Thursday, August 8, 2013

Leading The Blind

Photo courtesy Flickr

This 1890 house has long been a development property, so I’ve put the interior together using mostly low-end off-the-shelf design. The first thing I discovered after moving in thirty years ago was that the bohemian staples of the Fifties and Sixties were period and modular to the house. Classics like sea grass matting woven in squares, bamboo blinds, imported East Indian printed cotton cloths, and Japanese paper lanterns were to go-tos for the nineteenth-century housekeeper.

Nearby development on the block has changed the views and our need for privacy. The same development makes it imprudent to spend much money until we have a sense of what it’s like to live with the new population. I love the problem, because it gives me a chance to do what I like to do best: figure out ways to live like an enlightened tenant in a structure I actually own. Over the winter, I fitted non-woven agricultural fabric to the windows. The Remay panels work well and may stay in place for quite a while, but a few windows need a more versatile covering.

The kicker here is that I no longer own a car and it doesn’t make sense to call in a designer. A mission that might take a day or two visiting big box stores now requires planning and forethought. I surfed various vendors for hours before renting a car for a long day’s raid at Southcenter, where I could finger the blinds in the wishbook. Some were disappointing, some were good surprises, and when I place a mail order, I will now know what I’m getting.

I have yet to pull out the ladder and play draper, but it’s a hoot to fiddle with a design problem like this one. It looks as if one of the cheapest and most easily available blinds, paper reinforced with long splines of split bamboo, will be the best solution for all but the most-used windows. I’m happy to say that I can pick up the paper blinds on my way home from the gym at a small Japanese boutique that’s been selling bohemian classics to students since the early Fifties. The blinds are featherweight, light enough to carry on the bus, and will recycle when they look weary.

Afterword, Septermber 2014: The Great Big Home Improvement Center by the stadia offers an acceptable collection of blinds and clerks that know how to cut them to width. I can bus down and cab home.

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