Monday, February 28, 2011

DIY No Sew Box-Pleat Valance

Here's another easy and inexpensive DIY.  I've made these box pleat valances for 2 bathrooms in my home.  Here's the master (I posted about the blinds yesterday):

And, here's our powder room:

These are a little different (notice the middle pleat on the powder room valance), but the concept is the same. 

1) Fabric (amount will depend on the width of your window, length of your valance, and the pattern of the fabric). 
2) Ribbon or jacquard trim (optional).
3) Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
4) Basic curtain rod (see photo below) and tools for installation (drill, screwdriver, pencil, level).  I use a 2.5" projection Levelor-Kirsch rod, which costs about $3 at the hardware store. 

Unfortunately, I didn't take photos while making these, but I'll do my best with the step-by-step instructions:

Step #1:  Assess your window.  Determine how high to hang the valance (I like to hang near the ceiling to create the appearance of height, and to avoid blocking too much light from coming through the window).  Determine how low you'd like your valance to hang (I actually didn't measure this very well on the powder room valance and the bottom of the shade just covers the top of the blinds.  It's best to have it hang at least an inch below the top of the pull-cord).  

Step #2:  Install your curtain rod.  The rod is extendable - so, you'll want to tape it at the seam so you can use the length of the rod to plan your valance.  Then, take the rod off the mounting brackets.

Step #3:  Assess your fabric.  If you're using a solid fabric, this step is unnecessary. But, if you have a print - you'll want to play with the fabric to figure out how to center it, and where/whether to put the pleats (you might even iron in some pleats, safety-pin it, and tape it to the wall).  My windows are relatively narrow, so I was able to work with standard 54" fabric.  If you have wide windows, you might need to piece your fabric together to achieve the desired width.  Use the taped curtain rod as a guide for width.  Even if you don't do a pleat (or multiple pleats) in the middle, you'll want pleats to fall right at the corners of the rod - so, measure carefully. 

Step #4:  Measure and cut your fabric leaving about an inch on top and two inches on the bottom.

Step #5:  Iron and seal your hems.  I use a 1 inch single hem on top (no one will see the frayed edge), a double-folded 1 inch hem on the bottom (fold up 1 inch of fabric and then fold up again) and a very small double-hem on the sides.  You can use stich witchery to seal the hems, but I just use hot glue.  Just be careful not to get glue on your ironing board, or you will be gluing anything that comes in contact with it under a hot iron!

Step #6:  Measure carefully and set your pleats.  Iron the folds and seal them with hot glue at the top only. 

Step #7:  Add your trim (if applicable) with hot glue.  You can trim top and bottom (as on my master bathroom valance), just bottom (as on my powder room valance), or create a more intricate design with your trim.

Step #8:  Attach your valance to the curtain rod.  I lay the valance (front side facing down) on the floor and place the rod on top.  I then start gluing from the middle, using a thick row of glue along the top of the valance.  Glue the valance to the entire front of the rod, and then around the sides (leaving the holes clear for the mounting brackets. 

Step #9:  Attach the rod back to the brackets and you're done!

Apologies for the lengthy text and lack of how-to photos.  There are several other great tutorials out there, but I haven't seen one using the curtain rod method before. 

Of course, if you try this - please send photos (and link back)!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

DIY Ladder Tape Detail on Blinds

This project (blind and valance) is so simple and inexpensive.  It probably took a total of 3 hours and approximately $55 total. 

Today, I'll explain how to add ladder trim detail to basic blinds. 

- Wood or faux wood blinds (I use 2" faux wood blinds from JC Penney) and tools needed for installation (drill/screwdriver/pencil/level).
- Ribbon or jacquard trim (I found this greek key trim on ebay - I think it was about $20 for 10 yards).
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks.

Step #1:  Measure your trim by adding about 3 inches to the length of the blind.

Step #2:  Cut as many lengths of trim as needed to cover the lift cords (I chose to cover all 3, but you could also leave the middle lift cord un-covered)

Step #3:  Glue the top end of one of your cut trim pieces to the underside of the top of the shade (centered above one of the lift cords) with your hot glue gun (I created a little clean "hem" first by folding over the end of the trim and gluing it down).

Step #4:  With the blinds closed, find the lift cord between the top two slats and pinch it to the trim.  Keeping the cord and trim pinched in your fingers, open the blinds. 

Step #5:  Turn the trim so you can access the back of it with your hot glue gun, and place a small bead of hot glue over the lift cord to attach it to the trim (see photo below).

Step #6:  The tedious part will be holding your arms up high, because you'll need to keep the trim/cord steady while the glue dries.  Once the first glued spot is dry, test the shade by opening and closing.  If it's able to close fully, open the shade again and work your way down the shade adding a dab of glue to connect the trim to the cord between each slat.

 Step #7:  At the bottom, I just glue the trim to the bottom piece of the blinds all the way under and around the back.  To keep the end from fraying, you can either treat it with fray check, seal it with a lighter (if it's synthetic) or create another hem by folding and gluing.

Step #8:  Repeat for as many lift cords as you intend to cover.

That's it!  Here's how it looks open:

And, here it is open and lifted:

It's fully functional, and gives the window a really custom look at a really great price.

Tune back in tomorrow for a tutorial on the box-pleat valance!

If you try this - I'd love to see photos!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coveting Meurice

I know I need to cool it with the light fixtures, but in thinking about sprucing up the master bedroom, one of my top priorities is to replace the pathetic light bulb/clip-on shade thing we have had since moving in.  I'm focusing on aged brass finishes because we have inherited this gorgeous bedroom furniture:

Edward Wormly for Dunbar circa 1960s

How perfect is this Meurice Pendant by Jonathan Adler:

A couple other fabulous options - well beyond my price range (both available at Horchow):

love love love this!

Can't wait to get started!!  Bathrooms first... bedroom next.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


A displayed collection can be a great conversation starter, a beautiful focal point of a room, or simply a way to add interest to a table or wall.  It's also the perfect way to make a space personal.  My mother-in-law is a master collector.  Through her many travels with my father-in-law, she has been able to infuse their homes with a wide variety of collections that reflect the richness of their experiences. 

Visiting my in-laws this weekend reminded me that I should really start a collection and encourage my girls to identify something they'd like to collect.  As a child, I collected elephant figurines and dolls (the souvenir kind that wear traditional garb).  I loved always having something to hunt for when traveling or shopping in a new place - and to receive gifts from family members who knew just what to bring for me.  Sadly, neither of my collections fared too well over the years - and, what pleased me at age 7 is not necessarily what I would choose to display in my home as an adult.  So, I'll have to brainstorm a bit and come up with something new!

These first photos show the powder room in my in-laws' apartment, which boasts 2 vast and lovely collections:  African combs and miniature boxes.  Apologies for the photo quality (I've learned quickly that my iphone is a poor replacement for a real camera)!

These next few photos were taken at their vacation home in the Hudson Valley.  The furnishings and decor are largely inspired by the log cabin style of the home.  Rustic antiques, antlers and Americana abound. 

But, there are also many touches of their global adventures.

And, lots of plants!  With all those windows and my mother-in-law's green thumb, the greenery is always vibrant.

What kinds of things do you collect?  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Swatches: Thinking Pink

I'm thinking about incorporating some pink into the girls' new bathroom - most likely in the window treatment.  The tiles will be all white, and the wall color is undetermined as of yet (navy blue?).  Here are some of the pink fabrics I'm admiring. 

Annie Selke Pearls

Annie Selke Links - yup, it's Links love again

Anatol's Diamonds (Premier Prints) Cadence


HL Belami

Premier Prints Dandelion

I've also got a piece of Marimekko Unikko that I've been hanging on to for some time.  Perhaps yellow walls and this (pardon the wrinkles)?  Or even white walls?  On second thought, I think it's a little too much for this small space.

Can I pull off some pink without getting too preppy or sweet?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Evolution of Our Living Room

I've been trying to take more "after" photos around the house so that I can start to share a bit more of it.  When you enter our house, you're greeted with the living room to the left, stairs straight ahead and the dining room to the right.  Today, I'll give a sneak peak of the living room.

This room has evolved over the past 3+ years.  Here's what it looked like when we bought the house.

Before moving in, we had the floors refinished, crown moulding and fireplace surround installed and the walls/trim painted.  The room has so many windows, doors and entrance-ways, that it makes it difficult to fully utilize the space.  So, I've played with the furniture layout countless times. But, I think the current layout might stick (the big pieces, anyway). Here's what it looks like today.

We love this room - and even though it's more of a formal living room - we actually spend a lot of time in here.  In reality, there are usually blocks, puzzles, princess paraphernalia, etc. all over the floor, strollers parked in the entrance; and the ottoman spends most of its time pushed up against the fireplace.  But, I was able to steal a few minutes over the weekend to tidy up and take some pics.

Sources:  sofa, chairs and ottoman from Ethan Allen; jute rug from; roman shades from Pottery Barn; globe and lamps were wedding gifts; burlap lampshades from Target; round side table belonged to my grandparents; rectangular side table and secretary are craigslist finds (the side table was $5!); painting by David Oleski was an amazing 5th anniversary surprise gift from my husband; rooster pitcher from Pierre Deux; suzani pillow is from Istanbul; zigzag and ikat pillows sewn by yours truly. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Buddy Craig...

... has this amazing list.  Here's my latest treasure:

As much as I loved Eddie's beautifully painted secretary with mirrored doors...  

check out his before & after
I think the one I just bought is lovely in its natural state.  And, I know Mr. 12 devonshire would definitely not be happy about another painted piece of wood furniture in the house. 

It was made by Monitor Furniture Company in Jamestown, NY (there's a paper tag on the back).  I did a quick google search and came up with this neat thread, to which the grandson/nephew of the original owners of the company apparently responded. 

I can't believe I fit this thing in our car! 

By the way, I would never have found this piece and gotten it in time if it were not for my new iPhone (yippee!).  Using the craigslist app, I did a quick search for "secretary" in the furniture listings on my way home from work and was able to call the seller right away. 

Happy treasure hunting!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Swatches: Master Bedroom

These are some fabrics I'm pondering for the master bedroom:

This is the print that started me on the path of a bedroom makeover.  I've always loved elephants and would love to bring this into the room as roman shade fabric or pillow shams.  The walls are a lighter/softer version of that green.

This would be great as a valance or a punchy headboard, if I were to go graphic.
Not sure how far I'd be willing to take these spots... but, they may be just the right touch for my Louis XV armchair.

Love this... but, where to put it?

Here's the question - can I work in navy blue?  I think the upholstered headboard would look great in this velvet (which I snagged for about $6/yd in a remnant sale), and a dark headboard would be a nice anchor for the room:

But, it might need something to tie it all together... I'm on the hunt for a print that brings together the green, blue, beige and taupe. 

Alternatively, I could play it safe and keep a tighter color palette with a simple neutral linen headboard:

These are just some early thoughts.  I'm hoping to marry a few different styles in this room:  classic (to fit in the style of the home); mid-century (we're inherinting some beautiful 1960s wood furniture); and organic/bohemian (for a more relaxed environment).  I think I've got some more searching and then a lot of editing to do!