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Dressing an Arch

Many homes have arched doorways and openings that can present a decorating challenge. Here's a great idea to dress them up.

Dressing an arch is a way to add softness without losing the unique shape. (SHNS photo courtesy Home & Garden Television)

By Shari Hiller

My partner Matt Fox doesn't think this project is common enough to write about. However, I started thinking about all of the homes we've been in during the past 10 years, and there are a lot of homes out there with arched doorways and arched openings. So for those of you with arches, here's a great idea to dress them up.

I created this awning idea for arches one day when Matt and I were decorating a model home. It was new construction, beautifully done, and the kitchen had a separate dining area off of it that was visible through two arched openings above the countertop and an arched doorway.

Once most of the decor was in place, the arched openings seemed a little bare. Everything had a leafy fruit motif going through it, and I really wanted to soften the arches with some fabric without taking away from the great architectural detail they added to the space.

I drew out an arch on a piece of paper and then, within the opening, drew a floating half-circle with a scalloped edge. If I could just figure out how to suspend a piece of fabric in the opening, I could retain the nice curve of the arch and get the softness I was looking for.

The answer came to me while I was walking down a hardware aisle at my local home center store: "cup hooks." I bought a couple of packages of the large-size cup hooks and measured the distance there would be if I screwed the cup hook into the arch and from there to the furthest point on the curve of the hook. This is the distance I had for fabric and an air space or gap to the arch itself. Also, a grommet would have to be placed just right to slide on the cup hook and allow the fabric to lay flat. I don't know if it was just dumb luck or because I'm a genius, but the idea worked.

To make the awning, I took a large piece of paper, held it up to the arch and had Matt trace along the inside edge so I had a guide back in my workroom. Then I cut my fabric along the arch line, which automatically allowed for seam allowances. I also measured out the scallops and then pinned a front and a back together with the right sides facing each other. I sewed the pieces together, leaving a small hole at the top to turn the fabric right side out.

Before turning the material, I cut the seam allowance close to the scalloped edge and made slits along it so the curves of the scallops would be smooth. I turned the piece right side out and worked with it quite a bit, ironing as I went to make sure the scallops and the edges were nicely rounded. Then a few quick hand stitches closed the opening in the upper edge.

Next, I laid the cup hooks out along the drawing of the arch and marked on my awning where the grommets should be placed. Following the instructions on the grommet package, I added 9 grommets around the edge of the awning. At this time I also marked the positioning of the cup hooks on my drawing so I could transfer their placement to the real arch in the kitchen.

Once the cup hooks were installed, it was time to see if this idea was really going to work. Well, there was a method to the madness. To get the awning on, it was necessary to hook it on the top center hook first, then one to the left and right of center, then the next two and so forth down the sides of the awning. Fortunately, there was some stretch or give to my fabric, and it allowed me to pull it a bit to get it over the cup hooks.

Before I started the project, I was sure it was going to be extremely difficult to accomplish. Now that it's done, I'd say it was simple.

(Shari Hiller writes this column with Matt Fox. They also co-host the HGTV show Room by Room. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)

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