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  • Writer's pictureellencdonker

HOME IMPROVEMENT by Ellen Donker

It never ends


When you’re a homeowner, it seems there is a never-ending list of improvements to make. We bought our house more than 20 years ago and eventually tackled each room to suit our needs, as well as the front and back yards. The cycle is continuous.


Now that our three children have graduated college it’s time to start redecorating their bedrooms. Sad as it may seem to be crossing over to the other side of parenting, I’m grateful that our kids are doing what we’ve spent the past 22 years preparing them for: being independent.


Madeline came back to work locally and lives at home, Tim is in grad school, and Christian is happily building a career in Washington, DC. I had to acknowledge that he will probably never live at our house again. Just in case Christian changes his mind, though, I asked him to choose the paint color for his room. Then I got to work.


After binning the blue and red striped Roman shades, clearing the sports memorabilia and painting the walls a dramatic deep green, I found that even with a new rug and bedding, I had not transformed Christian’s boyhood room into a cozy, more sophisticated space. It lacked personality.


Determined to “shop” my own house, I replaced the broken glass in an old mirror and hung it, framed some prints and tried to style the dresser and nightstand better. Next, I decided to get some curtain panels to add another layer. And while I was at it, I expanded my efforts to include Madeline’s bedroom and my own.


Down the rabbit hole of curtains I went. For those of you with more design sense than I, it may seem ridiculous that I had to school myself in such things, but there is a lot to consider: fabric type, print, height, and style. Plus, each room seemed to have a problematic window that sat at the edge of a wall, next to a sconce or above a huge radiator. I wanted to get it right.


After wishlisting way too many curtain panels and rods on Amazon, I ordered what I needed and started with Madeline’s room. My family will tell you it’s my habit to underestimate the effort needed to do work on this old house and the process of mounting curtain rods did not disappoint, thanks to our plaster walls.


Up I went on the ladder, to stand on tiptoe in order to drill the perfect sized holes to fit plastic mollies and screws a few inches from the ceiling so each panel could perfectly skim the floor. To make myself taller, I even resorted to wearing wedge sandals. This is NOT a good idea.


Madeline acted as my assistant, brainstorming solutions for my bad drilling and helping me locate the right-sized bits. She also complained about how long it was taking. Three windows and a few hours later, we had three sets of white gauzy panels hung and they actually looked nice.


Emboldened by my success, I ordered rods and several panel designs for Christian’s room and mine. What the heck? I was becoming an expert. The plan would be to keep the panels that looked the best and return the rest.


Again, I asked Madeline for her assistance. I took her groan to mean she would help for an hour. At least I now had a full array of tools at the ready: a ladder, drill, many drill bits, hammer, several screw drivers, pliers (to yank out the mollies that didn’t go in right), a razor (to cut off the mollies that got stuck), measuring tape, and pencil. This time, I knew the drill – literally – and the effect was even more impressive. Finally, all of the room’s elements were tying in for a cohesive look. Christian was impressed by the photos I texted him, but not enough to move home.


Now I have just my own bedroom to go. I have a feeling Madeline will be tied up this weekend. And my husband? He’ll be watching the Mets.

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