Saturday, November 7, 2009

22 Windows Without Curtains

When Jon and I moved in to our new house at the end of June, we were struck by the design choices of the previous owners - and not in a good way. They were lovely people so I'll be polite. As I've noted before, the wall paper covering every room was likely put up in 1982. Clashing florals: hot pink in the dining room, white and pink in the kitchen, dark green in the center hall, and tan plaid in the study.  To compliment the floral wall paper, the previous owners put up lace curtains in the living room, sheer (and not silk sheer, I'm talking straight polyester) panels of a greenish tint in the dining room, green sheers in the pink bedroom, more polyester lace in another bedroom, and brown canvas panels in the study.

The previous owners left their window treatments behind, which was a very nice gesture. And because I knew I wouldn't get around to sewing new curtains for quite a while, I decided to leave them up even though I wasn't so keen on the appearance.

Well, I couldn't take it anymore. At the beginning of October when Jon was away I just went a little nuts. I took everything down in a rampage. I called Jon like an ashamed little kid, "Jon. I have something to tell you."

"What? Are you okay?" I could tell he was worried.

"I took down all the window treatments. I couldn't stand it anymore."

"Well, what are we going to do? Just have no curtains?"

"I'm telling looks WAAAAY better."



It was a little more cordial than that, but it does look waaay better. But now I need to select fabric and at least try to get started on curtains. I have a long, dark, cold Maine winter ahead of me which will provide lots of time for sewing.

When I was growing up, there was a Calico Corners within 15 minutes of my house. Actually, pretty much anything you needed or wanted was within 15 minutes of my house, so I'm spoiled. Central Maine is a different story. Thank goodness for the internerd.

You'll remember that we painted our bedroom a light blue/turquoise color. I'm still questioning that decision a little, but I'm hoping to fix it with my curtains. I need to dress up the room a bit and to do that, I want to add a dark brown element. Here are some of the initial swatches I've ordered from Calico Corners. I WELCOME input:

The first one is called Blossom (in Chocolate) and it is made of 95% cotton, 5% linen. The second one is called Scramble (in Chocolate) and it is made of 55% linen, 45% rayon.

Here are some tips on drapery fabric (all credit to my Mom, an incredible seamstress):  Always get a swatch of the fabric before you buy all that you need. You can't tell "drape" from an image in a catalog or online. The "drape" of the fabric is key. How well does it look hanging- does it fall naturally or look stiff? Just imagine a curtain blowing in the wind: one that billows slightly will drape naturally, but one that moves in one big piece won't drape as naturally. In my limited experience, I love the way linen blends drape. I aim for natural fabrics (linen, cotton, silk), but those are usually more expensive. Just stay far, far away from polyester. I mean it.

Soon, I'll post how to make a gorgeous curtain that's actually pretty easy. It's a historic design that I learned from my Mom, but it fits perfectly in a modern home meaning that it's totally functional yet lovely and unique.

Let me know which fabric you like better!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Don't look in the attic!

Our housewarming party was last Friday and I have to say I am proud of the way everything turned out. Jon and I were discussing that this party was the first party we've thrown as true 'adults.' Hmm. I don't know how we decided that we are now adults, but there it is. I've felt it coming for a while now...but china, wine glasses, baked brie. They are all pointing in a direction. And that direction begins with an A.

Other than the disturbing realization that now we're adults, we also realized that there's nothing like a housewarming party to make homeowners productive. In the two weeks before our party we stripped the rest of the wallpaper in our kitchen, re-plastered the walls in our dining room and kitchen, primed and painted the dining room, painted the trim in our new bedroom, unpacked all of our books, rearranged our 'study' and cleaned about 8 times. Plaster dust is my new number one enemy. Yes, it's even worse than Porter fur. But the combination is downright awful.

To be honest, we made the amazing discovery that our neighbor is a plaster and dry wall professional. He is fantastic. His work is perfect. And our walls are beautiful. Slum no more!

So after all of the work and cleaning, my parents came up to Maine and helped me prepare for the party. Who knew there was such a thing as colored leaf doilies to put on your serving plates under cheese and the like? That would be my Mom, aka as Karen "Martha Stewart" Helm. And we searched all over Central Maine for these puppies. No where to be found. So my Mom bought them on her return home to PA and sent them to me for the party. And yes, I used them. I placed them under my 'made from scratch' pumpkin cupcakes. Are you barfing yet? No? Just wait.

We also purchased a burnt orange hemstitch runner and a white linen hemstitch table cloth from Williams-Sonoma. Not only does the burnt orange match my Sacred Bird and Butterfly China from Mottahedah, but it goes perfectly with the harvest theme of our party. I know you're sick now. (As a side note, I think runners give one the option of making a seasonal table, without having to buy a completely different color tablecloth. If you have a good basic white table cloth, pretty much any color runner will go perfectly with it. Next on my list: navy for summer! Yes, I'm already planning our next party!)

The funny thing about all of this is that I truly had fun getting the house ready for our party. I loved it. And instead of describing it and making myself sick, maybe I should just put some photos up.

Here's the caveat about the camera was out of batteries, so we had to use an iPhone. Not the greatest, but they'll give you the idea:

We put luminaries on either side of our front walk to welcome guests to our house.

Here's one of our two pumpkins.

When guests came in, we brought them right to the bar- of course!

We also had a 1/4 keg of Gritty's Halloween Ale

We moved the furniture in our TV room to accommodate more people. There are my fab UO chairs!

This is an antique table that belonged to my Grandmother, Mimi. On top, I covered it with an Irish linen runner, a bowl with floating beeswax candles (thanks Mom and Dad), multicolored maize, gords, mini-pumpkins, and paper leaves. I also used this table for a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds, almonds, and candy corn!

And here's the table. Jon took this picture before I put all the food out. It looked pretty spectacular with all the food. Ugh...I wish we had better photos.

Another shot...sort of.

Before our party, I mapped out an all day workplan (complete with time limits on each activity). I made sure to get everything done on time and in order and that made for a great party, with relatively little stress. It was A TON of work, but not stressful. And I think our guests enjoyed themselves too! Can't wait for the next one!