We've featured curtains hung from plumbing pipes and painted branches, but this may be the most novel solution yet: curtain rods fashioned from leather straps.
Above: Designer Mary Chan of Studio Bartleby (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) created the window treatments for a budget makeover of a Brooklyn loft belonging to Sasha Haines-Stiles, who works in fashion PR. The soft linen panels are hung on leather straps, materials inspired by the owner's day job. The soft drape of the fabric enables the curtains to be knotted at the bottom, pushed to the side, or pulled across as a light-filtering privacy panel.
Above: The leather straps are pulled taut and affixed to the window frame by simply punching a hole through the leather, placing a leather washer behind the strap, and drilling into the wall/window casing with the appropriate screw.
Above: The loft was pulled together on a total budget of $5,000. See the full project in the New York Times: On the Cheap: A Place Fit for the Boss.
Above: A detail to consider is the thickness of the leather. In this installation, the designer used two pieces of 8-ounce thick leather laminated together with a piece of fiberglass tape in between to keep the leather from sagging over time. "Of course, if you were looking for something casual, a little sag won't hurt," says Chan. Made of the same top-grade leather used for saddles, durable, American-made Hermann Oak Harness Leather Straps are a sturdy 13-ounces thick and come in 5/8-to-1.5 inch width options, and in 42- or 84-inch lengths; $11.50 to $34.50 at Outfitter Supply.
Above: "To affix leather strips, we usually use a nice big, blackened brass slotted-head finish screw, but, really, any screw will work," says Chan. A package of 18 Black Wood Screws is available for $2.49 at Home Depot.
Above: Simple pocket rod curtains can be crafted from lightweight linen (Design Sponge offers a good Pocket Curtain Tutorial). Some good linen sources: Etsy shop Avisa, which offers the Lightweight Vintage Linen Fabric shown here for $18.95 for the yard; the Textile Trunk, which offers a wide variety of vintage linen and hemp yardage; and Ballard Design, which sells a Natural Danish linen ($18 a yard).
Gardenista's Michelle used a Ballard Designs linen to make her living room window coverings—see her 5 Strategies for Covering 50 Windows for Under a Million Dollars.
Another appealing window covering idea: Patchwork Curtains Made from Vintage Linens.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 14, 2013 as part of our Handyman Special issue.