Replacing Curtain Rods Make for a Quick Decor Fix Replacing Curtain Rods Make for a Quick Decor Fix

It's my contention, based on my years of experience wishing I could actually apply what I know about interior design to my own home, that everyone has a blind spot. The trouble is, even when your blind spot is pointed out to you, it can be impossible to see.

A prime example of this is my best friend, who cannot for the life of her see that the only thing, the one small, easily-accomplished, inexpensive thing which her home needs, is new curtain rods. The problem with her curtain rods has gone on for so long, and has remained intractable through so many home improvement projects, that I now must go public and see whether reading about her problem in print does anything to propel her toward the hardware section of her local home décor store.

But I will protect her identity, and just call her Raquel.

Over the past 15 years or so, Raquel has been steadily making improvements in her home. She started out with an oddly-shaped, old New England house, a terrific house, but cramped and dimly lit. The first big improvement was putting in a big wall of windows on one end of the kitchen, with a window seat, which is where her plants live in the wintertime.

After this initial improvement, I gave her lots of positive reinforcement, told her how great the window looked, and then gently steered her into the living room, clearing my throat. "Um, and what are your plans for those curtain rods?" I said, striving for a casual tone.

We both looked up at the curtain rods. There they were, the little white metal rods popularly known as "café rods," but which are more accurately known as "those-really-cheap-little-things-you-used-in-your- dorm-room-when-the-only-thing-you-had-for-a-curtain-was-an-Indian-bedspread."

"You really think it would do anything to change them?"

I leveled my gaze at her. "Undoubtedly."

Time passed. Her daughter entered grade school; I moved to California. The curtain rods were still there when I moved back four years later.

Then came the downstairs bath and kitchen remodel, for which Raquel agonized over everything from faucets to light switch plates. She consulted with another friend known for her color sense. She lugged home box loads of tile samples.

Once again, when the work was done, I told her great it all looked. And then: "How about those curtain rods in the living room?"

"Oh, yeah. You really think that would help?"

Another gaze leveled.

The years passed. She got married. The curtain rods stayed.

Then came the upstairs remodel; a new bedroom, complete with a view of the lake (in wintertime) and a special little crow's nest room at the top of the house, just big enough for one person and a laptop.

"Great. Now, what about those curtain rods?"

"Huh. You think I should replace them? Couldn't I just get new curtains?"

Her daughter left for college. The curtain rods went nowhere.

In the living room, she installed first one gorgeous Oriental carpet, and then another one. She replaced the tired old sofa and chair with some great furniture. She even ditched the 1970s over-sized lounging pillow with the silk tassels.

"This place looks like a whole new house," I said when I saw this final makeover. "It's amazing. And the wall color!" She'd painted the formerly white walls a deep burgundy, with cream trim, perfectly enhancing the colors in the Oriental carpet and the new sofa.

And, you guessed it: still with the terrible little curtain rods, now laden with nice cotton tab curtains, sagging even more heavily in their middles, threatening to just give up and collapse at the slightest breeze.

So what is the problem here? It's a frightful thought to think that my best friend in life, my surrogate sister, my confidant, could so steadfastly refuse to see the one rather minor, very easy improvement that would make a huge difference in her home.

Even more frightful: the thought that I too may have a blind spot worthy of public humiliation lurking somewhere in my home's décor.

And so I offer this article, hoping against hope that Raquel's curtain rod blind spot will be magically healed, and hoping against hope that she'll try to wrest from me my own tenaciously-held beliefs about my home's interior decoration. I mean, maybe, just maybe, it really is time to get rid of that once-white bookcase I've had since college.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Design

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