Let me just start by saying that if you ever have to curtain a 45 foot expanse of glass I suggest you consider your options carefully before buying 14 panels of linen fabric. Yes, linen an incredible weave that somehow, impossibly, blends both a light-‘n-airy quality with a sink-yer-teeth-into density that anyone in their right mind would covet. But no one in their right mind wants to stand at an ironing board for four hours. Trust me. I know from experience because last weekend this is how I spent my Friday. And my Saturday. And my Sunday.
I went with these curtains from Ikea (in gray but the link to the grey ones has been down for weeks) because we had a bunch of store credit and they would work on the existing track system that we had in place.
We’ll eventually have to upgrade to a standard curtain rod or new track system because ours is on its last legs, but that is an expense for another time. (Or so we thought …. keep reading)
The track system we have in place works by threading the metal hooks pictured above first through loops in the back of the curtain panel and then into corresponding plastic tabs hanging on the track system. Pulling the cord opens and closes the curtains (there actually used to be an electrical switch that would work the curtain tracks automatically, but sadly, it no longer functions). The track seemed to work ok with the old drapes which were of a VERY heavy and pleated fabric — I think it was the pleats that kept everything looking uniform. However, with this new lighter weight fabric the panels are looking a little willy-nilly and not at all like Ikea’s photo above. Without the stiff pleats leading the way, the hooks just slide along the track randomly stopping at uneven increments along the rod — needless to say, I’m not a fan.
Just to note, there are two rows of rods at each corner of the room because there were originally decorative accent panels hanging in front of the actual drapes — we do not need these second rods for the curtains we purchased since we didn’t buy any extra accent panels. These pieces can be removed fairly easily — we were just too lazy to do it.
But back to the linen. When I removed the first panel from its packaging it was, unsurprisingly, pleated into a harsh grid of rectangles roughly the size of its cellophane packaging. I ironed it once. Then twice. Then I threw it into the dryer with a wet hand towel to try and steam the wrinkles out. Then I had to iron it again because the dryer essentially negated all my ironing efforts. In part because I feared the dryer had “pre-shrunk” my fabric and in part to try and get the heaviest creases to ease I ran all the panels through the dryer two at a time. And then I ironed them again. This went on for hours.
And then my iron died. No, I’m not kidding. So I went to the store and bought a new iron only to return home and iron so more. Le sigh.
Let me just tell you that
hours days of ironing and drying and ironing some more does not make for a happy wife and mother. Husbands and toddlers beware: When Mama’s house has curtain panels draped over every available surface, she ain’t gonna be too happy about it.
But finally we were ready to start hanging them. Because the curtain track system makes the panels more difficult to hang than simply sliding them onto a curtain rod, I decided to just hem them in place. No sense in putting them all up just to pin the hems and take them back down again. Kirk got frustrated enough just trying to get them hung right the first time (not only was it difficult to figure out how and where each of the three mechanisms opened and closed, but it involved a lot of math as he tried to determine how many hooks each panel should get — just when we thought we had it figured out Kirk realized we hadn’t subtracted the number of broken plastic tabs that were unusable!). Now Mama and Daddy we’re both irritated. It should have been no surprise that the kiddo soon followed down that path too.
Since its beginning to get cold out — which is the reason we wanted to get the curtains in place to begin with — and there’s no telling when I’ll actually get around to hemming them, I just wanted to get everything hung and deal with the rest later. Besides, I don’t just want to hem them, I want to line them as well to make the most of their east coast-chill-blocking abilities. If that plan for lining them actually comes to fruition (which is likely since my mother and aunt have offered to help) I will have to take them all down again which is fine because between the three of us, I am hopeful we can knock it all out in a day. So long as we send that baby far, far away for the day.
At that point I will probably have Kirk install new curtain rods too, because throughout this process we learned a few things. Not only are our existing tracks in poor shape (discolored, missing dozens of hooks, broken mechanisms, etc.) but they are arranged in a strange fashion. I don’t have a photo with the curtains open to best demonstrate this, but the existing tracks work to open the curtains only in front of the sliding glass doors, meaning there are only two 6′ openings in that long expanse of glass wall. I would MUCH prefer the panels to open at each of the 6 glass pane/door openings and gather along the existing beams. I think that would create a streamlined and modern look that would best keep with the design of the home. The way things are looking now is a bit dated.
Yep, still need a couch — but at least we have a triceratops!
Unfortunately, the only way to make that happen is with new hardware, but I have a few ideas for making my own hardware out of electrical conduit which Home Depot sells for less than $.40 a foot. Go ahead and call me crazy but that sure beats $2 a foot for a similar looking rod at Target! Especially given that our living room would need 7 rods at $20 a pop. So I asked myself: would I rather spend $140 or $22 on a piece of metal that no one is ever going to see?
Stay tuned to see how that (and the lining, and the hemming) pan out!