Old House Help

You know the website Young House Love? You know how cute their house is and how good they are at updating it, changing it, decorating it, loving it on a budget?

Imagine that but the complete opposite and you have my house. Full of potential but unfortunate to have an owner without a decorator’s bone in her body. I am frustrated with the state of my house. I don’t love it and I don’t know how to change it on a budget.

Yes, I know Pinterest could help, but Pinterest also leaves me feeling really overwhelmed and inadequate. I have to look at Pinterest with a paper bag handy for when the hyperventilating begins…

My biggest headache right now are the curtains in our bedroom. I cannot figure out what to do with them. I’ve heard shower curtains are a good idea as well as bed sheets. I wanted to get a large peice of fabric and just buy the rings that clip to it, but those are so expensive and I think I’d have to know how to sew in order to make a slab of fabric work.

Fabric doesn’t come in slabs does it?

Please don’t judge me.

So here’s what has been hanging on our windows since February.

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. It is plastic, room darkening shades that have been crudely cut and rehung on broken, plastic curtain hanger thingies. There used to be fabric hanging over them, but I didn’t like it, plus the people before us had a cat and the dander in the shades was leaving me sniffly and swollen, so I cut the fabric away, gave it to my friend Bethany and promised myself I’d figure out something else soon.

That was six months ago.

These are the colors of my bedding. Most of my house is muted browns and greens, which the owner before us apparently loved. I prefer much more color and since I can’t afford to remake the whole house, I figure I can at least incorporate the colors I love into my own space. So I want curtains with color.

But which color?

More of the colors I love. With new curtains and some neautral paint on the walls, I think I could actually enjoy walking into my bedroom, rather than wanting to cry each time I go in there. Yesterday I saw a link to these rockin’ painted curtain rods, but again I’m left feeling entirely discouraged because I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!

I adore these. How do I get them?!

Photo from Selina Lake – if you like this photo, click the link and Pin it from the original source. Then come back here and tell me how to do this…

As you can see from the photos I have already purchased curtain rods. They’ve been leaning against the wall for about four months. Every time I go to the store I browse the fabric, the shower curtains, the regular curtains and the sheets and I always walk away empty handed and teary eyed because I just don’t know.

If you have suggestions, I am all ears. Or, well, since I’ll be reading it, I’m all eyes. Feel free to leave a Pinterest link if you think it would be helpful. I’ve got my paper bag ready and waiting…

Poor, sweet, pitiful curtains...

Updated to add a picture of the curtains open for Amy. One side is a sliding glass door, the other a large window.


  1. I would like to see a picture of the windows without the curtains in the way.

  2. Sometimes when I’m not sure what to put on the windows I start with plain white sheers. Sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes I add to them after I “feel” them for a while. If light is a concern, I put shades/blinds behind them so the curtains just need to look pretty.

    • I’ve thought about that. My only issue is one side is a large window, which I could put blinds or shutters on, but the other side is a sliding glass door. Maybe I should put shutters on the window and curtains on the door?

  3. 1. I love that bedding! I almost bought the same…
    2. IKEA, IKEA, IKEA. Their curtains are inexpensive and long- they are all 95″ panels that you can hem with the included no-sew hemming tape.
    3. Spray paint the curtain rods you have a funky color like in the picture, and maybe go with white sheers… or curtains/fabric with a white background and one bold color pattern.

  4. Anna is your go-to girl for do-it-yourself-no-sew-window “mistreatments.” Give her a shout!

  5. Nick Cooper says

    I say IKEA as well. Many options and colors to choose from. Its still do it yourself because you have to put it together and hang them when you get home. We have plastic curtain straight panels that use a string to open and close. Nikki’s itching to replace them for a while now

    • You guys should come over here and we could do an IKEA shopping day together. Or you and Lee could go out for a drink and Nikki and I could shop. 🙂

  6. melcable says

    if you have an IKEA you are so golden, I am so jealous. Ok so I would either separate the two, treat as two sep. pieces. either put shades in the window and treat it as a window, then curtains on the other, or put a panel of curtains in between to break it up, do you keep them closed most of the time? Secondly, I would paint those rods, and then go with a neutral curtain, like white, or what you have, but then at the bottom but a cool colored fabric that coordinates with your bedding, or two, So basically a huge thick stripe at the bottom, or two stripes one thicker one thinner if you want two colors. ‘ll try to find a pic, that is what I did with my curtains in LA and in Ritchey’s office (mainly because they were too short so I had to add length and then ended up loving it) I’ll try to find the site I ordered the fabric from, it was a chevron pattern and super cheap. But I did have a friend who sewed who did them for me. I suppose you could use the hem tape and all that jazz, but I don’t even do that well. you’ll have to remove that sliding thing the old curtains were on. So again, a basic color curtain with color blocking on the bottom, maybe in turquoise, or pink and turquoise. http://pinterest.com/pin/238268636505931410/ is an example, a cute one actually.

  7. melcable says

    not shades, but like plantation blinds from home depot or wherever. Ikea has super cheap everything, especially curtains and rods. Still though, this project will cost you at least a $100.

    • Or more. I was thinking about $350 mainly because I’m just not good at chopping on a dime, because if it means me putting a lot of work or creativity into it, it won’t get done. I need preassembled. But I’m LOVING the ideas in here so far. 🙂 Thanks for all the help!!!

  8. My first question is how is Lee with this? Mark is normally ok with what I do although he’ll give me bizarre looks and comments in the process because I tend to make him nervous with my boldness. 🙂

    If Lee is good with color, I say go for it.

    Spray paint your rods the red color in your bedding. Do I see double curtain rods? If so, pick another bold accent for the higher rod (or you could just do white to keep it cleaner and not quite so bold) and sheers for the lower rod. You can tie back the heavier curtains from the top rod and just let the sheers show during the day. Very flowy, very Florida 🙂

    The accent pieces, vase and frames are perfect!!!

    Have fun!

    • Melissa,
      This is Lee……………..I really don’t care. I don’t even know what sheers, double rods, no sew hemming tapes or whatever else you guys are talking about. You are very kind to ask. :). Hahahaha.

      • Ha! I was just about to reply to this comment and Lee took the words out of my mouth. He could care less. It’s equal parts freeing and infuriating. 🙂

  9. Catherine says

    Sherry and John from Young House Love use the white sheers from IKEA with oil rubbed bronze curtain rods . They also layer with bamboo shades underneath (they get theirs from Walmart, but you can get more custom sizes -including ones to cover french doors, inexpensively on Overstock.com). This window look goes with everything.

    We incorporated John and Sherry’s IKEA white window curtain + bamboo shades look into ALL our windows in our D.C. townhouse right before we moved, and then we sold our place almost immediately. It’s a great, airy, versatile look.

    Also, if you don’t like the color of your current curtain rods, Home Depot sells an oil-based spray paint called Rustoleum in Oil Rubbed Bronze that you can spray all over them to darken the color. It’s an *amazing* paint (in an amazing color). You really have to see it to believe it. We’re actually using this paint right now to update all the brass handles and brass light fixtures in our 50s home. This amazing paint works on any metal and looks great. (And again, this is a tip from Young House Love, too. They call it ORBing hardware).

    Or you could use any oil-based spray paint color you like to change the color. I’ve read that bright yellow is a trendy shade right now.

    Good luck! We’re dealing with these decorating decisions right now, too, as we renovate our newly purchased house in St. Louis. And we’re trying to avoid going too far over budget!

  10. Catherine says

    Sorry I just realized that you said you wanted color in your curtains. Maybe you could layer the curtains over the bamboo shades? I am personally scared of color (in couches and curtains especially), as I fear I’ll spend a lot of money on something in a color that will go out of style next year. And then I’ll be tempted to update immediately in another (expensive) shade. So most of the color in our house has been in pillows.

    And finally, Kelli, I’ve been to your house when you were in St. Louis. Your house looked great!

    • The nice thing about me is when I find something I love, I rarely want to change it unless it’s just years and years later. Mainly because decorating causes me so much stress. So I don’t worry too much about what’s in and try to focus on what I like. 🙂 Thanks for all the great info!

  11. melcable says

    oh my gosh. Nevermind about rendezvous, I will still be stuck reading every single post at this new found Young House Love blog, seriously, I love it! Did you read their many posts about curtains, etc.

  12. Kelli, those colorful curtain rods are spray painted. Bring ’em over here. I’m the Queen O’ Krylon. Well, maybe just someone on the lower tier of royalty, but I can do that. Go to Michael’s and pick your favorite color (better spray color selection than hardware store) and let’s make a date.
    I share your window treatment pain, though. Our curtains shredded when I washed them. Just in time for putting a house on the market…’cuz that’s how things roll around here. Ugh. I could not care less about curtains so I hope the realtor says I don’t need to bother replacing them just to show.
    And I will gladly make a trip to IKEA with you because I need to get RV storage ideas.

  13. If you really knew me then you would know it is pointless for me to offer help. BUT, I do make mean desserts and am TOTALLY there for moral support! 🙂

  14. I love YHL…and you know Erinn and Paul Shaver did a GENIUS thing…they bought PVC piping (at Home Depot/Lowes, whatevs) and spray painted them the color they wanted their “curtain rods” to be, then just poked the finials (those are the fancy end parts-think Hobby Lobby) into the pvc piping. VOILA. El cheapo curtain rod-yet cute.

    I second (or fourth or fifth) the IKEA idea. And I’m kind of a sucker for white shears. They are so dreamy. And they would go nicely with the Moroccan Theme of your bedspread. I like the idea of the bamboo roll up shades too. Kelli McGill has something like that in the front living room windows in her house and it is really cute. Get thee to IKEA~
    Love you!

  15. OOOH! I just got an idea! You could spray paint the roll up shades a funky color and then put shears in there too! OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! FUN!

    • Um…when are you guys coming to visit again. Because you’re making this sound easy but for the life of me I can’t picture it in my head! 🙂

  16. And this is where I could totally give you some advice and go all Pinterest-y on you.

    But that would be a little thing known as lying, and that would make baby Jesus cry as Dr. Sheldon Cooper would say.

    So. I’ll just tell you the truth and say, I DON’T KNOW.

    Phew. I’m so glad we had this conversation. Good talk. Good talk.

  17. These windows just scream for breezy sheers – the sell them in panels so you don’t have to open /close them, just hang them from the rods – you still get the light, but some privacy too….and I LOVE the idea of painting the blackout roll shades! AWESOME IDEA! – btw…I would pick sheers with a little curlyQ design in them maybe a hint of yellow. I’m one of those people who go to other people’s houses and think about “How would I decorate this if it were MY space” …I know, I know…sad, but True!!



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