Billowy Curtains (On The Cheap)

October 11, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Officially 10 months behind schedule with the sunroom curtains.


It would have really been nice to have them all summer long to improve the curb appeal when there was more foot traffic in the neighborhood. Those flower pots didn’t stay in the sunroom very long; once July hit, the room was like a sauna and my plants would have baked, so really, envision the room totally empty.

Front of the house. Post siding, pre-attic update.

Back this thing up to January, when I wrote about my vision of using nice patterned fabrics to complement the gray siding and eggplant front door so that it looked phenom and all matchy from the road. It had potential, but what had occurred to me over the course of the springtime and summer when I spend hoards more time in that sunroom, is that any dark curtain or pattern wouldn’t really look that great from the inside.

I really love how bright and open the room is, all white-walled with huge windows, and even though I wasn’t going to make curtains that would functionally cover the windows entirely (hold that thought, I’ll explain further down), adding anything dark to the corners of the room would… I don’t know… weigh it down? And not only that, before I went and spent upwards of $70-100 on 10 yards of fabric, I wanted to be completely at peace with my decision.

The sunroom with lots of natural light.

My gut instinct to hold off on curtains remained as I plotted to repaint the sunroom ceiling. And then the sunroom floor. And installed the IKEA lantern. After all of that, I decided that dark curtains, or even most light curtains with a pattern seemed completely off the table. Whomp.

No worries though, by that time I had a plan B.

It wasn’t until I was working on my bedroom curtains (the first curtains hung in the house just last month!) until I really explored el cheapo window treatment options. While I ended up using a heavy painter’s canvas in the bedroom, muslin had been on the table too; inexpensive, lightweight, probably easy to dye, what’s not to like?

I decided to revisit it in the sunroom, where the light, airy fabric would only add to the room instead of distract from other details (blue ceiling, sunburst-y floor), so I scooted on over to JoAnn Fabrics to scope out my options. Because I had a 50% off coupon that could be applied to a single “cut” of full-price merch, I wanted to make the most of my savings and buy a full 10-yard piece in one swoop. And sometimes getting one nice long piece out of one of their bolts can be a challenge.

So… dare I admit… I got sneaky.

I knew that the following morning the 36″ wide white muslin was going to be a door buster clearance (priced at 50% off – the same price my coupon would yield) and before the rest of Rochester stocked up and left me with none, I went in with a plan to tap into that overstocked-for-huge-sale fabric, but instead devoured what ended up being their only bolt of that 36″ muslin. Don’t ask me why they were so low-stocked for a big event but I know this to be true because hunting down the 36″ bolt ended up being an hour-and-a-half long exercise for 4 employees who, as I left seemed very shaken by their store’s lack of preparedness. Yikes.

At 99-cents a yard, my total buy (and buy-out of their inventory) came to $9.90.

Sorry ladies who didn’t get their muslin at 8AM. And even more sorry for how long you probably waited in line at the cutting counter before you realized that they were out. 

Muslin home, I started by doing two things: cutting the fabric into even thirds, and washing/drying it to preshrink the material. It’s still in the back of my mind that I have the option of dying these somewhere down the road, and for that reason I wanted them to be shrunken before I did any hem work in the chance that they end up being washed again.

Dried and ironed for the first (of two times) the three panels hung in the sunroom.

Three panels of future sunroom curtains. Letting the light shine through.

Because I had tried (and liked) the no-sew Stitch Witchery for the bedroom curtains, I used it along the top hem of each curtain panel to provide a smooth, slightly stiffened edge.

New sew excitement ensues. Fold fabric, iron, place new-sew, re-iron on crease.

Along both long lengths of each panel, I had considered trimming the roughly frayed-from-the-wash muslin but instead opted to bring out the Singer sewing machine and neatly sew a hem. Zip, zoom, the whole ironing-no-sew-and-then-sewing took all of an hour of my weekend. A very subtle result, which is exactly what I wanted.

Hemmed curtain edge.

Further up the post I mentioned how the curtains weren’t going to be functional; I’ll be honest about this rationale:

The sunroom is a glass-encased room, and while we have the house well-secured and all, let’s face it, it’s a porch. I don’t keep valuable items in there, but I have a fear of someone trying to break into the house through the sunroom access, being able to get away with thievery. By not installing functional blinds or curtains, I’m locking those future burglars into a state of doing what they do in a glass bowl, still fully visible from the street and my watchful neighbor’s kitchen window. If there were blinds that could be shut or curtains to be drawn, I imagine people (this is so horrifying to think about) being able to get away with something more easily.

Now that I’ve thoroughly scared myself again, moving on.

To hang the completely static, non-functional curtains, I was inspired by an episode of Home by Novogratz, where the popular HGTV designers hung curtains on their country home’s front porch on basic eyelet hooks to add effect; in my case, less effect, more clean-lined functionality. I started by adding 4 hooks to each of the three corners of the room I was installing within:

Four evenly spaced hooks will hold the curtain panels static.

Side note: Lots of holes have been drilled in the window frame over time. Lots. Someday they’ll all be cleaned up with filler and the walls will be freshened with a new coat of paint.

To install the panels, simply cut (with a razor blade) four evenly spaced holes into the top hem of the panel through the Stitch Witchery for added strength. Each hole loops over the hook, and leaves me with a trio of consistently hung curtain panels.

Four evenly spaced hooks hold the curtain panels static.

Billowy curtains on the front windows (facing the road).

The third panel I was working on was hung in the back western corner of the room, opposite from the door out to the deck. It actually helps to disguise one of the 4×4 posts from the pergola that was visible against the window.

Third curtain panel.(Oooh, new ottoman. Nice.)

From the living room perspective, the sunroom looks great. Note that I didn’t hem the bottoms, so they’re pooling. That kind of stuff doesn’t really bother me, except that I know that in no time at all these will be converted into fur traps, at which time I’ll settle on a length (I’m thinking just barely resting against the floor).

Bright corner of curtains.

From the outside it looks nice too. Although in this photo the curtains on the left look narrower than those on the right, be assured they’re A-OK. It might not seem like much, but the pop of white (and light) actually does a lot to make the space look inhabited.

Subtlety from the front yard.


Birthday Geekness

October 10, 2011   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I celebrated a little birthday on Saturday. Not a big deal throw-me-a-fiesta kind of year, but fun and well-celebrated nonetheless (colorful candles!). #27, baby. Pete and I observed the occasion a week early with a day trip to Boston, where we explored Cambridge, Harvard U, and a perfectly timed Oktoberfest festival with two of my cousins.

Coolest Harvard chairs ever, or coolest. chairs. ever. 

Coolest Harvard chairs.

Side note: Same exact outfit as that photo in my sidebar. Wheeeee.

Harvard vs. Headshot.

I geeked out like Rory Gilmore while we explored the university. We stayed at the Irving House just off campus (a 40+ room inn with the cutest website I’ve seen in a long time). The location allowed us reason to walk through the architecture and gawk like all other tourists as we ventured to Oktoberfest.

With the same level of excitement as I dove into that pack of multi-colored chairs, Pete beelined for the NPR’s Car Talk Plaza. I don’t know about you other ladies, but the weekly show was also a staple in my youth so I appreciated it almost as much. Dewey, Cheetham & Howe marked on the window.

That’s pure, unfiltered, man excitement right there.

Car Talk man happiness.

I’m lucky to have people in my life who give kick ass gifts. A few that topped the list included my first-ever laser level, the premiere issue of HGTV magazine, and this beautiful bowl. The bowl, from my parents, was handmade by Rochester-based artist Richard Aerni and is a cool, one-of-a-kind pottery that I probably never would have splurged on myself. Something fitting my style, a little eclectic, but an item I would never buy in my frugal ways is the perfect type of gift.

My Richard Aerni birthday bowl.

Speaking of great gifts that I never would have bought myself, Pete surprised me earlier in the week with a new Canon EF 50mm lens for my Rebel that perfectly suits my penchant for macro photography and dramatic depth of field focus. He also threw on a UV filter which is a nice to have, and in addition to blocking out those rays, should really help to protect the lens. Stoked.

Canon EF lens. And UV filter.

I spent quality time with my new lens before this past weekend, which is why you saw a little sneak peek of it’s capabilities (in total testing mode – I’m no pro!) already in this photo (which was posted here):

Pegboard hooks... these, I think, are for non-office tools.One other especially ultra-cool gift (in my geeked out opinion) is a green Silva/Bradshaw ring that’s – wait for it – made of nylon and produced via 3D printing. Technology blows my mind. And the ring is exactly what they say it is; durable, strong, and still has a little bit of give to it so I don’t think it’ll ever become misshapen as easily as metal rings.


Silva/Bradshaw makes some amazing pieces beyond just jewelry; in fact, while you’re thinking of it, you should just go check out their amazing tables.

Thanks to all for making it a great day, and thanks to global warming for making my birthday weekend 70+ degrees, allowing me to get a lot of yard work done. More to come on that soon.


Pointing Out Pegboard Details

October 07, 2011   //  Posted in: Office Space, Organized   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

It rained all of last week, and that totally spoiled my plan to finish moving the massive pile of soil in my driveway. And this week I’ve been sick, so plans to move all of the dirt in the sunshine didn’t really materialize either. Excuses, excuses. Although, all of this time spent sitting around and blowing my nose did give me a bit of extra time to brainstorm the usage of a new multi-pack of fancy pegs and baskets for the office pegboard.

The room is officially no longer a closet. It’s a perfectly fine workspace, except that without pegs on the pegboard, too much stuff had been accumulating on the desk. The 48-piece package I scooped up from Home Depot had a lot of tool-intended pieces, and I wasn’t sure how much would translate to office efficiency, but still wanted to give it a try. At under $8 the hooks and $9 for a rubber-coated trio of baskets, I wasn’t going to complain if a few pieces didn’t work out. I was truthfully expecting to pay much more based on some window shopping, so my little Home Depot finds were pleasing.

Luckily, there were lots of hooks in the assortment. Hooks, I can do stuff with. In a multitude of sizes, too.

Pegboard hooks. This, I can work with.

But there were other things… I could only guess they are meant to hold screw drivers and drills? Help a girl out if you know the actual purpose. I imagine there’s something that could be done to make them office-friendly, but I put them aside for now so that we can use them with tools in the basement or garage eventually.

Pegboard hooks... these, I think, are for non-office tools.

Sidenote: Try and wrap your brain around that photo’s crazy depth of field. Playing with a new lens for the Rebel, which is why the first few photos are a little wonky.

Hung with intent to be functional (and keep stuff directly off the working surface), the pegboard has officially taken every last piece of junk off the desktop. This is the cleanest and most organized the whole room has been in weeks. And I just noticed that Pete wedged something under the front right leg to stop a little wobbily. FTW, dude.

Clean office, cluttered pegboard.

Want a closer-up viewpoint of how I’ve been putting the hooks through their paces? I’ll go through the pegboard left-to-right.

To the left, to the left.

  • From the upper left, clockwise: We have an assortment of unframed posters, Julia-drawings, and random stickers. Clipping them up with one of the Missoni bulldog clips and looping it on a hook keeps all those papers off the ground and more visible (so we remember to do something with them).
  • Also on hooks, I mounted a recycled paper bulletin board for basic functionality and to mix up the textures hanging in front of my face.
  • In the upper right, I balanced my business stamp on two braces. Easy access.
  • I hung one the smallest of the baskets on the pegboard with intention of holding all of our miscellaneous business cards. Because not all of my contacts are saved in my computer. Yet.
  • Vintage green lamp. With no bulb. And no shade. It will eventually be useful for task lighting.
  • I kept the unused hooks accessible in a little cluster on the lower part of the pegboard. Because I want them to be handy when I need one.
  • Oh, and there’s some driftwood in the corner. No real reason why. It may be used for future projects… or for collecting dust.

Center space on the pegboard; right in front of our working faces.

  • Right in front of my face, I have an IKEA magnetic board balanced on braces. It could also be hung on hooks easily, and will be if I ever make a custom shelf to sit there. Like a bulletin board, I use the magnet board for quickly saving magazine trimmings, cards, and other things that I might be needing to reference, like phone numbers, or my Home Depot shopping list.
  • In that large basket is a giant sheep. I’m not sure why I haven’t swapped it out yet; it’s an Anthropologie catalogue image that was framed while this was included in the stairwell collage during in the summer. It’s really acting as a paper weight for a stack of folders filled with paperwork. Because without a paperweight (and without having formal filing cabinets yet) they tumble into my face too often.
  • In the smaller basket, I’ve collected all of my original paint chips into one place. Always handy, like when you’re shopping online instead of writing and need to compare the office ceiling color to a digital swatch of carpet.
  • I’m keeping markers and writing utencils in that vintage round wooden cup, the intended use of which I can’t be sure of, but I once saw someone on etsy marketing it as a pencil cup. And that seems fitting. It was salvaged from Grandma’s attic a few years ago.

To the right, to the right.

  • The biggest thing on the right side of the pegboard is a piece of framed art. Like the sheep, it also lived in the stairwell back when I had a wall collage. Hooked right on, I like the pop of color it brings.
  • Right along the top of that frame, I’m displaying Pete’s childhood collection of Testors model paints (that we rediscovered when clearing out his parent’s attic). I’d love to assemble them in a shadowbox someday, but today wasn’t the day.
  • In a separate utencil cup, I keep colored pencils and markers available for the occasional sketching. Also, that little copper pot from Anthropologie is still empty; it’s cute, but it may end up elsewhere.
  • I like to have a clipboard handy if I’m working at the basement workbench or in the backyard, so keeping one on a hook has been convenient (and one less thing I’m constantly in search of). Shown on that graph paper is a future little gardening project that’s still in the Sharpie phases of development.

How about that? Pegboard happiness + organizational satisfaction.

P.S. I’ve been playing more and more with Gimp, a totally free photo editing software. I’m no photoshop pro, but this is a good alternative (considering it’s free). It generally gets the job done without too much guesswork. Try it out here if you’re looking for a new toy. I’d give it a thumbs-up for handling an inordinate amount of arrows.