Residential Color and Style from a Certified True Color Expert.

Benjamin Moore colors

My expensive custom draperies don’t look nice anymore, now what?

Custom draperies are not just a luxury. They are an investment, an investment which can easily run to thousands of dollars or more PER WINDOW. With nicer designer fabrics running upwards of $150-$200 per yard, multiplied times, say, 9 yards of fabric for each window, you will have possibly $1300 to $1800 invested in the fabric alone per window. This does not include labor for drapery construction, purchase and installation of drapery rods, or decorative trim.

Nothing warms up a room better than beautiful soft furnishings, and the right window treatments finish a room like nothing else can.  That is why you want to get at least 12-15 years or more of good use from your gorgeous expensive custom draperies.

Here are the stage curtains in Lincoln Center in NYC, with hundreds of yards of fabric, which I snapped before a performance of “The King and I.” I can’t even imagine the work and expense that went into a drapery project of this magnitude. There must be 1500 pleats in those bad boys.

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But, I digress…

My own library/family room has four large double-hung windows plus a triple window. And, after almost thirteen years of hanging, my beautiful imported linen damask draperies were really starting to show their age.

When I come into your home for an interior consultation, I do everything possible to help you work with what you have.

So, I want to show you how I re-worked the look and feel of the draperies in my own space, for a very small fraction of what completely replacing them would have run.

Here is the before, shown on the triple window:

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Not horrible, but here is what you can’t see in the photo:
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Really bad faded places on the edge. That is not a shadow. That is where the old trim was. And, see how many panes are covered by the fabric? The fabric was smothering the courtyard and backyard views.image

The drapery trim was looking dated, and frankly, the tone-on-tone look did not hold its own with the colorful Serapi carpet, see below, that is “the boss” of the room.

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The poles have also always bugged me. They weren’t the correct length (hopefully you can learn from my mistake made long ago) and are part of the reason why the fabric faded so badly. Drapery rods should extend a measurement of 12-15 (sometimes more) inches from each side of the outer edge of the outermost window pane. This extra foot on each side adds gravitas to the window when the panels are hung, and allows the drapery fabric to be more protected from sun exposure, since the fabric is pushed further away from the window panes.

For example, my windows measure 35″ wide (inside the frame) and my new poles are 60″ long, not including the decorative finials. This is not an in-stock standard size from the company I ordered from, so I incurred a custom-cut fee, but if you are going to do it, do it right!

Here are the re-worked draperies with the new flat ribbon trim, in a beautiful poppy color that repeats the colorful poppy red accents in the carpet and also used elsewhere in the room.

imageThe fresh-looking quatrefoil motif echoes the ancient patterns of the carpet. For your comparison, notice how the draperies look, first hung on the old too-short rod and then on the new longer rod. First here are the re-worked panels on the old, shorter rod. See how only one full vertical row of glass pane is visible? This is still exposing the fabric to damaging light rays for sure.  Remember, this is the old rod:
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Now here is the “new” drapery hung on the new longer wood rod, below. See how all three vertical rows of window pane are now showing? This also gives the windows more elegance and importance, because the draperies are now ‘framing’ the windows instead of ‘covering up’ the windows. My drapery professional will be coming soon to re-hang the panels to fall perfectly, and there will be absolutely no sagging. The finials have not been reattached. But, this will give you the gist of the new work.
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Here are the mechanics of the new work:

The old trim–all thirty yards of it– was meticulously hand-clipped off with tiny embroidery scissors (by moi, it was actually kinda fun and reminded me of my smocking days). I spot-cleaned and freshened each panel in the dryer (see below), then it was off to the workroom with all 10 nine-foot panels and 30 yards of colorful new trim.

The new trim was sewn onto the opposite edge of the panel of where the old trim had been. So, on each pair of draperies, the right panel became the left panel. Now, when the panels are professionally hung by the fabulous man I always use, the faded edge is going to be tucked and turned away out of sight toward the wall (called “the return” in my biz), and the fresher edge (now the “leading edge”) sports the brand new trim. Pretty clever, right?

My wonderful to-the-trade workroom professionally re-pressed each panel after the new trim was sewn on, now the panels look (almost) brand new.  It really gives a new look and feel to the windows specifically, and to the room as a whole.  I’ll be sure to share a wider view when everything is finished.

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So, there you have it! Before:

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And (almost finished) after:
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Don’t you agree that the windows look bigger?

And, just for you, a couple of my best drapery tips and caveats….

  • skimpy draperies are not worth doing.  They will still be somewhat costly, and it is much better to install budget-friendly woven wooden shades (similar to below) than to pay for draperies that aren’t right.

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  • a good designer can help you “cheat” a solid fabric. Meaning, a knowledgable  decorator can help you find a less-expensive solid and most people would not be able to really tell if it is a nice little Pindler or a break-the-bank Brunschwig.  But remember, construction/labor costs are going to be similar whether the fabric is $5 a yard or $500 a yard, so make sure you are buying a quality fabric from the start.
  • a good professional drapery installer is your best friend. S/he is trained to get everything looking perfect, and will know every trick in the book to get it right.  While bloggers like myself are generally generous with our sources, don’t expect us (as design professionals) to divulge names on this one, however, unless you have hired us. The best installers often won’t work directly with the public.
  • your favorite shelter magazine will usually have a wealth of photos of gorgeous drapery to use for inspiration. Your design professional is invaluable in deciding whether to do woven wood shades, a roman shade, fully operable draw drapery, rings and poles, etc. We have seen it all, and we can help you avoid an expensive mistake. And, yes, you need to line and interline your custom draperies. It is worth every penny.
  • some installations will benefit from using woven wood shades IN ADDITION to existing drapery. Open any “house” magazine and surely there will be a feature to show you what I mean. I love the look, and plan to add woven wood shades to my own family room.
  • avoid treatments that are trying too hard, like this one in a current popular shelter magazine this month, which is just bizarre in my opinion with its ultra-wide flat tape mitering into those ultra-thin ironed-in pleats.

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  • soft pleats generally look more elegant than heavily ironed-in pleats.
  • never dry clean your draperies. They will shrink and then they will be too short. Use the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner (on lowest possible suction, by opening the suction control tab) to keep dust and pet hair at bay.
  • you can usually air-fluff most panels (no heat!!!) in your home dryer to freshen them. Remove any drapery pins and corner weights before doing this, and try 20 to 30 minutes. I always spot clean first whenever possible, and on heavier fabrics, you can usually safely spray some lightly scented fabric refresher before fluffing. A dryer sheet is also a possibility. Go slowly, proceeding panel by panel, to avoid damaging the fabric. Did I say, no heat?
  • for pole-and- ring type installations, try a long strip of clear silicone tape called “curtain slide tape” on top of the pole to help the rings slide more smoothly when closing.

If you reside in the Birmingham metro area and need help with an interior project of your own, I’d love to hear from you. I also accept limited online and out-of-town commissions for color consulting. Please email me for rates and availability: colorcalling@gmail.com

Best,
Ellen

Color Calling


Sneak peek: Pardon our progress…

wallpaper gone

wallpaper gone

People, let me tell you, this is huge! The first step is always the hardest.

But, I am in motion. My wonderful wallpaper man is busy finishing stripping the existing paper as I type this.

Just look!

The rusty green wallpaper is au revoir!

Adios!

Goodbye!

I am so uplifted just walking in and looking at the bare SheetRock.

In all my color installations/demolitions, I have never seen a wallpaper absorb the light out of a room like

ol’ Rusty Green.

It is amazing, the difference.

Furthermore, my husband hates changing anything in our house. He loves everything to stay the same.

Bless his heart, he agreed to put up with the disruption entailed by this project.

So I will say again, this is huge!

Remember, this is just the bare SheetRock, not the new paint color. Obviously, still a work site!

making progress!

making progress!

BEFORE

above, BEFORE (Ol’ Rusty Green)

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I know you probably don’t want to see contractor bags, you come here to look at the pretty pictures.

This is real life, though. And, it will look nice in no time.

It is a very cloudy gray day, but you’d never know it by what is going on in my house today.

I can’t wait to get my crew over from Atlanta to work on the travertine. It must be cleaned, re-honed and re-grouted, then we’ll be ready for the new paint.

Can you notice that the pink undertone in the travertine is looking much less pink, now that Rusty Green is gone?
Compare the before with the ‘during’:
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Cleaned up a bit to show you the difference:
bath in progress


Identical Layout!

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this bath.

And, not because of the textures, finishes, or colors used.

It is because the layout is EXACTLY. LIKE. MINE.

I mean, identical. Same placement of tub, shower, his sink, her sink and vanity. Same window.

Same opening to the closet area.

I have never seen this exact layout ever before in a photo.

Here is mine. I have wing walls instead of completely open cabinetry or a full-glass shower enclosure.

It hides everyday toiletries better. It hides the workings of the shower.

You know the family above keeps soap on the counter. And shampoo bottles in the shower.

So do I, you just can’t see it.

master bath

master bath

close-up wing wall

even the sconces are similar

And, yes, this is the same bath

from which I am removing all the existing wallpaper.

I can hardly wait! 

Then, it is going to be painted Shaker Beige, see the dollop.

Cabinets will be Ivory White.

Soon.

wallpaper
Goodbye rusty green wallpaper!


Are you CHASING the color or CHOOSING the color?

Source

YES, we’ve been there.

The contractor is breathing down our neck, he needs the colors picked out.

He needs them ALL,  two weeks from today!

As we’ve talked about before, paint color should be the last thing that is chosen.

It should be the thing that pulls everything else in the room together.

But, sometimes that is not possible.

What are some good neutrals to use?

Where should there be an actual color?

Source: benjaminmoore.com via Ellen on Pinterest

How should it all tie together so the home has color flow?

This is when you really, really need to call in a certified color consultant.

We know how some of the prettiest neutrals can “go pink” on some walls.

We know which neutral colors turn “apartment beige” in  which rooms.

We know how to pick out/rule out the tile for your bath and the counter for your kitchen.

We are trained in color flow throughout the house.

We know where to insist on oil-based paint, and where not ever to use high-gloss.

Many consultants are happy to schedule a couple of hours, one-time.

Not saying all of the above can be accomplished in two hours, but you’d be amazed what can.


Benjamin Moore Sandy Brown

sandybrown

I don’t work with those tiny chips you find at the paint store.

I work with large painted samples on boards.

There is now a big difference in this young man’s bedroom.

Above, the new paint color, Sandy Brown. A rich caramel beige.

Lots of depth and warmth, perfect for a cozy bedroom,

and gorgeous against the existing caramel color draperies.

Before, the color was Linen White.

With my large samples, we were easily able to narrow the color selection,

based on the undertones in the existing soft furnishings, to the clear winner.

Sandy Brown.

(If you want richness, depth, and warmth in a bedroom, Linen White is not your color.)

Linen White

Source: pinterest.com via Ellen on Pinterest

Sandy Brown


Keeping it Simple in the Master Bath

Color harmony.  A simple concept.

Made easier with an understanding of undertones.

Now, I don’t mean plain or too matching.

And I certainly don’t mean boring.

As a color specialist, it means selecting the right color.

For example, today, with my large samples, I selected a gorgeous white paint color

for a friend’s Carrara marble bath.

If you have been reading this blog, you know about my large samples, right? 

Here are my inspiration photos.

Source: cotedetexas.blogspot.com via Ellen on Pinterest

Source: countryliving.com via Ellen on Pinterest

Source: pinkpreppylillylover.blogspot.com via Buffi on Pinterest

Sometimes the right color is white.

So, when you have Carrara marble, for instance,

don’t be afraid to go with white walls.

There are several whites that really sing with Carrara.

An all white bath.

A very simple concept, which will always be timeless.

Beautiful. Not boring.

I am humming to myself just thinking about this project.

If she agrees to photos, I’ll post before and afters.


A Craftsman Paint Story: Before and After

Before, a  tin-roofed cottage painted a non-traditional minty green by the previous owner.

Which stuck out like a sore thumb in a transitional neighborhood of sidewalks lined with

classic Craftsman bungalows as well as some brick houses.

Image ©Color Calling

Image ©Color Calling

After, classic Craftsman paint colors selected for the new homeowners, newlyweds.

Minty green does not belong in a classic Craftsman palette.

Greeny-grays are perfect. Great with a tin roof as well.

Grays in the mortared stone columns are reflected in the choice of color for the house body

and the darker grays accenting the trim.

Think of the earth colors of nature and there you have a pretty complete Craftsman palette.

“Georgian Brick” (Benjamin Moore) front door, which echoes the exact color of the next door

neighbor’s brick (very close by)  as well as the brick High School across the street.

The young wife liked my color palette, explained to her by her husband after my initial consultation.

She was busy performing surgery and could not attend the original color consultation.

There was just one thing.

She had her heart set on  a REALLY RED front door. 

But, once I explained “WHY” the more muted red I selected was picked out

(it is better for a Craftsman palette;

it reflects the adjoining neighbor’s red brick;

matches the brick of  the high school very visible across the street;

honors some similarly colored decorative brickwork set in their yard, etc.).

And, with this color selection system, there is ALWAYS a WHY.

She immediately understood.

She is one smart cookie. Beautiful, too.

The system works.

And, this is it: Evaluate the FIXED finishes and go from there. 

Doesn’t have to include the neighbors, but when you can reach out and almost touch their brick side wall from your front porch,  better to take into consideration. Think existing stone, brick, roof, etc., that will not be changed. That is what a fixed finish is.  

Felt a glow of satisfaction when a passerby walking down the sidewalk told me, “Wow, the  house looks great. What a difference!” as I was taking the ‘after’ photo shot.