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Roman Shades | Planning and Inspiration

Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! I like to get my hands dirty making my home beautiful, and my next area to tackle is window treatments for my living room and dining room windows. Roman shades are my latest obsession for window coverings. Full length curtains are my first love, but sometimes curtains are just not right for the window or space. Roman shades are great for blocking light and adding privacy while adding a splash of color to a room. Form and function, that’s really what I’m all about!

Planning a Roman ShadeMy living room and dining room have been sporting naked windows since we moved into the house 5 years ago! I think it’s time to make some window coverings!

Roman shades beforeI would prefer full-length drapes on all the windows on my main floor, but the location of the fireplace prevents that. The fireplace was installed by the previous owners after the house was built. They did not leave enough space between the window and the fireplace mantle for drapes to fit without covering part of the window. Roman shades will provide the privacy and light protection needed without encroaching on the fireplace (“Need”, if life has gone on 5 years without it, is it a need? Ha!).

Even though these windows are in separate rooms, they are almost always visible together. My plan is to make matching Roman shades for these windows, and eventually, make coordinating full length drapes for the front window and back sliding door.

Full disclosure: I’m totally second guessing this decision of matching Roman shades. Just so you know, I’m ok with making decor mistakes in my house. If you read this and think, “What are you doing, Emily? That is all wrong!”, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’m ok with learning through my mistakes and other’s wisdom. I hope to inspire you to take risks too!

Style of Roman Shade

Since the options are limited as far as style of drapery for these two windows, the only options I needed to consider were style of Roman shade and inside or outside mount. Before we explore the styles of Roman shades, let’s talk briefly about inside or outside mount.

The two classic Roman shades I’ve made so far were both inside mount. An inside mount shade is mounted inside of the window casing, so the shade is the same size as the glass part of the window. An inside mount still gives plenty of privacy, but there is a sliver of light that shines through on the sides between the shade and the window casing/trim.

In the dining room, the shade is desperately needed because the evening sun is blinding during dinner. I would hate to go through all the effort to make a beautiful shade only to have that sliver of light still land in someone’s eye still resulting in shifting back and forth throughout dinner. For that reason, I will be hanging these shades outside and above the window casing, even with the drapery rod over the front window and slider door.  I’m hoping having all the window treatments hung the same height in these two rooms will make them look more cohesive and intentional.

Flat Roman Shade

The flat Roman shade is just that, flat from the top of the mounting hardware to the bottom of the shade. It raises in neat folds but does not use dowel rods to help create the folds. Since no dowel rod is used, this eliminates the horizontal sew lines. The flat Roman shade has the cleanest, simplest lines of all the Roman shades.

simple roman shade, love the fabric

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Relaxed Roman Shades

Relaxed Roman shades have a dramatic droop in the middle. It is made with one dowel rod at the bottom of the shade to control the swoop, making it look intentional not sloppy. This shade does not have a dowel rod at each fold or drapery rings in the middle of the shade. Leaving these two pieces out allows the shade to droop gracefully. Relaxed Roman shades are lovely and more elegant, in my opinion.

{Inspired By} Fabric Roman Shades

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Classic Roman Shades

The classic Roman shade has a sewn seam to make the rod pocket for the boning/dowel rod at even intervals up the shade. The look is crisp and clean with evenly spaced horizontal seams the entire length of the shade.This is the one type of roman shade I have made personally. I have a classic roman shade in the basement bathroom (second picture below) and the laundry room.

how to make Roman shades -44 - finished Roman shade

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Classic Roman Shade with Pattern

Source: Basement Bathroom

For the living room and dining room windows, I’ve decided to make a flat Roman shade with an outside mount. I love the clean lines. It’s simple and sophisticated, and in a space that is often messy, loud, with lots of activity, I think simple shades would be best. Not having sew lines through the fabric is also a plus. It kind of irked me that the floral pattern in my basement bathroom no longer lined up once the pockets were sewn in.

Fabric for Roman Shade

There are so many fabric options for curtains! It’s hard to choose! I like using sturdy decorator fabric, usually made of cotton. It is thick and doesn’t move around too much, making sewing much easier!

Field’s Fabric is a local fabric store chain in West Michigan, and while their regular selection is good and fairly priced, the clearance section is awesome. Everything in the clearance section is $3.97 per yard. That is a killer price for decorator fabric!

I went into the store just to scope out the new fabrics, and I happened on a fairly large piece of this fabric in the clearance section. Crossing my fingers, I took it to the counter to have it measured. I needed 2, 3-yard sections for my curtain, 6 yards total. It was 4.5 yards. Bummer!

The lovely saleslady said she would send out a request to the other stores to see if they had any remnants. About a week later, one more section was found, but it was only 1.5 yards. Rats! They reassured me to hold out because the request had not made it through all the stores yet.

A few days later, another 3.5 yards was found!

I ended up buying two lengths of 3 yards each plus the 1.5 yard piece for a grand total of $30. Yes, I got 7.5 yards of decorator fabric for $4/yard. Isn’t that incredible? At the time, the cheapest I could find online was $26.99/yard. These windows would have cost over $200! (Now it looks like the price has come down to $10/yard online, but it’s still a significant savings!)

Fabric for Roman Shades

So I’ve got my lovely fabric, and I know the style of Roman shade. Now how to make it best.

Method for Sewing the Roman Shade

Since Pinterest was giving me too many hacks, I wasn’t trusting the information I found. I want to make a flat Roman shade the RIGHT way: no hacks, mini blinds, fabric glue, or iron-on hem tape! I want to use an actual sewing machine to make them legit.

Where do you turn when you don’t know how to do something??? Old school, folks, the library. Say what??

Roman Shades Books

I know this is such a crazy suggestion given our technological age, but let me give a plug for the library. It is a WEALTH of information. The books are free (unless you don’t return on time!). The information is (likely) more sound. I say that with some hesitation, but I believe fewer people publish untruth in a book than a blog. A book is so much more difficult to accomplish. The library is a great resource. Use yours!

There were four shelves dedicated entire to sewing curtains and pillows for the home. So. Many. Books. I narrowed down my selection to three books that specifically talked about flat Roman shades. They each have detailed instructions and pictures which should prove very helpful. Each has a slightly different method, so I plan to compile what I read into a method that works for me and my windows.

If you are curious about my research, below is a list of resources that I plan to use to figure out how to best make my Roman shades.

  1. The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments by Linda Neubauer
  2. Waverly at Home: Windows by Waverly and Vicki L. Ingham
  3. Curtains, Draperies, & Shades by Editors of Sunset Books
  4. Addicted 2 Decorating – Blogger Kristi who rocks at many home decor things but especially window treatments

I think I’m ready to start cutting my fabric! I feel confident that an outside mount, flat Roman shade is the best for my windows. The Kelly Ripa Flying Colors Pool fabric is so pretty, not too loud, and most importantly, I’ve learned the best method for sewing my shades. Here we go!


When’s the last time you ventured into your library? Are you a book lover too? What project are you inspired by that you want to tackle the right way?

Roman Shade Planning

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Micah’s Office, Part 1 | Rekindling an old flame: Organization, Flow, and Home Decor

Not THAT kind of old flame, folks! Get your minds out of the gutter!


I had an opportunity this month to work with my sister and brother-in-law (Betsey and Micah) to reorganize and decorate their home office. I have to tell you; it was so much fun. I haven’t done a home project for anyone else before, and it was invigorating, therapeutic, and just tons of fun.

How it all began: during some discussion with my sister, she mentions her husband’s, Micah, office set-up is less than ideal. She rattles off a couple issues quickly: lighting, surface space, and a room that looks like everything just landed in the room.

The bells immediately start ringing in my head: I could help her reorganize. I could probably help troubleshoot the layout and space issues. This is something I’ve always wanted to do – would she let me help?!

I offer my assistance, and she says yes! Woot! I’m so geeked! I love organizing and decorating my own home, and it has been a dream of mine to help others make their homes beautiful and comfortable too. Here’s my first chance!

So let’s walk through what happened!

Setting the stage: Micah works from home selling books online. So when he brings a bunch of books home, the room is littered with books. Quite literally, stacks of books everywhere. When we scheduled the weekend to do the reorganization, he had just brought home 300 books. 300. It’s quite the mess until he gets them processed and shipped out. The great thing about this is I got to see the office in action. I saw the version Micah has to work with everyday, not the cleaned up version. So it turns out, it was perfect time to re-do the office that weekend.

Before

Disclaimer: These are a photos Betsey sent me as we were working through the design process. This is not post-300 book invasion. This is a more “normal” amount of books.

Problem Areas
  1. Lighting – There is only one overhead light, centered in the room. Micah’s desk is currently along the back wall putting the light behind him and casting a shadow over the desk when he’s working. To compensate for this, he has the tall desk lamp on the desk to illuminate his work area. Never mind the floor lamp in the corner. It’s not even plugged in!
  2. Scale – Micah weighs each box of books before they are shipped, and he does not have a spot to put his scale. He currently puts it in another room so he’s walking the books back and forth as he works.
  3. Dog Stuff – The precious pooch’s accessories need a home. Currently it’s an overflowing basket that sits on the floor.
  4. Intentional Design – They would like the office and reading space to look intentional. It has a “it just landed here” look about it.
Design Process (aka Mulling it Over)
  1. Lighting – Personally, I dislike furniture pushed against the wall. It makes the most room for walking in the middle of the room but makes for poor aesthetics. If we move his desk under the light, then we don’t need to buy new lights, rearrange outlets, or ceiling lights.
  2. Micah clearly needs an L-shaped desk for his work. He does data entry on each book then uses the coffee table to sort, package, and mark boxes for shipping. So the desk/coffee table arrangement needs to stay.
  3. Scale – I completely forgot to work in the scale. Sorry, Micah! Working that out with him now, I’ll update when that is worked in to the room. **Update – We’ve found an unused end table to hold the scale. Now the desk area is roughly “U” shaped. See after photos in the next post.**
  4. Dog Stuff – Betsey actually worked this out before I arrived. She found an open shelf in the closet by the front door so she popped the dog basket up there. Problem solved!
  5. Intentional Design – I rolled this issue around in my mind for at least a week before coming up with a new, intentional room arrangement. Our budget was $0 so I had to work with the pieces either in this room or shop their house for other options.
Floor Plan

All the bookshelves were on the left wall. They were both tall, which is fine, but they were too heavy, visually. The room was heavier on the left than the right. The design plan needed to keep the cube bookshelf as is very functional when Micah brings in 300 books to sort and ship. The other bookshelf held their personal books (but not books that were read often, just ones they didn’t want to part with) and was not necessary to keep in that location. Done, that piece is out of this room!

I suggested to move the large cube bookshelf to the center of the back wall. (1) It does not need to be well-lit as Micah is usually slowly loading or unloading it throughout his work day. It is simply there to hold books until Micah can work with them at his desk. (2) It is a large piece of furniture that could balance the room if in the middle rather than to one side without anything opposite to balance it.

Betsey has a double papasan chair that she wants to stay in the room and create a reading nook. I like it’s placement in the front right corner of the room, but any good reading nook needs a light and some decor.

Moving the L desk arrangement to the middle/left side of the room leaves the back of Micah’s desk exposed, and the back of any desk that holds a computer is rarely pretty. Cords galore! To solve this unsightly issue, I suggest moving the small cube bookshelf to back up to Micah’s desk. This will give Betsey a place to decorate and still hold personal books to grab when she’s reading in the papasan chair. Also moving the small bookshelf creates some empty space on the right side of the room, allowing for an area to decorate and let the room breathe.

Extra shipping boxes – For the most part, Micah buys new boxes to ship out the books, so he needed a place to keep the flat boxes. I suggest at the end of the coffee table, in the back left corner of the room. This way they are close to the coffee table where he loads up the boxes, but they are purposefully placed in the nook created in that corner.

Betsey and Micah had collected many pictures and artwork through the years but never took the time to put it up on the walls.

Tary no longer! Those lovelies are being hung! Tune in soon to see the afters!