Retro Design Dilemma: Window treatments for Lori’s mid century modern living room

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window treatments mid century modern houseIn this week’s Retro Design Dilemma, reader Lori has asked for ideas about window treatments for the living room in her 1949 mid century modern house — which she just moved into, she begs pardon for all the boxes. Hey, we wall understand. Read on to see more of Lori’s living room — and to hear about her window treatment design dilemma.

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And again this week, Pam and I will be hosting a Live Google Hangout today at noon Eastern to reveal ideas for Lori’s room — you can come right back here to the blog to watch it, it will be showing live at the top of this story. Leave your comments below… we’ll add some to our discussion. Or hey: Join the Hangout yourself and be a co-star (we can have up to 10 folks on the Hangout).


ranch-house-exteriorLori writes:

Thank you, Pam, for inviting me to present my retro design dilemma. Some background on the house first, it’s a 1949 flat roof ranch house. It is on a cul de sac of about 8 houses, 6 of which were built at the same time by the same architect and his friends as an experimental project. They wanted to live near each other as they often entertained together. Most of the houses, like mine, have South facing windows to take advantage of passive solar heat, radiant floor heat and there is a community pocket park for the residents.

blinds-closedOur house came with a wall of windows on the South side. It gets blasted with light during the daytime. This is in our open living and dining area. There are 4 windows in the area, 3 of them being large picture windows. All the windows have short, pinch pleat drapes in a faux silk slub fabric. The drapes only come to the bottom of the sills. I think that this looks a little odd. I don’t mind the color, which is ivory, or the pinch pleats but I’m not keen on the length.

I love the clean lines of our house. The windows are really what makes this simple house special. I’d like to find a way to get privacy and protection from the sun’s glare while not hiding the awesome windows.

Lori's-living-roomMy husband and I are not into fussy patterns or designs. We tend to like clean lines, bold stripes or color blocking. We have used pleated shades in other houses, but I’m not sure if this would be sacrilege in this house or not. We absolutely love our views of our woodsy yard and the evening sunsets through our huge windows. I’d saw our style is modern with natural elements and colors.

Getting new pinch pleat drapes is going to be cost prohibitive, I think. The largest picture window is 5×8 ft, add the side windows to that and it’s 12 ft of glass. I’ve thought about adding fabric to the drapes to make them longer but wonder if that’s going to be too difficult.

Thank you for considering my questions! Sorry that our room isn’t tidy, we just moved in 2 weeks ago.

Lori

What a gorgeous house, Lori, and your neighborhood sounds terrific. For the record, be sure to check our entire category of stories about window treatments for midcentury homes. And, Pam did this story, too, outlining 11 key ideas for curtains, shades, blinds and more.

mid century neutral living room

Pam here. I chose the items for the “natural colors” mood board:

  • Do I think it is “sacrilege” to use pleated shades in a mid century modern living room? No, I don’t!  Pleated shades can be purchased very cost effectively, they are easy to operate, and they get the job done. I found these simple pleated shades on SelectBlinds.com. I actually had been looking for pleated shades myself — for my office — and after poking around the internet doing comparison shopping for as long as I could stand it, landed on this site. Looked to me like they have pretty good prices — and be sure to watch for the coupon deals, which can help save even more. When I buy a pleated shade, I usually choose something neutral, so that I can live with it a long time. This color is Cottonwood. We thought Lori could paint the walls to match. If she ever wants to soften the blinds and the window, she can easily add some fabric panels in front. Finally, I really prefer it if you can mount the shades “inside.”
  • For color and gravitas (“weight” to balance with those tile floors), I found a stoneware lamp in rich green from lottelamps.com.
  • And for fun over the fireplace, how about a big starburst mirror from Horchow.com. I like the gold of the mirror — it picks up the gold in the fireplace screen, the gold tones of the vintage mid century credenza, and the gold in Lori’s beautiful oriental rugs.

mid century colorful living room

Kate here:

For my take on Lori’s blinds, I chose the IKEA KVARTAL curtain rail system — a helpful guide to planning your KVARTAL system can be found here. The KVARTAL curtain rods are relatively easy to put up and can be configured for panel curtains or as tracks for fabric panels. You can make your own panels out of fabric, paper or other like material or you can buy premade panels from IKEA like the MALIN TRAD curtain panels that I chose for the room. The pattern on this curtain panel is not overly “fussy” or loud — and reads almost like a texture from across the room — while up close they coordinate with many of the colors that already exist in the room. The grey ties in with the flooring, the green with her plants and plant table, the red goes well with her rug and the bluish grey could be used as a wall color — which would help visually cool down Lori’s room. To add more red to the room, the Jonathan Adler table lamp from Lamps Plus and the playful, simplistic Kandinsky print from AllPosters.com would also help spread the red accent color around the room.

So, dear readers, what do you think Lori should do?

Come back at noon to hear our ideas and chit chat during our live Google Hangout,
We’ll post our mood boards then, too.

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Comments

  1. ChrisH says

    I have no advice as to fabric or exact type of drapes. I just want to say hang them higher, and let them fall lower.

    In picture one, I’d hang them just as they are hung now, from just below the rectangular windows, but I’d let them fall to within 2″ or so of the floor. I think you’re right that the length looks odd.

    In picture 2, assuming it’s a different wall, I’d hang them higher, maybe as high as the top shelf in the bookcase. Let them hang almost to the floor of the fireplace.

  2. Kate H says

    Ask: what is wrong with this thing I don’t like? If it’s dangerous or rotted, change it immediately. But if you just don’t like it, wait. Live with it for a year, then decide what you need to do. Your attitude could change, or the reason for it’s weirdness may become evident later on.

    Light changes as the seasons change. There may be a really good reason for these drapes that you don’t see yet. It’s like your yard: don’t yank anything up till you’ve lived there a year, because that scraggy bush may be a lilac, and you’d never know till May came around and it bloomed.

    • Heather says

      I would agree. Since this is an aesthetic not a safety issue, live with it for a year so that you can experience all of the seasons (and sun angles). I’m not sure where you are at in the US, so there might be other shading opportunities (roller shades, exterior louvered shading device, etc) depending on how low/ high the sun gets on the southern horizon. You might also discover (as we did!) that investing in lined drapes was important to keep the room thermally comfortable – our drafty windows need that extra layer on cold nights or hot afternoons!

    • Jodi says

      Agreed. Live with it. We moved into our little 50s ranch over a year ago and I still haven’t painted, though I now have a very good idea what paint colors I want where. I would have ended up with something a little different a year ago and I’d be stuck. The fact that the draperies come with the house AND they’re a neutral color – I just remember how many hours I spent looking and how much money I spent on our pinch pleat sheers and draperies, and I’m lucky enough to live in a city with a JCP outlet store. And that’s not counting the time that went into hanging the dual traverse rods. I have a formal look with draperies to the floor, but I can see the appeal of the shorter ones because you can utilize the space under the window. If you decide on a different window covering, can I have those? :)

      • nina462 says

        where oh where do you live near a JCP outlet? I used to shop at them all the time, but then I thought they all closed. Please let me know where- I may have to plan a shopping vacation.

        • Jodi says

          I think you’re right about them closing – it’s owned by a different company now. Plus since they’ve discontinued the catalog and no one really shops there much, I doubt there’s many returns to get good deals on (which I imagine all my pinch pleats were). I’m in Columbus Ohio.

  3. Jay says

    I think the sill length curtains probably look better then floor length as this is a very contemporary house, not formal. The house has nice lines and I like the setting – very private. I’m a big fan of wooden blinds – many color options and you can control the light coming into the room. The horizontal slats will accentuate the horizontal lines of house. Your TV is at right angles to the window wall so summer sun glare on it can be minimized by adjusting the slats. Plus when open all the way, you get to see your great outdoor views. Enjoy your new home!

  4. Patty says

    The length looks good to me. Live with it and maybe your eyes will come around.

    You could add some solid color (white?) sheers or some nice shades to help with the sun – keeping what you have. Later, when you change the curtains, these would still be fine. You can see out sheers without others seeing in during the day.

    At some point, some window panes are made to block the heat more. You could at least find out about costs and options.

    I’d love to know how the neighborhood experiment worked out – did all the families remain friends?

  5. Sarah g says

    As a certified wetcleaner at my family’s Drycleaning business I can at least tell you what to avoid when curtain shopping. Never ever ever get curtains with those rubbery feeling backings! They are uncleanable, the rubber stuff disolves, warps and gets sticky after being washed and will completely disolve in Drycleaning solvent. Some of those felt backings can be tricky too. Anything washable is going to be easier to maintain than dryclean only fabrics so avoid silk, wool, or acetate. Stick with cotton, rayon, linen, ramie, and polyester. Polyester will last forever, be easier to clean and the color won’t fade as easily as it does with natural fibers like cotton. And just one other thing… Satin and velvet are not types of fabric they are types of weave so there can be a silk satin or a polyester satin… Essentially you can find the same look and feel through a multitude of fibers it’s all about how it’s woven and treated. Ooo… Also try to avoid black and white or red and white fabric in case the dyes aren’t set correctly and may bleed during processing.
    I could go on about curtains and fabrics all day! Just restored 5 sets of vintage pinch pleats that were nasty… If you are someone getting old curtains cleaned know the risks and talk directly to the person that will be cleaning them at the DC. If you can rip them without much force (try on a seam always) they are dry rotted and you should give up on them

    • says

      I would like to point out that in some places those rubbery-backed curtains can be kind of necessary. I live in Alaska where our summers come with 24 hours of daylight… If I didn’t have blackout curtains, which typically come with that rubbery-backing, I would’ve get much sleep for four months out of the year. They also provide insulation in the winter, holding in more heat than traditional curtains. Of course, in warmer climates where you don’t get much of a temperature change throughout the year, this isn’t really something that you need to factor in.

      Just a little food for thought when it comes to curtains and efficiency.

      • Sarah g says

        Yes I can understand that there are times when they are necessary. I would then suggest not paying an arm and a leg and do preventative cleaning, vacuum them regularly, make sure the roof doesn’t leak on them and the pets don’t pee on them…. Hey it happens!

  6. Leslie says

    What a beautiful home, and I love that you’ve learned the history of your house and your neighborhood! I would start with off white wood looking blinds, they are clean lined and work well with mid century modern design. You will have privacy, ability to adjust the light then always add pinch pleats or drapes later. I remember many thick slated metal venetian blinds in homes in the 50’s – 60’s.

  7. brty says

    We have floor length cotton linen panels from West Elm that look to be fairly inexpensive (they were bought by the former owners, and we liked ‘em so they’re still there) in our south facing window wall of our midcentury modest split level. It’s also our living/dining room. The panels provide privacy but let in light as well when it’s really sunny, and when pushed back have a bit of the pinch-pleat look–they’re an off-white but not sheer. I’m not sure how to post a photo on comments, but if someone could tell me, I would be happy to share what they look like. i looked at the West Elm site and they have solids and some contemporary prints that could look nice in your living room.

  8. says

    I’ve sewn fabric to the end of vintage drapes because of length issues. It’s not hard. If you go that route find a fabric that contrasts instead of trying to match it, because you’ll never match and it will just look crazy.

    However, I actually really, really like the current curtains.

  9. Lynne says

    I LIKE the short drapes! Okay, they could maybe be a little bit longer, but not necessarily. Frankly, the extra length would add a whole lot of expense and just be a waste. You will get a whole lot more wall space if you leave them short. I would also scoot that walnut buffet right underneath that window!

    I would most certainly invest in new pinch pleat drapes with a sheer behind. Get a nice coarse textured neutral and you’ll be happy for YEARS.

    I just this past summer replaced the pinch pleats on my Anderson Window Walls. Pricey, yes, but I chose very carefully. A nice textured honey beige that I will be able to use any color with. (think Triscut crackers) I got a poly cotton blend, the poly for durability, but I wanted the cotton to make them hang well. ALL polyester can make drapes flare like a bad prom dress.

  10. says

    I don’t have any advice about the actual style of window coverings – sorry, I am going to struggle with similar issues with our ‘new’ 1951 home… BUT, I can tell you – if you decide to add fabric, there are several ways to do this. Sewing fabric on is the most sturdy and hangs the best – and it is not hard! You just have to take your time! I have always sewn the vast majority of window treatments in our house as I couldn’t afford to buy what I really wanted. There are usually some great discount fabric stores in which you can find fabulous fabrics for not a lot of money. They usually also have all the lining options available. If you are relatively new to sewing, start with a valance or cafe curtain (for a different room) just to get the hang of things – and realize you can do it! There are also some great no-sew ideas floating around Pinterest for window treatments.

  11. Kara says

    We live in a mid-century house, built in 1965 – it’s sort of a like a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house – made entirely of brick with absolutely NO windows, but instead has huge walls of glass, letting the inside out and the outside in. :) We have 3 triple sliders (about 10′ across each) and a 15′ wall of glass with a double slider and 2 stationary floor to ceiling windows (hard to describe, but it’s fantastic and proved QUITE the challenge when we wanted to cover them).

    I’d say the answer to your question really, really depends on where in the country (or world) you are located. Do you need to keep the cold out? Then you’d need something different than someone who lives in the south.

    We have the curtain tracks from Ikea. I am not a fan of the pinch-pleat – too fussy for MCM design. We live in New England (it’s 7 DEGREES TODAY! Our house is infinitely awesome, and DOWNRIGHT COLD in the winter!). I would use natural fibers (linen, even burlap which is very popular right now). I’d do the double/triple tracks (Ikea) installed along the ceiling, hang sheers on the inside of that track for filtering summer sun and heavier drapes on the outside of the track. Make sure you leave enough room on the side of the windows so you can completely expose that window and push the drapes entirely out of the way. If you sew, you can easily make drapes – and even if you don’t, you can use the iron-on stuff to hem them. Make sure you get a fabric that has a nice “hand” or “drape” to it. If you get a fabric that is too stiff, you will not have nice folds in the fabric. Double the width too, if you make them, so you have plenty of gentle gathers in the drapes. If I knew how, I’d include a few pics to show you what we’ve done!

    When our drapes are open, all you see is the windows and the outside. When they are closed, you have a fabric wall – very streamline and clean lines.

    Good luck – looks like a great house! :)

    • says

      I’m in New England, too. Thankfully, our windows have been replaced with thermal so there aren’t any drafts. Unfortunately, the new windows are not quite as large as the originals. We have all of the plans and drawings for the house. The original wall of windows almost went to the ground, now they are 3ft. off the floor. The sellers of our house mistakenly believed that this house had Frank Lloyd Wright influences. I thought maybe they were thinking of the Usonian houses but they are full of wood and so much more amazing (lucky you!). Our house has cinder block construction and tile floors. Anyway, this house is much more simple and our vision for it is clean and modern. We had to paint over the Harvest Gold wall paint in the living areas and we have several stained glass light fixtures to remove now. The realtor kept bring up FLW, too. If anything, I’d say this house was tremendously influenced by The Architects Collaborative designs. I adore FLW and especially the Usonians but this house is nothing like them!

  12. Carl says

    Ditto living with the existing window treatments until you see how the light changes thru the year. That being said – I would consider a product such as Luminette privacy sheers by Hunter Douglas mounted close to the ceiling and hanging below the sill. Nice clean sheer look, with the privacy and light control of vertical blinds. I absolutely love mine, not cheap but a great look.

  13. says

    I’d go with wood blinds- they are infinitely adjustable for sun, views, etc. you can accent them on the sides with side drapery panels for looks if you want some fabric to soften the look. For draperies, hang at the top of the window below the transom and go to the floor. Your second window could have the curtain hung at the same height as the other wall and hang the blind or other treatment at the same height to camouflage the fact that it’s really lower. Roman shades could be great too!

  14. says

    I like the pinch-pleats you have because they’re unobtrusive in the space (both the color and the length). But if you want a change …

    My suggestion would be roman shades or similar length curtains in lined linen or cotton, to help with temperature control. There are some Etsy sellers who make the shades, and you can order them from Tonic Living, which also makes drapes. The blogger behind Brooklyn Limestone used TL to make her nursery drapes and raved about them. Not sure about pricing.

    If you like to DIY, here’s a great tutorial I’ve been wanting to try to make roman shades out of mini-blinds:

    http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2009/02/make-shades-out-of-mini-blinds.html

    You might also consider less structured curtains (not sure how to describe). My friend Sarah’s house was on Design Sponge a while back and the first picture shows her lined curtains (made by her mom). She used a stained bamboo rod and bamboo curtain rings to hang them; they were a small geometric print in light green/yellow (grellow?).

    [Ana – link does not work]

    • sarahjaneb says

      I second the recommendation to look into Tonic Living. That’s where I got the pinch pleat drapes for my 10 foot picture window, and the price was about a third of what Calico Corners quoted me.

  15. Annie B. says

    I think the window treatment you already have works wonderfully. . Sill length curtains seem perfect for your room. I concur with keeping these ivory pinch pleats for a while until you get a better feel for lighting and furniture placement.

    If I had to replace these, I’d go with shutters, blinds, etc.: something clean, angular, and modern looking which I’d paint to match the wall color for a seamless look. Love your house!

  16. says

    Random thoughts:

    Maybe they had kittens.

    I note that the space under the window has already come in handy for the boxes; you couldn’t do that if the drapes were floor-length. I always appreciate being able to walk up to a window, easily, in order to look out, or pull shades, or open them, for example, but putting a narrow table under the window would not be possible if the drapes were long.

    If those drapes were longer, there would be visible a hard line between the light coming in above the sill, and the shadow below. Might not create the vertical cleanliness you want. Opaque drapes would not make sense unless you want to show movies during the day…

  17. says

    P.S. Last random thought: we just had the shortest day of the year, December 21-22? This could be the most sunny these get if these architects were really going for the passive solar. By summertime, the sun will probably be higher in the sky and not coming in directly from the same angle.

  18. nina462 says

    I like the short drapes & kind of have the same dilemma on how long my drapes should be – because I have floor vents that run the length of the walls where my picture windows are.
    My suggestion is to look at magazines from the time period of the house. I have a lot of magazines from the 40’s – early 60’s. (Better Homes & Garden/ American Home etc.).

  19. Bonnie K says

    Hey! I used to design drapes for a living. If you like color blocking perhaps a monochromatic color blocking mimicking the window shapes…you could even throw in a color or two from the rest of the decor in the space or add a solid/basic ribbon to mimic the window mullions.

  20. June Cahill says

    I like them – as they are. They are certainly ‘period perfect’ – and seem to filter the light beautifully. Live with them. One year. See how the light changes season to season. Then decide. I moved into my 1963 ranch in Tucson and immediately started making changes. My mother, artist, told me, “live with it one year, then make changes.” I didn’t. I was WRONG. She was RIGHT – don’t you just hate that??;)

  21. Wendy M. says

    I don’t have any new ideas, but I’ll share what I did when we replaced our pinch pleats with new pinch pleats. I bought through the JCPenney website when they were having a sale. We have 30 feet of continuous windows in our living room/dining room and was able to buy pinch pleats to cover all of that for just over $300 (including a spare pair in case anything ruined a portion of them). The reason I was able to get them at such a reasonable price was I bought the narrower panels that were extra long and sewed them together and hemmed them. If you opt for this, you’d be able to decide the length you want. It was quite a bit of work, but I just can’t imagine how much it would have been if we had gone the custom route!

  22. Shannon H. says

    Vertical blinds were around in the mid-20th century and are a clean contemporary look that lets in light while still giving privacy. Just another option to consider.

  23. says

    We have a house that’s similar in style to yours. We did end-up going with pinch pleats for our window wall and have been very happy with them, although our windows are floor to ceiling. I found them online and think they were around $200, but they are huge, so not a bad deal. You could easily go with a nice blind for a clean look, as well. I think the advice to just live with it for a while is good, though. That way you’ll really have a good idea of what’s going to work there.

    Happy new house!!!

  24. says

    Lovely loking house :)

    Living room: My suggestion would be to leave them as is, and to use the space underneath for a great piece of furniture (a narrow credenza, bookcase or window seat) which would then add to the statement factor of the wall (and add extra storage).

    If you did want to extend the living room drapes and were not confident to do it yourself, then you could always take them and the extra fabric to a tailor/seamstress and have them do the work for you- but it is pretty easy to do if you have basic sewign machine skills.

    Room with Fireplace:
    I think that sill length is the only way to go here for curtains. If you had full length or almost dull-length one side would be bunched up at the bottom on the fireplace hearth (when open or closed) as the window extends past the hearth.

    • Tom says

      I was thinking along the same lines – that the space under the windows seems ideal for a credenza or bookcase that spans the entire width of the window spaces. Since you just moved, maybe stack moving boxes in that area with their open ends facing the room (kind of like stackable storage crates) to get a feel for how it might work.

  25. Ada says

    Ugghh. I understand the ‘drape dilemma’ as I have several of them myself. My problem is:
    #1…needing to change out ALL of the drapes as they’re all the original pinch pleats to the house (early ’70s ranch) and I don’t think they were ever cleaned and may fall apart if I try!
    #2…the drapes in the living room are also a weird length. Unfortunately, I know why and there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s a floor heater under the windows (5 tall rectangular ribbon windows) and to make them to the floor, which is what would look gorgeous, isn’t a possibility.
    #3…most of them are the most WRONG colours imaginable for my furniture and look horrible while I’m in the ‘saving enough money to make new ones’ phase. I’d actually dye the living room drapes for now, but again I think they’d fall apart if they touched water!
    I feel your pain Lori! You’re not alone, sister!!

    • says

      Hi Ada,

      I tried dying a set of vintage drapes that came with our house as a test -a sad pair of sun damaged pink and mint “silk” pinch pleats that were destined for the thrift store- The main fabric dyed “okay” but the nubby contrasting threads didn’t so they looked really wacky, so beware that all materials do not accept dye the same!!

      I picked up a perfectly sized replacement vintage Sears set in a wooly dark teal colour at a local thrift store for $5. Ours carry long and short drapes there all the time – so give that a chance for a budget makeover- be it temporary until you save up for your dream drapes or permament.

      • Ada says

        Thanks for the heads up! I had thought about that possibly being an issue with dying them. I defo won’t be dying them now!
        I’ve been looking in the thrift stores around here for replacements, but so far I can never find them large enough…or in any colour other than brown or dingy cream. And even if I do, the thrift stores around here price ‘vintage’ things even higher than the antique stores do. I’m probably just going to have to live with them for a bit longer until I can find the right fabric to make my own. I’m hoping I can master those pinch pleats!

  26. says

    Hi there,
    We have a 1965 MCM with floor to ceiling windows on the south and east sides of our great room. We inherited un-lined off-white pinch pleat drapes that reach the floor and I love them. They are on traverse rods and it makes them super easy to close in the summer when the sun heats up the house. We live in Rochester, NY and we actually like the sun to heat up the house in the winter so we keep them open in the winter. Keeping them closed in the summer makes a HUGE difference for keeping our house cool. So you may want to live in the house awhile to see how much you need them to be functional–operability may be a large consideration for you. Traverse rods are great for making curtains easy to open and close. Otherwise, I really like the clean look of some of the roller shades that I’ve seen at The Shade Store and Smith + Noble if more contemporary is your style. I have a blog and a house tour from when we purchased the house if you are interested in seeing our drapes. modchester.blogspot.com

    • Diane in CO says

      Now you’re talkin’ — that is awesome, Jac. I was just reading the comments and thinking that they could use floor length drapery panels on either side of the windows (that don’t close) with grass shades on the windows for privacy and light modulation. (But I like what I see in your photo and short panels would work also.)

      Grass shades are reminiscent of MCM grasscloth wall covering. I love my Conrad natural grass shades in my sunroom because you can “see” through them when they are down but offer nighttime privacy to a great degree. HAPPILY, there are much much less expensive grass shades available now (try Graber).

      Lori, I love your home. You will have fun figuring it all out!

  27. Katie says

    I like the look of the existing window treatments a lot. Adding some sheers to filter the light, might help. If that doesn’t work, you might consider using landscaping to shade that window during the part of the day when the light is the brightest. Maybe shutters or external blinds of some kind.

  28. says

    I think that besides the floppy pleats, they look pretty great. I agree that you might learn to really like them if you live with them a while. Pam is right about those longer, fuller drapery pins being just the thing to make those pleats stand at attention at the top.

    Here is the link to the Window Covering Safety Council if anyone needs it. You can get all of the hardware that you’ll need to make your blinds, curtains and shades safer for FREE on their site:

    http://www.windowcoverings.org

  29. says

    I like the sill length for flexibility of furniture arrangements and it seems to fit with the feel of your house. Here’s some mesh roller blinds that keep out UV but allows you to see the view of the woods and sunsets.

  30. says

    Pam and Kate-I just watched the Google Hangout and it was great! I learned so much about window treatments–thanks for doing that. Thanks for such a great site.

    • pam kueber says

      Thank you! We do get chatty! This is only our second hangout. I get worried when they run so long, but then, yes, there’s a lot of info to cover. The way we’re going to handle these going forward, I think, is that the original live version WILL be as long as we feel like we need to or want to talk. Then, we will “cut” a shorter version, as short as we can make it without losing the basics.

      I think that in this way, we have an “Uncensored” version for folks who really truly want to get into the nitty gritty weeds. And, a shorter version for folks who just want to dip in.

      Also, I am learning I really need to make better notes ahead of time! Kate already does a great job, she’s better organized than I am. We’re learning. It’s FUN! Thank you for your feedback, it really means a lot to us!!!!!

  31. Louisa says

    I agree with living with it for a bit. When you first move in you have so many big and little decisions to make!
    The lines of your house are low and horizontal. Sill length works well with the horizontal, and very tailored pinch pleats compliment the straight lines of your house.
    I do also like the idea of shades that disappear when open,with nothing impeding the view. And shades also give privacy and insulation when closed. I used Bali Perfect Pleat ivory crepe shades from Home Depot, and they have been great.

  32. Lori D says

    I just want to give thanks to Retro Renovation and all of the commenters for the input on my drapery Design Dilemma! I really appreciate the safety info as I do have a toddler crawling and climbing around.That’s why I don’t have more table lamps right now, actually.I love the ones suggested by Pam and Kate. Someday!

    I assure you all that we aren’t going to rush into changing the current drapes. I’m just gathering advice so I can mull it over for a while. After reading these comments and watching the Hangout I may just keep the short pinch pleats. Pam, you mentioned valances toward the end of the video and it gave me ideas. I’m now leaning toward making some simple box valances covered in a cool fabric to give the windows a bit of interest. I like this idea a lot! I painted the walls a creamy white because we have a lot of art with color (that’s what’s in all those boxes under the window). With the creamy colored curtains it’s a lot of cream. Colorful valances would be fun, I think. Definitely, red and blue/gray are accent colors for us as pointed out on the mood boards. And, oh how I’d love a sunburst mirror! My grandparents had one but its gone now :(

    I do like those Ikea track panels. I was just eyeing them at the store last week. The ones that Kate chose are right up our alley. I think for now, though, that we will keep the pinch pleats and make valances. We can always change them later. Thanks so much, again!

    • pam kueber says

      Very cool, Lori D — this was a fun one! Yes, I think it would be relatively easy to make valences like the ones you describe — a fun and very gratifying project!!! P.S. We have another story coming shortly on your “other” question ;)

  33. says

    Ok, I’m completely fixated on the sunburst mirror now that I see how great it would look on the brick. I think I’ll make one since I’m a mosaic artist and fairly handy. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  34. Barb S. says

    Lori, if you decide you want to live with those drapes for a little bit, I think I have those drapery hooks Pam mentioned. I have a HUGE bag of them, and I think they are mostly 4 prongs, which will hold those babies straight up! I am so envious of those huge windows. I have a 50s ranch with high awning windows and a big overhang outside. It’s so dark in my house.

  35. Bill says

    Agree with living with them for a year. I like longer curtains, but with the windows you have, the shorter version looks current.

  36. Jim says

    Before changing anything, try to appreciate the perfect simplicity of the current window treatments. Simplicity is what mid-century was all about. The curtains are not fussy in any way, there’s only as much fabric as is actually needed. Such a liberating modern concept. And the space under the windows… so perfect for a long book case with assorted plants on top. Or a daybed or to display art. Lots of possibilities.

  37. Leila LaSpisa says

    Lori:
    Luv the house! I have bought lots of draperies at estate sales for cheap. I found sheers and textured neutral drapes ( that go all the way to the floor) for my BF’s house to cover his 12′ picture window- for $17. They look great! I also purchased 3 sets of draperies at an estate sale for my own home that go right to the sill for my dining room. They do not look odd at all because they don’t go all the way to the floor, they are beautiful and at $40 for 6 panels, I grabbed them. I like your current drapes, and I think if you paint the walls behind them a different color, you will appreciate them more.

    Also, I like what little I see of your sofa. It looks like it has a retro look to it, but very comfortable. Would you mind sharing the make and model and where you bought it? Thank you and good luck in your beautiful new home.

  38. says

    I too agree with living with the draperies for a while before doing anything major. (Remember my metal cabinets which initially I was going to rip out, but now I love them!).. Also, years ago I lived in a dormitory where the pinch pleats were too short, so I simply moved the hooks (regular hooks, no need to get new ones) up as far to the top of the drapery panel as possible. This will make your draperies hang a little longer and straighter, since the weight will now fall off the very top, and you won’t have the fall over which Pam mentioned. I wish I were there to help you. Try it and see what you think. I hope I have explained it clearly, but I think Pam will know what I mean. Good luck!

  39. Kvanlee says

    I would have some fun looking at fabric, ribbons, iron on tape etc to brainstorm the idea of lengthening the drapes. I would also visit thrift stores as these are a great source for inexpensive retro drapes factoring in dry-cleaning costs. If you purchased what used to be called “venetian blinds” you could layer a sheer fabric over that; maybe something with a geometric design. Check out Ikea, Pier One, World Market and the like and ask when their sales are. You might flank the drapes on the sides if you used blinds underneath and get away with much less fabric than if you were to cover the entire window. The most creative part of decorating is generating ideas.( You knew that, huh.)

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