Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to Put on the Patio Door.

This is how the pros do it. Function, mood and harmony will lead you to the right decision. 

What do you want the window coverings to do? Is total privacy the issue, or is it blocking the sun from damaging your furniture or floors?  It could be keeping heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Or, it could be that you just want window coverings to soften things up a bit. Writing down the required functions of the coverings is the “Do Not Skip” first step.

Stand at the entrance to your room and look at the overall decor style. Is it a formal, antique-accented traditional-styled living room,  or perhaps a master bedroom sanctuary in a contemporary style? Or it could be a hodge-podge, which we snoots in the design industry refer to as ‘transitional’. You need to determine the mood of the space.

Look through ‘shelter’ magazines specific to the mood of your room. Traditional Home, for example, will have wonderful examples of window treatments that suit that style. Get some education on what style of covering fits the mood of your room.You may love  a particular window covering but find that it doesn’t really work with in your room style.  For example, shutters don’t typically work in a traditional living room.

Now make a list of what the covering must do and what style it should be.  The next step is to find a window covering that meets all your criteria, and enhances and fits with the overall scheme of the room;  It will be in harmony with the room. You can do this with internet searching. It will take a bit of sleuthing, but the information is out there.

Or, you can call a professional window covering person and make an appointment for a one hour in-house consultation. Pay the money. If you forge on alone and make a mistake, it can very easily cost you more in replacement than the house call fee. Call a designer or decorator and ask if they are knowledgeable about both fabric and manufactured window coverings. Look at their website and ask for a reference.   Do not call someone who represents only a particular blind company.  What you need is information and suggestions; not a blind salesman.

Take two or three suggestions that most appeal to you and get the installation specs for each style. Make sure that you can physically place that covering on your door.  Choose the one that meets all your requirements (function), is in the style of the room, (mood) and works with all the other furnishings (harmony). 

If you follow this path to the final choice, you will have made a good, considered decision and the possibility that you made an error will be very, very slim. 

Mirror Mirror

I was cleaning the BIG mirror in the living room the other day and realized that the reflection of moi in that mirror was much clearer, much crisper and not as distorted as the reflection I see in the spare bedroom mirror. We all have one of those distorting mirrors that doesn’t do us any favors. I bought it to use in my alterations business when I first started and was on a budget, but soon realized that it was not a good thing to have my clients look like anorexic criminals when they were trying on clothes. So the mirror got relegated to the back of the door in the spare room.   

This household item is something we all have and we all take for granted. I had no real idea of how it is made, what it is made from and why some offer realistic reflections and some don’t.  I went sleuthing and found some answers.

The big mirror in your bathroom is a plane mirror.  (No, not plain, plane.) A thin layer of aluminum is applied to one side of a sheet of glass, through a chemical process, and paint is applied over that. In it’s very simplest form, that’s it.  The quality differences come mostly from  the sheet of glass. The glass must be flat, free from imperfections and be consistent in thickness throughout. So, this is one of those instances where price will dictate (usually) the quality of the product.  Good quality glass, which exhibits all the necessary attributes of a good mirror, is more expensive to produce than poor quality glass. 

The modern (well since 1600, anyway), mirror was invented in Germany and developed in Murano and silver was the most common backing material, although gold was also used. In an effort to save money, the backing layers of the precious metals were often very thin and cracked easily. Hence the paint.  Mercury replaced silver and gold but these were replaced, for the most part, by aluminum in the 1940s’. The original application process was a closely guarded secret and became available to the English and French in the 17th century only through industrial espionage. 

Now for a fun fact: Mirrors were believed, in medieval times, to be a reflection of the soul. This is why a vampire has no reflection --- because it has no soul. Didn’t know that.

A Few Ways to Stay Cool

One of my great big pet peeves is T-shirts in the summer. I know I might sound like a bit of a snob, but when I see people sweltering in the heat, pulling their T-shirt away from their body, I just want to go over to them and give them a bit of help. T-shirts are knits. Sweaters are knits, as are socks and mittens. One yarn is twisted around itself in such a way as to create a fabric that is several yarn depths thick. This is one of the reasons sweaters, socks and mitts are so warm. There are thick sweaters that are really warm, and thinner sweaters that are not as warm, and T-shirts are really thin sweaters.  A woven fabric, on the other hand, has - in the simplest form -  one thread going one direction, another going the other direction, and there are spaces between the threads. Sometimes you can see through the spaces and air will move between the spaces. A  shirt made of a  woven natural fiber will be much, much, cooler than one made of a man-made fiber, like polyester, and will be a bajilliion times cooler than a poly-cotton T-shirt.
100% cotton sheets will feel cooler through a hot night than poly-cotton woven or jersey knit sheets. 
Install solar film to the outside of your windows to eliminate up to 90 percent of the UV rays entering through the glass. The UV rays are heat-producing and will also bleach your floors and fabrics. 
Line all your fabric window coverings with blackout fabric. Add a ready-made blackout lining to existing window coverings by attaching it to the existing drapery. Alternatively, place it on a separate rod situated between the drape and the window.
Close your drapes or blinds before the sun hits the window. Open doors not on the sun side to create a cross-breeze.  Movement is the key, keep the air moving with stand-alone fans, if necessary.
Paint your rooms a cool color to make the perceived temperature of the room up to 10 degrees lower than a warm-colored room. Think of a south-facing room, with yellows walls, at sunset. Now think of the same room at sunset with blue walls.