Hat on Top, Coat Below


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I Can See Clearly Now

December 12, 2002

We got new windows installed in all the rooms upstairs yesterday (and when I say “we”, I mean Mr. Karen, because he did all the research and scheduling and took the day off work when the guys came to put them in; I just went to the showrooms with him a few months ago and commented on what I liked and didn’t). We can once again see the front yard from the bedrooms, which hasn’t been the case for a long time, ever since the crappy replacement windows that were here when we moved in fogged up between the panes. We won’t have frost forming on the window frames in cold weather, and when warm weather comes around again, we’ll be able to open the front window without having to force the sash up and wedge a board underneath to keep it open. It’s going to be great.

What’s not so great is having to buy new window treatments. We could just put back up the ones that were there and avoid the hassle of shopping for new ones, but that’s just lazy. And stupid, because we don’t particularly like the old blinds, with their messed up cords and hard to clean slats. For four of the six windows, we know we want blinds that have a “top-down, bottom-up” feature, so we can open the top part to get light and air while still having some privacy by keeping the bottom part covered. We’ll probably get the same for the fifth window, so that it matches the other one in that room. It’s the last window that’s the real challenge. It’s about twice the width of any of the others, wider than it is tall instead of the other way around. I don’t think the same style of shade we get for the other windows will look good here, but I don’t know what would be better. If I’d been able to figure that out, I would have replaced the awkward balloon valance and plastic roller shade left by the previous owners a long time ago.

Since the problem window is in the office, and it faces the back yard, there’s not as big a rush to do something there. Maybe we’ll get inspired when we go shopping for the other blinds. The first step is deciding which of the 52 businesses that sell window treatments within 15 miles of our house to visit. Are the ones with “blinds” in their names necessarily better bets? And once we’ve found a store we like, how will we sort out all the different manufacturers and styles and colors and prices? I don’t even like to think about it. But think about it I must, and go right on ahead and do it, because right now we’ve got a brown flat sheet draped over the valance rod in the front window, the matching fitted sheet at the side window, and a pillowcase taped to the bottom half of the window in the bathroom. Even using our relaxed decorating standards, it’s not a good look.

But what would be a good look? I don’t know. Sure, I can pick something safe and boring, no problem, but I want my home to be more than that. I keep feeling that I shouldn’t have so much trouble with things like this; after all, I pick colors for my quilts without struggling. With quilts, though, making the choices is low risk. If I try something and it doesn’t work, I’ve wasted a little time and a little fabric and can pack or throw away the ugliness and never have to see it again. Poof, gone, it’s almost like it never happened. With the house, if I try something and it doesn’t work, I’ve probably wasted a lot of money and maybe a lot of time, too, plus I have to live with the results until I can make more changes. The stakes are higher, and I just don’t have the same confidence in my decorating skills as I do in my ability to design a quilt. There’s no reason that has to remain true, though. I learned to make quilts; I can learn to make an attractive home, too.

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