Decorate Like A Pro: Custom Curtains by Kristen Foster
Bedding for Carolyne Roehm by curtain maker Kristen Foster of Falls Village
Interior designers sell taste. They also sell connections. And if you are one of those people who’s confident in your taste but don’t know the artisans who can execute your ideas, you should make an appointment with Kristen Foster, a master curtain maker in Falls Village, CT. Although she always seems to be working on a project for the iconic style arbiter Carolyne Roehm (who has a landmark estate called Weatherstone in Sharon, CT, as well as homes in Aspen and Manhattan), no custom job is too small for Foster, who makes shades, pillows, shower curtains, draperies, valances, cushions, and headboards. “I will do anything with fabric but reupholstery, which is just too messy,” says Foster, whose throw pillows start at $65 and roman shades at $200.
Foster offers small-town service and world-class workmanship. “I first used Kristin to make table cloths for me,” says Roehm. “While I was redoing Weatherstone after the fire, I hired Kristin to make all of my decorative pillows, bedspreads, bed dressings for canopy beds, and skirts for dressers. She is capable of making anything and unlike so many vendors in the interior design world she is always on time! She continues to work with me and did all of the same types of items for my apartment in New York and my house in Aspen. For me, she is an indispensable professional.”
While most custom curtain makers insist that you buy fabric from them (so they can get the markup), Foster does not charge extra if you provide your own fabric (what’s known in the trade as COM—customer’s own material.) You can bring her a piece of cloth that you found at a flea market or warehouse sale, and she’ll be happy to make you a cushion or shade. But she’ll also help you find fabrics, and she even makes house calls. “We needed new cushions for our porch furniture and she brought over sample books and we made our choices in ten minutes,” says Dan Dwyer, the owner of Johnnycake Books in Salisbury, CT. “She measured everything and we could not be happier with the results.” Ray Attanasio, a New York interior designer who co-owns Balsamo Antiques in Pine Plains (and designed the room at left), often brings Foster to job sites in New Jersey and Connecticut so they can collaborate on the best solutions for specific situations. “She has great ideas and knows what can and cannot be done,” he says. “She’s impeccable. She has very high standards. I have never been disappointed.”
Foster, who learned to sew from her grandmother and high school Home Economics classes, says it took years for her to become a master curtain maker. “Making window treatments requires a lot of trial and error,” says Foster, who doesn’t have a shop because she prefers to work at home in her basement studio. “I like being able to go to work at 5 a.m. in my jammies if I feel like it.” She says that she enjoys the challenges posed by clients like Roehm, a former fashion designer, who have extravagant taste. “I love making draperies with dressmaker details,” she says, adding “but there’s nothing more satisfying than making a simple Roman shade.”
Compared to the ready-made pillows and curtains sold at places like Pottery Barn, Foster’s prices are quite reasonable and will be exactly what you want instead of a compromise. “Made to fit is made to last!” she says. “Most of what I make will last for the life of your house. You don’t have to be a millionaire to afford something truly fabulous.”
Falls Village, CT