Sunday, April 15, 2012

I should be banned from buying curtains

20 second update:
  • I'm a blog slacker, but I have a good excuse.
  • We moved into a very old mansion.
  • I'm 99% sure it's haunted, but that's a story for another day.
  • We're in the process of fixing the place up - it needs a lot of TLC.
So this old house has TONS of windows...and no curtains, of course.  I took all the window measurements before we moved in, thinking I'd run to the store and pick up some curtains.  HA!  As I said, the house has tons of windows - and that means tons of curtains.  And of course the curtains need to match and of course none of the stores seem to stock more than 4 panels of any particular style.  On top of that, every single window in the house is a different size.  I kid you not.  One bedroom has four windows with lengths of 55, 63, 65, and 68 inches.  Ugh.

Also,  I'm color-challenged and I have no sense of style.

I've been kind of overwhelmed at the thought of buying all these curtains, so in the meantime, we've thumbtacked pretty much every bit of fabric we have over the windows in order to have a little privacy - fabric shower curtains, fabric tablecloths, wall tapestries, and even bedsheets.  I'd show you a picture, but it's pretty darn embarrassing.

This weekend, I decided to tackle one room at a time.  I figured I'd start with the kitchen first, as I spend a lot of time there (ironic, considering the fact that I rarely cook...) and I'd like it to feel "homey".  And like all things, I've been obsessing a bit - searching millions of websites for the perfect curtains.  Note: for some reason, I've been obsessing about black mold too.  There's no sign of it, but given the age of the house, I'm convinced it's here. I actually had a dream last night that these gigantic spots of black mold kept appearing on the bedroom walls.  We'd wash them off, then return to the room and what did we see again?  More black spots.  I also had a dream about a Dalmation.

THE LION TAMER also requested I start with the kitchen. "I'd like to be able to walk through the kitchen naked without scaring the neighbors.  I mean, it's not like I usually walk through the kitchen naked, but I'd like to keep my options open."

So here's a "before" picture of the kitchen.  I've been reading a lot of DIY home improvement, crafty type blogs.  And this is what these people do.  They show you a "before" picture so you can Ohhhh and Ahhhh over the "after" picture.  Yeah, don't get your hopes up.

This is what I call the "nook area" of the kitchen.  One large wide window, and one long narrow window.  Yeah, there are two other windows in the kitchen too - above the sink and over a countertop, but you steps.  I figured I'd start with these first and then buy matching things for the other windows later.

Let me just say right now that I HATE KITCHEN CURTAINS.  Seriously.  Everything looks like it should hang in my grandmother's kitchen.  Gee, which one should I buy???

No offense if you have any of these curtains, they're just NOT my style.  I wanted something elegant, yet stylish, dressy, but casual.  

Time for a confession.  I love thrift stores.  I love the Salvation Army.  I love to dig through their shelves and find all sorts of treasures.  I particularly like it when I find genuine Delft pottery, hand-painted in Holland for $.99.

I was at the Salvation Army the other day, digging through bins and found some window valence scarves, complete with tags still attached.  And they were sage green!  I bought four of these scarves for $4 each and then came home and looked them up online. They're regularly $49 each!   I was positive they would look great in the kitchen because the walls are a lighter color and the scarves are MUCH darker.  Yeah, remember that color-challenged thing?

The scarves are the same freakin' color as the walls!!!  I tried to hang them.  No way.  Boring and bland.  I'm hoping to use them in another room.  Back to the drawing board...

After pouring through tons of curtain and home decor websites, I decided that Roman Shades were the way to go.  I totally love this look:

Photo credit:

Great, but here's the challenge - MY WINDOWS ARE ALL DIFFERENT SIZES!  It's not just that each window is a different size, it's also that the top, middle, and bottom of the windows are different sizes!  So a shade that fits perfectly at the top is going to let light in at the bottom.  And with the big kitchen window, I'd need side panel shades 17-19 inches wide.  And that means custom shades.  And that means more $$$ than I want to spend (don't forget, I still have about 73 other windows in the house to cover...)

Then I was googling and found a Martha Stewart pattern for making your own Roman Shades.  And while I'm pretty good at sewing a hem, the list of supplies overwhelmed me and I think I made it to step 3 of the instructions before I was completely intimidated. 
Back to the drawing board...

I finally decided to avoid all of the crafty DIY sites and just look for an overall color scheme that I liked.  I came up with this:

Picture this man as a curtain.
Do you see it?  No?  Ok, I'll spell it out for you.

I was convinced this was it.  Stylish, but elegant.  Dressy, but casual.  Right?  Right.  So I set out to buy everything I needed.
  • White sheer panels
  • Rods for white sheer panels
  • Tan panels
  • Black rods for tan panels
  • Black room accessories.
Unfortunately there were some major flaws in my plan.

Always a ham, my cat only does hand-stands when I'm taking photos.

PROBLEM #1: I bought tension rods to hang the white sheers and hung them inside the frame in the 18 inch width, 43 inch width, and 17 inch width frames.  In hindsight, I should have bought one long cafe rod (I think that's what you call it) to hang the sheers the entire way across the window.  As they are now, the window looks very choppy being broken up into sections and the curtain comes out at the bottom where the windowsill is.

The rod boxes match the walls perfectly. I should chop them up and hang them!

PROBLEM #2: I bought two really nice black rods with round ball decorative ends to hang the tan panels.  When I got home with them, THE LION TAMER balked.  What? New rods?  The previous tenants left rods here for us!  Uhmmm, yeah, the white expandable ones that cost $1.99 and bend in half when you put any weight on them.

Once I gave a visual on what happens when you put two heavy panels on a cheap-o rod, THE LION TAMER went to get his drill to help me install the rod brackets.  That would be the drill that he took into work to drill holes for network cables.  At the office.  In Boston.  An hour away.  On a Sunday evening.  Ok, not happening tonight.  So for now, I decided to work with the white rods just to see how everything looks when put together.

PROBLEM #3:  Because the white sheers were hung INSIDE the window frame and the tan panels were hung OUTSIDE/ABOVE, the white sheers are longer than the tan panels.  I have no desire to hem the white sheers.  White duck tape anyone?

PROBLEM #4:  I always forget to hold curtains up to the light in the store to see the weave/ pattern.  I forget that they look very different when the light shines through.  And in this case, I don't like the tan panels AT ALL.  The weave is very checkerboard boxy.  And unattractive.

I am going to try to install the black rods tomorrow, once I have the drill, and see how this looks.  In general, I don't like any of it. The kitchen looks very bland and I'm not sure if the black rods will be enough.  I am wondering if the tan panels should be darker.  Or longer.  Or not tan.

And of course we're putting the cart before the horse, getting the curtains set up before coordinating with an eventual rug for the room, but that's ok.  THE LION TAMER's feet are always naked and I don't think the neighbors will mind that so much ;)

So what do YOU think?  Tan panels? Black rods? More colors? Longer length?  (the other side of the kitchen has dark appliances - black fridge, dark stove, black oven, dark wood cabinets).  Suggestions and advice appreciated!