Decorating

While The Dust Flies In The Laundry Room…

This isn’t as exciting as our big laundry room reno (nothing is!) but let’s talk about curtains for a second. Remember when our bedroom was all naked and afraid? (Sidenote: if you’re not watching that show, you should be).

We added frames and hung curtains at the same time, but it took us way longer to actually finish said curtains. We knew we wanted nice white linen-like ones for our dark-walled bedroom, and had heard a lot of good things about the Lenda curtains from Ikea around blogland (they’re their nicer/thicker white curtains with a convincing linen-looking weave, as opposed to the cheaper/thinner/breezier ones we’ve tried in previous houses). After seeing – and feeling – them in person, we were sold.

We also grabbed some nice substantial curtain rods from Lowe’s along with some nice big ring hooks (the same ones that we used in Teddy’s room).

They didn’t look so great when we first hung them after washing and drying them (to account for shrinkage), which is why we moved on to our little frame project (and asked you ignore the curtains while posting about that).

Once we finished with the frames, I turned my attention back to the curtains and slowly (as in, it took me a month to finish them) got ‘em done. First I took them down one by one and ironed them. I also removed the tabs at the top, so we could clip them more cleanly to each panel. See how it looks floppy and folded over in the one that’s hanging below? No bueno.

Just ironing them and removing the tab tops made a big difference. We also realized that they looked nicer when they were less pulled out/wide. That’s right, after years of practicing hanging curtains “high and wide” to give the illusion of bigger windows, it felt odd to like the look of tighter, narrower curtains – but it really gave these curtain panels a cleaner and fuller look.

The last thing they needed was a bit of a hem on the bottom, so after three weeks or so of being almost-but-not-quite done, I took to my sewing machine to make a nice thick hem (around 4″).

Here they are after. So. Much. Better.

I just want to rehang the curtain rods a little closer to the windows (nothing a little spackle and paint can’t solve).

Oh and one more tip is that when I hung them I sort of trained the fabric to alternate the direction of the loops with the rings (between two rings I’d train it to swoop out and between the next two rings I’d train the fabric to swoop in). That created a nice shape that I could follow down the rest of the panel for that drapey look. The professionally made curtains at the showhouse had that shape to them, and we really liked it. They felt so polished and tailored. Here we use faux white wood blinds for privacy, and the showhouse has plantation shutters, so in both cases the curtains are purely decorative (so they’re not drawn closed and can keep that shape).

Speaking of the professionally made curtains we got for the showhouse, we’re actually debating getting some made for our office. We know it won’t be as cheap as buying fabric and making our own (or grabbing pre-made ones by mass retailers) but we really loved how the showhouse ones turned out, and we conveniently met a seamstress through that process that we can use. We actually debated using her for bedroom curtains, but we figured white linen looking curtains were easy enough to find, so we’ll save her talents for a more not-readily-available result, like office curtains in one of these fabrics:

We ran through our favorite local fabric store (U-Fab) to grab these swatches. We love all of them for different reasons, so we’re still simmering on which one to go with. The patterned ones feel a little busy when we hold them up, and although we thought we’d love the emerald green or the orange ones for being a little different than our usual choices, they both felt sort of thicker/heavier than we expected when we put them next to the window.

Our favorite of the group is probably the top right swatch, which we only realized after holding them all up is the same fabric we used for the window treatments in the master bedroom of the showhouse, so while it feels sort of anticlimactic to go with the same thing at home, it’s also nice that they’re pre-vetted and we know we love them (and that they drape beautifully).

We’re not 100% sold on it yet though, so we’ll keep you posted when we make a decision. Sometimes I look into the office and think leaving the windows bare might actually be beautiful…

We also made a few curtain updates in Clara’s room, since we both had some issues with how hers had been looking. I thought the pattern was competing a little too much with the bold rug and the playful raindrop painted wall, and  Mr. Function (John) didn’t like how the blackout curtains, which were clipped behind each breezy panel, made them feel a little bulky when we slid them open and closed since we hadn’t ever sewn them together. Plus, the thin rod – a carryover from our last house – was starting to sag.

They actually photograph better than they look in person (photogenic curtains?), but in real life they felt a little more demanding and messy looking. So while in the midst of hanging Clara’s new light, we tried two things: flipping the panels backwards (the pattern was more muted on the other side) and removing the blackout curtains (which we’ve been considering weaning Clara off of anyways). They immediately felt less bold and heavy.

So I took them down and I sewed a hem on all four sides of all four panels (16 hems!) so that hanging them backwards looked more finished. For a second I worried about how bad the bold circles might look from the street with them drawn, but realized that since we close the blinds before pulling the curtains closed, they’d never be visible from outside – and since we removed the blackout panels we probably would just shut the blinds and leave the curtains open anyway.

Rather than rehanging them on those thin, sagging curtains rods; we took the opportunity to upgrade those too. We went with white wood ones from Lowe’s so that we no longer had a dark metal line cutting across the top of each window. That’s a look that we like almost every where else, but Clara’s room is so light and playful that it felt oddly heavy and out of place in here. As soon as we got the white rods up, they felt great.

I was waiting for one of you eagle eyed readers to notice the rod change/curtain flip in Clara’s light post, but nobody did! To be fair, we hardly showed them, so here’s a nice full view for ya. We’re still not certain they’ll be Clara’s forever curtains, but we’re both liking them much better, and it was a zero dollar change other than the rod upgrade (they’ll stay no matter what curtains end up there someday).

Oh and as for the length in here, John was adamant that ours be floor-length in our bedroom (he likes that look best) but agreed that a little loose pooling action on Clara’s floor would be ok for these. I think that casual french vibe goes well with her Belle-looking chandelier.

The best news of all is that so far our fears of ruining Clara’s sleep habits without blackouts have been unfounded. She’s still taking good naps in the afternoon (which is when the sun hits her windows the most directly) and isn’t waking at sunrise like we worried she would. Turns out those white faux-wood blinds do a pretty decent job at blocking light on their own, so they seem to be just fine without blackouts backing them up.

There you have it. A whole lot of hem-sewing, some new rods, and some curtain considerations for the office. Now it’s back to laundry room stuff (today we’re re-routing vents, which sounds about as exciting as it is – but next is drywall!). Until then I’ll be daydreaming about what curtains we’ll hang in the future bunk room someday and trying not to duct tape my fingers together.

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Wallflowers (aka: How To Cover A Wall With Fabric)

Favorite project ever! Ok, I probably say that to myself every month or two, but this one might reign supreme for a while. Especially in the small/easy division (our sunroom reno and Teddy’s built-ins might have given it competition if it fell into the heavy-duty upgrade category, but there’s no way it belongs there because it was so simple). Ladies & gentlemen (gentleman?), I give you… Clara’s closet:

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of covering the back wall of Clara’s closet with something fun for a while, especially since images like this inspired me to add some playful to make it feel more like a little hideaway within her room. Right after we moved in she proclaimed her closet her favorite spot in the whole house. She plays in there a ton since there’s a lot of space in the back for her dollhouse and a few other favorite toys since we store most of her clothes in her six-drawer dresser with the exception of a few hanging items – and it’s a super deep closet, clocking in at 6.5′ feet deep and 4 feet wide.

I thought we would end up using wallpaper or a stencil for some back-wall pattern, but then we came across this fabric (called Peaceful Perch by Dena Home for $20 at U-Fab) and just KNEW it was the one. Clara was with us and before I could even say “what do you think?” she was rubbing her face all over it (she’s her mother’s daughter) and saying she loved the birds. Jackpot. I was going to cover that back wall with that fabric if it was the last thing I did.

So I bought three yards of it (enough to go from floor to ceiling with a little wiggle room to spare) and rejoiced that the bolt’s width was easily wide enough to cover that back wall. When we got home Clara went to color something in the office and I fed Teddy in the living room and then she walked into the living room ten minutes later and screamed “YAY! DID YOU MAKE MY CLOSET PRETTY?! I can’t wait to see it!!” Needless to say the girl never covered a wall with fabric. But neither had I.

The surprising news is that it only ended up taking about an hour and a half to adhere the fabric along that back wall and another half hour to trim it all out for a finished look, so it can’t be done in the time it takes to feed a three month old, but it can be done between feedings (even if your son is on an every-two-hours schedule). In other words, it was way less intimidating and time consuming than I initially expected. And all it set us back was the cost of the fabric, some fabric glue, and some ribbon.

The first thing I did was empty her closet.

Everything came out, including the shelves and hanging bars that you see here which I removed as I went (I needed free access to all of the nooks and corners along that back wall).

I stood on a step ladder with my staple gun and started in the top right-hand corner, stapling it nice and tight around the perimeter of the back wall. Every few inches I shot a staple in, making sure they were nice and tight against the wall, and that the fabric wasn’t wrinkled or folded. By starting in that top corner with my completely untrimmed three yards of material, I knew I could work my way down and across, keeping things tight and straight as I went, without running out of fabric. It really was that simple.

I think if I had been working with something striped or geometric in a the-naked-eye-can-tell-if-that’s-not-level way, it might have been more of a challenge, but since this print is so wild and free, I really just focused on keeping things pulled taut, and stapling them every few inches around the edge.

 I even realized that I could wrap the fabric around the shelf board on the back of the closet with a few staples on either side of it so it was nice and clean looking.

My only real warning would be that if you have a big flap of extra fabric going on like I did on that angled part (I didn’t trim the fabric at all before hanging it for fear of cutting it off at the wrong angle or taking too much off that would make the entire remnant unusable), just be sure you don’t staple it behind itself or something. I never did that, but almost did a few times. If you did it wouldn’t be the worst thing because you can just pop staples out with a flat-head screw driver if you mess up anyway.

I did that a few times if I thought I hadn’t pulled something tight enough, or when I got to the bottom of the wall and felt like the corner had a crease or a bubble it shouldn’t have. You just sort of undo a few staples and re-pull things and re-staple until you like the look.

When I finished with all of my perimeter stapling, after the obligatory victory dance with the unplugged staple gun (unplugged is the key word), I ran an exacto knife along the entire perimeter of the back wall to cut off the excess. You’ll want to put a nice new blade in there to get as clean of a cut as possible. I tried to push just hard enough to cut through the fabric but not hard enough for it to go into the drywall. Since it’s the corner and I knew I’d be adding a trim piece of ribbon for a finished look, even if I jammed it into the drywall a little, it wasn’t a big deal, but for the most part I could slide it through the fabric without digging into the wall itself.

Next came the ribbon for that nice polished edge. I held up various ribbon remnants in red, pink, blue, and white that we had on hand and John and I both liked how the pink looked because it blended into the wall color (bold colors like red made it a little busy when combined with such a bold fabric, so we liked the more seamless look of the soft blurs-into-the-wall pink option).

We didn’t have enough pink ribbon just laying around, so I ran out to JoAnn and grabbed two 6 yard spools (we calculated that we’d need around 8 yards to go around the wall’s perimeter) and also grabbed some Aileen’s Fabric Fusion glue to attach that all the way around. It was almost like clear silicone caulk, so I just ran a thin line of it down the edge of each wall…

… and stuck a pre-cut-to-size ribbon against it for each portion.

Here’s the finished result:

Once that dried (within about an hour) I brought back all the shelves and hanging rods I had removed, and put the closet back together.

Clara’s PSYCHED about it.

So is momma. Dad’s pretty keen on it too. Burger and Teddy are ambivalent, but I’ll take it.

The coolest thing about this project is that I completely expected it to be one of those kinda-complex-and-tedious jobs that are worth it in the end, but it ended up being one of those surprisingly-simple-and-straightforward projects that make you beam because it looks way more expensive and complicated than it was. We already have had a few people over and all of them thought it was wallpaper until they touched it and said “no way, it’s fabric?!”

What did you guys do this weekend? Any kids-room stuff? Fabric projects? Victory dances with your 16 pound baby? Sometimes I feel like all I manage to get accomplished is to feed these kids and keep them semi-clean, so fun little projects like this are pretty exciting. Especially when I can squeeze them in between feedings. We also managed to get a little hiking in this weekend, and although it involved a particularly “memorable” port-o-potty visit with Clara, it was pretty awesome while it lasted.

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