Design emergency! SEAFOAM GREEN roller shades!

Dear bossy color,

What I want: cellular window shades with blackout backing.

Blackout cellular shade

The Shade Store

What I have discovered I don’t want to pay the price of: See above. I have 9 feet to cover and am looking at at least $500.

What I think I can afford that will accomplish what I need: curtains

Tall drapes in living room

Elle Decor

What I loathe: see above

What I most loathe: curtains that are on rods that curve back to the wall on the side of the window.

Elbow drapery rod with ring-clip drapes

Pottery Barn

Yet no other installation will block the dreaded street light glow and retain the heat I am seeking.

What I have now: roller shades purchased 18 years ago that are great quality and were spendy at the time, but getting sad looking and ARE IN SEAFOAM GREEN.

Green roller shade

The Shade Store. This doesn’t even APPROACH the horrific-ness of “seafoam,” but I challenge YOU to find shades in that color!

Those also don’t do much in the light-blocking, heat-retaining category.

What I most fear: the visual clutter and fussiness of curtains.That and the whole, “funeral home” feeling of curtains that cannot be hung straight across a window.

Uncovered in Oregon



Dearest Uncovered:

Holy cow. I honestly think that nailing a blanket over your window might be preferable to seafoam green roller shades. I know that’s extreme. But may I repeat back to you? “18 years ago,” “sad looking,” “SEAFOAM GREEN.”

But you know the time has come. You just don’t know what to do about it. (For less than $500.)

Here’s the unfortunate news, Uncovered: 9 feet is a lot of window. A LOT. So I’m going to hope really hard that you sew. Do you sew? Do you have a friend who sews? Do you KNOW anyone who sews? Possibly named Susie?

Tall dark pink bedroom drapes

Better Homes & Gardens

Drapes ARE the answer. But they need not be funereal, Uncovered! Why, look at the gorgeous pictures above! Festive! Yet grand! Maybe fussy by your definition, but definitely not depressing!

If I understand correctly, your goals are to:

  • Block light
  • Block cold
  • Be unfussy
  • Not bum you out

Drapes can do all of this. Here’s what you do:

1. Go to a fabric store and find mid-weight material that makes you happy. For 9 feet of window, I recommend you use a large-scale pattern, or if you prefer solids, at least add a stripe along the leading (inner) edge and bottom. (Take the dimensions of your room and window with you, and the store people will help you determine how much fabric you’ll need.)

Drapes with trim on leading edge

Haute Indoor Couture

Ring-top drapes with pinch pleats (tailored pleats)

2. Sew ring-top drapes with pinch pleats at the top. (That’s a short instruction for a lot of work, but fabrication isn’t my forte. Susie will know what to do.)

3. Find drapery hardware you like. I like Robert Allen‘s hardware, but Rejuvenation will be less expensive.

4. Mount the drapery rods waaaaaaayyy up high, closer to the ceiling than the top of the window. This will help with insulation. Plus it makes your ceilings look taller. Plus it’s just better.

5. Hang the drapes, but don’t put all the rings between the brackets. Leave one ring on the outside of each bracket

6. Tack the edge of the drape to the wall. Susie probably knows how to do this, too. This is achieved by inserting a pin into the corner of the drape itself and pounding a tiny drapery tack into the wall — or using a small eye hook, as this enterprising person has done:

Attaching drapes to the wall

Drapes attached to wall

Now you have beautiful, modern, insulating, light-blocking, non-depressing drapes instead of seafoam green roller shades. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy. And don’t forget to thank Susie.

Screen Shot 2013-01-17 at 7.14.47 PM

Quoted in publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post to Real Simple magazine, Annie Elliott is considered an expert in color, residential space planning, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible. Her interior design firm, bossy color, has been serving residents of the greater Washington, D.C. area since 2004.


  1. says

    Good advice. You might add that ready-made Roman shades, with some snazzy trim added and mounted outside the frame would work too. Although I am not sure about the 9 feet thing. Is that one huge window?

  2. says

    Drapery and window treatments are always a huge concern. They can really make or break a room. When you have such a large area to cover sometimes it looks like you have bedding on your windows and it does get expensive! I’m not a big fan of drapery. I have sheers on my windows. Eggshell, triple full as the main color and accents on the side panels – faint color,barely detectable but so delicate on the wall and not so overwhelming. My wall color is the main feature in each room :-)
    Great post!

  3. says

    I am working with a client, newly in the States from the Netherlands (via Hong Kong), who asked me: “Why are curtains so expensive in America?”– apparently they are so dear nowhere else. Truth be told, this is a question I have often pondered myself! I have always found that window treatments are one of the most costly aspects of decorating, and really– it shouldn’t be!

  4. says

    Great post! Your advice was spot on and I loved the way you illustrated it with the beautiful photos. Sometimes I specify inside mount woven shades or regular romans (split on one header rail for a large window) and narrow curtain
    panels on the sides for a layered non-bulky look. I do love the side tack trick!

  5. says

    I’ve just ordered my first set of custom drapes. Add a zero to this lady’s budget and that is the check I wrote. And it’s not even the final price!!! Some of it is mly fault because I chose very expensive linen fabric. I hope I love them A LOT because they will be hanging in my home for a very long time. :)

  6. Lisa says

    Yippee! I KNEW I’d seen these drapery hanging guidelines somewhere — just spent 3 hours searching before thinking of YOU, Annie. Shame on me. And now, five (yes, five!) years after buying the fabric, I’m going to make living room drapes. Heck, I just found the “perfect” area rug three months ago (purple with white!). This decorating stuff ain’t for sissies (thanks, Bette Davis).

    Thank you for the fabulous details, as always. You rock!

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