Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Obstruction call ruin your game?

Just last week, the Boston Red Sox lost Game 3 of the World Series when the winning run was scored on an obstruction call.   Not a baseball fan?  It's just like the dictionary definition of obstruction -- something that blocks something else.  In this case, the fielder blocked the runner.
I am always on the look out for obstructions when I measure for window treatments. Nothing is worse than getting an obstruction call at the installation.
Crown molding is the most common obstruction. Notice how the crown molding on the adjacent cabinets protrudes into the window molding on both sides of this window.

This prevents a typical outside mount window treatment because the window treatment must be mounted between the crown molding or below the crown molding.  Neither option is ideal.  If the valance is mounted between the crown molding, it is too narrow for the window with the edges of the window molding sticking out on either side.  If the valance is mounted below the molding, it usually must be made too short so that it doesn't block the view, not to mention that the top of the window molding shows.  An obvious solution is to inside mount the window treatment but you still have the issue of finished length versus blocking the view.  I hear time and time again from customers -- "Don't block my view!"

One way to avoid this obstruction call is to design a valance with an arched top.  This allows the valance to be mounted just below the crown molding but visually have enough height and length to be in proportion with the window. Score!

Here is another solution for protruding crown molding.  In this case, an upholstered cornice was made with the top corners angled to accommodate the molding.

Not all obstructions are at the top of the window.  I have to confess when measuring for this job, I was only focused on how much wall space was available next to the window so we could hang the panel off the glass as much as possible. Don't block my view!  At the installation, I got an obstruction call when I looked down and realized the fireplace hearth was in the way.  You're out! The solution required taking the panel back to the workroom and re-hemming the panel so it hangs around the hearth.

Even the best teams lose a game now and then, but if you want a workroom that will go the distance and bring home the trophy, email me at I'd love to be on your winning team!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Trick or Treatment

It won't be long until neighborhood children are at your door shouting "Trick or Treat".  That's not a tough decision.  I always hand out candy, don't you?  But you may have a dilemma when designing window treatments where a door is in the mix.  Most of the time, the door opens into the room.  If you add a valance, the door hits the valance when opened.  There are three common solutions to this problem: mount the valance higher up, shorten the length of the valance, or leave the door untreated.

I want to introduce you to another solution - a door hinge valance.  A door hinge valance uses hardware that allows the valance to move with the door.  In this kitchen eating area, there are two windows and a door.  By using door hinge hardware, the designer was able to mount all three valances at the same height AND have all three valances the same length AND still use the door without interference from the valance. 

Here is an example of using door hinge hardware for a valance over a French door.  Like the single door, the French door also opens into the room.  This situation requires a valance design that has some sort of "break" in the middle where the valance itself hinges.  The inverted box pleat in the center of this valance is the perfect solution.

Here is a third situation where a door hinge valance was used.  In this case, there was a large picture window where the designer chose a valance with stationary panels.  She did not want to leave the door untreated.  By using the door hinge hardware and mounting the valances at the same height, your eye moves around the room uninterrupted and the customer can still use the door.

The next time you are designing valances in a room with a door, picture your customer saying "Trick or Treat".  Don't be the designer that ends up with a smashed pumpkin -- like a valance that is too short.  If you want to hand out full size candy bars and offer your customer a door hinge valance, email me at and I'll help you engineer a treat for your customer.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bracket Racket

Have you heard all the racket about brackets?  For such a minor component in the overall scheme of a window treatment, there sure are a lot of decisions to make when specifying hardware.

The first question to be answered is "How many brackets are needed?".  Quite often the answer to this question will point you towards a specific hardware vendor.  The general rule is brackets should be spaced 4 feet apart.  If you are dealing with single windows, almost any bracket style and/or line of hardware will work.  If you are dealing with wider windows, such as sliding glass doors or picture windows, a center bracket (or brackets) may be required.   Nothing ruins a beautiful custom window treatment like a cheap looking bracket taking center stage on a long span of rodding.  
One option for dealing with the wide span is to choose a larger diameter rod.  Although 4 ft. bracket spacing is the rule of thumb, as the diameter of the rod increases so does the minimum spacing required between brackets.  Helser Brothers offers 2" round metal rods with a 140" bracket to bracket minimum -- that's almost 12 feet between brackets!  I used Helser Brothers 1-1/4" diameter rods for these operable grommet panels so that I would only need 1 center bracket on this 15 foot span.  Remember, grommets and drapery rings can't pass through brackets.

Another option for dealing with a wide span is to choose a line of hardware that offers decorative brackets.  If you must have a center bracket, why not choose one you want to look at?  Here are two examples:  The first is hardware from House Parts' Bamboo Collection and the second is Helser Brothers'  1-1/4" twisted iron rope rod with Artigiani brackets.

A third option for dealing with a wide span is to choose a bracket style that visually disappears. Most brackets have a vertical mount plate.  But some hardware lines offer brackets with a horizontal mount plate.  The horizontal plate is hidden behind the rod itself.  Can you find the three center brackets on this Orion Iron Art hardware?

If your head is spinning with bracket racket on your next project, e-mail me at and I'll help you work through the options and find the perfect bracket solution

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stuck in a Rut?

Do you always specify welt for the edges of your pillows, valances, and bedding?  You are not alone.  The most common edging used in home dec projects is welt.  Welt is cord covered with fabric. Let's take a look at three edge options that are a step above welt and really add to the style and function of the project. 
Micro Flange
A micro flange is a 1/2" wide flat edge.  It is sometimes referred to as a cordless welt.  The flange can be mitered in the corners or a couple of tucks can be added to ease around a corner.  I love how Interior Designer Elizabeth Butler used the micro flange on this contemporary bedding set.  Each of the four shams has a different color micro flange.  And notice the micro flange on the ends of the bolster.  Even the toss pillow at the foot of the bed has a micro flange in the same color as the body of the pillow.  You can see in the close-up that the corners are mitered.

Double Bead Chain 
Double bead chain is made like welt but instead of covering soft cord with fabric, two rows of beaded weight chain are covered with fabric. Beaded weight chain is most often used in the hem of sheer drapery panels to prevent flaring. Beaded weight chain makes a flat, heavy edging that when applied in a seam looks like narrow banding but has the added benefit of weight .  It improves draping when used in the hem of a valance and helps to prevent waving on wide flat expanses.  Interior Designer Janis Reed used double bead chain beautifully on this powder room valance.  The color and size of the edging make it look like a continuation of the fabric design.

Mini Ruffles
You might think ruffles are so 1980's but when scaled down to a scant 1/2", they can be an interesting edging without being overly feminine.  Here mini ruffles are inserted into both edges of the boxed round pillow in this teen's butterfly chair.  They soften the pillow and add charm to the setting.

On your next project, consider breaking out of the welt rut.  If you need a workroom that will give your designs an edge, e-mail me at  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

On the edge

Are you on the cutting edge of technology?  I can't claim to be there.  I still use a "dumb" phone for heavens sake!  But I do read, learn, and keep moving in that direction.  Here are three apps I use on my iPad mini that are great for our industry and could move you closer to the edge.  
The Hunter Douglas Platinum app allows you to control motorized shades with your Apple mobile device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch).  Customers that can afford motorization most likely own an Apple device and will love the convenience of the Platinum app -- no more searching for the remote control.  I installed a motorized roller shade over the entrance to my living room last December.  I wanted to be able to close off the room when I ran my gas fireplace to heat the room quickly and keep it warm. Motorized shades are great for the summer months too, when you want to block out the sun glare on your TV or shade against solar heat gain.
I just returned from the International Window Coverings Expo in New Orleans where I attended a "Future of the Industry" panel discussion.  Bill O'Connor, president of Horizons Window Fashions, predicted that in 3 or 4 years traditional sample books would become a thing of the past.  He said the new Horizons Sample Book app has great photography and the ability to zoom in on an image. Horizons also offers free sample swatches so your customer can touch and feel the final selections.  I ordered the traditional roller shade sample book and also downloaded the app.
There were some skeptical designers in the audience.  They couldn't envision not flipping through the actual sample book when selecting possible options.  I can't wait to get feedback from the designers I work with as I introduce them to the Horizons app.  They won't have to drive to my house to borrow the sample book.  They will be able to show the product with only their iPad and even order the free swatches themselves.
I also attended a class called "iPad for Design Pros".  The long list of apps for our industry was daunting.  The image of the knife dripping with blood came to me as I tried to imagine getting to the cutting edge!  I decided to pick one new app and try it out.  It is called My Measures PRO.  It allows you to take a photo and add dimensions directly on the photo.  I will use this app during measure appointments.  It provides a photo of the space to refresh my memory when I start working on the job weeks later and it eliminates the need for free hand sketches of the window/wall configuration when recording measurements.  I can also see designers using this app to provide measurements for their workroom so that they can accurately quote the job without the need for a client visit.  Here is an example of what the app can do:

If you are on the cutting edge and need a workroom on that edge with you, e-mail me at  If you aren't there yet but want to be, e-mail me and I'll help you get there with as little bleeding as possible!
To learn more about each app, click on the triangle in the center of the picture to play the video: 
My Measures and Dimensions PRO for iPad & iPhone

My Measures PRO App
Hunter Douglas Platinum App       
Hunter Douglas Platinum App
Horizons Sample Book App

Horizons Sample Book App

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Let's Move!

When your customer wants a sleek, tailored look for drapery panels, grommet panels are a great option.  They have clean lines and a no fuss heading.  Interior designer Eve Elzenga used them beautifully in this living room.
The one drawback to traditional grommet panels is that they are not easily operable.  When you move the leading edge of the panel, the grommets tip at an angle and get stuck on the pole, making it difficult to open and close the panels.
Why doesn't this happen with pinch pleat panels or ripplefold panels?  Because carriers in the drapery hardware are connected to each other.  As the leading edge of a panel is moved, the next carrier is pulled along and with it the drapery panel.  
When I was tasked with making operable grommet panels at the Pultneyville Grill, I used this same concept by connecting the grommets with bead chain.  The Grill owners wanted to be able to separate the dining area for private parties and special events.  Interior designer Elizabeth Butler specified grommet panels so that the panel header would look good on both sides and also have minimal stackback.  Here is a close-up of the grommet header.  I sewed bead chain from grommet to grommet on the front and back of the panel.  The length of the bead chain was set so that when the chain pulled taut, the panel just fit the opening.  Below are pictures of the panels fully closed and open with a tieback.  You have to look very closely to see the taut chain on the closed panel!

Today you can buy grommets specifically made to accommodate this bead chain concept.  Rowley Company sells a product call Grom-A-Link (photo at right).  Below are pictures of the back of a panel using the Grom-A-Link grommets.

We often hear the rallying cry of "Let's Move" from our First Lady.  Now we can heed that cry even when using grommet panels.

If you are looking for a workroom that can come up with innovative solutions to your next drapery problem, contact me at