Friday, February 22, 2008

Adventures in Home Decor

Our story begins a little more than two years ago. I spent the summer taping old sheets in the windows when I wanted to keep the sun out, but my parents were visiting my apartment for the first time and I felt like I ought to have something more. So I went up 7th Ave to the little fabric-and-upholstery shop, picked out cheap inoffensive beige curtains, and hung them up.

Over the following two years, I came to believe that I didn't really want beige curtains after all, and even if I did, I'd want ones that looked a little less cheap. At the end of December, I decided to finally do something about it. So I went to Google Maps and found a bunch of drapery places in Chelsea, took the subway into Union Square, and wandered up Broadway stopping in shops.

At the first place, the guy was very friendly, but said things like "We have these books of fabric swatches, but we don't use them much, since most of our clients are designers who already have the fabric." He also quoted me a price, just for materials, which was about twice what I had in mind to pay total. So I politely said I'd think about it and left. The guy at the second place was also very friendly, and deigned to search through fabric books with me for the perfect shade of navy. I found a good one and checked the book out to see how it looked at home. At the third place, the the fabric guys had already left for the day, but they'd be happy to come by my apartment next week to pick out fabric and give a quote, and yes they'd honor that coupon I pulled out of the ValuePak mailing. Then I went home, satisfied that I had two reasonable options.

The following Monday morning, the second place called me and gave me a quote that was five times what I had in mind to pay. I wasn't going to go for that. But it meant that when the guy from the third place came, proposed something nicer than I'd had in mind, threw in "professional installation," and said it would only be four times my original price was, it suddenly sounded quite reasonable. He said he'd knock more off the price if I made the order that day. I felt like I was probably being taken, but I knew that angsting over it for a while wouldn't help anything (and hey, I could afford to pay that much, I just hadn't planned to)--so I signed the order.

That brings us to this morning, nearly two months later, when my curtains finally arrived. Well, somebody's curtains arrived, at least. They were definitely the same color I'd ordered. On the other hand, the professional installation guys noticed as soon as they walked in that the curtains they'd brought were a couple feet taller than my ceiling, let alone the top of the windows.

As long as they were there, though, they wanted to install the brackets to hold the rods up (the non-tension rods being one of the extra bits that the sales guy had tempted me with). One of them tried putting the bracket into the moulding the way I wanted. He really did try. But the moulding, being moulding, didn't present a nice flat surface, and while he was trying to deal with that, I could see a crack forming between where the two screws had gone in. He saw it too and pointed out that the moulding wasn't actually strong enough to support the curtains. We agreed that he'd put the brackets in next to the moulding instead.

And put them in he did. Unfortunately, he wasn't exactly from the measure-twice cut-once school of carpentry. When he tested the rod over the first window, it was just a bit crooked. He tried lowering the right-hand bracket by bashing it with a hammer, but no such luck. So he took he bracket down and did the only really stupid thing I saw him do, which was to try to get the screw to go in an eighth of an inch lower. Of course, the result was that the two screw-sized holes merged together into one big hole. He tried using a longer screw, but since my walls are apparently made of one thickness of drywall followed by two inches of air, that just made the hole bigger. He turned to me apologetically and pointed out that my wall sucked and he didn't know what to do. I didn't say anything, on the theory that maybe if I kept my mouth shut he'd figure something out.

He and the other guy talked it over for a bit, and finally came up with something. They plugged the hole with a metal disc attached to an expandy thing that I assume was gripping against the other side of the drywall, and that seemed to work, but didn't get them any closer to getting the bracket back up. After a little more discussion they hit on the idea of mounting a metal angle-bracket to the wall and then screwing the top of the wooden bracket into that. After a small amount of undoing what they'd done and redoing it with the angle-bracket involved, they had everything mounted. Voila, one window done.

On the other window, they again discovered the brackets were crooked. This time, though, they had a better idea than moving the screw in the wall: move the hole in the bracket! I'm really not sure why they didn't think of that the first time, especially since the first thing they did when they got there was attach the metal plate with the holes to the back of the wooden brackets. But anyway, this looked like it was going to go well. Except that on the first attempt, they moved the holes the wrong way and it was even more crooked. As they were fiddling with that, one of the guys put a little too much weight on it and the screws pulled out of my poor drywall, making another big hole.

But now, at least, they'd reduced the problem to one they'd already solved. Out came another expandy thing and another metal angle-bracket, and in a few minutes they were done. They were even nice enough to seal up the first holes they'd made in the moulding, before they left.

But now I'm back where I started, except with four wooden brackets mounted next to my windows. I've wiggled them a bit, and the non-metal-bracket ones are a bit wobbly. At this point I'm just hoping they don't fall down before my real curtains get here.


At 2:36 AM, August 04, 2008, Anonymous Salma said...

Yes, your are right. Home decoration is so adventerous, too love it.

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