A Room with a View – or – How I Avoided Miz Ellen’s Portieres, Part 1

(Did I just do that? A smash-up of two authors? Apologies in advance to the estates of E.M. Forester and Margaret Mitchell.)

After moving into our house seven years ago, one of the first things we did was take down the valances hanging over the windows in the living room. Our living room has windows that face south and west, providing wonderful natural light throughout much of the day. We love it. We also love looking out the windows to the yard around the house. It’s lovely views.

Well, except for the sand cherry that’s way too overgrown by the west windows. I say a silent prayer of thanks every time a windstorm takes out another limb on that monster, because it means I can see more of my surroundings. And as our son grows more independent, being able to peer out of any window to identify the origins of some noise, explosion, or cry of distress will be critical. This writer dreams of the day when she’ll hire a bunch of hauling equipment and tear out the menacing shrubbery that threatens her daily views and harbors untold number of bunnies that lead to foul language from the cats.

Stepping back into the living room now, let’s look at those windows. When the former owners were fixing up the place they took great pains to restore a look around the windows that was true to the age of the house. The age we know to be late 1800’s or early 1900’s. An age also known as Victorian. And those fussy valances got in the way of the beauty of those windows.

Victorian. The very word conjures up images of full, sweeping skirts, rigid rules of society, and heavy draperies that will keep out damaging sunlight and preserve the parlor furniture that Father bought before his untimely death. Kind of stifling and romantic at the same time. And enough yardage to make a gal presentable should she need to swindle a jailed blockade runner into giving her money to pay the taxes on the family farm, if you know what I mean.

You’ve seen the Hollywood sets, and even some old photos that show swaths and swags of fabric, heavy fringes, tassels, even! And so we were stuck. For six long years.

The former owners of our home took a few liberties as they restored the old farmhouse. They understood that a house isn’t meant to be a museum, but can still have plenty of character. So they bridged the old and the new. Much like those former owners, we mix and match between centuries ourselves. A sectional instead of settee. Recliner instead of rocking chair. Curtains? Well…


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