Thursday, July 14, 2016

Featherweight Amenities

I had the house together to my satisfaction when developers decided to turn the neighborhood into dormitories for the open digital campus. It suddenly became necessary to rethink every window.

Coming to terms with daylighting was clumsy, stressful, and wasted a couple of hundred dollars. I sketched in temporary veiling with agricultural mulch fabric, discovering in the process that the stuff drapes well and can be washed. I doubt that it is fireproof. So-called shoji blinds, translucent white and ribbed with bamboo, have proven themselves inexpensive miracles of efficiency, and washable to boot. Their fibers channel light here and there to illuminate gently without a hint of glare.

Surprisingly, the blinds are modular with certain areas of this 1890 house (modeled on an 1815 design) that have been hardest to fit. I can custom fit a blind simply by cutting it. For many of my windows, fitting a blind to the sashes makes the most sense, so I trim it to length and hot-glue hems top and bottom. Extra-long needle-pointed aluminum push pins from an art supply make it easy to mount a blind without insulting vintage woodwork. 

Cords are a safety issue. I cut most of them off and substitute a simple length of bookbinding tape threaded through a slit in the blind at a convenient height. The few cords I have retained can be managed by keeping the blind rolled up and the cord doubled on itself into a hank that is too high for a toddler to reach.

The same University District Japanese boutique that sells me the blinds offers the 2016 version of a traditional paper lantern. I have used these things off and on in the house over the decades we have lived here. They're excellent value and a bohemian staple that is simple to install on the handsome wired chains that support the central ceiling fixtures replacing the original gas ones.

I haven't worked out the aesthetics quite yet, but a translucent plastic painter's drop cloth is serving as the best custom shower curtain so far to serve the claw-foot tub. The space requires a curtain that is extra long and wide. The same hardware store that supplies the drop cloth sells bargain grommet kits. I expected the curtain to die in a few months, but it shows no signs of failing after eighteen.  -30-


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