Sunday, July 21, 2013

DIY Window Blinds and Weekending

I'm exhausted from my three-day weekend - it appears that "relaxation" is not something I've included on my long "Furlough Friday" to-do list. M. and I scurried around and knocked out some tasks around the house like a boss (or, I suppose, bosses). On Friday, I jogged (sort of - the insane heat forced me to walk now and then), and spent a good three hours refreshing the trim paint in our kitchen. Then Saturday, I set to work creating some new blinds for our kitchen windows, to complement the new backsplash/paint/countertops we have going on (full reveal post to come soon, I promise!). This was an idea I got from a Young House Love blog post. They called it a "15 minute window shade" project, but it took me over 3 hours and required some assistance from M. Then again, I don't DIY for a living the way they do. And either way, I am so, so thrilled with how it all turned out:

Here is an old "before" photo, where you can kind of see the curtains we used to have - cheap, shabby chic-ish curtains from Target that were now more grey than white.
Here is where we were starting yesterday - the old curtains had been thrown away, the curtain rods removed/holes patched, and the walls painted with Benjamin Moore's Nimbus Grey. Oh, and also lovely fresh trim in Behr's Creamy White.

M. was working on his own project while I got going with the shades, but more on that another day - it's not quite done yet.

I measured my windows carefully, then added 2 inches to the width and 4 inches to the length to account for hemming my fabric and mounting the shade at the top to a piece of 1 X 2. So, for example, I wanted my shade to cover an area of 30 inches wide (from inside frame to inside frame) and 25 inches long for the larger window on the left. So I cut my fabric to 32 inches by 29 inches. The other two were the same length, but only 22.25 inches wide, so I cut that fabric to width of 24.25 inches.

Here is one piece of fabric, ready to go. Note the iron at the ready? That's because no sewing needles were harmed in the making of these shades. Instead, I used Heat and Bond for iron-on hems:

I applied the tape along each side of the fabric (paper side up), ran the iron over it fairly quickly (directions say 2 seconds), and allowed it to cool a little. Then I peeled the paper off the adhesive, folded the fabric over, and applied the iron again, for longer this time (8 seconds). As you can see, Cinderella was helping me.

Then I repeated the process on the ends of the fabric.

And voila! A nice, neat panel of fabric, ready for hanging (that's a Finn hiding under there).

Once all three panels of fabric were hemmed, I cut a 1 X 2 down into three pieces the same width as the panels, and mounted the fabric over it using a staple gun.

Then it was time to hang the panels, but I immediately ran into a problem. In holding up the shades, I realized they wouldn't fit - there were small tabs sticking out of the window frame up at the top that I hadn't accounted for when I was measuring:

Just as M. was gathering up his jig saw to try to come to the rescue, I realized that I could just pop the plastic tabs out:

Ah, much better. Not sure what those tabs are actually for, but I hope they aren't important!
To mount the shades, we pre-drilled holes into the 1 X 2, and in the process, realized that we needed to do something about the fabric. Because of the way the shade is mounted, the fabric runs between the 1 X 2 and the window frame, and we were worried that it would rip or bunch up when we screwed the wood in (this happened a little with the first hole that we pre-drilled). So once our holes were pre-drilled (making sure the fabric was out of the way), we made small holes in the fabric over the screw holes. Then I dabbed a little clear nail polish around the holes to make sure the fabric wouldn't fray or run down the line:

Trust me, there's a hole there.

Then the entire thing was screwed into the top of the window frame - two screws for the smaller windows, and three for the larger one. Beware - because the screws need to go through the thick part of the 1 X 2 (so, 2 inches) and into the window frame, long screws are needed for this. This was something I hadn't prepared for, but luckily we had enough spare screws of the right size on hand.
And this is what we ended up with:

I'm still in shock that somehow, all three shades are the same length. I was SURE that somehow things would get uneven during the whole process, even though I spent about an hour of my three + hour project carefully measuring.

I love how they turned out - I think they add a great little flash of color when you look from the living room into the kitchen, and they coordinate nicely with our new backsplash (which, I swear, I will show you one day!). And the cost couldn't be beat:

Fabric (2 yards, on sale for 50% off): $23.50
1 X 2: $1.15
Heat and Bond: $4

Three shades for under $30!!

A few other things I can't resist sharing from the weekend:

Finn went to see Turbo in 3-D with a friend on Friday - I can't even begin to tell you how excited he was about this! I picked him up from camp before 1 p.m. - oh, the thrill of leaving early! And for a play date with his best friend?! He was bouncing off the walls. Anyway, the movie was a hit, as was the play date, and Finn has spent most of the last 48 hours wearing his 3-D glasses.

I made these blueberry muffins. If they taste half as good as they look, I will be in heaven. I had to fight M. and Lucy off with a stick, so determined were they in sneaking one before dinner (and yes, that is a peek at the new backsplash!).

I took all this (crazy) squash...

chopped it up...

and turned it into this Zucchini Gratin from Our Best Bites.

It was fabulous - M. and I scarfed it up. I made the kids each try a bite. Finn gagged. Lucy actually threw up. So... mixed results. But a win for the grown-up crowd, and I highly recommend it.

While I cooked, the kids tore apart the house and piled many toys, blankets, and themselves in the middle of the living room:

Whew, I'm exhausted just typing this! And I didn't even mention the kitchen shelves M. is refinishing, or the loads of trim we painted (once you start, it's so hard to stop!), the pool time, the grocery shopping, the laundry...

Thank god it's almost Monday?


  1. Your blinds look amazing!! I love the fabric you chose, too...way to go!!

  2. They are beautiful! They turned out really nice. Your fabric is lovely. It's a good thing you chose that fabric. It blends well with the walls. The shades definitely look better than the curtains you used before. Great job! The muffins look delicious by the way.


    1. Thank you, Emma! And the muffins WERE very delicious :-).

  3. The window shades look great, especially when sunlight hits them and make them glow extra bright! I would definitely love to try this out, maybe with a light shade of green for a more refreshing look. Thanks for sharing!