DIY Brass Curtain Rod Made From Copper Pipes For A Large Bay Window
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
I shared my entire bedroom makeover with you on Monday, but today I want to get into the nitty gritty of how the curtain rod/curtains came to be.
They ended up looking incredibly high-end and luxe, but trust me- they aren't. I did this project on a shoestring budget and I'm going to show you the whole process (and there's a budget breakdown at the end for you too)!
The window wall in our bedroom has been an eyesore ever since we moved in (and let's not forget that originally, the whole room was an eyesore).
We did a few updates, painted the walls, hung mirrors over our nightstands and the rest of the room was looking pretty good.
bench (similar) | mirrors | nightstands | bedskirt | bedding (in flax/white) | headboard (upholstered in performance basketweave natural) | blue pillows | lumbar pillow | lamps (similar) | rug | Farrow & Ball De Nimes
But the pretty Farrow and Ball De Nimes paint made the shutters stick out like a sore thumb.
I suppose I could have painted the trim and shutters- I love a painted trim look, but I was never in love with the shutters so that wasn't the route I wanted to go. I decided I really wanted to add curtains to help make this wall of windows not look so crazy. Once that decision was made I assumed it would be a pretty simple matter of ordering everything I needed and then installing the rod and panels over a weekend...but boy was I wrong! Finding a rod that was long enough turned out to be an impossible task. The main center wall is 14' long and then the two angled sections are 42" each, so the curtain needed to be over 20' and angled in two places to be one continuous rod (which I thought would look the best).
My friend Lindsay gave me the idea to look into copper pipes and to be honest I kind of wrote the idea off at first, it sounded super intimidating- like building my own rod? Cutting copper pipes? What?!? But after searching for a few more weeks and realizing that a custom rod was going to be my only solution (and that was definitely not in the budget!), I decided to take the plunge. The whole thing turned out to be MUCH easier and less complicated than I anticipated, so let's get into it!
- (3) 1" x 10' copper pipes (depending on the size of your window what you need here will vary)
*note: you can absolutely go for a thinner copper pipe like 3/4" or 1/2", but I think the a thicker 1" pipe lends itself to a more luxe and high end result!
- (1) 1" x 1" copper coupling fitting (this piece connects two pipes together for a length longer than 10', if your window is less than 10' long you will not need this and can just use one single pipe cut to your specific length)
- (2) 1" copper slip cap fittings (these are the end pieces and are going to make the curtain rod look finished!)
- (2) 45 degree angle copper slip elbow (measure your bay window angle with a protractor to make sure a 45 degree bend will work, these pieces go in the corner to connect two pieces of pipe at the angle )
- 1" C-Style Copper Tubing Cutter (this is needed to cut the copper pipes)
- 1 tube of antique gold rub n' buff (there are two pictured here, but I barely used half a tube for my 20' rod, also if you prefer a copper finish you can skip this part)
- curtain rod brackets (I ordered four packs of these for a total of 8 brackets, but only ended up using five)
- curtains- I used these affordable Amazon blackout curtains, they are velvet and look super high end (to determine how many curtains you need, you typically want 1.5-2x the width of your window for a luxurious feel, I ordered 6 pairs of panels to hit that 2x mark, but only ended up using 5 panels so I didn't block too much window)
*I ended up using my sewing machine and upholstery thread, but that's completely optional, more on that in a minute.
Honestly half the battle of this project was figuring out what to buy, and I just did that for you, so believe me you're already halfway there! If you're making a curtain rod for a window that is not a bay window then keep in mind your steps and materials are going to be much simpler!
Before you start-make sure to check this guide to help you determine where your rod should go and how long it needs to be. This can also help you determine what height curtains you need to order. I love hanging rods high and wide with curtains all the way to the floor.
The first thing we did was start building the rod for the straight wall. Our wall was 14' long so we needed to combine two of the 10' copper pipes. We wanted the seam where the pipes connected to end up right in the middle of our main wall, partly for support (we knew there would be a curtain bracket there), but also for a nice symmetrical look. So we cut two of our pipes down to 7' and then used the 1" copper coupling to join them together to make it into a 14' rod.
At this point it was actually easiest for us to go ahead and hang the center rod. So we took our brackets and put two on either side of the farthest windows and one right in the center (you can see below where each bracket is located). This took a lot of me standing back to make sure they were going into the right place, making sure they were level- I always use my eyes (I don't trust levels). We used these screw in anchors (they hold 50 pounds) anywhere we didn't hit a stud for maximum hold. There is a lot of weight these brackets have to hold- the rod, several panels of curtains...they need to be very secure.
We also added the 45 degree elbows to both ends of our rod. Now it was time to get our shorter angled wall pieces of pipe cut. I just had Kris hold up the rod and mark with a sharpie where I thought the curtain rod needed to end, keeping in mind that about 1" of the pipe would go into the elbow piece. We had our curtain rod end with about 1" of overhang past our window frame, which is a bit unusual- if you're following this curtain hanging guide you're going to want to hang your curtains high and wide above your windows, but as you can see our wall of windows took up our entire wall so we definitely weren't trying to make our window appear larger- if anything we were trying to accomplish the opposite.
*quick tip- cut your pieces longer than you think you might need, it's easy to go back and trim an inch or two off, but if they're too short then you may find yourself needing to start over with another pipe! Once the side pieces were cut it was time to hang the brackets. I originally thought we would use two brackets per side piece, but it wasn't necessary and the angle of the wall didn't allow for it, so we just used one per side on the outer edge of the window again making sure we hit a stud or using a heavy duty anchor if we didn't.
Then I just added the two slip cap fittings to the end and voila! Gorgeous custom curtain rod!
Now if you want a copper curtain rod you can stop here, hang your curtains and get on with your day, but you know I wanted a beautiful brass rod, I love copper, it's just not a finish we've used in our bedroom so I wanted to keep the finishes consistent with the mirrors, lamps, heck even the sofa frame in our room. So it was time for one of my favorite products to step in- Rub N' Buff! I used a paintbrush to rub the finish on, I tapped it on and then once the coverage was good, I smoothed it out with my brush. It took me maybe an hour to get all the pieces and connecting pieces painted (or buffed) and then I let them dry for another hour or so.
After they were dry I used this clear topcoat to seal the finish. I was hoping this would prevent scratching and dings since this rod is going to have curtain rings sliding over it daily.
Here are all my rods after they had been rub n' buffed and sealed. I let the sealer dry/off-gas for the night outside and then the next morning I brought everything back in. At this point it was time to hang the curtains. I tried a few different methods of hanging and it turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought it would be. I didn't want the grommets visible so I thought I would hang them like this with the grommets tucked in and then the clips at the top.
But I was using some old cheap black curtain ring clips that I already had and I didn't want them to be visible. If I had thought of this in advance I probably would have ordered these gold clips to save myself the trouble of this next step, because then the clips could have been visible, no big deal. To accomplish hiding both the grommets and the clips I had to whip out the sewing machine (I tried clipping the layers of fabric together, but the clips weren't strong enough to hold both layers).
I folded down the fabric that held the grommets and sewed right beneath the grommets. Which left me with a new seam in the curtain panels completely concealing the grommets.
I also ended up needing to purchase some upholstery thread and needles since the panel was too thick and my regular thread kept breaking.
Once the panels were sewn (all twelve of them), I clipped the rings right in the center of each grommet. If you have no interest in sewing (I didn't) then learn from my mistake and just use curtain clips that match your curtain rod.
Next, I started putting the curtains onto the rod. I started with the two center rods and put three panels on each side, then each angled wall got two panels each for a total of ten panels. There are multiple ways I could style these curtains- I could open up the sides like this...
Or open up more sections, but after trying it multiple ways, I really loved the look of just one center opening while everything else stays closed.
I was worried this might block a lot of the light coming in (we were essentially losing two whole windows, but after Kris took off the shutters all my worries vanished. Even with the shutters open they never allowed as much light to flow in as no shutters at all! I know it seems crazy to remove lovely (expensive I'm sure) plantation shutters, but I didn't love them- they made the windows feel heavy and taking them off has been amazing! I love the windows now!
I am obsessed with how this project turned out - it was even better than I had hoped and this DIY curtain rod really transformed our room.
As a refresher- here was that wall before...
This project certainly wasn't cheap, but I know ordering a custom rod and drapes for a window this size would have cost easily quadruple this price (or more). And if you are doing this project, keep in mind if your window is much smaller than mine you won't need as many copper pipes, curtains, brackets, etc. and your total will be considerably less as well.
copper pipes and fittings- $139
copper pipe cutter- $23
rub n' buff- $10
curtain rod brackets- $48
anchors and screws- $12
Want to see the entire process of our bedroom?