Foyer Curtains

In August 2011 I made some magnetic curtains to hang on either side of our front door. A year and half later, they’re looking pretty rough:

Old CurtainsOld Curtain Close-UpThe curtains are slightly too narrow, letting light creep in along the edges. At the top the backing has pulled free, due to the strong magnets. We want curtains covering these windows for a few reasons, mainly: to protect the bamboo floor from concentrated sunlight and prevent fading; and privacy from people looking into our house. I originally chose this fabric because it tied in the blue of the living room walls, and the wood tones of the floor and furniture in the living room. Now I’ve lost interest in the fabric, and the curtains’ poor performance gives me reason to replace them.

Disassembling the Old CurtainsJeremy found me these super strong magnets to hang the curtains (since the door frame is magnetic). The magnets are so strong though that many pulled free from the glue that was holding them to the curtains. The back of the curtains is a light vinyl, chosen because it blocks out the light, and offers a little insulation. Also, it’s white, so form the outside you see white instead of patterned curtain (just like with our blinds). I picked up exactly the amount I needed from a JoAnn’s remnant bin (an excellent score). So, I disassembled the curtains so I could reuse the backing.

New Curtain ConstructionThis time I approached the construction differently. I decided to employ my quilting skills and my binding tool to attach the new fabric to the backing. I cut the fabric an inch wider than the backing, making the binding 1/2″ wide. Then I stitched along with edge of the binding with a zig-zag stitch.

New CurtainsBy attaching the backing this way the curtains will lie flatter than the old curtains. I was also able to maximize the area, making the curtains wider and longer than before. Oh, and I love the new fabric! Jeremy was unsure at first, but I think it is growing on him. The colors are rich and bold, and still tie everything together. Blue, brown, tan, greens and off white – these colors are found in the foyer, living room and media room.

Attach the MagnetsThis time I traded the super strong magnets for the adhesive magnets – from the fireplace vent covers project. I cut inch-wide strips and stuck them to the top and bottom of each curtain. I don’t trust the adhesive, so I also stitched the magnets on each end.

New CurtainsNew CurtainsMuch better! The wider curtains, with magnets on top and bottom, stay in place better and are not letting the light creep through. I was worried about the strength of the magnets, but the curtains have not fallen since we hung (stuck?) them a week ago. With the larger curtains I wondered, would it be even better to make long panels to fill the entire space on either side of the door? I think that would look really cool, and be an easy way to make a big impact in a foyer. Alas, I will not pursue this plan because we’d rather get a new door(s) without windows.

Matching PillowWith some extra fabric I made a throw pillow for the couch. Now you can better see how the colors all work together. The brown and blue birds are a match for the couch and blue throw pillows. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough leftover to make two pillows! Oh well, I love the fresh green mingling with the darker hues upstairs.

Have you reworked any projects lately? What did you modify? What did you learn the second (or third) time around?
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Hanging Around

Last week my grandmother passed away suddenly. It has been a long tiring week, and I haven’t felt like blogging. To ease back into the swing of things, Jeremy and I tackled some small projects.

For Christmas our friend (and my cousin) Dan of Shotgun Management gave us the print pictured above. The quote in the banner is from La Dispute’s “The Last Lost Continent”. The print is 11″ by 17″ – a difficult frame to find. I finally found the perfect size at AC Moore.

Here’s the art hanging at the top of the stairs in our “foyer”. You can see the window into the dining room, and the light switch for the living room/foyer/hallway (in the glare). Above the record player we have a little shelf to display the sleeve of the current album. In the middle is a collection of wedding photos.

The new art helps fill out the space between the dining room window and the kitchen entrance. After hanging the print, we got to work upgrading our closet (again).

When we reorganized our closet shelving we opened up some space on the back wall. Now that our closet was more like a real walk-in, we decided to add a mirror.

Jeremy and I picked up this mirror from IKEA on the way home the other night. While not as long as we had imagined, it is definitely better quality than those plastic door mirrors that you can pick up for the same price.

The frame is unfinished, I am thinking of sprucing it up later. There is a noticeable increase of light in the closet, which is a nice improvement.

What little improvements have you been making?

It’s not wood…

Our most dramatic home improvement (other than crazy paint colors) would be our bamboo flooring.Our beige 90s carpet was pretty gross, so we knew it had to go. Jeremy and I knew we wanted a low-VOC option. Teragren bamboo flooring uses no formaldehyde in their adhesives, and is pretreated with polyurethane before it is installed. This means that your house doesn’t smell, and the floor isn’t shiny. In addition to reduced air pollution, bamboo is super renewable. It is a fast growing grass, not a wood.

We found a dealer in our area, and went to look at the boards in person. Instead of going with the natural, bright bamboo color, we chose caramelized. You can see in the pictures that the boards are a nice warm color, but there is still a mix of light and dark shades.

Sad DIY truth – we had the floor installed by professionals. The bamboo flooring is in the dining room, living room, the hall, stairs and foyer. The boards are nail-down. It took the installers a full day, and a few hours the next day (to finish the stairs).
I took this picture right after the installers left, so you can still see the dust. I love how long the hallway looks. To clean the floor, we use a micro-fiber “sweeper”. We also spot clean with a spray bottle of water and a micro-fiber cloth. Jeremy has some really nice micro-fiber cleaning cloths from the car care website Griot’s. I will also use the brush attachment on the vacuum hose to clean along the baseboards and under the couch.

I think the most amazing part of the transformation is the stairs:
We have a split foyer – I took this picture looking over the railing in the living room. Look at those filthy stairs! My poor sister Merideth spent hours cleaning that carpet  – both with a scrub brush and the shampooer. In the picture above you can also see the “wood” laminate of the foyer. That stuff was super ugly, and did not like getting wet.

That’s hot! What’s great is that the colors of the bamboo go well with our existing railings and dining set. The range of colors also compliments the darker shades of wood in the living room (see the first picture of this post) (Except maybe the record player – I didn’t realize how red it was!). Overall, we are really pleased with the transformation.

Have you ever considered bamboo flooring? What are your requirements for new floors? What projects did you leave to the professionals?