What a difference 32 yards of white fabric makes…

Hey y’all! I’m back! Not that I went anywhere, of course. Mr. Bug and I have been madly working on getting the new house in order. Or rather, I’ve been obsessively working on my little decor-related projects while Mr. Bug works on valid projects like getting the rainspouts to drain correctly and building Lucy her own little Texas house. And doing the laundry. Sigh. Those poor boys, married to girls with design OCD. On a semi-related note, I’m coming to realize that my previous obsession (sewing clothes) is much easier on the pocketbook than my new obsession (decorating houses.) Three yards of super awesome suit weight wool is still WAY less than the primitive, chippy white cabinet I spotted at an antique shop last weekend. Happily for Mr. Bug, my sewing blog-friends and pretty much everyone except World Market and Home Goods, I think I’m nearing the end of the house obsession (almost all the rooms are done, yo!) and will return to obsessively trying to track down the perfect voile with the not-too-prairie flower pattern. Because I need me some dresses.

In any case, I keep letting blogging slide due to an odd mix of “wait! I’m not done with the project!” and off-the-topic-blogging guilt. I feel like I should have some sewing stuff to blab about, but I don’t. That said, the one thing I love about blogging is that it keeps me on a nice daily routine, get up early to finish my post and go on with the day! I miss that, so I thought I’d at least share little updates of what’s going on ’round Snugbug Texas. We’ll start with this weekend’s almost-my-favorite-thing-we’ve-done-not-counting-the-new-hardwood-floors project – Operation Curtain.

So. Our new house has GIANT windows. That’s part of the reason I liked it! The family room/breakfast room/kitchen’s-there-too room has five windows that are seven feet tall and four feet wide – plus the all-glass door to the back yard. That’s a lot of glass, a lot of light and when we moved in, a lot of 2 1/2″ wood blinds… Here’s a nice photo showing the lovely, cell-like vibe we had going on.

Let me tell you – those blinds were solid wood and weighed a TON! Actually opening the windows by lifting the blinds all the way took a lot of strength and protective gear to stave off the rope burns on my hands! I really, really wanted simple white curtains.

Actually, I really wanted simple white curtains, mounted at ceiling height with matchstick blinds covering up the wall above the windows, a ‘la Cote De Texas

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Alas, I actually saw reason on this, and while I mentioned the option to Mr. Bug, it wasn’t my first option. Our windows are so tall that both the blinds AND drapes would have had to have been custom made, and while I certainly can make myself some drapes, the fabric cost alone would have killed me.

We took a little trip down Ikea lane instead.

Here’s the ‘before’ – behold the cold, stark reality…

And after a mere six hours of installation, accompanied by a bit of cussing and stomping and potential breakdown of marital bliss, here’s the after…

I love it so much! Although if I had it to do again, I’m not sure I would have gone the Ikea route.  We went with the Kvartal drapery rods, mostly because they come with connectors. Our drapery rod is 175″ total length and I really wanted it continuous so it wouldn’t be distracting. The problem is that we also wanted the brackets between the windows, both for visual balance as well as because we used tab-top curtains and needed to be able to open and close the curtains at night. What we I didn’t realize until AFTER we installed all the brackets, is that the brackets connect to the rod where you join the rods together, or else at the ends. Our brackets were NOT at the joins and ends, and we didn’t really have a way to make that happen! We managed a fix by pirating parts, but it was SUPER frustrating! Also, it was really difficult to get the brackets in so they were perpendicular to the floor. And after all that, the curtains are a bit hard to open and close – the rods are brushed aluminum, so they aren’t really slick and the tabs don’t slide easily.This system DOES have the ability to attach the curtains with a sort of internal glider so they move back and forth a bit easier, so I might go back and remove the tabs to add the gliders later. At least they’re up for now…. although I would have been WAY less frustrated if I’d gone with the other choice I was considering, electrical conduit pipe from Lowes. I didn’t want to deal with spray painting and connecting the conduit, but in hindsight I think that would have been easier!

Just to finish the rundown – we used the Lenda curtain panels, a repeat from our old house. I like ‘em because they have that undeyed look, are inexpensive and just thick enough to use as an actual privacy curtain at night! Total cost for supplies enough to do all five windows (we’ve still the corner to do!) was just over $150 and I might supplement with two more Lenda panels already in my possession to make the actual cost $170. I only got two panels for the breakfast nook and I think I’d prefer four for full coverage….

Did any of you cool cats spot the other change in the ‘after’ photo?? Wait for it… wait for it….

I painted the door black! I’ve seen the black doors in a TON of blogs and had changed the door to black in my 3D home design software, so I thought I’d really like it. The previous owners dogs had beat up the blinds and the door quite a bit, so it needed a paint job. I used ‘Francesca’ from the Martha Stewart line of paint at Home Depot. Funny story…. I knew I wanted almost-black-like-a-pencil-lead for the door, and picked the color from the paint chips at the store. When I got home I did an internet search to see other projects in the same color… well, guess what comes up when you do an internet search of martha-stewart-francesca???

Adorable photos of her french bulldog, Francesca! Easy to see where this paint name came from.

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Back to the paint. I really wanted to use Annie Sloan chalk paint for the door, but (A) I didn’t want to pay for it and (B) the two closest stores are about a half hour away and I didn’t feel like driving all that way. Instead I tried one of the online DIY chalk paint recipes. I started with four ounces of plaster of paris (I used a container that had the ounces marked on the side – from the paint section), mixed in hot water ’till it was  creamy, then added paint ’till I got to the 16 oz line. The resulting paint was a bit thicker than usual, but not grainy at all. I had to do two full coats, with a third round of touch ups, but since I was covering white with black, I wasn’t surprised. For those of you that have used Annie Sloan paint I’ll say the DIY version was not nearly as nice to work with and didn’t have the charming paint brush strokes, but it DID adhere with no priming, and dried to a very nice finish. It’s worth it for small projects or if you are in a hurry and don’t live close to one of those mythical Annie Sloan stockists!

Let’s do the before and after again, just for fun…

One of the best parts of the new curtains is the view across the house from my office! With the blinds gone I can see the crepe myrtle by the pool in the backyard – so pretty!

In closing….

The SnugBug tips for using and installing &(#^ Kvartal drapery rods from Ikea…

  1. If you’re using them so you can span multiple windows (like we did), get ONE 55″ rod for EACH window. You need to connect the bracket to the rod where the join is (there’s a little screw that’s built into the connector piece) and to make it pretty, you’ll probably want the connectors between the windows, not every 55″!!
  2. Likewise, the brackets connect to the rods RIGHT AT THE END (the little screw is built into the endcap), so place your bracket accordingly.
  3. Related to #2, don’t get any bright ideas about using finials. You have to use the endcap so there’s something for the bracket to connect to. End. Of. Story.
  4. The brackets are made from two pieces. You attach a flat piece to the wall, then you slide the bracket part over the flat piece. Before you spend $8.00 on a bag of super deluxe drywall anchors, make sure the included screws are flat head, because the round ones will poke out too far and you won’t be able to slide the bracket onto the flat piece.
  5. Tab top curtains + Kvartal do not rock, especially for long expanses like ours. You either have to put ALL the panels on, then hold them in place while attaching (heavy) or you have to put up the rods section by section, sliding on the panels and sort of ‘bending’ the rods to scoot everything in place. Also, the rods are NOT slidey, so if you plan to open and close the curtains it’s not that easy. Best to use with the internal gliders. Like you’re supposed to.
  6. Actually, re. #5… if the only reason you’re using Kvartal is because you need a really long curtain rod, look into electrical conduit. There’s a very nice overview here at House of Hepworths on electrical conduit curtain rods with Ikea finials! The only thing I’d add is that at my Lowe’s, they cut the conduit FOR me in the pipe section (just like they’ll cut lumber for you) and they have a snazzy machine that makes the edges not sharp. I used this method to make the skirt for my sewing table.