Alternately titled, “The Emperor Has No Curtains!”

When we last left off, we moved into our house nearly a decade ago and decided that having no window treatments up in the living room – with the exception of some roller shades that were left by the previous owners – was better than living with the window treatments we didn’t like. So down they came. And no solution magically appeared for quite some time.

A sort-of solution for a sort-of windowseat.

What I haven’t mentioned before is how our living room came with some very nice built-in shelves on two walls. Which we made sure to note in our “why you should sell your house to us” letter that we wrote when we learned we were in a competitive bidding situation. These bookcases wrap around one set of windows and make a shallow little windowseat. The seat is hinged so you can stash blankets and train sets inside them, making the space very useful. Not the most comfortable of spots to sit, so we tossed a couple of pillows in the corners early on to help guests find a comfy spot there (as reenacted in the photo to the right).

Then, earlier this year, I finally got around to making a couple of seat cushions for the space. Not a huge cushion, but a noticeable difference even to my ample derriere. So the space turned into something like this:

Now with a little cush for any tush.

Nicer, but still kind of a hardscape to take in. The former owners had hung the old window treatments right on the window frame, but studying the construction of the bookcases, there’s a little lip of trim that extends about an inch down from the shelving that spans the space above the windows. And that’s where the gears started clicking. You see, I had felt kind of limited in what I could do for any sort of window treatment, and was thinking up all sorts of crazy ideas. But in that fateful progressive tea party last December, I noticed how some alcoved windows were dressed with the curtains more into the room than on the window. Ah-hah!

That little lip of trim could be a nice frame for a simple valance and panels. Not wanting to do damage to the shelving, I found a tension rod that could span the space, and used that to hang the curtains. And voila!

See the little valance at the top of the bookcases? See how the panels are tied back on the crutains? That's no accident.

It’s not quite to perfection yet. See that little dip/gap between the curtains and the bookshelves near the middle of the valance? The weight of the curtains has the rod bowing a little bit. We’ve got some simple hooks that could give the rod the support it needs there and not be all that visible to people in the room. On the other hand, my husband feels that a substantial wood dowel with some closet rod mounting brackets would also do the trick (I’m a little suspicious, just because the span is close to seven feet long, and I think it would still need some support/hooking in the middle). So we’re going to explore and research that a bit more and change as we think it’s right to do. But for the most part, this is what it will look like.

I’m still getting used to it just because we had the space essentially bare for so long. Originally I had taken our first pillows out when I put up the curtains, but then put them back when I realized that they helped communicate the depth of the space and invite our bookish nieces to sit and page through the latest books they’re devouring. I’d like to replace them someday, perhaps with some leftover fabric from the other living room projects stitched around basic pillow forms, but the old standbys will work for now.

A little closer, in case you didn't catch that little gap in the middle. See it yet?

Next up, the tall drapery panels! (That’s why these are such tight shots. Didn’t want to give away the store, but wider views of how everything clicks together will come along in due time.)

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