12 March 2014

The newest curtain rule

Since I’ve been thinking (and working!) more on the office lately, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into curtains. Maybe you’ve noticed from the “before” photo (on my 35 by 35 list) that the office doesn’t have any?

Or at least, maybe you noticed that single, solitary window and how it doesn’t let in nearly enough light. The adjacent living room and guest room, those lucky rooms are each on a corner of the house, and they get three windows apiece! Each window in those rooms got white billowy VIVAN curtains.

On the other hand, the other adjacent room, the foyer, also suffers from single-window syndrome. In that case, I decided to dress the window in something patterned, my knockoff-Dwell-fabric tablecloth curtains:

Thinking about those adjacent rooms helped me realize more about my curtain MO: for rooms with multiple windows or one GIANT window that lets in lots of light, go for long white curtains. For rooms with small, single windows, go for something with more interest. I didn’t realize I even had those rules, but look how much I’m following them! Our current bedroom has multiple windows and our old bedroom had one giant window, so they got white RITVAs (see my VIVAN vs. RITVA comparison here).

Same with our old dining room and living room.

(unfortunately I never took a better living room photo, but you see what I mean!)

Honestly, I think part of the reason those turquoise curtains didn’t work in the guest room is simply because the guest room is itself so bright. It’s not just the color, it’s not just that I’m super-neutral-obsessed (although I admit those could be contributing factors). The main reason is that, in my book, too much light shouldn’t be combined with too much color!

On the other hand, the only room in our old house that was small and dark, with only a single window, was again the office. For that room I made those no-sew silvery curtains:

Huh! I guess now I have another curtain rule next to “high and wide”! Let’s see, “Light needs white, dark needs...” uh... “marks”. Ok, I can’t think of a clever rhyme to make a pithy rule, but you get the point.

I think the reasoning behind my personal, unspoken (until now) rule is that windows in bright rooms don’t need attention; long white curtains can subtly contribute to the bright ambiance. But in dark rooms with small windows, the window needs all the help it can get, so something with a pattern draws attention to what light is there.

Of course, I can think of reasons I’d break this rule – and just browse Pinterest to see that this is clearly a personal rule, not a universal one. But it generally works for me, and I did find a few examples spanning multiple décor styles to back me up!

Light needs white...

And dark needs... something more interesting which doesn’t rhyme with dark, but whatever:

source (love Emily A. Clark!)

(PS, do you know how hard it is to find apparently-small, somewhat-dark rooms on Pinterest? Nobody pins rooms unless they’re bathed in light!)

Not surprisingly, the rooms I liked most were those that followed this rule, whereas rooms that broke the rule (usually a large window with a patterned curtain) didn’t speak to me as much. Who knew!

So what does this mean for our under-construction office? Well, I don’t think I’ll go totally bold, as you might expect from my rampant neutralizing. And I’d like to keep it on the lighter side (especially light-filtering), just because I can’t hang them high-and-wide and I don’t want to block any light. So I’m thinking of a pattern-on-white, and my best inspiration comes from a shower curtain (from Erin at His and Hers), of all things:

I cropped it from this source

Blue, of course. For my blue phase. Erin was kind enough to let me know that it’s the medallion shower curtain from West Elm, which now seems to be discontinued (though still on their website in the form of bedding). I suppose I could stalk ebay...

Anyway, I think that sort of pattern would introduce some eye-catching attention to the sad little office window, while still being bright enough to keep that corner as light as possible. So now I’m searching for curtains (or fabric, or a shower curtain, or heck, even a tablecloth) with that print! I did find somewhat similar fabric at Tonic Living, but it’s gray and the print is smaller-scale. If I’m paying $80 for fabric it should be exactly what I want. The hunt is on!

At the end of the day, while I haven’t made any tangible progress on curtains for the office, just thinking through my design tendencies has made me a lot more confident about choosing the right window-dressing for this room. So even if this particular design rule doesn’t work for you, at least I can recommend the process of finding your own design rules so you can decorate in a confident, cohesive way!


Janice said...

If you like the blue medallion but it only comes in bedding, order a FLAT sheet! make your own curtains from that :)