you have. It’s always hard to tell in pictures! The look awesome!

  17. I can’t even believe how great these look! I bought some white curtains from IKEA also and I was just thinking that they look a little boring. I think I just might try this!

  18. What?? No more red and aqua?? When did this happen?

    • It started about a month ago. I was wanting something lighter and airier. I get morning sun and my noon it felt so dark in here. So I am lightening it up. It will be fab I promise.

  19. Beckie, you did a great job on the curtains, and I love the colors you have picked to re-do the family room.

  20. Wow, dare I say that great minds think alike?! You are such a creative inspiration, and I am always in awe of your work!!

    I literally have three painter’s canvas drop cloths in my garage with painted horizontal black stripes! I’m hoping to finish tomorrow so I can hang those bad boys in my hubby’s man cave!

    Love reading your blog! You are amazing!

  21. Your curtains look great, Beckie! I have drop cloth curtains in my bedroom that I’m still trying to decide how to raise the oomph factor. I love your tip about using a piece of mdf for a straight edge. 🙂

  22. christina s says:

    I cant seem to find the curtains… I see Merete curtains but they are $49.99 on the site. Did you recently purchase these curtains… i wonder if im looking in the wrong spot on the website?! We recently moved and i plan to make curtains, to hopefully save a little money.

  23. I love the idea of painting the stripes on plain curtains. I also love the bamboo blinds and am thinking about getting some for my large living room window…where did you find yours and how much were they?

  24. hi those curtains look great!!! congrats i know u said they are only a little stiff but i was wondering can you close them all the way? i need new curtains for my living room and those are perfect, but i would need to close them at night.
    thanks for your help

  25. They are beautiful and the stripes so perfect! What is the brand & color used on your walls? I also have bamboo blinds (Walmart ~$25 for 36″ wide) and love them! I’ve lined 2 of them and have plans to do the rest for privacy, but would really like to add curtains…stripes or a stencil would be perfect. Excellent tutorial, thank you!

  26. Hi Beckie, quick question. Do you think if I used black it would have the same effect as your gray?? Im worried about it bleeding through on my curtains. Do you have any thoughts/ideas on this. I am going to do the same things as you, even down to the same brand paint. Just questioned using the darker color. Thank you for your time and fab curtains!!!

  27. They looks beautiful, Beckie! I did some just like this last winter and love them: ! And my sister did them in her family room as well: . I don’t envy you having to paint so many panels though – I only had to do two! =)

    • Hey girl I just saw you in the Christmas edition of BH&G…congratulations your house is gorgeous! I saw yours before I painted mine and I love them. I actually hadn’t seen your sister’s love those! The measuring is by far the worse, the painting part is so easy. And what a great impact on a room huh?

      • Yeah, the measuring is indeed the worst! Your idea was genius, though! I wish I had thought to do that. I used my little 18″ metal ruler and slowly kept measure piece by piece and thought I might literally go insane. I want to make another set for my living room so if I do I will have to do it how you did!

        Hope you had a nice Halloween! I can’t believe it’s already November – ahhh! =)

  28. lovely! pinning so I can do the same, thanks!

  29. As soon as my curtains come in I’ll be doing this for my son’s room. I plan on dying the curtains grey with Rit Dye. Have you had any experience with painting on fabric that has already been dyed? Also have you tried putting the curtains in the dryer after you washed them or do you let them air dry?

    • Amanda, I have never painted dyed fabric but I don’t see why you couldn’t. I did not put mine in the dryer I just let them air dry since the paint dries so quickly.

  30. I have some thrifted semi-sheer drapes I would love to try these on. My biggest concern would be that the paint would bleed past the tape line on the other side. So by burnishing the tape, that will ensure no bleeding?!?!? Oh boy, I am so nervous and anxious at the same time to try this.

  31. Thank you so much for this post, I just made some curtains with aqua stripes and they turned out great! Much appreciation!

  32. Would you reccommend using white paint on dark fabric? I have dark green curtains that I got from Target that I’d like to add white stripes to. What are your thoughts?

    • You can do it but I would test it first. It is going to take a few coats of paint to really saturate the fabric and you might not like the look. I have painted red fabric with white stripes and I was happy with it but I put a light first coat on it to soak the paint in and then added two more coats.

  33. Does the paint crack at all???

  34. I am interested in doing this with the same curtains but use navy paint. Do you think I’d get the same results with fabric paint?

  35. I love it! Thank you for such great directions. My Ikea curtains are purchased, hemmed and ready to go. One question… Does the paint bleed through to the back? Is that the goal or are the Ikea curtains thick enough to prevent it?

    • They are so thick that it doesn’t bleed through the back actually. They really the perfect fabric for it.

      • It worked!! It did take a lot more paint than I thought. I hung them and they were very splotchy so I took them down, re-taped, and continued to paint. I ended up towards the end (because I was running out of paint) adding a little water to the mix, about an ounce or two, and I think that helped the curtains absorb better. For those who asked about a fabric medium, I added it to mine and I’m not convinced it did anything. I agree that the paint adds nice body to a once flimsy curtain. We use ours for a sliding glass door. Thanks so much, I wouldn’t have tried it without your directions!

  36. Hi! Pinterest led me to you! I love the stripes on your curtains. We just bought our first home like Friday! And we are in and unpacking. We have 2in white blinds which are great but I want to soften up with curtains. I thought I wanted a pattern. Our walls are a funny sunset beige neutral which was great for showing but now that we are living here and seeing it all the time… All I think is my entire living room dining room front room hallway and even our master is this bad spray tan beige orange. It’s making me crazy. I want to go the warm/cool gray walls route without making it industrial looking. For now I need transitional curtains with a color. I think I might do a shade of light teal/aqua. That way it’ll go now as well as when if my dream of painting ever happens they will still go with my gray! Here’s my question. We have one open side. Front room all thru to kitchen dining and family room. All one wall with a half wall. There’s no natural separation. Would horizontal stripes be overwhelming on two different windows? Our back sliding doors and dining room?

    • I have the same issue. I wouldn’t do them on both. I did them on three windows (so 4 panels) and then I got a gray tweed one for our slider doors. I thought it would be too much for that small space.

  37. Hi! I found your site on Pinterest and just bought all my supplies today! Question – how long did it take them to dry? Do you have to leave them flat or can they hang to dry? I am wanting to get 4 panels painted tomorrow but don’t have the room to have all 4 laying out to dry! Thanks!

    • It takes about an hour to dry. You can hang them to dry if you want.

      • Ok – so I tried to use a cheaper panel from Ikea (the $9.99 set) and it was an epic fail. The paint just soaked right through and was so blotchy! You could see every crease and wrinkle in the paint from the tarp underneath. Needless to say, I am headed back to Ikea today to get the right kind of curtains.

        My question is – how do you prevent the splotchy paint look? Will it help to have the thicker curtains? They looked decent laying down, but when we hung it up, the paint was so splotchy and the creases from the tarp were all over it. Any tips to help the paint look smoother are greatly appreciated 🙂

  38. Hi! I just completed this project today and they look great! I used the same curtains, but used Martha Stewarts color “Beet”. I have a couple of questions: 1) Did you get any paint on the white stripe? If so, how did you get it out or touch them up? 2) How do you wash them? Thank in advance for you help and with the idea for this awesome project!

    • No my tape peeled back pretty well. You pretty much have to leave the bleed through or paint over it white to try and match the curtains (risky if you ask me!) Wash them in cold water and hang dry and then iron the heck out of them.

  39. Beckie, your curtains look amazing!! I just finished my first batch of Painted Striped Curtains and gave a “shout out” to you. One, cause you’re AWESOME and two cause your tutorial brought my stress level down a lot when I did mine 🙂 I added another hint for cardboard measuring that might be helpful if your readers decide to do it.
    If you get a chance, I would love for you to take a peek at them, Helen 🙂

  40. Hey, Beckie … Fantastic job on the curtains. Inspiring! Great tutorial … good luck with all the rest 🙂

  41. Hey,

    i absolutely love the gray and white stripped curtains. I am moving shortly and do not really have the time (or the artist ability) to hem and paint them myself. Any chance you are looking to make some extra money and make some to sell?

    • Hi Megan,
      I am sorry. Unfortunately I don’t do custom work anymore but focus mostly on inspiring others to tackle it themselves. I am so glad you like my curtains though. They have made a huge statement in my living room!

  42. mary anne says:

    I just did these yesterday after reading your blog – just got one of the panels done so far. However, I splattered a bit and there are a few spots on the white that now have gray paint on them. Do you have any suggestions for removing that or covering it up? I wasn’t sure if you had any of those issues. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Hi Mary Anne, I love that you were inspired to paint your own curtains. As far as the splatters, you are probably going to have to try and paint over the spots. Try and see if you can get a sample color matched to the white area and then paint it. Best of luck!

  43. You gave me Exactl what I was looking for!!!!! I have these exact curtains.I was hoping to find someone who had painted cuftains before. You can imagine my excitement when I saw your post! I will definetly be doing this. I cant wait for this weekend! Thank you so much:):)

  44. Ashlee Kingcaid Cash says:

    I painted my curtains last night. Noticed this morning the stripes are rather stiff. Should I wash them?

  45. hilarysurratt says:

    Hi! I am planning on painting curtains like these, but mine are a little bit more thin, did you have any problems with the paint going through the curtains? Yours look amazing, and thanks for the awesome tutorial!!!!

    • Mine are a heavier weight canvas so I didn’t have much bleed through. However, if they are thinner then they most definitely will bleed through. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing though as long as it is consistent throughout the curtain.

  46. Hey Beckie,
    What color paint did you use in your family room? I love the color of it with the curtains:)

  47. thanks for this detailed tutorial! too many pics are not enough for me. Am I able to wash these curtains after I paint them? Keep DIYing:)

  48. Thanks for the great tutorial. I don’t know if anyone else experienced this, but I got flecks of navy paint onto my white stripes. I just finished one panel and will need to touch up with matching white paint 🙁 So for my next 3,000 panels (okay next 3, but it feels like a lot more work than that!) I will be taping paper over the white parts. Maybe I am just messier, but I had little flicks from the roller. Hope this helps someone else who is not as tidy as you were! Great job, this saved me so much $$ and gave the exact look I was going for.

  49. I am so nervous to do this! Thank you for the tutorial. It is making me feel a bit more brave. I have a 2 story wall of windows, so I am planning on sewing two panels together and then putting the seam in a paint stripe hoping that helps hide the seam. Question though- I have a gallon of extra gray paint that I was hoping to use… However it is satin instead of flat or eggshell. What do you think? Would that work? Or would it look terrible because of the sheen? Thanks!


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