January 5, 2013

Shade and Valance

To tell you this exciting story about replacing a window shade in the bathroom, I really, really should have taken a Before picture. I could show you just the After picture, but that's no good at all. Seeing only the After picture, you would have nothing but criticism and mehs. "That really doesn't seem worth either the fuss or the celebration, and also she has no concept of window design, and really that whole bathroom is kind of depressing-looking," you'd say. "Here Swistle has been for YEARS representing herself as a person on the forefront of home decor trends, and now we find out she doesn't even know how high to hang a valance! And that she still uses SHADES!"

No good. In order to really APPRECIATE the hero of this story (me), you would need to see how it looked BEFORE. THEN you would see the difference and be amazed. But there is no Before picture. And since I didn't take a Before picture, there will also be no After picture: instead I will call on your imagination. (I am saying that in the SpongeBob voice, with hand rainbows.)

So this is what you should imagine. We begin twelve years ago, when Paul and Swistle have just bought a house and now are in the process of switching from third-person to first-person. One of our very first home improvement projects was to take down the DARK GREEN window shade in the bathroom and replace it with a white one. Window shades apparently need to be cut to fit by a store employee. Our store employee did such a crappy job, I can't imagine how he handed us the shade with a clean conscience: the shade was ragged all the way down one side, with actual little ripped bits sticking out. He surely would have noticed this, even though we did not.

Did we return it, as we should have? No. I was a week or two from giving birth to William, and we had one zillion other things to do with the house, and even just changing from "battered dirty green" to "ragged new clean white" was such a vast improvement we weren't so concerned with the little details.

Next what happened was that because one of the ragged places was right near the stick that goes through the bottom of the shade, the sticked area gradually ripped off completely; I trimmed the edge with scissors to make it tidier. Still we did not replace the shade: we had a toddler and an infant, and that was for me the most impossible stage of parenting. Going to Home Depot for a new window shade seemed like it belonged to an alternate reality.

Let me see if I can speed this story up a bit. Next the shade got some sort of mold/mildew issue, and then Henry used scissors and snipped it in the middle, from which point it continued to rip until nearly the entire shade was in two pieces. A ragged-edged, mildewed, no-bottom-edge-thingie, ripped up the middle shade, for YEARS.

(This is where my dad cut into the story I was telling, saying "So this is when you started thinking it might be time to start thinking about needing to replace the shade sometime in the near future," and my mom said to him reproachfully, "SWEETheart.")

MEANWHILE, there was no curtain on this window, even though I'd thought it would look nice. There was a lot of mental whining every time I turned my mind to the issue. "But I don't know what style of curtain to use! There are too many/few choices! And what COLOR? I don't want it to MATCH the shower curtain, but it should Look Right with it. And the shower curtain is kind of whimsical/babyish, but curtains aren't---unless they are, and then it looks like a Kid Bathroom when it isn't. And I like to change shower curtains periodically, and then the curtain won't go with the new one and I'll have to go through all this AGAIN." And then, at the store, more whining and indecision: "They're charging $14.99 for a 1x4 piece of fabric I don't even really like?? Outrageous! I see these on 70%-off clearance ALL THE TIME. I will just get one THEN." And then, when there is a clearance display: "There are too many/few CHOICES. This is such a messy pile. I don't know what would look nice. I should just pay full price and get the full selection. I'll do this later."

Okay, so how is your imagination working? Good, good. So you can see that the situation was dismal, and not likely to improve after a decade or so of no progress. It was not a situation for drops in the bucket; only big SLOSHES would accomplish anything here---and big sloshes are in short supply and have to be reserved for big priorities such as choosing a new calendar.

But then, unexpectedly, RESOLVE kicked in. New feelings and thoughts emerged: (1) The situation was bothering me every single day, and (2) the situation was fixable. I used one of my Coping Thoughts For Hurdles: "This will not be fun but I am technically capable of handling it; by this time tomorrow it will be over AND done." (Some of you reserve such thoughts for, say, childbirth, or for a move, or for a major remodel. Different strokes.) I scooped Henry up, and off we went. First to Home Depot, where I chose a shade and got it cut. (Fortunately I'd thought to measure the old shade before starting out.) Then to Target, where I went to the shower curtain aisle and got the same shower curtain we have, and took it with me to the selection of seriously four valances they had, chose the one I liked best (a sort of butterscotch color), and paid $14.99 full price for it with hardly any flinching and only minimal whining.

Then I went home, forgot to take a Before picture, took down the old shade and threw it away, did a little wiping of the dusty window frame, put up the new shade and adjusted the tightness, found a curtain rod in the basement, realized it was all bent and found another curtain rod in the basement, put up the new valance and tidied it in a finicky way, and DONE.

It was not that big a deal, but IT WAS A HUGE DEAL. (This is where my dad cut into the story to say "Wait, is this the same window you're replacing in the spring? That new shade isn't going to fit," and my mom said, "SWEETHEART.")

Okay, fine, here is the After picture, since I do have one. I trust your imaginations to handle it:


40 comments:

Amy said...

Nicely done.

jen(melty) said...

I <3 this story and you so much! You've inspired me to get off my butt and go to HD and buy a freakin shade for my front door so people can't look all the way through my entire house :) It's only been a year...

shin ae said...

I think it looks very nice.

Those little fixable but you don't get to them forever-type things drive me NUTS, but my house is full of them. So! I'm happy for you.

alice said...

It looks lovely. And you're making me both feel better about and inspired to move forward a bit on our bathroom. We're about 20% of the way through the "thinking it might be time to start thinking about needing to replace the shade sometime in the near future" process. (Vinyl blinds, no curtain, hideous paint color, like the shower curtain.)

Maria Melee said...

I have the same shower curtain

Alexa said...

I am VERY impressed. We have no curtains, and curtains fall into an impossible-seeming future area for me, along with things like coasters. We do have a broken blind in our living room that has been bothering me since shortly after Simone (yes, SIMONE) came home from the hospital, however, and a new blind I might possibly be able to handle, thanks to your inspiration. We shall see.

StephLove said...

I love the commentary from your folks.

Katie said...

I hate putting up curtains with the passion of a thousand fiery suns, and cannot possibly imagine being able to fix something like that without the aid of my parents (who will invariably mock me). Which is to say, I am incredibly impressed that you did that yourself and think it looks great.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I have an excellent imagination, aided by your EXCELLENT description of the state of Before. And WOW! What a difference! A wonderful, lovely, fresh difference!

My appreciation is bolstered by the fact that we have no appropriate window coverings. And every time I think about DOING SOMETHING about it, my blood pressure soars. What is it about window dressing that seems so impossible? Because it seems SO IMPOSSIBLE. My aunt, who is in fact an interior decorator whose specialty is WINDOW DRESSING even came over at Thanksgiving and measured all the windows and wrote out exactly what we needed and how much of it and listed specific brands that wouldn't break the bank and yet I STILL cannot contemplate doing anything without curling up into a little shivering ball.

So brava, Swistle!

(P.S. My favorite part of this was the part where you switched from third to first person. Hee hee!)

Melospiza said...

This is basically the same process I go through every time I have to make a phone call, esp. but not always if that phone involves doing something new and/or complicated.

SO: I hear you! Rock on! And the window looks great.

Angie said...

Oh, it looks so much better, Swisle. Good job.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I can imagine it perfectly because I am still in the "So this is when you started thinking it might be time to start thinking about needing to replace the shade sometime in the near future," stage of replacing the Roman blinds on our French doors that the boys cut the strings on 4 years ago rendering them pretty much locked at a 6 and 9 inch lower height on 5 foot tall windows.

Melanie D. said...

a)NOT depressing-looking at all.
b)I love it.
c)I struggle with purchasing curtains, and haven't bought ANY in our current house, even though we've lived here for two years and the previous owner took almost all of the curtains when she moved.
d)The photo was better than what I was picturing, so thank you.

Robin said...

I knew thread would be full of congratulations and that it would make me feel good (and hopefully make you feel great). Not only does your bathroom look wonderful (cute shower curtain! everything matches!) but, from someone who has an internal bathroom, I'm even jealous of your nice big window. Lovely job.

Elizabeth said...

Ooooh, it looks so pretty!
I never take before pictures. They're so dispiriting. What is the after is...not that much better than the horrible disaster we're currently dealing with? I am lacking in the optimism needed for before pictures.

Stimey said...

I love you so much. So, so very much.

Also, you have described every single minor redecorating issue I've ever had. There are the things you have to do in order to do it right, but those things are so overwhelming that it is usually just better to get it done ALMOST right.

Well done, Swistle.

Frondly said...

I love that shower curtain. Also the new butterscotch one. Also, yer folks are funny.

Liz Botts said...

I think this story is a good example of how when you just decide to fix something and get it done, you feel much better about it. Yay for resolve!

Gigi said...

I loved this! And I can so relate. We've lived here for four years. And in that time I have yet to put up ANY window coverings. I take that back, I have put up those temporary, paper shades in the bedroom but that's it. Also, since we (and by we, I mean hubby) are in the midst of re-grouting our shower we've been forced to use our son's and it was that which made me realize he doesn't have ANY type of covering on his window. *sigh* I guess I gotta do something about that.

Surely said...

Well done. I love it. Also still in love with the dark wood window sills & frames

g~ said...

We are in the middle of a VERY EXTENSIVE home renovation (a house we are going to move into). All of my energy has been poured into major decisions--appliance purchases, flooring, back splashes--all of which I HATE making decisions about. There is NO ROOM in my soul for such decisions as window coverings, shower curtains, etc. My Mom always said, "The elephant has to be eaten. And you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time." I prefer the "pretend the elephant isn't in the room" method of dealing with such things. It is NEVER as bad as I make it out to be in my head but it SEEMS like it will be so I am frozen in procrastination. So all of that to say I probably need more vodka.

g~ said...

We are in the middle of a VERY EXTENSIVE home renovation (a house we are going to move into). All of my energy has been poured into major decisions--appliance purchases, flooring, back splashes--all of which I HATE making decisions about. There is NO ROOM in my soul for such decisions as window coverings, shower curtains, etc. My Mom always said, "The elephant has to be eaten. And you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time." I prefer the "pretend the elephant isn't in the room" method of dealing with such things. It is NEVER as bad as I make it out to be in my head but it SEEMS like it will be so I am frozen in procrastination. So all of that to say I probably need more vodka.

Erica said...

Flawless third-to-first-person transition here.

H said...

I have so many large and small projects that linger in the same fashion. Hooray for you and your resolve! It looks great.

el-e-e said...

I Love This Post. This is me with every possible smallish home improvement project. I need some of your Resolve!!

M.Amanda said...

This is why I love coming here. It's nice to know I can say this and get understanding rather than judgment....

Just last year, almost ten years after moving in, we finally took down the valances and blinds the previous owner left. After much agonizing and gasping at the cost of such things, we put up non-puppy-chewed blinds and real curtains in our living room. I was feeling quite pleased with myself and grown up until I realized that all three bedroom still only had the blinds that were there when we moved in.

d e v a n said...

It looks very nice and I LOVE your shower curtain!

KeraLinnea said...

Oh, that's pretty! I like your bathroom decor, it's very warm and comforting.

Tracy said...

The whole 'so many but so few' choices? Yes. That. What the heck is the deal with that?!

HereWeGoAJen said...

Yes. This (the before) is exactly my house. I feel like every time someone comes over, I need to say "I KNOW. I'm going to fix it."

Karen L said...

I can very much relate to this and all the commenters, too.

I am continuing to rationalise all my procrastination with "but we are in the we-can't-have-nice-things-phase" of child-rearing. So I bit the bullet with kitchen reno (scheduled for completion THIS WEEK) but live with mangled window coverings in every room and badly-stained kitchen chairs. But... it would be nice to be able to post family photos without feeling shame about the surroundings. I can't, so I generally just don't post.

Buttercup said...

Similar but different -- a 20-year-old TV/VCR (yes) that was waiting to be brought to Goodwill for about 4.5 years. It was a 25-minute chore that I put off for four and a half years. And now I'm so happy to see that spot on my living room floor empty.

Also, I think your after picture looks great.

Lawyerish said...

The window looks great! I also found every bit of this post charming and fun to read. "SWEETHEART." LULZ.

By the WAY, the "prove you're not a robot" thing where it shows a picture of a VERY BLURRY number reminds me: did you ever update us on whether your parents were able to find the correct address from the old photo with the blurry house numbers on it? Did they visit the house? What happened? Did I miss it? I MUST KNOW.

Swistle said...

Lawyerish- They couldn't figure out the address and couldn't find the house. But they're not even sure the house still exists: the picture was 60 years old and the house wasn't new THEN, so it's possible it wasn't even there to find. Kind of an unsatisfying outcome!

Amanda said...

The very best part of this post (because I can relate to all of the rest of it) is when your dad mentions that you're replacing that window soon. :D

I'm so glad you got to put a check mark next to this project. I have the same exact situation with the window blinds in the master bath...SAME.

Mimsie said...

I enjoy reading your blog because you can make the most interesting comments about everyday things. You will never run out of things to write about!

Anonymous said...

SpongeBob voice - love it! I thought I was the only crazy woman to do that all the time!

You make us all feel better about the state of our homes and getting through that to do list. Thank you!

Tina G said...

I love it. And my whole house is a series of these unfinished (actually un-started) projects and they really are SO simple but yet mentally too much to commit to. It took us 10 years to hang a thermal shade in our living room window. It was huge. And it cost $350 but the room was more normal looking, warmer in winter and cooler in summer. It was such a big deal. My secret fantasy is just one of those surprise home makeovers on HGTV or something like that. Just do it and let me move back in when it's done.

brzeski said...

EIGHT HOURS LATER
(That's my favorite Sponge Bob bit)

I mostly wanted to say that I really love you. A lot.

Also adding to the general pile of admiration here, I'm so impressed that you got this done. Window coverings are JUST IMPOSSIBLE. It's been SIX YEARS since our remodel and I still have bare windows, and piles of dusty unsatisfactory curtains that didn't get hung or returned. So they lie there in my bare-windowed bedroom mocking me, and pointing insolently at the raggedy towels I have pinned up on the west windows to keep the sun out.

Katie said...

Best story ever. Period.