The curtain saga of 2014

In the beginning.

That really feels like the only acceptable way to begin this post.

In the beginning, there were blinds. Horrible, hideous, loud, cheap-looking vertical blinds. They came standard in our apartment, typical for a rental, and we loved the apartment so much despite them that we figured they’d be an easy thing to replace.

That was five years ago.

Now, to be fair, not all five years (or even most of it) was spent planning or even discussing curtains. Though, every now and then Patrick would bring it up as if it were a matter of national security.

“Something needs to be done about the vertical blinds.”

I’d grown to hate them less, even though they weren’t appealing, they were functional and had just blended into the rest of the apartment. Excepting when our friend’s dog was over for a visit and would crash into them, causing them to clatter and sway, they didn’t really bother me.

My mom, as a thank-you for helping out with her curtains, gave us a gift card to Ikea so that we could finally realize Patrick’s wildest dreams for our apartment. Though, he’s not that wild, and his dreams for our apartment were actually very plain. “I really want the curtains to be the same color of the wall. That’s how upscale design is done.”

So then we went through the natural progression of Patrick’s ideas as they marched two-by-two out of his brain.

Now, all the ideas he has are for things like wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor curtains, which is unsurprising given his privileged upbringing and therefore expensive taste. He doesn’t just want curtains, no, plain old curtains will never do. He wants the Lazaro wedding gown of curtains. The Rolls Royce of curtains. The Wayne Manor of curtains. And when I’d have little concerns, like, “Well, I don’t love the idea of covering up that piece of art,” he’d have an answer. Like, “In France, they hang their artwork OVER their curtains.” And it’s like I can’t argue with him about it because FRANCE.

We took a trip to Ikea “just to look.” Yes, we drove all the way to Ikea just to see what they had and to feel the curtains up in person (Patrick had already scoured the Swedish offerings online and just wanted to do a tactile comparison).

I found a few things I liked, all were in different directions. One was a set of thin, flat sliding panels. Another was a set of dark color block curtains. Meanwhile, Patrick is comparing all of the curtains in the store to the measurements he had taken and was finding that in order to achieve what he wanted, we couldn’t just go with one of my ideas and buy something that was there and readily available. No, we would have to make our own, match the color of the wall exactly and find a light-blocking backing to sew into them. He was of course using the royal “we” because of the two people living in this house, he is the one who doesn’t know how to use the sewing machine.

Weeks went by, we took a trip and he talked about the curtains at least four times each day. “We could…” or “What if we…” and it grew more and more exhausting. We went to Ikea again, to look, and probably for a new scrub brush or something, and found that the color block curtains I liked so much (that had a light-blocking backing) also came in a more subtle tone, with thin beige and white stripes.

“They aren’t long enough to reach from floor to ceiling,” he said, because if this curtain debacle has taught me anything, it’s just how disagreeable my husband can be.

Weeks went by, decisions were made and we went back to collect our Swedish home goods (Patrick had, of course, written a detailed list containing every last fastening bracket). The curtains we picked were sold out. The sheers we’d selected for our bedroom were sold out. We grabbed a plan B for those, along with a few light-blocking roll-up shades for our bedroom and guest bedroom and some curtain wire from which we planned to hang the sheers. We bought a version of the living room curtains in a different color so that we could know how high to hang the hardware.

We had decided for the living room we were going to hang the curtains from copper piping, because if they weren’t going to be floor-to-ceiling (heaven forbid), they were at least going to have a good-looking rail system. We’d gotten the bug planted when we saw some friends over the summer who had used piping for their curtains, and it looked great.

Though, we didn’t hang the copper piping, because we realized there’s really no way to get the understudy curtains on and off without unscrewing the entire plate from the wall. It all just seemed like a giant mess we didn’t want to attempt.

So Patrick started with our bedroom, beginning with our roll-up shades. They were more than adequate at blocking the light, however, there were gaps around the edges and the light still came in. The sheers had tab tops, so they looked cheap hanging from the bowing wire. It looked more like we’d strung up a bed sheet over an exposed wire spiking out of the wall. Most of our decorating decisions are good. This one was not. Patrick was mad.

We were both surprised to miss our vertical blinds.

Long copper pipes laid on the floor for days, we were nervous to hang them up because of our first failed experiment. Even more, we had specific concerns about the copper piping, mostly that it would sag from the weight of the curtains. And OF COURSE we had to have wall-to-wall curtains, which required so many more panels that we were right to second guess not only the strength of the copper piping, but also the sturdiness of the wall and industrial soundness of the building.

We abandoned the copper piping idea and opted instead for a sliding rail system, which wouldn’t limit us to opening them only symmetrically because the curtains could be slid all the way across the seams from one side of the room to the other. And if you haven’t ever thought about this, welcome to my life, where making simple decisions can’t be made without first rattling off no less than 97 hypothetical scenarios.

We went back to Ikea, the curtains were still sold out.

Days later, I went back to Ikea to get all the rails, found our curtains were in stock, and also found some of the sheers for our bedroom that we originally wanted.

Patrick spent the next day hanging the living room curtains. This is not an exaggeration. He spent the ENTIRE DAY hanging the curtains. He hung the first bracket, then held the curtains up to gauge how long they’d hang. We both decided he should move them down one inch. He proceeded with the rest of the brackets, measuring and drilling and anchoring each one. When he finally had them up, he assembled the bar. When he had that up, we strung on the curtains.

And they were too low. By less than one inch.

We debated leaving them, wondering whether it would really be that big of a deal if they dragged across the carpet and didn’t hang properly. Piece by piece, he disassembled them, smoke rising from his ears. He transformed into the angriest version of himself that’s reserved for bad rounds of golf and, apparently, curtains. He’d drop a screw and let out a string of profanities. Like the world was ending, you guys.

At one point, he broke a globe on this lamp. I asked him if he wanted me to move the lamp, and he breathed fire at me.

When the job was done, 12 hours after he started, he decided that 11pm was the perfect time to steam them. So that’s exactly what he did. Then, after all that, he looks right at me and says, “Well? Do you like the curtains?”

“I love them.”

Because who would be crazy enough to say anything else?


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