11 May 2015

DIY: the nifty, super-easy blackout shade trick

I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day yesterday, dear readers, either celebrating your mom or, if you have kids, being celebrated yourself! I confess, I was a little “meh” about my first real Mother’s Day, but I changed my tune after I got massage gift certificates and surprise breakfast (chocolate chip pecan nutella peanut butter waffles oh em gee). And then I worked on a gift I’ve looked forward to giving myself: my own child-free master bedroom.

See, for reasons not worth fully explaining (and “overly-attached paranoid mom” isn’t one), Baby P’s slept in our room for almost all of his nearly-five months. His playard crib was right next to our bed for almost three months, then once the winter was past and the walls in our room weren’t freezing cold to the touch (yikes), we moved him to the dormer window. There was just one problem, and it was right there in the previous sentence: WINDOW.

(Please note the blinds are closed in that photo. Sun for me! But no sleep for baby!)

With the warmer weather that allowed Baby P to sleep more than six inches from me also, unfortunately, came earlier sunrise. Normally I love me some sunlight, but not when it keeps a baby from going back to sleep early in the morning. We installed blackout curtains in his room, as you know, but a fat lot of good those did me with the encroaching morning sun. So, before I tell you what I’m doing with the room now that Baby P is in his own space, I thought I’d play catchup and tell you how I solved this problem!

My first thought for solving the light-through-the-window problem was old-school: foil. Beloved by sleep-deprived parents, eco-friendly house optimizers, and meth cookers everywhere! And because the houses in our neighborhood are approximately ten feet apart, quite literally the only person who could see this window is our next-door neighbor, and even then he’d only be able to see it from within his house. But Mr. P vetoed the foil (“because we’re not cooking meth in our bedroom”), so I had to find another solution. One that a busy working mom could deal with in a matter of minutes!

I did a bit of research into easy-to-install roller shades, and considered for a hot minute whether to order more blackout shades from IKEA (or pricier ones from elsewhere). But in the end, I got these:

That’s two yards of blackout fabric, purchased from Jo-Ann, and a tension café rod from Target. See, rather than try to install something fancy, I decided that I’d just leave the blinds closed all the time anyway (that was my plan with the foil, after all). So why not just install a blackout shade behind the blinds?

Hence the tension rod:

Then I only had to fold the blackout fabric over the rod. Seriously. No sewing, nothing. Just tweaking the folds to make it as wide as the window, and that’s it.

Because I didn’t measure carefully (or, well, at all) the fabric wasn’t long enough to be doubled over the full length of the window. But even with eight inches at the bottom of a double layer instead of a quadruple layer, it’s still pretty dang dark in this dormer window now.

Of course, this is the sort of MacGyver’d solution that wouldn’t work if you wanted to easily open or close your shades, and it can’t totally replace the existing blinds (unless you like the look of a basic sheet of fabric as a window treatment). But for the cost – a few bucks for the rod, and under $10 for the fabric – it was well worth it to avoid the morning battle of waking wills!

Don’t appreciate how much of a different this super-simple solution made? Let’s do a side-by-side, edited for brightness matched for the front of the crib in both photos:

Insane, right?! For how quick and cheap this solution was, it’s amazing how well it worked. Almost as good as taping foil to the windows... but surely way faster! Who knew a few yards of blackout fabric could have such an effect? It’s so simple that I really hesitated calling this a DIY, but you know me. I just had to share!

By now, I’ve taken down that makeshift shade as Baby P is sleeping in his own room now – and yes, I am LOVING the light that seems to be FLOODING our bedroom. But still, I’m saving this fabric because who knows when I’ll again need a quick, portable blackout shade? Mark it down as another one of those nifty tricks!