Like us, San Francisco blogger Caitlin Long of The Shingled House regularly turns to Commune Design of Los Angeles for a dose of inspiration. Perusing images on Pinterest from the firm’s recent book, Commune: Designed in California, Long noticed window treatments that looked exactly like the upgrade her light-blasted bathroom needed. The hands-on remodeler–Long is a RISD grad in furniture design who blogs about family life and household improvements–whipped up her own burlap version.
Start to finish time for three panels: five hours. Total cost per panel: less than $20. And Long assured us, “Anyone could do this project: Burlap is surprisingly easy to sew. It takes a seam very easily (although you will be covered in lint by the time you finish).” We’re ready to give it go.
Photography by Caitlin Long via The Shingled House.
Above: The (nearly) finished trio of panels hang from hardware store tension rods. They cover bathroom windows in Long’s Cole Valley, SF, house, which she and her husband built with Thompson Studio Architects. For privacy the shades are mostly left stationary, but can be raised at the corners. They’re shown here temporarily pinned up (see below for final rigging).
Intrigued by Long’s teak tub? Go to DIY Household Teak, our post about how she refinished her bathroom.
- Sewing machine
- Upholstery-grade, all-cotton burlap, such as Light Natural Burlap from Fabric.com; $5.98 per yard. Long used approximately one yard (from a 40-inch wide bolt) per window and bought hers from Discount Fabrics in SF for $2.75 per yard)
- Spring-loaded curtain rod (one per window). Levelor 18- to 28-Inch Spring Tension Rods are $4.99 to $6.99, and are similar to what Long used. A more elegant version, she points out, is the Concealed-Mount Cafe Rod Set; $45 from Rejuvenation.
- 3/8-inch wooden dowel (one per window). Home Depot sells Four-Foot-Long Hardwood Dowels for 98 cents each
- 1 1/2-inch brass rings (one per window), such as Lowe’s Solid Brass Rings; $1.78 each
- Topstitching thread for attaching the brass rings. Gutterman Heavy-Duty Polyester Thread is $1.48 for 33 yards
- Solid Brass Rope Cleats (one per window) are $5.91 for two via Amazon
Above: “It’s important that the burlap be heavyweight and 100 percent cotton,” Long says. She also advises ordering a color swatch “because there are a bunch of variations in colors from more tan/brown to tan/gray. I used the most humble version of fabric I could find.”
Above: The burlap panels replaced thin muslin shades that, writes Long, “were (like me) looking a little tired. The muslin had torn in a few places and recently got a little blue marker on them (who even knows how that happened). And they had shrunk so much from washing that they didn’t even fit the windows anymore.” Long wanted to replace them with sun-filtering panels that would cast a more flattering light when she looks in the mirror. “The brightness of the sun from those windows is really unforgiving. Yes, I changed those curtains because of vanity!”
Above: Commune Design‘s Elsinore Street project in Echo Park, Los Angeles, has simple shades that can be draped to the side. See more of the firm’s work in Expert Advice: Breaking the Rules with Commune Design and An Exotic Tiled Kitchen in LA.
Above: “The weave is very open in this burlap, so instead of a zigzag stitch on the edge to prevent fraying, I used a fairly tight straight stitch, and I used a one-inch seam instead of a standard half inch.” Go to The Shingled House for more details.
Above: Long initially planned to install a hook as a way to suspend the panels; instead, as a final touch, she added a brass rope cleat.
Above: She weighed down each shade by inserting a wooden dowel in a sleeve along the bottom, and sewed on a brass ring in the bottom middle using turquoise topstitching thread.
Above: The panels can be suspended in different ways, including this rakish angle.
Above: Long’s verdict: “I’m very happy with the results: This room still has plenty of light, and boy am I looking better.”
There’s more to see: Long won the 2014 Remodelista Considered Design Award for the Best Amateur-Designed Office Space. Take a look at her Backyard Shed-Turned-Home Office and go to Design Sleuth to learn about the room’s portable camp stove.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 1, 2015 as part of our issue called The Organized Kitchen.