Brad and I have been looking for some relatively inexpensive solar shades for our atrium windows for a really long time. Like, since we replaced those windows last June. (Psst… for before/after pictures of the outdoor room in the center of our house, click here.) When we first started looking for custom sized solar shades, we were quoted about $200 per window for these beasts. Clearly, that was not happening. Where the major cost of them is coming from is the awkward size of these unusually large windows. (The ones in our bedroom and Brad’s office are about 45″ wide by 60″ tall.) We found quite a few great options at Ikea and Bed Bath and Beyond, but none of them fit exactly to be an inside mount, which is what I really really wanted. Oh, and I also wanted a dark grey color to coordinate with all of the different interior rooms of the house and also the exterior atrium paint. Plus, I’ve been told that grey is kind of my color.
So, after months of searching, and many purchases and returns of said window treatments, we found something amazing at Lowes.
Woa. Solar roller shades that they custom cut to size for you in store? Available in dark grey? And at only $51 for the large size? Consider my mind blown. I was literally bouncing up and down while the lady cut them to exactly 45 1/8″ wide for us. I think I embarrassed my husband. But, whatevs. He knows who he married. Someone who gets unbelievably excited about inexpensive custom window treatments, that’s who.
So, we brought home our little beauties and the installation was unbelievably simple. We literally screwed the mounting brackets into the wall and the shade slipped right into them. Ta-da! The windows were already looking substantially better.
But… if you look closely… those mounting brackets are pretty ugly.
We all know that a custom window valance can be pretty expensive. Especially one made of solid wood like I wanted. So, why buy when you can build, right?
Centsational Girl posted her DIY Window Cornice a long time ago, and I really loved the simplicity of it. I wanted to do something similar to hers but with a shorter “body” and different mouldings. So, here’s how I did my version.
1 – 1×6, the length that you want your valance, plus an additional 8-12″ for the valance sides
1 – Piece of large casing moulding of your choice, the same length as your 1×6, for the top of the valance (We chose this one.)
1 – Piece of cap moulding of your choice, the same length as your 1×6, for the bottom of the valance (We chose this one.)
Hardware and Supplies:
5/8″ Finishing Nails
1 1/4″ Finishing Nails
2 – L Brackets for mounting your valance
Caulk (stainable, if you’re staining)
Medium Grit Sandpaper
Primer or Wood Conditioner
Paint or Stain
How it’s done:
First, I measured my window to establish how long I wanted my valance to be. Since the window opening was 44 3/4″ long, I wanted the interior of my valance to be 46″ to very slightly overshoot the window. (If you have curtain rods, obviously you will want to go out much larger.) I mitered both sides of my 1×6 at 45 degree angles, with the edges pointing outward, measuring 46″ long from the short sides.
Next, I cut my side pieces. I decided that I wanted them to hang 3 1/2″ away from the wall. My short piece is mitered at 45 degrees on the edge that touches the front of the valance, and is cut square on the side that will touch the wall. It measures 3 1/2″ from the square side to the short edge of the mitered side.
Attach your side and front pieces using wood glue and 1 1/4″ finishing nails.
Since I wanted a flawless, professional finish, I filled the knots in with wood filler to keep the wood consistent. Before attaching the molding, I sanded and primed the 1×6 base. The reason I pre-primed in this case is because I bought primed molding. You don’t necessarily have to prime before attaching the molding, but I wanted all of the pieces to be as equal as possible before attaching them together.
Re-measure your 1×6 base and cut your moulding to fit, mitering the edges. To show how I laid out my molding onto the board, here is a breakdown of how it all sits pre-priming:
Attach your moulding to the 1×6 using wood glue and 5/8″ finishing nails. If you’re like me, and no matter what you do your corners don’t seem to match, keep some caulk close by. You can fill in your corners with caulk, then sand them down before you add your wood filler.
After the wood filler dried, I sanded it down and put on one more coat of primer on the whole piece, focusing on the filled areas. Two coats of Valspar Spray Paint in Gloss White later, it was looking like this:
To hang it up, I screwed L-brackets into the inside of the top to later attach to the wall. As you can see by the picture, clearly the inside and top are not perfection like the outside is. But, I figure that’s okay since no one will ever see that part.
We hung ours with the L bracket just slightly above the window and it gave great coverage of the ugly mounting brackets from our new solar shades. Here’s one last look at the finished product. Not bad for a few hours of work, huh?
So, for those of you interested, here’s how the costs of this project broke down for three valances:
2 – 1×6 boards @ 6 feet long – $6.12
1 – 1×6 board @ 4 feet long – $2.71 (since one window is smaller, I used a shorter board to save some cash.)
2 – 8 foot long pieces of bottom moulding – $8.52
2 – 8 foot long pieces of top moulding – $40.72 (let me just say, “ouch” on this one. You could most likely do a lot cheaper than me on this, but the husband talked me into the fancier, expensive moulding. Shame on him.)
2 – cans of Valspar Spray Paint in White Gloss – $8.52
1 – can of Killz Odorless Spray Primer – $0 (already had)
6 – L Brackets – $0 (already had)
Nails, wood glue – $0 (already had)
When you add up all of the materials and divide them out by the three valances, it comes out to $22.20 per valance. Considering that we totally splurged on the fancy top moulding, I’m definitely happy with this number. Doing a quick google search for “wood window valance” showed me mostly $200 and above options, so I feel like I totally saved some money here.
Hope you all enjoy your new valances as much as I do!