The Cross House

Vexed. Damned vexed.

I wrote the following about the Cross House in my very first post in August, 2014:

And, most disturbing and altogether terrifying, the house needed a ton of work. However, a-ton-of-work can in no way truly convey the reality of just how much work was required. The projected expense and time required to even make the house livable (much less fully restored) was, yes, terrifying. Terrifying on a profound, shocking, alarming, lock-me-away level.

Three years have now passed and a great deal has been done, and I have pretty much enjoyed the whole process of restoring the house.

It helps that I have a lot of experience, and grew up around construction sites. Also, the multi-million-dollar 100% custom apartments I used to create in New York City in the 1980s was WAY harder than anything I am doing at the Cross House.

Not much phases me. When crumbling, termite-eaten sills are discovered I kinda shrug, unsurprised. Replacing the damaged wood is just a trip to Mark II Lumber a few blocks away, and some time and expense. The process is not intellectually challenging.

When dangerous structural conditions are discovered I kinda shrug. Unsurprised. Of course an old house has such issues. I enjoy figuring out the causes, and solutions. Fixing structural issues is also not really hard. Some jacking up, replacing damaged timbers, and all is good to go for another century or more. Whoee!

Rewiring the whole house, and replumbing, is also not rocket science. The tools and materials are all readily available.

Pocket doors don’t open? An internet search revealed a guy who could work magic on them. Today, all the pockets doors work effortlessly and I enjoyed the whole process.

But one project has proved vexing. Daunting. Irritating.

It is spectacularly silly, really, that this issue should prove almost overwhelming: Frriggin’ draperies.

I know! Draperies!

The whole process of finding the perfect drapery, trying to get the damn drapes reduced in length, and trying to custom-create rods, and even trying to find damn drapery rings, has been vexing to an extreme.

Replacing rotted sills? Not hard. Take the old wood out, put in new wood, and, presto, all is well again.

But draperies? Geez.

First, there 4,859,943 drapery styles to choose from. WHICH will be the perfect drape for X room? I go back and forth between dozens of potential choices, each passing day jumping from K choice to R to Z. Then back to B. ARGH!

Buying drapes online is like gambling. One really has no idea what X drape looks like, or feels like, until it arrives.  I did a series of posts about some drapes found at Walmart. They looked fabulous! But in a comedy of errors the drapes proves mostly out-of-stock and readers across the land started sending me the few panels they found. ARGH! At last I had enough for the library and parlor. But I hated the drapes. What looked luscious and the perfect colors online proved cheap-looking and the wrong colors in real life. ARGH! (I am going to use the drapes in the carriage house where they should look OK.)

When the hopefully perfect drapes were found for several rooms, they were, of course, too long. So, a person had to be found who could reduce the length and re-hem. But, it is surreal to the extreme that while I could easily find somebody to custom-make new wheels for all the pocket doors I could not find anybody to hem drapes! ARGH!

And what to hang the drapes from? There are sooooooooo many friggin’ options. ARGH! An important detail is that the house has curved windows so whatever I buy must be able to curve. But even after the perfect bendable rod is found how do you bend rods???????? ARGH!

What should have been easy was curtain rings. My current house is filled with dark wood rings with a 2-3/8-inch outside dimension, purchased from Walmart a few years back. But I could not find this size ring anywhere! Not Walmart and not online! Deeply frustrated, I ordered slightly smaller rings online. The rings were described as being 2-inches. But when the box of 100 rings arrived they were huge! Four inches wide! HUGE. I called the company and they explained that, even though the rings are described as being 2-inches, this is meant as rings for a 2-inch rod!

 

See? The rings are described as being 2-inches. They are actually 4-inches. But how does a buyer know this???????? ARGH!

 

Returning the damn rings and getting a refund was a headache. And the return shipping was not reimbursed. ARGH!

There was also an endless internal debate about how long the draperies should be. Full height, so as to visually maximize the imposing tall ceilings? Partial height so as to not cover the stained-glass transom windows? And what about the length? Dramatically pooling on the floor? Just above the floor? Or just below the window sills? OMG! What to do?

Then, after all this friggin’ nonsense, the skys opened up and a radiant light appeared! Krystal read my desperate post from a year ago (Does ANYBODY on Earth Sew???????????), and told me she would be happy to hem the drapes as a gift to the Cross House! Wow! Incredible! Amazing! However, Krystal lived a half-continent away, and would drive to Emporia.

Now, do you appreciate how insane this is? What should have been easy, hemming the library drapes, proved instead that somebody needed to drive 2,039 miles to help! While I was agog at this offer, and thrilled to get the damn drapes reduced in length at last, I just kept thinking: How nuts is this? I can easily replace rotted sills, get dozens of crumbling stained-glass windows easily restored, climb all over the exterior meticulously repainting everything with aplomb, but I need to import from a far, far away land a sewing Goddess?

Krystal, blessedly, hemmed the library drapes purchased over a year ago, but I still had no rods and no curtain rings. So, back into the box the now hemmed drapery panels went.

A few nights later, fortified by some red wine, I braved going online again to find some God dammed rings. After a few glasses my sense of discernment, ah, softened, and I purchased some skinny metal rings at Home Depot of all places. OK, so not what I wanted but HOW MUCH FRIGGIN’ TIME COULD I SPEND ON FRIGGIN’ CURTAIN RINGS?

The damn rings arrived Wednesday. They were….OK. I no longer really cared.

Yesterday I went to my local hardware store and purchased 1-inch copper tubes, and a lot of cooper tube parts. You see, I can bend copper. So, curtain rods!

Yesterday and today I managed to bluff my way through cutting copper and fitting parts together and figuring how to attach the rods to the house and the right spacing for the curtain rings (that took three efforts) and then, I stood back, my whole body ridged with expectation, and some worry.

Would the damn friggin’ drapes look OK????????

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EEK! They do!!!!!!!!

 

This project has been the MOST draining, the MOST absurd, and the MOST annoying of any project in the Cross House.

But, hallelujah, hallelujah, I now have drapes in the library! Thanks, Krystal!

In the above image I need to finish the base molding on the wall and under the bookshelves, reinstall the other stained-glass window, install the picture rail, wallpaper the little bit-o-walls not covered with shelving, and stencil the frieze and ceiling. But…I HAVE CURTAINS!

The copper rods visually vanish as they look like the wood trim. The skinny rings also vanish. All this is fine with me.

The tie-backs are $6 a pair from True Value Hardware. They are fine for now but I hope to find antique tiebacks.

After a great much ado I am pleased with the length and placement of the draperies. I was loath to cover up too much trim. The end result allows the TALL windows to still read as such, and the trim is still visually dominate. Whew.

I picked the drapes because they complemented the wall color, the shelving color, and the soon-to-be color of the adjacent parlor (chartreuse). They also have a contemporary feeling which I wanted rather than a period-correct pattern. Above all though, the drapes looked good with the stained-glass.

The curtains are for privacy. The wood blinds control sunlight but they do not prevent people from stepping onto the expansive porches and peeking into rooms. This really happens! Even with the blinds closed! The curtains will, at night, allow me to live in the house without feeling like I am on stage being watched by an unseen audience. C R E E P Y!

The curtains are also for acoustics. A room with sound-absorbing fabric sounds better than a room without.

Well, while I want to shout VICTORY I still have 3,867 rooms needing drapes.

Where is the wine?

 

 

 

13 Responses to Vexed. Damned vexed.

  1. Bravo, Ross! The curtains and the library look great. Don’t be too hard on yourself for being drapery inept though. I mean, I can sew pretty well (and I also live thousands of miles away), but when reading about all the things you do at the Cross House on any given day, I am totally overwhelmed at the thought of all you have to do. I guess that’s why we all have different gifts and talents. The trick is that we work together, each contributing in their own way to get the job done and appreciating each individual’s contribution. Having said this, I don’t care who you are and how talented you are; hanging drapery rods is a b–ch! Always has been and always will be.

  2. Oh Ross, have some more wine. lol xoxo Glad to have been a part of your stress and hopefully helped alleviate some of it. 3 days of 12-18 hour days for one and a half rooms of drapes was worth the drive to experience the house, and to help you! I’ll gladly return to help finish them up if they are still not done by next year. lol I might fly next time tho. haha

    It’s exciting to see them up, and the rods and rings totally blend in well.

    It’s all in the little things. It’s coming together now! Your dream a reality!
    xo

  3. I’m so sorry to hear youre having such a time with your curtains. Is there a reason you need to use the wood rings? I have lots of vintage window drapes. Most of the vintage drapes I have are rod pocket. I have seen some portiers with rings.

    Have you considered doing fancy valances with long sheers? You could mount old-fashioned style roller blinds up under the valance. When you want privacy you pull them down. Otherwise they suck up under the valance. I have them on my windows.

    I couldn’t find that first curtain book on line. But I did find another. Funny what you find when your looking for something else. Check out pages 89, 91 and 118.

    As talented as you are you should have no trouble whipping up a cornice. Oh and you don’t have to sew. That’s what hot glue guns and iron on hemming tape is for.

    Seriously. If you decide to do the valances just cut the fabric to shape then glue on some kind of edging. Fringe, heavy ribbon, lace, gold braid etc

    What I found when I did research on drapes for my country cousin house was that they liked excess. And layers. And lots of trimmings. Of course a fancy city house like yours would have more. 😀

  4. Hi Ross. This post made me chuckle! The drapes look lovely with the stained glass and the wall colour. The copper is a fab idea. I used it myself once and attached curls of thinner bore central heating pipe as finials for a slightly off-beat look. Krystal and you have made a great effort here. The entire room is starting to look amazing.
    As for the wine, I’m beyond envious, stuck here in lovely Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where it’s banned!

  5. Oy. Your struggles with drapes are my struggles with everything related to decorating my house. I look at a magazine, I find something I like, then I look in another magazine and find something I like just as well — in completely different colors. This is why I need someone to say, “Just make a choice already! This is paint, not rocket science! Nothing will blow up, and you can repaint if you want to.”

  6. I’m sort of like Barb, only more so…my wife will be discussing what “we” want to do in a particular room, but then she can’t make a decision. I will make a suggestion that (I think) would be perfect, and then she responds “Oh, that would never work”…so, I wait…and wait…and I NEVER point out to her that the room would be much closer to being finished if she would just make up her mind 🙂

  7. I’m a textile artist, but I feel your pain – so-o many choices and considerations when it comes to finding and placing perfect fabrics in the home (like pooling drapes on the floor if you have cats). Oh-so many vexing hours and bottles of wine you have to go, but your first colossal attempt, and a big bit-o-help from Krystal, and it looks like you’re off and rolling towards smashing success – bravo!!!

  8. You were brave to have the drapes hemmed before they were hung. Glad you are happy with the result; they do look good.
    I would generally let drapes hang for a few days before hemming.

  9. If you need more rings, my family has a big box of them from my grandmother that my parents might be getting rid of sooner or later. Though seeing your curtains, I might want to re-hang the ones in my back bedroom on rings.

  10. Bravo Ross on the copper! It looks great with the wood! That is the ticket with the curves– ingenious! The picture is perfection just perfection! Yay Krystal helping with hemming!

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