Ten Things I Hate about Your Curtains
By Jacey Eckhart
I hate your curtains. To be fair, I hate my curtains a lot of the time, too. But I have moved 18 times in my adult life, and I have an excuse: laziness.
You probably have an excuse for your self-loathing curtains that is just as good as mine. You might even have the same excuse. In which case, you have my pity.
But here we are missing the opportunity to be surrounded by the one thing that really makes a room look finished—curtains! If your Next Door Project is a big household move or decorating project, here are the things I’ve learned to hate about your curtains (and mine) from hanging them in 18 houses:
1. You have imaginary curtains. I love $5 paper accordion shades as much as anyone, but if you are waiting until you can afford custom window treatments and a professional installer at your Forever House, you are trading wowser todays for a lot of shabby yesterdays. If you can’t afford much, limit yourself to curtains in your favorite room.
2. You do not own a drill. Every American home should possess at least one person who can operate a drill and a sewing machine. If this person is not you, you might need to start dating again. Or send one of your kids to a better school. You know, the kind that teaches people how to use drills and sewing machines.
3. You need a stud finder. Stud finders do not, in fact, help you find someone with a drill to date and later marry. Stud finders locate the wooden thingy behind the drywall that will actually hold up a curtain rod. Otherwise, your rods sag drunkenly from the wall looking like they are on a three-day bender. Which I discovered when my husband went on deployment before he hung the curtain rods. He won’t do that again.
4. You hung your curtains too low. I used to think curtain rods should be hung just above the window trim like the eyebrows on Cro-Magnon man. Then I noticed that those cute Property Brothers amaze their clients simply by hanging their curtain panels an inch or so from the ceiling. This makes the eye shoot up the side of the wall and make ceilings look super tall. Like those cute Property Brothers.
5. You bought the wrong length. Sometimes I’ve got a bee in my bonnet and I wanna go buy some panels and hang them up today. Immediately. Right now. The problem is that panels stocked at Target and Walmart and Marshalls are usually cut for the standard 8 ft American ceiling. If you have 9 ft or 10 ft ceilings, this will make your windows look like they are wearing capris that make their hips look even wider and then they will resent you. Find longer lengths at your favorite retailers online, or go to IKEA where they are smart enough to stock them.
6. You tried puddling. “Puddling” is what happens when a curtain does not skim the floor, but falls to the ground in a melodramatic heap as if its name were Scarlett or Blanche and it has the vapors. Clearly, histrionics like these cannot be carried off without an antebellum mansion in New Orleans or Charleston and a thousand yards of silk. Everywhere else in the country, puddling looks like pure slackitude combined with the inability to find iron-on hem tape at Michael’s or JO-ANN’s.
7. You did not know you could change lengths. When you move 18 times, you take window treatments with you and make do. This means curtain panels are often too short or too long. Curtains that are too long can be hemmed. Or, if you are moving soon, you can ignore #6 and try to get away with puddling even though the dog will love the puddle and shed all over it. Curtains that are too short can be shortened again until they hang breezily at the bottom of the window trim. You can also add more fabric to the bottom of the curtain, which will give you a seam, but this becomes invisible after one beer.
8. You bought only two panels and stretched them. I know money is tight, but too narrow curtains look cheezmo on a wide window and I hate that. The rule is that panels should be two to two-and-a-half times the width of the window. If you absolutely intend never, ever to close these curtains even when you are naked, you can get away with a curtain that is one-and-a-half times the width of the window. Maybe.
9. You tried to save money by skipping curtain rings. Curtain panels come either with a rod pocket sewn into the top for you to thread the rod through, or they have those big silver grommets that look like ear spacers stolen from an elephant going through an identity crisis. These two things save money, but only encourage the curtain to creep down the rod in an unattractive way. Such slovenly habits in window treatments should be discouraged at all costs.
10. You didn’t know the secret of ring clips. Ring clips were invented by God so that you would not have to deal with header tape. Do not make the mistake of clipping them to the flat panel and stringing them on the rod. Instead, create pleats at the top of the panel with the clips, and your curtains will hang in grace and beauty all of their days.
So maybe you’re not worried about your actual curtains right now like I am. (Although, the puddlers among you may be cringing.) But think about your Next Door Project, your Significant Life Change. Yes, right now mine is moving, but yours may be finding a new job or transitioning to a different season of life. Figuring out which curtains best fit your new space is like opening a Next Door. Perfection at this stage may be impossible to find—your budget doesn’t have any room for new drapes right now so you’re going to tack on some extra fabric at the bottom of your old ones. Go forth and tack. Learn from past experiences, and each time you’re faced with the need for a new window treatment, make it better than the last one.
I feel a lot better now that I expressed by true feelings about my drapes. Seriously. Now I am off to take down my 8 ft bedroom curtains and figure out how to make these panels work in my new living room with the 10 ft ceilings. Because that is going to work. No problem.