Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More than you ever cared to know about my curtains

The vast majority of the planned projects for our house are purely cosmetic and, for the most part, they are all on the back burner while we tackle a leaky roof, a wheelchair ramp, and investigate a couple of upgrades to the rental unit upstairs (two Ph.Ds are arriving this summer--it'll be a regular nerdery around here). Fortunately, most of the windows in our house look out at absolutely nothing so investing in curtains is not a high priority. In the bedrooms we've just re-hung the light blocking curtains on tension rods that I made a couple years ago. But the bay windows have that public view right out to the street. Sellers are required, I think, to provide window coverings with the house and these windows were equipped with snazzy roller shades. We just didn't want to live any longer than necessary with something that took six tries per window to fully lower each evening.

The first problem was how to hang curtains on bay windows. Ours have three sections but then the wall turns again to come straight out rather than just keeping its angle. Does that make sense? And the windows run right up to that turn with hardly any space between each window. Normally you want to mount the rod bracket at least two inches beyond the window frame and I would have gone even further so as not to lose any of the natural light coming in. We picked up some rods and figured out how to hang them by removing the finials on the center window. This at least allowed us to maximize every centimeter we had. Then we settled on dark wood blinds and sage-green linen curtains. We figured the blinds would be light-blocking and insulating and the linen curtains would be sheer and breezy enough to not obstruct too much light. We could have just mounted decorative panels on the side walls but I wanted slightly sheer curtains that work for blocking the afternoon sun in the summertime.

Definitely should have bought an ironing board while I was at IKEA.

The first glitch was with the wood blinds. I'd seen them at Home Depot for only $20 each. For real wood! But when I went and double checked our window measurement I found we needed blinds just eight inches longer and--get this--that added $38 to the price tag for each blind. No way. We decided that curtains alone would probably be fine and I went off to Ikea to pick up our sage-green linen drapes.

Second glitch: the sage green drapes were definitely more "lime" green in the store. They were pretty cool but they didn't exactly go with the traditional/classic/folk vibe we're going for eventually. There were no other colored curtains that would have let in any light and, of course, Eric wasn't with me so I was flying solo on curtain selection with a hard deadline to get these up before Gregory's baptism party. I reluctantly decided to select a white or off-white curtain which is actually what Eric had wanted in the first place. But I wanted contrast between the walls and curtain. I didn't want to buy any synthetic fabric and I didn't want to dole out the money for linen curtains that matched my walls. Just as I was about to give up I spied the Birgit curtains. Mostly white, yes, but 100% cotton, plenty sheer, and with a really cool folk-art motif in the center that actually match cushions I've wanted to buy for ages for our leather chairs.

Even so, the thing that really decided it for me (other than the embarrassing amount of time I'd already spent pacing the curtain department) was the much lower price. I figured I'd feel less bad about replacing them down the road if they were inexpensive to begin with.

I got them home and we hung them up and--as I feared--I hated them against the cream walls. And then I had a startling epiphany: I own those walls! I can paint the walls! As soon as I realized that, I fell in love with the curtains and Eric and I even managed to more or less plan out the entire color scheme for the living and dining room based on the colors in the flower motif.

They look awesome pulled back to the side and equally great left hanging--they let in a great amount of light all day long. And we've done a few outdoor evening checks and Eric is pretty sure we have nothing to worry about as far as privacy goes.

I got even more giddy when I realized that I could paint just around the bay windows for now to make the curtains pop. In order to paint the entire room we'd need to move the piano and I have a feeling that even if I could convince Eric to do that, we'd have a hard time recruiting even one or two friends to help. The plan is to make that alcove a super-dark green to match the stem of the flower (think a "gray-green" rather than "forest green").


Lauren said...

Gosh! I didn't read the text yet but those curtains are ADORABLE!

Angela said...

I love the curtains! Keep sharing all your progress - maybe it will motivate me to do something around here when we finish school for the summer. =)

Susan said...

Angie your house is lovely!

Emily said...

love the cool curtins!!! Way to go Susan! We have dark green blinds on all 9 windows in our back family room...any ideas???

Mel Squared said...

Those are terrific curtains! We don't do curtains ourselves because I don't like them as a rule, but yours are pretty!

Susan said...

Mel--I am probably also a default "no curtains" person. But these windows really needed them: ugly trim, bad paint job, and a definite need for privacy. And since this is now a long-term to permanent home for us we wanted something that looked nice.

Emily--Nine windows in one room! You do need to send some pictures :) We have nine windows in our entire apartment. Dark green blinds do not sound nice. If you like the blinds and the "dark" you could look at 2" wood blinds. Very classy looking but you won't like the price tag for the real thing ;) You could also look into bamboo shades. I think they are more affordable and will lighten things considerably. Do you have any curtains now? If some of the windows are grouped in sets of two or three I would hang a rod over all at once and put up a panel at either end. That will probably save you money over buying individual rods and panels for each window and will simplify the room. But, as I mentioned to Melissa, I like nice-looking blinds or shades alone if the window frame is nice. Our MN house was a craftsman-style bungalow with gorgeous details so we didn't even consider curtains there.