People who live in glass houses…

People who live in glass houses (like us Eichler-owners) should seriously consider investing in window coverings.  As we’ve mentioned, one of the features we like very much about our house is the amount of natural light thanks to the rear south-facing wall of windows, enhancing the “indoor/outdoor” feel of the house.

Master bedroom windows- there's another floor-to-ceiling window immediately to the right of this view.

This luxury, however, comes with a price.

  • Heat exchange.  While a few (<50%) of our windows have been replaced with dual pane insulated glass, most are the original single pane glass which is not a great insulator.  In the summer, the windows make our house like a green house (even the dual-paned ones) and in the winter it’s noticeably cooler next to the windows.  I recently caulked around all of the windows to avoid drafts, but they still do a poor job at insulating.
  • Light.  One wall of our master bedroom is said south-facing window wall.  In the summer, the sun rises around 6:30am.  Not a good combination for a sleeper-inner.
  • Privacy.  We do have a solidly-fenced back yard with a 5′ stretch of trees between the fence and the road behind our house- so it wouldn’t seem that privacy is too big of a deal.  We weren’t concerned until we had a (less than fully clothed) 7am run-in with a PG&E (gas company) worker randomly inspecting for gas leaks IN OUR BACK YARD.  Apparently they do that (as I found out by calling PG&E) and there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it short of locking all of our gates, I suppose.  Hopefully that was an isolated incident, but nonetheless, considering the number of house guests we have, a diorama-esque bedroom is less than desirable

So with these factors in mind, we decided that at least our master bedroom needs window coverings.  After some extensive research (trips to Ikea and internet browsing) I opted to fabricate my own “ripplefold” drapes.  They’re hung from a track system on the ceiling and have a hidden wand-draw- sort of like traditional pleated drapes that you would find in a hotel room.  I like them because of their structured “ripple” appearance when they’re closed (which is 99% of the time for us).  Initially Andy and I endured a  multi-week decisioning process after which we decided on a solid dark gray fabric (poly blend silk shantung).  However, by the time I had a 50% off coupon and went to JoAnn’s fabric to make the purchase, I discovered they had slightly less of the fabric than I needed within a 100 mile radius and were discontinuing it.  I did some quick re-calculations and decided to insert a stripe of contrasting fabric at the bottom rather than starting from the drawing board on the fabric choice.  This allowed me to get most of the fabric at a clearance price BUT it was a pain in the butt to make (we don’t have a single room in our house that’s as big as one of those drapery panels which made measuring and cutting and lining up the stripe very very difficult).  In the end, we both love how they came out and they were worth the cost (even with clearance and coupons the quantity of fabric needed for the finished side and lining is huge… plus the hardware is pricey as well) and time involved in designing and fabricating (about 50 hours).

Ripplefold Drapes-Closed

 

(The picture at the bottom of this post is much more true to the color).  When open, they still allow lots of natural light.  When closed, they block almost all light (they are fully lined with black-out fabric).  We’ve also found that when it’s hot outside our bedroom is the coolest place in the house and we are toasty warm in the winter (we even had to down-grade the thickness of our winter blankets because our room stays so warm!).

I know the color may be a bit controversial (the woman at JoAnn’s thinks I’m crazy for choosing such a “serious” color). Personally, we like the “cave” feel.  Plus, other than the almost perfectly-matching Crate and Barrel shag rug under the bed (which offers  a nice place to land your feet when waking up) that Andy scored at a garage sale in our old neighborhood for a steal, everything else in the room should be much more colorful (like the bright yellow quilt!) once we’re finished.

For the other window in our bedroom I found a couple yards of a nice orange fabric which I used to cover a $7 home-depot black-out roller shade (with spray adhesive).  To make it a little more dressed up looking, Andy helped me make the white cornice (wood thing on top of the window) out of a left-over piece of 4×4 we had:

Other than replacing the closet light fixture (which I broke while trying to dig out my winter coat at 4am before I left for my flight to NY last month), that summarizes all of the changes we’ve made in the master bedroom so far.  Here’s our wish list for our master bedroom:

  • Paint and drywall repairs (the drywall throughout the house was installed very poorly over the original paneling.  We’re debating between repairing the existing drywall and replacing it.  Our current level of ambition and speculation concerning insulation is pointing towards repair.)  Our My plan for wall color is a nice colorful shade of teal:

Master Bedroom Wall Color Sample

  • Trim (simple white crown molding and baseboards).  Like the drywall, the trim was poorly installed and doesn’t span the whole width of the wall in many places.
  • Add wall sconces above the bed for reading light and to free up night stand space
  • New Furniture- bed, dresser(s), night stands.   Our current furniture is “Country Bumpkin-Themed” (Andy’s words, not mine) … some day we hope to replace it, maybe with some vintage or modern pieces.  I’m a huge fan of teak furniture with clean lines.
  • Maybe another light fixture in the center of the room?  As you can tell by the photos (mostly taken at night) it’s a bit dark in there, but maybe that’s ok for a bedroom.
  • Sound-Proofing.  I know this seems like overkill, but the dining/kitchen area is on the other side of the (un-insulated) wall and sound travels very very well in our house.  It’s nearly impossible for us to sleep if there’s someone else awake in the house- we can hear every sound that is made.  Andy has some ideas for adding sound proofing to the wall that the bedroom shares with the dining room, plus we may get a heavier door.
  • New flooring- TBD, probably consistent with the rest of the house (polished concrete maybe?) and not done until we do the rest of the house.
  • New roof.  I know this is not directly related to the bedroom, but for some reason, every time the roof leaks the leak is in our bedroom!  Sleeping in a room with a dripping roof is a form of torture, so I consider a new roof a huge improvement to our bedroom!

Since nothing on the list is easy and cheap, I doubt much of it will happen very soon, so our bedroom is likely to stay as-is for quite a while.  At least we’re not lacking in the privacy department now though!

P.S. Andy loves our bedroom drapes so much that he convinced me to make drapes for the living room.  The good news is that the fabric has already been chosen (Andy said I could get whatever I wanted as long as it was a solid color) and purchased.

P.P.S. I know you can buy Ripplefold drapes already made… but they are REALLY expensive (>$1000 for our sized windows) and don’t come in a good selection of fabric.  And hanging/ironing them is still about a day’s work.

 

3 thoughts on “People who live in glass houses…

  1. Hi- I just found your blog. My husband and I are in the process of buying an Eichler in the East Bay, and we’re kinda nervous about the windows and energy bills. One thing that we’re going to try immediately is “energy film” on the windows. It’s really supposed to help with keeping heat/cooling in and also provides safety and UV protection benefits, as well. Just thought I’d let you know about it.

    • Hello,

      Thanks for posting on our website. I checked out the film when we first bought but we decided not to go with it because we think curtains would do a much better job for blocking solar heat and according to the Window guy who replaced a giant 8×6 foot window he said most energy is lost through the roof (and his best interest would be to say we need special window coatings).

      We found that heavy curtains are good at blocking solar heat during the day.

      Hope this helps!!

      -Andy

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