Need to transform your windows? Make your own DIY dowel curtain rods and change the look of the windows in your home on a budget.

DIY dowel curtain rods provide a way to make custom-length curtain rods for your challenging windows. They are super easy to make. Here are the simple steps you need to make the perfect custom-length curtain rod.

dowel curtain rods Master bedroom with tulips

One of our first apartments had brick walls.

Doesn’t that sound romantic?  And rustic?  And historic?

It wasn’t.

These weren’t the brick walls you see in the Pottery Barn catalog…..these brick walls looked like they had been constructed by the people who built the Brady Bunch house.  They were orange and flat with cracks and dark gray mortar.


And we were young and clueless and almost penniless and renting……and we couldn’t nail a single nail into that brick without facing the wrath of Mr. Brady and Alice.

Decorating an apartment with non-nailable walls seemed like an insurmountable challenge.

I almost gave up.

But I came up with a brilliant solution.

Almost as brilliant as these easy DIY dowel curtain rods.

Pallet Table with tulips dowel curtain rods

I tried everything to try to hang pictures on the walls…..duct tape and brick hangers and hot glue and big wads of masking tape and absolutely nothing worked.

Until one night—somewhere between Melrose Place and the episode on Beverly Hills 90210 where everyone was chanting to help Donna Martin graduate

….I came up with an idea.  


They were the solution.

I cut them in pieces and wedged them tightly in between the bricks and then hammered a nail into the pencil and hung the pictures.

Easy and simple and almost free.

Sometimes the best ideas are so simple.

A modest utilitarian pencil provided an easy, affordable solution to a challenge.

Just like these DIY dowel curtain rods.

Easy DIY Dowel Curtain Rods


dowel rod

curtain finial

curtain bracket

This project is perfect for odd-shaped windows where you need a unique length for a curtain rod. Or as an affordable option in place of regular curtain rods (especially those that are longer). You can leave them plain wood or paint them any color you like.

Here’s the step-by-step on how we made these dowel curtain rods.

Step 1: Purchase craft finials for your DIY dowel curtain rods

There are really three components to this project.

The first is the finial.

And just between us?

This is really the only one that counts because it’s the prettiest.

I found TONS of options for this project on Amazon and I’ve linked them all here:

(total aside—you can also use over-sized door hardware or fence post finials, too)

Step 2: Find curtain rod brackets

These also come in TONS of different options.

There are metal and wood and plastic and plain and extraordinary.

Just choose whichever works for your individual decor style.

Here are few curtain bracket options I found:

Curtain Finial and Bracket

Step 3: Cut your dowel rod to fit

This is where this project is completely customizable.

For example, I wanted two smaller stationary curtain rods over each window.

So my curtains are stationary in place with drop cloth curtains.

You can see how I made the drop cloth curtains here.

If you want a longer curtain rod? Simply cut it to fit the width of the window and add an additional 8″ on each side.

Step 4: Paint your brackets and finials

My brackets and finials are white, but you could paint them any color or stain them.

I think I spray-painted mine.

You could also leave them unfinished with a light sealant as well.

I didn’t worry about painting the dowel rods because I was covering them up with the curtains.

Curtain Rods and Finials

Step 5:  Hang brackets

These brackets are about 18″ apart on each side of the window.

Cut dowel to fit (about 22″) depending on your window width and height.

Screw finials into the end of the dowels.

Hang curtains.

Spring Master Bedroom with dowel curtain rods

The best part about these curtains?

You can make them any size….any length…..any width.

Hang them on either side of a bay window.

Hang them on either side of a sliding glass door.

Hang them where ever you have a challenge with your windows.

Custom DIY dowel curtain rods for your windows.

I’m sure even Donna Martin would be impressed. 🙂

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a purchase through my links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Thistlewood.

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  1. Image for Lisa~A Cottage To Me Lisa~A Cottage To Me

    Wow, great idea! I need some of those brackets and dowels for another project. I'll have to head to Lowes! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Image for Terry Terry

    I too have done curtain rods like this in my master bedroom because I couldn't stand the cost of real curtain rods and these are the same thing. My daughter's first apartment had a brick wall running the entire length. She thought it was romantic. I knew it was going to be a nightmare but she had to learn on her own. The brick walls were hot in the summer and she never got cool and in the winter, she could never get warm. After a year, she was happy to leave.

  3. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    You are just the nifty thifty gal!!...and have to say that I love that table between the chairs...Have a great weekend!

  4. Image for bonnie bonnie

    Did you make the wood table at the foot of your bed? It looks like it was made from pallets...I am in love with the 2 tone chevron look!!! I saw on your projects there was a pallet desk but that wasnt it. So, if you made it is there a how-to, and if not, where oh where did you find it?

  5. Image for nantucketdaffodil nantucketdaffodil

    You know why I like this post? I have no decorating budget. I look at your home and dream and wish and pine. This post made me want to run right out to Lowe's, to reach for the stars, to figure out a way to make it work! Your house is truly amazing, and you should be very proud of the hard work you have done. Remember I asked about painted ceilings? I found it! If you haven't visited...please do! Great blog.

    1. Image for Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

      I am with her! We've been in this house 7 years without curtains in most rooms because they cost money and now, well, no more excuses. I LOVE your projects!

  6. Image for Leslie Stewart @ House on the Way Leslie Stewart @ House on the Way

    Beautiful! I used the dowel rods and wooden finials for years. They are great! BTW, did you paint your bed and chairs? If you don't mind me asking…what color and technique did you use? It's gorgeous! I've been wanting to re-do my bed. I have a black bed that I want to lighten up. Have a great weekend. Leslie

  7. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Great budget rods. The best idea...pencils in the brick! Great idea for a brick fireplace! I'm interested in that table at the foot of the bed....did you make that...really beautiful! Enjoy your weekend! ;)

  8. Image for Jackie Jackie

    I love your stories of just starting out Kari. And to see how far you've come from that brick wall! But it sounds like your creativity was evident even then.

  9. Image for Stephanie @ The Hardscrabble Home Stephanie @ The Hardscrabble Home

    Such a simple idea but of course, I'd never come up with it! lol We have a ton of windows in our house. 28 of them in fact and our house is only a 1 1/2 story home. I'm always looking for "looks expensive but really isn't" ideas when it comes to those windows. Thanks for sharing it Karianne! :-)

  10. Image for Jeannine Jeannine

    Love that idea! Now, I'm not trying to be a noodge, but you bought two of the finials and two of the brackets. That comes to $4.66, without the dowel. But that's perfectly fine. .It still comes up to being a great deal instead of paying through the nose for some name-brand identicals!

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      LOL! Jeannine....I totally forgot to add that they come two to a package! I just went back and edited it! Thanks for the reminder!

  11. Image for Monica Monica

    I am so, so glad I receive your blog are wonderful. I stress out so much over nothing and you made it so simple thank you!! By the way love the milk glass vase in the first photo.

  12. Image for Linda Linda

    KARI, BEEN THERE DONE THAT.... We had so many windows at out last home that was the most economical way to go.... But I don't remember it being that cheap.... We just coated them with clear varathane and used drapery from Ikea on all the windows . So it all looked the same from the road. Thanks for the reminder...great tips.....

  13. Image for Pinky Pinky

    This is the solution to my living room window dilemma!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to do blinds and side panels but there are different lengths of wall beside several windows. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much for this, you are wonderful. I am pinning this too. Thanks again. XO, Pinky Have a GREAT weekend.

  14. Image for Kolein Kolein

    ...and then you get a big old fashioned safety pin (.06 at Woolworths) to hook the middle of the drapes together when you're grabbing your unmentionables out of the drawer so the neighbors who sit right on top of your house don't have to endure the...well....unmentionable! country mouse. city mouse. XO YOU ROCK SISTER! Seriously ROCK!

  15. Image for Cynthia Cynthia

    I am a new reader, and I believe I will become a regular one. Your blog and photographs are beautiful, your ideas are clever, and your writing is excellent. However, you had me at "Donna Martin graduates." Looking forward to reading more.

  16. Image for Runt Runt

    I loooove this idea. We have been needing to get new curtain rods for our living room (and every other room in the house) for a looooong time. This is so simple. I heard about it before but totally forgot about it until now. Thanks!!!

  17. Image for Gee Gee

    Thank you... thank you!! Last weekend we were out looking for drapery rods... ohmygosh! What happened?? The prices are like, ridiculous! Thanks for this easy and doable suggestion. Should have known to message you :-) Now I can go to Lowe's and tell them you sent me. Thanks KariAnne! You are the best. Hugs, Gee

  18. Image for Mary Ann Mary Ann

    The rods are great and all, but I can't get past the pencils in the brick. I'd love to know an easy way to hang stuff on brick, but I don't understand. How can you wedge pencil pieces between the bricks? Did you have big cracks or something? Am I being really stupid?

  19. Image for Nicole @ scrap me baby Nicole @ scrap me baby

    Looks fantastic as always! I'm drooling over the hobnail vase you have your tulips in, I collect that (or try to!) but up here its hard to find and I only have a couple of pieces so far. Am I losing my mind? I don't remember seeing your posts in my wordpress reader before this one...I am an email subscriber but having you here makes it possible for me to comment! Yaay!

  20. Image for Athena at Minerva's Garden Athena at Minerva's Garden

    I love easy to do ideas that look great when you are done, and you have succeeded with this project on all accounts! I'm trying to figure out now where I could use them in our house--they turned out just beautiful! Also love flowers in the wintertime, so your tulips in the milk-glass vase made me smile :) Have a wonderful weekend, Karianne!

  21. Image for Tina Tina

    THANKS! You know, it's the ideas that we knew we knew, those rolling around somewhere but stuck and not at the forefront.... those ideas that need a push and a tickle! Your post was wonderfully well timed and just the thing to get the AHA out..... and start the gears moving. I appreciate you muchly!

  22. Image for Betsy(@coastal-colors) Betsy(@coastal-colors)

    Great idea! You always have the best information and lovely photos! Always a joy to visit your lovely blog!

  23. Image for Sarah Sarah

    You clever girl! I love your master. I'm sure it is a wonderful retreat for a busy mom. Do you ever get to enjoy it? '-) It's the kind of room I'd like to relax in.........beautiful color pallet, comfy four poster bed, nice sitting area, and a fireplace. Sigh!

  24. Image for annaliese annaliese

    donna martin graduates!!! repeat it enough and good things happen! fabulus tutorial. gonna hit the lowes for suplies tomorrow. i think my duvet turned curtain panels are plotting my demise since i cut it apart several weeks ago on the promise they would be hung with love asap! sure hope the saying 'good things come to those who wait! is right! if not, then i need a good procrastination saying stat! :)

  25. Image for Linda Linda

    Thanks for sharing the curtain rod tip, since it brought back memories. Back in the 70's, when I was a decorator, we used closet pole rods instead of dowels.

  26. Image for Carmel Carmel

    I read the story - honest I did - but it was so hard to because your bedroom is so so beautiful it's hard to focus to read the words. ;) Great talking the other night!

  27. Image for Michelle Michelle

    If you don't like the gap at the edge where it should go to the wall, leave a flap of drapery off the pole, maybe 3 to 4 inches. Then screw the finial through the fabric into the pole. Voila, instant drapery return to the wall. A large buttonhole is best, if you know how, but the other works for instant gratification!

  28. Image for Loreen Loreen

    I did this years ago(15) when I wanted to imitate the look of a big wooden round curtain rod for my country style ruffle curtains. Those big wood rods were NOT cheep! I used PVC pipe put a PVC cap on the end and screwed the final into that. I'm still using them today, but the style of curtain has changed...... ;) PVC pipe has so many uses, it's inexpensive, you can cut thru it with a saw toothed bread knife.

  29. Image for SmeneBabebext SmeneBabebext

    I'd need to check with you here. Which is not some thing I typically do! I delight in reading a post that may make persons believe. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment! rabat Nike Lunarglide 3

  30. Image for Jackie Jackie

    Thank you so much for sharing such a great idea. I am going to do this, this week. I have 25 ft ceilings in the Great Room of my home therefore, as you can imagine the windows are huge. The thought of the expense of window coverings has been so daunting I haven't touched them (in four years) since we bought the house. I have gorgeous wooden blinds on the bottom part of the windows, (I know there is an official design name for them but I cannot for the life of me remember it right now) but I want to soften the room with fabric. I have begun making the actual panels but the hardware expense has scared the crap out of me. This idea will help the budget tremendously and look amazing. This is another example of why I love what you do and following your blog. You have a beautiful home and share how to obtain the look on a budget without it looking like your on a budget. You are also so funny and it is such a joy to read your blogs. Thank you for sharing, it really does make an impact on so many lives.

  31. Image for Margaret Margaret

    I can't find the finials or the rod brackets at Lowes or Home Depot! I don't think they sell them anymore. The only ones I can find are already painted and cost around $10 for a pair. And I need 5 pairs! :(

  32. Image for Vince Vince

    Great idea, we went with it using Lowes, only problem, it didn't turn out as cheap as yours did. We needed 24" rods for living, dining, kitchen as our house has an open concept design. We therefore needed 2 rods for living, 2 for dining and 1 for kitchen. 5 rods, 10 finneals, 10 brackets and stain was everything we needed for the project. Dowel rods (3 needed for sizing) $6 ($18), 5 bags of finneals like you suggested at $3 a bag here ($15) and then the brackets are where things went through the roof. Unfortunately, a search of two Lowes in town could not turn up the brackets you suggested, we found the perfect ones, but for $8 each, ($80), which skyrocketed our project. The brackets work great, but unfortunately we came in, with stain ($6) and tax, with a final project price on 5 rods at about $125-130 for a total project of making 5 rods. If you want to try this project, I suggest doing your best to keep the price low on the brackets. Our brackets ($8 a piece) were the cheapest we could find to work with the dowels and look good with the project. Again, that is where the price gets steep depending on how many your are making. Like I said though, this was a unique suggestion.

  33. Image for kay kay

    Love the idea!!! I use pvc cut to length then buy dowels to cut into 3" pcs., stick them in the ends of the pvc and add no-head screws and attach 1 side to the finial and just screw the other side into the dowel at the end of the pvc rod

  34. Image for Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker

    I am really glad that you posted about the unpainted finials. I want some finials for a non-curtain related project and the ones on Lowe's website are $15 a pair. I am really glad to know they have some less expensive ones. My husband bought one years ago to use to make a homemade flag pole (he painted the finial gold). I didn't know they had some that were so much less. I hope very much now that they have some unpainted, super-inexpensive artichoke-shaped ones :) I have been planning on making some garden trellises and this is wonderful!

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