Dress up your favorite window without breaking the bank - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Dress up your favorite window without breaking the bank

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Posted: Saturday, March 31, 2007 4:27 pm | Updated: 5:57 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: We live in what I like to think is a tiny, perfect older home. There’s a lovely double window in the dining room that overlooks our garden. Although we don’t need it for privacy, I’d like to put up something to dress the window. Have you any suggestions that are not too expensive?

Q: We live in what I like to think is a tiny, perfect older home. There’s a lovely double window in the dining room that overlooks our garden. Although we don’t need it for privacy, I’d like to put up something to dress the window. Have you any suggestions that are not too expensive?

A: Choosing the right window treatment can be tricky, especially when the scenery is inviting. But fabrics do soften a space, and there are simple solutions that will enhance your room’s decor without detracting from the view. You obviously love your older home, and I expect your furnishings lean toward the traditional.

Fashioning draperies for this style can be costly if you want the sumptuous side panels and swags often connected with the look. But you can take an easier route, as I did in this small dining room. Ticking fabric still on the roll was attached along the upper window trim with Velcro tape. The best height was determined, and the fabric blind was tied off with lengths of grosgrain ribbon. Ticking is a classic, finely striped pattern; the cloth is thick enough to hold its shape, and it filters light rather than blocking it out. Very little yardage is required to make a blind, and you will be able to find fabric in a color and pattern to suit your room.

Q: I have maple kitchen cabinets, and I’d like to give them a French-country look. I was thinking that I’d paint them white and then add a distressed look. My paint store says the distressed look is not in fashion anymore and doesn’t have any instruction brochures. My kitchen walls are yellow, and the tile floor is blue. What do you suggest?

A: Trends come and go, but the warmth of antiques and aged wood never goes out of fashion. Just like French-country style, its appeal is timeless. Since you are working on cabinets that have been sealed, it’s important to prepare the surface properly so that the paint will adhere. Sand and apply a high-adhesion paint primer that is designed to go over slippery surfaces.

Then paint two coats of water-based white paint and let dry. Old cabinet doors would be rubbed and worn along the edges and around the handles. To reproduce this effect, rub candle wax along the areas that would be naturally worn.

Then apply a coat of creamy white paint over the whole surface, including the waxy bits. Allow the paint to dry, then sand over the treated areas, and the paint will come off easily, revealing the pure white underneath. You can even go down to the wood in spots if you choose. Apply two coats of satin varnish to seal in your distressed finish.

This is only one of countless techniques for creating a distressed patina. You will find more of my favorite aging techniques detailed step by step in my book “Debbie Travis’ Kitchens and Baths.” These easy and effective finishes can be applied to cabinets, furniture, trim and moldings.

Q: The doors and trim in our house are all stained. Would it look OK to paint the doors but not the trim?

A: Painted and stained surfaces can coexist happily. The most important thing is to block the stain from bleeding into your paint. Apply two coats of a primer that is designed to cover and seal stain. A fresh coat of off-white paint will enhance stained wood.

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