Friday, March 18, 2011

Living Room Curtains

I pride myself on being a completionist (which is not a word, but go with me). I am not really a perfectionist ... I just really like to get stuff done. So while my DIY and home improvement projects might not be perfect, they are done in a timely manner. I guess I'd rather have some imperfections then feel paralyzed at the idea of even starting something that might not be perfect when I finish.

Which is why it's so weird that it took me five years to hang living room curtains.

To be fair, I spent many of those years perfectly happy with my lack of curtains. The condo came with 1980s vertical blinds, and those hit the dumpster immediately. We have a very wooded area behind us, and we're on the second floor, so we never really felt the need to have privacy (in fact, these will provide no privacy at all ... more on that in a minute).

But I've spent an inordinate amount of my free time these days surfing design blogs, reading design books, and I came to realize that a sliding glass door with nothing over it was a bit of an eyesore. It just looked unfinished to me. Plus, curtains add that element of softness that this living room, with its cool green walls and angled fireplace, really needed.

So I talked about curtains to M for several weeks, and I know he just wanted to shout, "just buy some already!" but he humored my photo texts of cool fabric I'd found and pondering of oil rubbed bronze rods vs. brushed nickel rods.

In the end, I chose white curtains from Ikea with a subtle gray floral pattern (Alvine Trad in white/gray) for $14.99, and a brushed nickel rod, finials and curtain clips, also all from Ikea. I hung them about five inches from the door, and maybe three inches wider than the frame, to give the appearance of taller ceilings and a wider window. I really, really like them.

(An aside... we got a console table! I bought it from a friend who wasn't using it anymore for $30. I heart it. The red lamp we pulled from our storage room.)

Anyway, the curtains were hung, but it took me a good three weeks to get around to hemming them. I wanted them to hit the floor, but not pool. I finally tackled that project tonight, and used the Ikea hemming tape that came with the curtains. And it sucked! I've made curtain panels (in S's room and our kitchen) using Stitch Witchery or liquid stitch. But the stuff that comes with Ikea curtains doesn't seem to stick quite right. Plus, the instructions said to put the tape in the seam, iron it, and then cut the hem. But that meant the tape kept slipping, and I ironed part of it all crooked and it was cumbersome. For the second panel, I just cut the hem one inch longer than I wanted it, put the tape in, folded it up an inch, and ironed. It was much easier.

So the big thing to point out about this curtain project is that it's completely decorative and non-functional. The bit of wall between the fireplace and the door is really skinny, as is the other corner. If we wanted fully functioning curtains, we'd have to cover a significant portion of the sliders. Since we're north facing, we really didn't want to do this. We need as much light as we can get. And besides, we lived without curtains for five years. We obviously aren't concerned about the privacy factor. I ended up just folding each panel in half, and using only one pack of curtain clips to hang them. So each panel is half the width of a normal panel. I think it turned out nice - they look like normal curtains, but don't cover up that precious window view.

Here is the progression of our living room, from when we first bought it with the ugly verticals, to the bare window, to our nice, soft new curtains.

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