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.
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.