Make Your Own Outdoor Pergola Curtains!

white outdoor curtains hanging from a wooden deck cover with wicker deck furniture under itDon’t you love the thought of being at a fancy poolside resort where you can sit in a cozy cabana and sip tropical cocktails all day? I’ve only ever really been in that situation once when we were on our honeymoon in Cancún, but I loved it. They had so many little secluded spots to hang out in so I could stuff my face with chips and guacamole with a little more privacy. I wanted to see if I could bring a little bit of that cabana feel to my backyard pergola with the help of some DIY outdoor curtains, and here’s what I came up with:

Before picture of wooden deck cover with wicker furniture underneath itSupplies: 
-white fabric (I ended up using 20 yards total)*
grommet kit (you’ll need 40 grommets)
-fabric scissors
-40 7/8″ cup hooks
-8 safety cup hooks
-white chain (and strong wire or bolt cutters to cut the chain with)

-waterproofing fabric spray (I used this one)
-lead drapery weights (optional)

*It’s totally up to you what kind of fabric you want to use. Outdoor fabric can be expensive, so that’s why I chose to use regular cotton fabric with a waterproofing spray. You can use plain cotton fabric by the yard, bedsheets, or even drop cloths from home improvement stores! It just depends what dimensions you need and what the weather conditions are where you live (maybe don’t get a super sheer fabric if you have tons of rain and crazy wind all the time). I found a big wide bolt of fabric that was on major sale, so that’s what I chose to use for mine.

white fabric with scissors on top, white fabric with pins through the hem, someone hammering a washer into the hem, and white fabric with washers on hemFirst you’ll need to measure how tall your pergola structure is to determine how long to make the curtains (I measured from the ground to the middle of the horizontal boards I was hanging them from). I found out that the four corners of my pergola are all different heights so I had to make different lengths to fit each spot. Once you have your measurement, add 2″ to the top and 2″ to the bottom to allow for your top and bottom hem. The width of your curtain is up to you, depending on the fabric you choose and the size of your space. My fabric was already a good size at 54″ wide, so I just finished the side edges and left it at that. 

Once you have your final measurements (with your 4″ added for top and bottom hem), you can cut each of your eight curtain panel pieces to size. On each panel, fold the top and bottom hem over 1″ and pin in place. Press your seams flat with an iron. Fold the hems in again another 1″, pin, and press again with your iron. Once your bottom seams are double folded and pressed, this is the point when you can slip your lead drapery weights into the bottom hem if you want to weigh the curtains down and cut back on how much they blow around. I used four lead weights per curtain, but you could also use galvanized washers or some other piece of heavy metal in the hem; just make sure it’s a coated outdoor metal so it doesn’t rust (lead doesn’t rust, so that’s why I chose the lead weights).

After your hems are pinned and your weights are inserted, you can sew the hems closed with your sewing machine. I chose to use a serger and do a rolled hem for an easy finish for the sides of my curtains, but if you don’t have access to a serger, you can just repeat the same hem process you did for the top/bottom hems on the sides as well (just cut down each hem fold from 1″ to 1/2″ so the sides don’t look bulky).

Before inserting the grommets through the top hem, mark with a pencil how far apart you want each grommet to be. Mine have one placed at each end of the panel and then three more about 13″ apart in between (so there are five total across each panel). Cut a small “x” with fabric scissors at each mark and follow the directions on your grommet kit to place a grommet at each spot.

corner of wooden deck coverYou’ll be hanging your curtains in each of the corners of your pergola, so decide how far out you want your curtains to hang. I wanted the curtains to add a cozy feeling to the space, but I didn’t want to obstruct the entire view of the yard, so I chose to bring the curtains out about 35″ from each pole. Since I have five grommets per panel, I measured out 35″ from the pole and evenly spaced out five marks for each of my cup hooks.

someone drilling a hole into the wooden deck cover and placing hooks in the holesUse a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw end on your cup hook, and drill a starter hole at each of your marked spots. Screw a cup hook into each of your starter holes, and repeat the process on the other side of the pole and then again at each of the other three pergola corners (you should have 40 hooks overall if using five hooks per panel).

Once your hooks are up, hang your curtains on the grommets, spray the waterproofing spray on each side of the panels, and allow the panels to dry.

close up of white curtain tiebacksNow we need to make curtain tiebacks to keep the panels pulled back. Measure the halfway point of your four pergola corner posts, and mark that spot on the two sides of the poles that face the curtain panels. Drill a starter hole slightly smaller than your safety cup hooks, and screw a hook into each hole and repeat at each corner (you should have eight of these overall). Cut eight pieces of chain that are 28″ long, and hook the chain into the safety cup hook and around your fabric to hold your panels in place. You can also use rope or make a fabric tie out of the same material as the curtains, but I like the look of the white chain, so that’s what I chose.

4 outdoor curtains on a wooden deck cover with wicker patio furniture underneath itcorner of wooden deck cover with outdoor curtains and wicker patio furniture Close up of top of outdoor curtains close up on outdoor curtain on a wooden deck coveroutdoor curtains hanging on wooden deck cover with wicker patio furniture underneath itThe curtains turned out even better than I imagined, and I love the lightness that they add to the space. It definitely feels more secluded (and super cozy) when sitting inside the pergola, and I have to admit that it does make me feel a bit like I’m on vacation in my own backyard—yes! Bring on the guacamole!! xo. Laura

Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photos: Laura Gummerman & Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella and Piper from the Signature Collection.

  • This is great; I love the pillows on the middle love seat; any recollection of where you got them?

  • hi how did the outdoor treatment spray work out? did it last at least the summer months?

  • I bought some blackout curtains already and they don’t work well. The room gets very bright.

    I’m not sure whether to get liners or new curtains. Here is amazon link:

    Can you recommend some good blackout curtains or liners?

  • How did these hold up to the weather? Did they last long with using the waterproof spray?

    • Love the look of your pergola. Thinking of purchasing some curtains from Ikea. How did your waterproofing spray hold up to the elements?

  • Love the privacy curtain! My husband and I just built a pergola …I’m stealing you curtains idea!

  • Looks great! Hoping you could tell me where the fabulous geometric cushions are from?

  • This is something that can be useful for the indoors even, or maybe something like a shabby-chic wedding backdrop! I’m definitely doing this DIY. Thanks for sharing!

  • Wonderful, I love these kind of places surrounded by curtains, slowly blowing in the wind!

  • This sure makes the space look more elegant and special! What a cheery outdoor retreat!

  • We didn’t make the pergola, it was actually there when we moved in 🙂


  • My dad built a pergola for our wedding that we will have in our backyard soon! SO making these for it!!!

  • Beautiful! I just have one question: did i see correctly that the lightbulbs are fairly close to the curtains? If so, I would give an extra warning about the chance of fire… Lightbulbs get very hot very quickly, and they don’t need to be against a fabric for very long to cause burnmarks or even worse, an actual fire.
    Other than that, I think it looks absolutely stunning!

  • We have just built an Italian-style pergola in our Irish backgarden, and I never even considered the idea of curtains…until now! It certainly gives it a more Mediterranean vibe. Definitely something I will look into!

  • This looks beautiful! I want that that for my pergola now!! 🙂 Happy weekend! xx

  • This is goregous! Did you make the wooden pergola as well? I have a rusty metal gazibo in my garden that I’ve been dying to get rid of since I moved in. Would love to replace it with this!

  • Wow!!! What a great outdoor space and the curtains add so much to it.

  • I’d love to do curtains like this for privacy on our condo balcony…but, sadly, I don’t think our HOA would approve. Darn!!

  • LOVE this! We currently live in a house that has a pergola out back (covered in grapevines!) but we’re probably moving out soon… wish we could take it with us and do this!

  • They make such a huge difference, definitely adding privacy and also reflecting more light! The vine climbing onto the veranda will make a beautiful leafy ceiling as well 🙂

  • Great project! Might be good to mention that you should always check with your local development office prior to construction to check if a permit is required!

  • The curtains make the place look so fancy and luxurious 😉

  • Love love love this! I was wondering about the waterproofing – does it really work? How much spray do you have to use? It’s nice though that you don’t have to worry about special fabric.

  • I absolutely adore this!! Definitely a future house inspiration/project.

  • Amazing how much those curtains add to the space! I also love those grey box planters, DIY?

  • Wow I absolutely love this! I would like to try this with curtains that I already have.

  • What a beaut of an outdoor space, now all I need is an outdoor space. Haha, great how-to though for my future!

  • This is just ALL kinds of perfection. Your backyard basically looks like a resort. I so want one of these in my future backyard.

    <3 dani

  • I have to say, I always love the content on this blog, but you guys are KILLING it at the minute! such great projects, and I just love this one!

  • Well that looks just wonderful. Now only if I had a pergola….


  • Gorgeous! I love the look and feel that it gives to your backyard! So pretty!! I can’t wait to have my own backyard again (apartment life!)


  • You did a fantastic job. I did the same thing but I used bed sheets from Walmart. They sell flat sheets individually.

  • So beautiful! I cannot believe what a dramatic difference they make. Staycation for sure.

  • I love the increase of sewing projects on here! You girls are awesome.

  • Well, the way the sun travels over the pergola, the direction it faces, and because it sits back into our deck a bit, we don’t ever have the sun in our eyes. But you can totally do that if that’s an issue for you! You could try the blackout curtains, but it might end up looking a little bulky…

    Laura 🙂

  • “stuff my face with guacamole” hahaha. Yes! you are a gal after my own heart. Your back yard looks so dreamy 🙂

  • SO cool, wishing I had a backyard!

  • this looks amazing!! love how they turned out!


  • Love this! Do you ever take one or two of the curtains out of the tiebacks for more shade? I guess I’m picturing them on my west-facing super-hot back patio. I wonder how it would work to add blackout fabric behind the cotton to create a really shady spot when you wanted it. Or would that ruin the look? Hmmm…

  • We love pastel color in ethnic prints, nice mix!

  • Today has been such a lovely day where I live that this kind of secluded spot sounds a little bit like heaven. I hope you get to spend many gorgeous days there these comming months 🙂

  • What a cool project, and the curtains are looking really classy! I love your garden and the pergola!

  • I have been fighting with our expensive outdoor sheer curtains for two years now on our pergola! It’s just too windy here! I am going to try these and fill the bottoms with weights! Thanks!

  • And if the breeze keeps lifting the curtains off their hooks, press half of a wine cork on the end of the hook to act as a stopper.

  • This is exactly the idea I had for my little balcony! I face a busy street and can see into a few backyards so a little bit of privacy is what I want without shutting out the whole view and all the light. Thanks for doing this so I can see my idea in reality!

  • Ah! I think this would work awesome on our swinging outdoor bed- I did sheers originally but they did not withstand the weather 🙁 I had no idea you could buy spray to waterproof fabric! Here’s what we did:

  • I always wanted to do this in our Florida house, but now we’re living in England. Not going to happen now, but maybe someday. Thanks for the daydream.

  • I always wanted to do this to our Florida house, but now we live in England. Not happening now. Maybe someday…thanks for the daydream.

  • I love how this looks! I wish I had the tools and most importantly an outdoor spot to create this nook! little miseries of life! *sigh*


  • Gosh these look so cool! I can’t believe it’s not in some super exotic location. Definitely remembering this for that the day I finally have a garden of my own 😉

  • This space is gorgeous! I’m such a sucker for string lights. 🙂

  • I love the curtains, the whole space just comes together so well

  • WOW this looks so professional! How much do you charge for letting people sit there? I’d pay to come stuff my face with chips and guacamole 🙂

  • my husband + i have been talking about doing this for the past few weeks! we live in austin, tx where it’s pretty toasty as you can imagine, but we spend most of our summer outside under our pergola, so i think we’ll make this happen soon. love the set up of this patio!

  • The curtains are so chic. Makes me wish I had a cabana in my backyard!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.