Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Folding window screens

One of the most beautiful features of Indian/Moroccan architecture is the intricate lattice window screens. I knew I wanted something with that look in our home but also that I didn't want it to cover the whole window (I like my sunshine). It costs a fortune to buy the real thing so how to reproduce the look without the price tag?

Plywood from Lowe's, a jigsaw and a drill. Oh, and a lot of time on your hands... But you will be rewarded with results like these.

Both screens were made from the same sheet of $20 plywood and I had all other supplies on hand. I looked through my inspiration files for some edge patterns that I liked and then copied them over to the panels (which I had a dude at Lowe's cut for me, by the way). I used my jigsaw to cut out the curvy patterns and the diamonds in the tall screen. And then it was time for drilling. A lot of drilling. Who would have thought that in order to achieve an intricate look it has to be intricate? And intricate takes a lot of time, unfortunately.

This tall screen is my favorite! The sun will shine through the holey flowers in the morning and form little sun spots on our bed and walls. And the streetlights will do the same at night. It sure brings a little bit of magic to plain old going to sleep and waking up :)

As much as I hate measuring I did do a little bit of that on this one to get the spacing in the pattern right. I used my largest drill bit for the large holes and then a smaller bit to make all the small ones. I placed all the little holes freehand so it's not an even pattern but a little "handmade wonky" all over. I love the look! 

This lotus flower motif was transferred over to the plywood with pencil and little holes drilled along the lines. The stems are free handed. 

When all the sawing and drilling was done I went over all the panels with my sander. Just enough to remove splinters and round sharp edges. All knots and imperfections I left as is, they add texture and character (but they can be filled with wood filler and sanded for a perfectly smooth look). And then I painted. Paint also covers a lot of the imperfections.

 Our neighbors' view at night. You can't really see much through the screens unless you're right up against the window and the lights are on inside. I was debating whether to upholster the outside of the panels with some fabric for privacy reasons but I didn't want to lose the light play through the holes so we're dealing with the slight inconvenience by turning the lights off before undressing. Just in case someone is standing outside with their nose up against the window :) During the day and with the lights off inside no-one can see anything but we can keep an eye on the street outside in a very discreet manner. Comes in handy sometimes.

 This is what it looks like from the outside during the day. Sorry for the reflections in the window, it was hard to get a good picture. The color of the screens is a custom mix of paints I had on hand and it's a dark blue/gray shade.

 In this last pic you can see how I joined the panels together. Ideally I would have used piano hinges but they were like $9 a piece and would have blown my shoestring budget out the window. So I strung the panels together like a corset using mason's line and it works like a charm. The X design is facing out and the cleaner look of parallel lines are facing into the room. The screens are foldable but since these will be in the same position all the time it doesn't really matter.

I love, love, love these screens and the exotic look they give to our bedroom. As I mentioned in an earlier post I am planning on hanging a plant in the empty spot above the lower screen. I had to keep that screen low in order to get away with only buying one sheet of plywood, but it reaches to above my chest so I'll be alright :) And it lets in a lot of wonderful daylight which I crave. It would be way too dark in our room if the screens covered the whole windows.

Do you think you would dare to go with this look in your home? It's not for everyone, for sure.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Renter's canopy bed

Even though we're not renting I sometimes prefer to decorate in a way that allows me to change my mind without having to do major repairs to ceilings and walls. That way I can go whimsical but then  easily pare it down when the time comes to sell and appeal to the masses. Or when I just want something different.

This is a simple idea on how to get an airy canopy bed with minimal impact on ceiling and/or walls. We have a four poster bed but you can really do this with any kind of bed. I used to make a similar canopy in a rental a few years back and it looked great even though we only had a headboard on that bed at the time. This time around I only had to pay for the curtain rods which I found at the thrift store for a few dollars, the rest I had on hand.

 So all you need for this is two long lengths of flowy fabric, the more lightweight the better, some thumb tacks, string, tissue paper and the optional curtain rods. The fabric I have is some kind of synthetic I got at the fabric store years ago. If you're wanting to do this I would suggest looking at places like Big Lots in their curtain section for window scarfs or similar. Minimal or no hems are best.

I have my two lengths of fabric hanging parallel over the bed because I thought it looked clean and simple.

The foot board attachment points are right at the end of the bed and the fabric hangs down a little bit to give the bed the feel of an enclosed space.

 In order to hang your fabric without making any holes in it take a pinch of your fabric near the selvage, insert a little ball of tissue paper into the pinch of fabric to make a kind of "fabric ghost head" just like you do when making ghosts for Halloween :) Then you attach your string to the ceiling with a thumb tack, make a slip knot and slide the slip knot around the ghost head and tighten. "Hang" the ghost, if you will.
 This is why the fabric needs to be lightweight. Do this in all four corners of the length of fabric if you want to. When you want to change things up you just loosen the noose and take the fabric down. The thumb tacks make such tiny holes your landlord will not be able to spot them after the tacks come down. Use white tacks on white ceilings or paint to match what you have (I'll dab some white on mine and they'll be virtually invisible).

I styled the loose end of fabric at the foot end by casually tying the corners together, but you could just as well do something else.

 I decided to hang the headboard side of my canopy on light duty curtain rods above the window and draping the end around it, then tying a knot. I keep the fabric from slipping off the rod by adding scotch tape folded over on itself (sticky side out) between the fabric and rod but double sided tape would be ideal for this. I just didn't have any on hand :)

It's a matter of taste how you decide to style this kind of canopy. In my rental years ago I had the lengths of fabric form a huge X over the bed instead of running parallel to each other and I finished with a loose knot at the foot of the bed. It works either way :)

Now, go forth and make a canopy bed!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bedroom tour

This little lady was my Christmas present from my husband, but in all reality she was really for the two of us. She now lives in our backyard and this moody pic was taken one of the snowy days over Christmas by my husband. I'm cold just looking at her :)

I've had such a productive time while I was off and that little bedroom re-arranging I mentioned last time we spoke kind of turned into a full on crafting/redecorating marathon and I'm here to show the results of my labor (even though it's not really finished).

Presenting the enchanted place my husband and I now jokingly refer to as the boudoir!

This room faces south and is bathed in bright sunlight for most of the year so the moody colors and sun make for an interesting juxtaposition. And just as a contrast - this is what it looked like before.

 The arches are gone, the bed has been painted finally, the bedding has changed some, the lampshades have been recovered in twine, the roller shades are replaced by global inspired folding screens and the sunburst mirrors have been added, among other things. (The transformation of the secretary can be found over here, the arches over here, the making of the bed here and the sunburst mirrors over here.)

 The folding window screens make me so happy! I was inspired by Indian/Moroccan lattice jali screens but made it in my own simple fashion.

 The sun shines through these perforations in the morning in the most lovely fashion :)

Although this room has many flourishes there is still room for my husband as well. His side is filled with some of the things that matter to him in life. The moody colors in here and the black bed definitely appeal to male sensibilities as well.

His bedside table (which is an ancient hand me down) still needs to be painted. I just added a shelf for the basket to stand on and elevated the whole thing to be even with the bed by adding fence post finials as table feet.

 The floor mirror has been residing in the bathroom since I made it (here) but I decided it needed to be in here to balance/"mirror" the window on my side of the bed.

My side of the bed has another window screen. I will most likely add a hanging plant to the top of the window.

The design is a lotus flower which I copied straight from my Bible cover here.

 This pass-though area of our bedroom got a little bit of a tweak as well. More "stuff" added, mainly :) The before and instructions on how I made the console over here.

 That curtained doorway had a flimsy plastic folding door there before that wasn't doing anything but annoy me so I just threw this left over curtain panel and scarf up there on a whim. Way better than before and it adds some well needed color contrast to all the grays, blues and greens. The colors in here kind of went a completely different direction than I had originally planned, mostly due to the hand me down rug that threw me for a loop. But I intend to bring in the vibrant orange/red/pinks somehow to balance the moody, somber colors of the bed and window screens.

 This is what our neighbors see at night.

 And here's the twine wrapped bedside lamps at night, providing lots of texture.

What I have left to do in here is:
*paint the walls in a very light grayish lavender
*work on the bedding, it's all a hodge-podge right now
*hang the plant in the window
*reupholster my chair and slip cover it
*paint the husband's bedside table

I'm considering something like this for the walls. Or maybe something vaguely pink, now that I'm thinking about it. We'll see.

So it's far from finished but it's soooo much better than what we had. I'll try to give you more details on the window screens and the canopy in future posts even though they won't be full tutorials. I was afraid to stop and take pictures for fear of losing my momentum. (It was so much work!)

So what do you think? Is it magical or over the top? To me it feels kind of Balinese in a quirky way. And it makes me very happy to cocoon in here now :) The husband likes it as well, but if things are practical (which they are) he's usually ok with it almost no matter what it looks like.

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