Don’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:
-white fabric (I ended up using 20 yards total)*
–grommet kit (you’ll need 40 grommets)
-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.
First 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.
You’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.
Use 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.
Now 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.
The 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:https://www.amazon.com/Jarl-home-Three-Color-Stitching-Blackout/dp/B07HRNFDXZ
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!
Can you tell me what color the house is? I love it.
We didn’t make the pergola, it was actually there when we moved in 🙂
No, those are from Target 🙂
This looks like a resort! Totally doing this
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 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!
This looks beautiful! I want that that for my pergola now!! 🙂 Happy weekend! xx
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!!
Wow!!! What a great outdoor space and the curtains add so much to it.