We have curtains!

Ever since we moved into our home we've we been using the sun porch as a mixed use extension of our kitchen. And through that time, due to the large and very open windows in the space, the window treatments (or lack of) have clearly set the tone in each incarnation of the room. 

Here's a look back at where we started, shortly after moving into our home in 2003.

We lived with this look for several years, until we saved up money to tackle the space. During our next phase of sun porch decorating, we had custom window treatments made, bought a new sisal rug, added a couple new pieces of furniture along with existing and hand me down pieces, and painted over the ugly brown tile. Needless to say, we were happy with the improvements.

And now it's confession time. We haven't been forthcoming with y'all about why we started the sun porch makeover in the first place, so here's the back story. About this time last year we were thrilled to be chosen to be featured as an Apartment Therapy home tour. The online tour featured photos of our home, top to bottom. Though the comments were overwhelmingly wonderful and positive, there was one slightly negative comment about our sun porch window treatments.

The commenter said "Fantastic job! Not really my taste, but it all looks great except for the window treatments in the kitchen and sunroom - that fabric screams 1980s to me."

Ouch. We were hurt, shocked, offended, appalled, crushed, and sad. Okay, maybe we weren't really any of those things, and the commenter did say "Fantastic job," but our eyes were at least opened, and we knew we needed a change. (Well, Wendy had been talking of making a change already, so this was really the catalyst we needed to get started.) So I say (read in your best "Real Men of Genius" jingle voice):

Today we salute you, Mrs. Anonymous Apartment Therapy Commenter.

Anonymous Apartment Therapy Commenter!

Though you hide behind the invisibility cloak of the Internet to lay judgment on the homes of people willing to share them, your criticism helped us to realize the flaws in our ways.

Constructive criticism!

Our "1980's" sun porch was being held back by our own familiarity, and you delivered a digital blow of reality...when you probably should have been working.

You laid the virtual smack down!

So we thank you, oh baroness of the blogosphere, because we can count on you to share your uncensored opinion on our taste...even if we didn't ask for it.

I hope you enjoyed my jingle, and if you know the duo responsible for the real jingles, let them know I have a recording job for them.

Ok, back on topic. We used that seemingly random but cutting comment as inspiration and a little nudge to begin the sun porch overhaul. The first item on our upgrade list was to purchase an "inspiration rug." 

This step was almost immediately followed by the removal of the old, and apparently very dated looking "1980's" window treatments.But once those window treatments were removed and replaced by some stock bamboo shades, it just felt wrong.

It was hard and disheveled, and it didn't really make the room look cohesive. We needed something else, without a doubt. Even though a coat of paint helped, it still was seriously lacking.

While we were on our IKEA shopping spree back in August, Wendy picked up four white drapery panels destined for this room. But one of the biggest problems was how we planned on hanging them. The length of the wall at the back of the house is quite long and we were having a hard time finding a length that might work.

We were also stumped by how to hang the curtain rods, especially on the wall with the door. After receiving several suggestions regarding DIY conduit curtain rods, we were nearly sold on making them ourselves, but with the impending December 1 deadline and our mile-long list of things we need to do before we're on the Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Designer Tour of Homes, my better half made the executive decision to go the store bought route. Wendy was able to find a set of Target rods that are able to extend just barely to the length we need them.

When she brought them home I innocently said "Wait, I thought we were making these from conduit?" From the flames that appeared just behind her eyes, I knew I had assumed incorrectly.

"We have a home tour in two weeks, we have a ton of things to get done...WE DON'T HAVE TIME!" (Since there's no snarling dragon HTML tag, I've had to simply bold that text. Perhaps I should have used the BLINK tag.)

We promptly got to work hanging the curtain rods in hopes that the lengths and style Wendy had chosen would work for our room. It wasn't 10 minutes into the project when Mel decided he wanted to check out the new curtains.

After a few minutes of measuring, pilot holes, and screws, we had ourselves some pretty darn good curtain rods.

The panels Wendy picked up at IKEA had tab tops. Wendy was looking for a more clean look so she snipped the tabs right off of the panels with scissors.

We slid the rings on the rods and simply clipped the curtains to the rings.

And voila, we had ourselves some curtains...that were way too long.

It was a major step forward and we were feeling great. The curtains made the room feel great. Much more comfortable and inviting, but we still had a way to go.

To complete the project I began pinning the bottom of the curtains to hem them to the proper length.

Let me say, I am *not* a tailor and am so bad at this sort of thing. Given how comfortable I am with most forms of DIY, sewing is just an area of shame in our home. (I know Wendy's Aunt Margie is shaking her head at us right now.) I wish I had a sewing machine and I wish I knew how to use it, but I don't. Maybe some day. (How many men do you know that freely and openly say "I really wish I knew how to use a sewing machine?")

I'm not sure how many times I stuck myself, as I lost count after about 40, but after a fair amount of effort I had the curtains pinned at the proper lengths for each panel.

Wendy and I used the supplied iron-on fabric tape to hem them. I felt like it was cheating a bit, but since we don't have the sewing machine I said I wished we had, nor the knowledge of how to use one, nor the time to sew the whole thing by hand, we both felt like it was our only option. I say "boo" to us.

After about an hour of careful ironing we now had ourselves some pretty great looking drapery panels all hung at the proper lengths!

Our room had magically transformed before our very eyes. The hard edges of the bamboo blinds had been softened tremendously by the white fabric panels hanging in either corner.

The sun porch is finally starting to feel like the room Wendy always imagined it could be. It's amazing how much the simple panels and dark curtain rod alters the feeling of the entire room. 

Here's another look from the other direction, so you can see how the room works with the new kitchen wine bar.

I would also be remiss if I didn't point out the new pillows on the white chairs. Wendy was thrilled to find these charming accessories at our local TJ Maxx. As she says, they're simple, yet the metallic buttons are a perfect nod to the brass tabletop, and she also loves the texture of the tulle. Here's a closer look for all the accessory enthusiasts out there.

I guess we can say that criticism can be taken constructively, and we're grateful for the...ahem...honest comment from our friend over at Apartment Therapy. If it wasn't for the scathing remark, we probably would have let the sun porch ride it out in it's floral glory, for at least another few years.

Hanging the curtains (and beginning to add accessories) is a major step closer to completing the new look of the sun porch, as well as checking off our list of must dos for the home tour. December 1, here we come!

What do you think of the new curtains? Are we the only "Real Men of Genius" fans out there? Is there an element that, when decorating your home, really started to make the room come together in your eyes? Did negative feedback ever spur you to take action on something in your life? We'd love to hear from you.

Comments 39

Comments

11/20/2012 at 11:38 AM
I love what you guys did with it! It was cute before but now it's really great. Also...I never noticed the stained glass over the door before! Very nice.
Wendy
11/20/2012
Thanks so much, Ashley. The window was something we added after moving in, although it still needs to be secured with a little molding. :-)
Alex
11/20/2012
GAH! I forgot that has to be secured with molding...I had the paint and nailer out over the weekend too. Darn. Add it to the list. :-(
Whitney
11/20/2012 at 11:44 AM
Wow I love it!! Amazing how those two little things can make such an impact in the room!
Also, I'm not sure, but I think this is the first time we actually got to see how the sunroom connects to the kitchen. Looks great! Nice flow.
Wendy
11/20/2012
Thanks so much, Whitney! I think you're right. We'll definitely include more shots of how the kitchen and sun porch connect to each other. Usually we're guilty of focusing on one or the other in our pictures. :-)
11/20/2012 at 11:50 AM
I personally love the bamboo shades and I'm so glad you kept them. The white curtains make the space feel sooo much cozier. I would so spend hours in there! Great job you guys.
Wendy
11/20/2012
Thanks, Antonella! We still are looking to trim the bamboo blinds so they're recessed between each window. Even if that plan doesn't pan out, I'm glad we kept them too. They add a lot of texture, and they're great to pull down on a hot summer day to keep the room a bit cooler!
almatea
11/20/2012 at 12:01 PM
It all looks great. I'm a huge fan of simple neutral drapes to soften up a space elegantly. The chairs look so great I felt like I hadn't seen them before! Nice seating area. Awesome pillows!
Wendy
11/20/2012
Thank you! And I'm seriously in l-o-v-e with these pillows. So glad you like them too!
11/20/2012 at 12:13 PM
I like the cool clean look. How high are the ceilings in that room. I like the floor to ceiling look.
Alex
11/21/2012
Not super tall. The Kitchen is has 10 foot ceilings, but the sun porch is sloped from about eight foot down to about seven.
sd
11/20/2012 at 12:42 PM
The curtains are GREAT! But so are the new chairs, pillows, and white buffet.....

It all looks fabulous but for me, part of the reason there is SUCH a drastic change is that the curtains weren't the only change..the wicker seating is gone, the wood furniture, etc. The white furniture brightens up the room and ties it all together.
Alex
11/21/2012
Thanks! Yes, lots of little changes that essentially amount to a big overall change. You're absolutely right.
GretchenB
11/20/2012 at 12:47 PM
I love the coziness and softening effect that the curtains have on that room, yet it still feels airy! Well done Team OldTownHome!
Alex
11/21/2012
Thanks for the kind words!
lindsey
11/20/2012 at 1:05 PM
I remember seeing you on apartment therapy and seeing that comment and thinking "how rude!" The old curtains weren't my favorite, but there was certainly nothing offensive about them. Not to knock apartment therapy, and I do like that site, but so many of the homes they feature look like clones of each other (globes! chalkboards! word art! chevron! ikat!). Your home stood out as a grownups' house that will not need redecorating every 2 years. I do think the porch looks a million times better now though!
Wendy
11/20/2012
LOL and thank you! I think it's hilarious that you remember "the" comment. :-) I know what you mean about seeing a lot of clones when it comes to design trends. We try to stay away from the trends and as a general rule go with what we love and what we think will stand the test of time.
11/20/2012 at 1:10 PM
Oh so cozy! I didn't have an appreciation for how small the space is. It's a challenge to furnish and decorate for sure, but you're doing a great job! I have some ikea curtains that seriously need to be hemmed. Instead of taking them down and breaking out the sewing machine, I may follow your lead with the hem tape!
Wendy
11/20/2012
Thanks, Kate! Yep, it's a modest 8x10 room, which conveniently makes it a perfect size for a standard rug.

Our curtains actually came with the hem tape included. It was a nice touch!
Ana Karajanova
11/20/2012 at 3:05 PM
Great job, guys! It looks amazing!
11/20/2012 at 3:13 PM
So much to say (but then, what else is new?)

1. Before this post, I never fully appreciated just how tied to your kitchen the sunporch area is. What a neat space.

2. I love the new look so much. The older look wasn't really my style, but at the same time I think it looked good. I don't think the curtains were dated I think they were just more classic french country.

3. I love how the white curtains soften the edges of the bamboo blinds. Smart move.

4. Negative feedback can be so tough. I've asked readers what they though many times, yet each time I get a negative or even friendly-yet-critical comment, it's hard to hear. However, sometimes it's good advice or good feedback that I end up following.

5. How cute is Mel on that chair in the last photo.

6. I can't wait to snoop your home in person on Dec 1. :)
Alex
11/21/2012
It took us a while, but we eventually realized the old look wasn't our style either. It looked good while we had it, but Wendy is simply in love with the new look.

I actually don't mind negative feedback at all, and even sort of like it. You can't improve if you don't know what there is to improve upon. Wendy minds it more than I do, but if it's justified, I think it's okay.

You're right with Mel, he's always mugging for the camera and being adorable.

You'll need to pick out the little things around our house when you walk through that most of the people won't notice. Like the fact the dining room window glass is broken, the transom on the kitchen side is covered with painted tape, or the bad looking transition from the dining room to the hallway. I do home you enjoy the tour, and that you have a good time looking at all of the other massive houses too. We'll be going through the other houses, so keep an eye out for us. I'll probably be wearing my kilt.
11/20/2012 at 3:18 PM
Whoops, forgot a comment.

7. I totally feel you on the curtain-pinning pain. I continually stick myself with needles when hand-sewing and hand-pinning items for my shop. It's one of my biggest sewing frustrations.
Margie
11/20/2012 at 5:56 PM
I was shaking my head, but I was also thinking that you were doing a great job of pinning the hem. I was going to suggest hem tape to you for the curtains last week. The porch looks great!
Alex
11/21/2012
Thanks, Margie! Maybe someday I'll be a wiz on the sewing machine. Maybe someday.
11/20/2012 at 11:23 PM
They look awesome!

And actually yes, I did get an anonymous comment on our old house that made me kind of step back and see it from someone else's eyes.

Also! There is an also...I love those pillows. A lot.
Alex
11/21/2012
Whether we took the initial comment well or not doesn't really matter as long as we made positive steps from it. I also think we could have easily disagreed and just dismissed the comment, but I'm glad we didn't.
JC
11/21/2012 at 11:51 AM
Wow. Those white curtains make such an amazing difference. I absolutely LOVE it. It's so much nicer than before (I also wasn't a huge fan of the old curtains), and it seems to blend-in better with the rest of the style of your house (clean, modern, yet classic).

As one of you commented above, I also like the fact that your decorating style is not overly "trendy". I think a lot of your accessories are great, and I especially love the use of anything textured (like those pillows). I try to use texture as much as I can, though I'm not as far into the decorating phase on my own house just yet.

Alex, don't feel bad about using hem tape (or fusible web as I usually call it). It's a perfectly acceptable method. You can always go back over them later to sew over the hem (which would be better if you plan to launder the curtains fairly often). Personally, I picked up an AWESOME sewing machine at a yard sale for 15$. I kind of wish I had a surger, too, but they're super expensive, and I don't really do that much sewing. I will actually have a quick sewing project coming soon on my blog.

Also, those "Real Men of Genius" commercials were HILARIOUS. I had never seen them, but they look like something from the 90's.

So what's left? Just the two frames? :D
Wendy
11/22/2012
We're closing in on the finish line. We need to hang the four frames, install finish molding around the transom, build shoe storage, and finish my great grandpa's chair. Not so bad!
threadbndr (karla)
11/21/2012 at 3:14 PM
That's quite a transformation. I like the new, breezy look of the sunroom.

Is that little table big enough to eat at? That's the only thing that I'd change - a slightly bigger eating surface. But that's because I don't have an eat in kitchen - yet. There are plans to put the 'nook' back into the back porch at some point.
Wendy
11/22/2012
Hi Karla. The table is a perfect size for a cup of coffee and a bagel. We used to have a full table for four in the room, but found we never used it. Therefore we're happy with the scaled back size -- it works for us. For our larger meals we eat in the dining room, and truthfully spend most weekday nights with dinner in front of the TV. Bad habit, I know. :-)
11/23/2012 at 10:25 AM
I'm just catching up, it's really coming together! Love the curtains, they really make it look cozy in there. Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving!
11/28/2012 at 3:42 PM
I just stumbled across your website and I'm glad to have found you! We're moving our family from Canada to Austin early next year and we have been tempted to move to Circle C for the community and amenities but have disliked the fact that so many parts of it are the same house one after the other. You have really personalized your house and made it stand out! It looks great!
Wendy
12/14/2012
Thanks so much, Heather. Good luck with your move to Austin! I hear it's a really wonderful city!
Lindsay
12/12/2012 at 3:27 PM
Wow! I love it all! The pillows are so cool! My huge question is about ur rods. We to we're about to go the conduit route for a sunroom that we r converting to a master bedroom. Crazzzzzy I know. Anyway, the room is about 36 ft long so I was wondering if u know if those target rods are expandable or if I can just add a few next to each other? & also wonderibg if u recall the price? i'm so sick of being stumped with it, & I need to be as frugal as possible as we are re-doing the entire house! Thanks for any input u have! Love your blog & I appreciate you sharing your ideas & pictures! ??
Wendy
12/14/2012
Hi Lindsay, thanks so much for your comment. Wow, 36'?? That is crazy! The target rods extend up to 120" and were roughly $30 each, so in your case, it might be a lot cheaper and easier to go the conduit route. Good luck! It sounds like a really interesting project.
Pamela Gallien
3/12/2013 at 4:55 PM
I was searching for DIY desks yesterday and came across your website. I immediately bookmarked it and have been reading your entries ever since. I live in California in an 80's tract home, so this is refreshing. I've been to Alexandria before and I love the area. It's a city I would live in. I love everything you've done to the house inside and out. Love the kitchen/sunroom. It's warm, inviting and feels like one cozy room. You talk about relocating the kitchen later on in the future. I'm not so sure. I like it just the way it is. That's just me.
Wendy
3/12/2013
Hi Pamela, and welcome! Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments. I have to agree with you on the kitchen switch. Now that we've spruced up the kitchen and sun porch, I'm really enjoying it just how it is. :-)
Blanche
7/31/2014 at 6:40 PM

Let me preface my comment with: It looks beautiful!!! However, I am glad you used the comments as ammunition to get cracking on the sun room because the curtains were pretty old school. Now, It looks so rich and warm. It looks like it belongs in that beautiful house of yours. Those curtains did not. Trust me, I understand how the comments might have bothered you, but be glad for them- they got you up and working. Great Job!!!

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