Windows to the Room’s Soul

The master bedroom, all decked out in new Ikea Ritva panels.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, windows are the eyes to the soul of a room. And our windows have been bumming me out for a while. When we moved in, we recycled curtains from our former house to save money. It’s always difficult to justify the cost of window treatments when so many other things (paint, furniture… food) seem more pressing. Now, more than a year after moving in to our first house, we’re finally reaching the point when we can upgrade some of the less essential pieces of our home bit by bit. The timing was right – after all, our fabulous new Restoration Hardware-inspired mirror needed the proper foil.

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Master Bedroom Window Treatments – Before, in all their Beige-y Glory.

The master bedroom in particular was a bit too beige. The linen curtains had served their purpose but in this subtle grey oasis, they were drab rather than drapper (Get it? A little drapery humor.). I considered many options, but ultimately gravitated toward the Peyton drapes from Pottery Barn and crisp cotton twill panels from Restoration Hardware. If I had my druthers, and an unlimited budget, and lived in a fantasy palace with no dogs, etc. etc. I’d probably go with delicate linen tinged with the slightest color. But, this is real life, and I knew that a washable material in white (so I can bleach it) would be a good bet and would infuse the room with the crisp cloudlike quality I sought.

I also knew that I wanted to use drapery pins and rings to create a crisp, chic effect when paired with nickel rods. Unlike grommets, pins spaced closely together create a tighter, more fluid fold and the rings would give the gleam of metal I sought without exposing so much wall in between. I find that clips, while useful and affordable, can look unpolished due to that dangling gap between the rod and the panel. That was one of the primary attributes that attracted me to the Peyton drapes in the first place – they are often staged in the catalog this way.

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Pottery Barn’s Peyton Linen/Cotton Drapes

I planned to raise my existing curtain rods and knew I was shopping for 4-95″ panels. At Pottery Barn, that would have cost me $109 a panel for the Peyton drapes – a lined, linen-cotton blend – bringing my grand total to $436 before taxes, shipping, and hardware.

Restoration Hardware’s Brushed Cotton Twill Drapery Panels

At Restoration Hardware, 4-95″ panels in brushed cotton twill run $119 a piece, bringing my subtotal to $476.

Both options, while beautiful and of a lovely, heavy weight, were simply out of the question. There are still many things we’d like to add to our bedroom – including a nice upholstered bench. Spending $500 on window panels is a splurge I couldn’t consider for long.

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So what’s a girl to do? I scoured the internet and after weighing the pros and cons of sewing my own drapes (conclusion: the fabric was still too costly to make it worthwhile) finally began turning up inspiration rooms using Ikea’s Ritva curtains in white. With the nearest Ikea hundreds of miles away and this item being sold only in stores, I turned to an Amazon seller for my fix. I paid the requisite up-charge you expect from Ikea “concierges” but at a cost of $70 for all 4 panels I felt I got a bargain. At that price, I could even afford to add lining myself later in the fall if I desired.

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Once I got my hands on these curtains, I promptly ignored ALL the directions on the packages and threw them in the washer along with a cupful of bleach. I’ve had enough curtains shrink after washing and drying I wanted to get all that out of the way and brighten the color while I was at it. Our dogs love to lay amidst the curtains so I knew I’d be washing these sooner rather than later. A half hour in the bleach solution, a bath in the washer on cold, and tumble dry low and I had 4 panels ready to go. While my husband raised the curtain rods, I ironed the panels, inserted drapery hooks every 4″ (for a total of 14 pins per 56″ wide panel), and hung the hooks over silver rings I already owned. It took several hours of tedious work (my fingers still hurt from pushing the pins through the thick material) but the results were worth it. The room feels lighter, brighter, and more like a coastal oasis than ever.

Next steps? Finding a bench, playing with the soft furnishings (accent pillows, throws), a coastal art project…. I can’t help but imagine down the road a bit, when the carpet has been replaced with hardwood and the trim and blinds are white. For now, I’ll enjoy the extra freshness the white drapes add. Isn’t it lovely when your hard work, research, and planning pay off and you’re 100% happy with your decorating decision?

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Anne