Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Room With A View

Wow, what a crazy year.  We replaced our washing machine, which led to a pantry reorganization scheme (mostly using pre-existing materials), then the dishwasher got replaced, but my desire to make over the kitchen was tabled when the couch and love seat we were given, but I ended up being allergic to, went to a new home.  Instead of just bringing a futon back and putting it where the couch had been, we decided to reorganize the entire living room layout.  Including moving the table to be by the front door and opening up the living room area.

Unfortunately, the first problem to manifest itself, was now the futon faced the only two windows in the room, and they were U G L Y!  Ok, maybe they aren't that bad.  They're those curtains that everyone had in the 80s.  And in our case they matched the walls (also ugly) perfectly!

Ugly window to the left
Ugly window to the right

Obviously, the curtains were going to make life really depressing (not that they didn't already), but looking at them everyday.... Good thing I'd already been browsing some window treatment ideas!  We decided to keep the existing hardware and sorta re-purpose it.  We also needed some new hardware.

We started with heading to the local Shopko for some inexpensive Roman blinds.  Of course none of them are wide enough for our old fashioned windows, so the decision was made to use two roman blinds side by side.  This works doubly well because this summer the left window will be home to the air conditioning unit and that will necessitate one blind being raised to at least above the window.  Yay!  Versatile solutions make me happy!  If we'd been more patient, we could have found something just as nice or nicer online, but the makeshift system has it's perks.  I just wish it blocked a little more light, the windows face the neighbors front porch and the neighbor leaves their light on sometimes, not to mention I like it dark while watching movies or playing certain video games.

Next we dragged everyone to Walmart where we found nothing of help - we have the world's most worthless Walmart, really we used to have a smaller one, and it had more variety, but they decided to build a "Super" Walmart, and it has half the selection, but they added groceries, unfortunately, the local market is already super saturated grocer-wise.  So we went on to the fabric store.

Now it wasn't completely without planning, we had downloaded the Sherwin-Williams iphone app and started thinking of colors.  We even started talking about painting the depressing walls that I've wanted to paint since we've moved in, but we've never had the time to put the energy into the motivation.  We figured we would go with Emerald green trim, and we are stuck with the crappy brown carpet (lack of funds), so crappy brown, emerald green accents.... we wanted a sheer material to go over the white (although I'd call it ivory) Roman blinds.

I thought I'd just run into the fabric store and take some crappy iphone pictures and run out and we'd make a decision another day, but the lady helping me kept me away from the boring intended for windows materials and had me digging through the formal dress fabrics.  She got me thinking of having a little something shiny in my sheers.  Then the color issue came full force.  In dragged my very tired family and we went from bolt to bolt trying to compare to a random emerald we hadn't quit set our hearts to with a gold sheer and and ivory sheer with sparkles in it.

Close-up of  window scarf material.
Sage cloth with purple and gold embroidery.
I was just about done.  I really wanted to go home and rip down the depressing curtains and put up the Roman blinds, but we really wanted to get this done too.  Especially since we were now looking at me making the curtains.  Which also meant I had to borrow a sewing machine.  While I was looking around and chasing my toddler who had had just enough of shopping for one week, my husband found the scarf material in a row filled with simply gorgeous Chinese and Indian inspired embroidered fabrics.  That was that, we had our fabric, we compared our sheers to it and ordered the embroidered fabric (there wasn't enough left on the bolt) and we were in business as it were.

Close-up of sheer material.
White with plastic disks that
shimmer in the light.
Of course because I hadn't planned on buying fabric that day I ended up taking our very quick measurements and designing the curtains in my head to use the least amount of fabric possible!  I know they say to go 1.5 to 2 times the width of your window, but I didn't want folded billows, I wanted just not quite flat curtains, and that's what I have!  I decided to use the full width of the fabric to make both curtains for one window and then ordered the length I needed, plus hems X 2 and a couple inches for a nice even yardage.  The results completely work and the only scrap I have is from squaring the cuts made at the store!

How to attach a curtain without
changing your hardware
The little rings with grippy claws.
I did the smalled side hems I could with a gold thread that I used a decorative stitch on.  This mostly worked, but the plastic disks that give a shimmer quality to the fabric did end up gumming the machine and causing some problems with the thread ripping after the first several lines.  My smart friend who let me use her machine figured out running some old t-shirt through the machine cleaned it up enough to go again for a bit, but I still did a bit of ripping and going again.  It took a while because sewing with kids in a room that is disorganized from moving things around - and another surprise was a bit more than I bargained for.  On the bottoms I did a 1 inch hem.  At the top is the best magic.  I did a 2 inch hem and then cut a button hole in the top to facilitate the bar that the old ugly drapes used to hang from.  Then I folded the hem in half and sewed it again.  This gave me a nice thick top hem to hold hopefully strongly so that the curtains could be hung on a pull cord rod.  Since the rod was set to accommodate hooks, I bought a set of rings with grippy claws attached that are intended to go along a straight rod, I slipped one over each ring on the existing bar and folded the already halfed top hem in half again and clamped it in to the claws as far as it would go.  Now the curtains open on the already existing pulls!  I went with bronze rings, which are invisible with the bronze/brown bar.

In daylight with the sheers finished and installed.
Roman blinds are up.

It took what felt like forever, but may have been two weeks for the scarf material to come in.  I ordered 6 yards of the stuff, and boy is that a long bit when you are trying find enough floor to lay it out and cut the width in half.  I did the same thing I did for the sheers, divided the fabric by width and ran the whole length, this time one half for each window.  In a perfect world that would have been the end of it, but the ends that were cut at the store were already starting to unravel and it was obvious that this material too would need a microscopic hem (although a full roll hem this time, not just a single fold like I did on the sides of the sheers - the bottom and top are tucked hems with no edge visible.)  I pinned one end thinking that if I could at least get the short ends hemmed I could do the 6 yard runs later (there are 4 of those total).  The idea of pinning and sewing 6 yards on the as close to the edge of the material as possible just was not appealing!  Especially with the list of projects piling up - I'm going to get to that I promise!

In stepped my daughter's kindergarten teacher.  When we had been at the classroom for the spring egg hunt activity on the 29th she showed me a serger she is borrowing to make bridesmaid's dresses and the beautiful blue sparkle material she is using to make them (it's actually the same material I made Goldilock's cloak out of last Halloween).  Neither of us thought anything and at that point she was filling overwhelmed with getting the dresses done.  However, on Monday's we have lunch recess duty together and she was telling me how she had finished the dresses and I was congratulating her and wishing I could say the same about my window project, even though the curtains were up and how I had to tuck and sew all this 6 yards when what I really needed was a serger.  She graciously volunteered to serger my window scarves the next day!!!  It only took her a couple hours (and only that long because the serger came unthreaded and she didn't know how to rethread it, but I figured it out (I'm good with diagrams) and I helped run centers in her classroom while she finished up the scarves.

Of course I came home and immediately put them up!  I did have to wait until dark to take pictures though as it was a bright sunny day.
Left window finished!
Ok, I need to tweak the hang on the scarf, but finished!

Right window finished!
I did this first and I love the way it hangs.

Right window with the sheers open and the Roman blinds down.

Both windows as seen from the futon.

Pretty awesome right!  Oh my gosh I'm just loving it so much.  Now we just have to set on wall paint and get that nasty brown wall board taken down.  What do you think?  Cornbread Yellow or Muted Violet?  Those are the colors Sherwin Williams says will go that we like.  I WILL NOT HAVE WHITE, BEIGE, OR EGGSHELL!  I am soooo very sick of blah walls!!!!

Of course painting isn't the only issue, you remember those other projects I've been eluding to?  Remember how we were looking at lights?  Talking about replacing the fan.  Well it's more like removing the fan now as all but one of the lightbulbs has burned out again and we've already replaced them this year!  I'm done with it.  I've found some cute light fixtures that will add a lot more light, we just have to get that ugly thing down and see if we have any ceiling hardware to work with (the fan/light currently plugs into an outlet, not hardwired, but there could be hardware under it, maybe).

There is one more thing as well.  Did you notice anything odd about the left window?  No, well I was pretty careful taking the photos, maybe you can see it in the picture below?
What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

See it now!?!  Yup, I'm missing some floor and ceiling, around 5' of each really.  Ok, the ceiling happened 3 years ago, but being sick, on bedrest, and pregnant (in reverse order) prohibited me doing anything about it until now.  That is my June/July project right there, although because the ceiling has been warped since before we moved in I want to replace all of it.  The floor, however; is holding up the whole living room shebang.  It turns out that the left window has been leaking into the house (it wasn't closed all the way, go figure).  Thankfully all the damage was contained by our large wooden bookcase.  Unfortunately, same said bookcase concealed all this damage with the help of the kitchen table that used to sit unused in this same corner.  So glad we moved that!  Fortunately this floor should be repaired soon (the insulation you see is all new and more 2x4's have been added to give more support to the ones that sustained some damage.  It just needs the floor put in and the carpet pulled back over.

If nothing else, home projects can get very interesting.  Oh and that light, it's probably going to change too.  and it may be getting a twin (of the new light fixture that is) in front of the right window.  We'll see what it's going to take once I get that ceiling knocked down.  Oh and my dear hubby will have to make some decisions about the flat roof above both windows so that we don't end up with my new sheet rock work getting damaged.  It's going to be a busy summer!

DON'T FORGET!  Please vote in the comments (or message me - papernapkinsedgeofinsanity AT gmail DOT com) for your favorite color for our walls, Muted Violet, Cornbread Yellow, or Other (better name your Other).


  1. Personally, I love a chairrail (sp?) with one color above and one color below, or 2 walls one color and 2 walls a different color. Hard to see how the whole living room is set up in the pics, so hard to say how to do the colors, but I would encourage using both colors, or one of those with another accenting color. Consider painting the paneling. Our first house had painted paneling in the dining/kitchen and it looked great and gave neat texture.
    The curtains are AWESOME! I so wish you could visit (and bring that sewing machine). I can't sew at all and we have no curtains on our living room windows. Would like to have some (I'd rather have curtains throughout the house and totally get rid of the mini blinds), but curtains are just one of those things that eludes me. I can't decide what style, what color, what rod, etc. etc. I'm good with paint, though.
    SC Relative

  2. Love the finished curtains and I need to come see them in person. And my vote is the yellow. Warm colors rather than cool. Don't you love having things in your house that make you happy? I do!

  3. I do like the chair rail look, but I think we are going to be looking at pretty much one color. One wall does have a chair rail, and it will stay, but the walls the windows are on are only 7 feet high, maybe less. I don't think they'd look good with a rail.

  4. oh and some of the paneling has been damaged by the previous owner, some from the recent water issue, I think it's best if it comes off. The wall behind it looks good.


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