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