Kitchen Shades: DIY

Okay, I lied.  I didn't write this over the weekend.  No excuses.  Sorry to make you wait.
A long while back, I read this a post from Jenni at Little Green Notebook about making no-sew roman shades out of mini-blinds.  Awwwwwesome!  I saved the post knowing I would need it someday.
First, let's review.  My kitchen window:
I took those curtains down when I repainted and thought a long time about what I wanted there. 
During the time that my window was "naked", I realized two things.  One, I LOOOOVED how much natural light came in (and during the winter, the sun shines in all afternoon: perfect remedy for the winter-blues).  Second, as soon as the sun sets, these (old) windows were (and still are) like an open refrigerator.  All I had to do was walk by and cold air was practically blowing into my kitchen.  I knew I needed something that could open ALL the way during the day, and close ALL the way during the night.
Since it's right above the sink, I really wanted to avoid something flowy, so a shade is the obvious choice.  I also wanted to avoid cords, so my top choice would have been fabric roller shades.  But to make them with the fabric I already had, it would have been very expensive for the mechanism kit thing.  So I sacrificed on the cords and opted for LGN's mini-blind option.

The time that this method would be MOST cost effective is if you have a window already covered with an ugly mini-blind that you want to get rid of.  If you CURRENTLY have mini-blinds in your house: DO THIS!  But I was starting from scratch, so I actually purchased blinds from Lowe's, for a whopping $3.50 each.  Then I followed LGN's tutorial and I had myself some new shades!
A few things I wanted to point out that she doesn't have pictures of...

She talked about removing the plastic plugs at the bottom: this is what they look like:
Also, this is a close up of the "ladder/tilting strings" that you are supposed to cut. 
I spray painted the back of the slats I was going to use.  I already had the spray paint and it just took one coat.  If I hadn't painted them, each of those slats would be white.  Ick.  Here is what it looks like from the outside (and really the only time I put them down is when it's getting dark, so no one really sees it like this anyway).
And here they are all the way down from the inside.

Now there are a few more things about them.  I am not a perfectionist, so I am okay with the things about these that are not perfect.  For example, I measured everything, but somehow the left shade is longer than the right one (by almost an inch...eek!).  Also, when they are pulled up all the way, the left one hangs nicer whereas the right own bunches together a little more.
But lucky for me, you can't tell in the pictures. 

If you are seriously consider making these, I'd highly recommend not only reading the tutorial, but ALSO taking the time to read the comments.  A lot of people have made these and you can get good ideas from them (such as what to do if you want to put white lining on the back side.. .you have to attach it to your fabric first before you glue the slats to it).  
Again, here is the Shades from Mini-Blinds Link!
I'd love to know if you ever decide to try this!  Let me know if you have questions!
 Happy Shade-Making!


Mothers of Boys

How did the last week and a half fly by so quickly!  I know I promised a post about the roman shades, and somehow life has been slightly busy since we've returned from our trip.  Did you know we were on a trip?  Oh yes!  The only reason I was able to write the last few posts was because I was staying at my parent's house and had help with the kids.  I promise I'll write about the shades this weekend!

On a different note, my children have been weighing heavily on me the last few days.  The girls have all of a sudden developed strong wills that are demonstrated through screaming and crying fits, even if they've just been fed, diapered, whatever.  And we're talking super high pitched piercing screams.  Jadah likes to scream when its the middle of her nap.  Selah likes to scream when she's supposed to be playing.  SCREAMING BABIES AHHHHHH.  Time to pray and pull out Babywise II for some parent-touch-up, and then set these gals straight. 

And then there's Christian.  He's the sweetest, smartest, most goofy kid I know, but let me tell ya, that kid needs Jesus.  Yet another aggressive incident between him and another boy (in which Christian was the aggressor), has me at a low point of parenting: have I failed miserably with this boy?!?!  And in the midst of my dilemma, I read a blog called the MOB society, and they highlighted another blog mom who just wrote an e-book about praying for our sons.  They are having a 21 day commitment to pray for our sons 10 times each day (but doesn't start until April 1st, I think I may start NOW).  Needless to say, I clicked "BUY NOW" right away and even printed the book on some scrap paper.  So even if you are having a good spell with your own boy(s), I think it is totally worth taking the time and commitment to pray for our sons.  I'm sure at some point, you'll be throwing up the white flags of surrender saying "God, there's only so much I can do, YOU have to save this child!," because that is exactly what I have been experiencing this week.
  As always, your words of advice and wisdom are always welcomed.  But if your a mom of boys, head over to Brooke's site to read about the 21 days of prayer.
Thanks for reading.


Kitchen Reveal

Our dining room and kitchen are connected (makes sense, huh?).  So naturally, I continued the color scheme through both spaces, but with a few tweaks.  I LOOVE the color of baby food peas.  So let's just say I kid-proofed the kitchen by putting that color on our walls so you won't see the pea-smears from little fingers (eww, gross!).  And again, sorry for the messy before shots...

Kitchen, before:
 :and after:


Before (hi little kiddos!):
 After (mmm, kiddos are sleeping):

It is like a breath of fresh air!  Ready for details?

First, lets talk about the paint.  Originally, we painted the lower half blue, and I was going to use green as an accent on top, but it was WAAAY too much blue and I felt like I was in a nursing home.  Repainting it green was a 110% improvement.  On top, I had planned on just painting very thin stripes, but once I drew it out on paper, it wasn't going to be enough.  I started doodling some swirls on the stripes and really liked it, so decided to go for it on the walls.  I hand-drew the design with a blue colored pencil, then used watered down paint and a teensy-weensy brush.  This took HOURS, but it was worth every minute!

I have several (well, more than several) favorite spots:

The wall behind the refrigerator was painted green, and I did a swirl 'wallpaper' also in blue:

Next, the coat hooks and bench area.  We come into our house through the kitchen door, so we knew we needed a place to put coats and a few shoes, as well as a place to set the munchkins to put their shoes on.  We use this space to the max!  These hooks have traveled with us through 4 houses now, but before this, they were white!
See how I did that?  Painters tape + seran wrap + black spray paint + spray lacquer.  I think I actually would have preferred them white, but that would've required repainting the mirror and bench, which was out of the question.  We also hung the 2nd coat hook low on purpose so that the kids can hang up their own coats (well, just Christian for now--- and he does hang it up!).

My only dilemma now is possibly hanging anything on the walls.  If I do, do I center it to the wall or to the stripes?  At this point, it seems like adding anything would look silly, but in time I might find something that would work.

Well I love how all this looks in the pictures.  I did a major clean up before taking these, and it makes me giggle to think of the things you can't see just outside the frame of the pictures (like the bottle-drying rack, toy basket, stack of library books, etc).  So I may have to look at these from time to time and do my best to keep clutter at bay.  I'm also kind of excited about the idea of painting patterns, designs, or anything on walls.... my next room makeover will probably fall prey to my obsession.

Don't know if you took notice from the pictures above, but the window got a face-lift as well.  I made my own roman shades, but not in the traditional manner.  Next post: how to make roman shades out of mini-blinds, no sewing required! 

Drapery Details

Are you ready for a lot of pictures?  Once again, this was what I was starting with:
I had made floor length drapes before, but they were with a basic rod-pocket, like the next picture (see the white drapes to the right?  The top is just a "pocket" and the rod slides through):
But I wanted a more sophisticated look that had lovely folds, either like grommet-top drapes or like pleated drapes that are hung with rings.  
Thrifty Decor Chick
 The problem with those is that I either had to put in my own grommets or buy rings and hooks and sew pleats, both of which cost money and take more time.  So I did my own thing.  I am nearly certain that I have seen this somewhere on a blog before, but after looking through them, I can't seem to find it.  So if you can tell me the source, please help me out. 
For the skeleton of the drape, I hemmed all 4 sides, then doubled over the top hem to make a pocket for a rod.  (If I was making a rod-pocket drape, I could have stopped here).
The day of sewing (and loving an open floor space to lay this out on):
I made the top pocket about 4" deep to make sure I had enough room for my rod.  For my "trick" I then measured (on the BACK of the drape) 2" sections with 4" in between each section.  Le me show you what I mean:

Then I used my seam-ripper to cut each slit and create a slot for the rod to pass through:

 Keep reading, this will all make sense soon...

I now had lots of little openings in the top of my drape (NOTE: only cute through the BACK layer of fabric, not through the entire drape).
Then I tested the rod to make sure I had cut the slits long enough.  The rod goes into the 2" sections of fabric, not the 4" section:
And we were good to go!
It was time to see them on the real rods:
 I put 'em on and hung 'em up:
Pretty nice, except for the fact that they puffed out as they hung and looked rather unkempt!  What to do??!!  
More tricks.... time to train your drapes.  (I first saw this idea here).  I wanted to make uniform folds that went from top to bottom.  It was time for these drapes to learn who was boss:
 I used clothespins and followed the top fold all the way down the length of the drape (it REALLY helped that my fabric had a pattern that was geometric and I could follow the same line of squares all the way down).  
After I got the folds pinned, I used ribbons to pull in the entire drape and train it to stay together.

I wasn't really sure if the clothespins were a good idea or not, I thought they might leave a permanent crease.  So after one night, I took the clothespins off but left the ribbons around them:
Yes, there were some creases from the clothespins, but they have pretty much disappeared by now.
I only left the ribbons on for 2 days.  In afterthought, I probably should have left them on for a few more days to have the most impact, but we had company coming and I got antsy.  Here's what they looked like after I took them off:
 (see those clothespin marks?  eek! but they are gone now)
 Isn't that so much better?!?!  
Okay, this next picture is really good at showing the end result of cutting all those slots in the back of the drape.  You get the nice folds without having any grommets or rings!  But beware, if you ever plan to do this, make sure its a drape you won't be sliding back and forth.  It won't slide! (unless maybe you used super-high-gloss spray paint and some slippery light-weight fabric?).

I was so happy with how these turned out.  The most amazing part was how much bigger the entire room felt after they were up!  That wall seemed to expand and visually widened the room.  I will be curious to see if my trained folds slowly expand. If so, a retraining may be required.
Also of note: the roman shades were purchased from a bargain store called Ollie's.  They were originally from Home Depot.  I got the wide one for $20, the small ones for $14.  Can't find them cheaper than that!

If you have any other questions that I need to clarify, send them my way, I'd love to help you get the perfect drapes for your windows too!


DIY Drapery Rods

You've seen the finished room, now lets talk about how it got there.  I am always a sucker for full-length drapes... no exceptions here.  I like to hang them much wider than the window (just like everyone else does), and this helps to make the window look larger.  They actually end up being more decorative than functional.  Here's what I was working with:
 I was going to use PVC pipe (like this), across the entire length of the window and extending to the outer walls.  BUT, the PVC didn't come in 12' lengths, and I didn't want a joint in the middle.  I headed to the lumber department and looked at wood rods, but again, only up to 10' long. 

My backup plan was to do short rods on each side of the window.  I'd seen this other places, like this or Beth's living room.  I decided to sacrifice the look of the rod across the top, and in the end, I really liked it!  I had the Lowe's guy cut a 6' wooden rod into 2, 30" pieces.  I bought unfinished wood brackets and some bun furniture feet (all available on an isle-end in the very back of Lowe's).  People, we are talking CHEAP!  One set of finials from the drapery department cost about $10 per pair.  I got a pair for $6-8 (can't find the receipt).  "Real" brackets cost about $10-20 a pair.  I got these unfinished ones for $3/pair.  My rod cost $6.  Spray paint: maybe $3 (and I only used a fraction of it).  Total cost: $27-31.  Folks, this is CONSIDERABLY cheaper than ready-made rods.  And this project was so easy, I may just buy them this way from here on out!  (and just imagine the fun you could have: ANY color rod you want!!! Oh this makes me excited!).
After I brought them home, I applied 2-3 coats of brown spray paint so they looked like this:

Then I drilled a small hole in each end.  I had to use the largest drill bit we had (1/4") and it was a perfect fit.  If you're thinking "I don't know how to drill a hole," you are not alone.  I was actually planning on having Simon do this part, but then I thought "Self, you know how to change the drill bits, you know how to work a drill, you know how to hold the rod steady, you can DO THIS!"  And I did.  (and I secretly enjoyed every moment of drilling bliss).  I just sat at my dining table and let the wood dust fall wherever (it wasn't much, and had very easy cleanup). 
**NOTE: for those of you who get a little ambitious, make sure you put your curtain (or rings) on BEFORE you put both of your finials on!
And here it is all together!

If you like 'em big 'n chunky, you should totally make your own curtain rods. :)
Up next: how I made the drape...
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