DAY 10 Update, Don't Renovate Challenge: Dress (or Undress) Your Windows

Forgive me if I start rage-ing again with this post. This is one of those hot button topics for me because it’s something I just don’t understand why people do something in particular which I’ll get to in a minute.

Today’s challenge is:

I get a lot of questions about windows and how to dress them. Well, for one I often times wonder WHY!? Why do they need to be dressed? I don’t have curtains or shades on every window in my house. There’s no reason to do that.


WHY? Really? I’ll give you that if you are maybe in a high crime area or a very urban setting with lots of prying eyes wandering by. But, seriously not every window needs to be covered. Not even the bathroom has to have shades. My bathroom doesn’t have shades because it is up high and no one is going to be able to look in at me. I took the blinds off my mother-in-law’s hall bath which was a bit of a debate between us and several of you. The thing is even the tallest person wouldn’t be showing any boobies with the height of the window. There’s a block wall 3 feet away outside. The neighbor’s next door don’t have windows on that side of the house and you would barely be able to even see someone’s face from their front door. The blinds that were there before made the room very dark. Unnecessary. See more about this bathroom here.

Here we have Joe from Constructed Matter demonstrating the height of the window and that literally someone would have to come into the backyard and around the side of the house to a very narrow walkway to be able to see inside. Admittedly, creepy. But, likely not happening. Still makes me laugh, though. I probably just refuted all of that info with that photo. Oh well. Had to add it when I came across it.


Here in Phoenix, and many parts of the country, that is definitely something to consider. But, if your window faces North or South and/or has an overhang outside, why do you need to cover it? Sure a little heat will come in bc it’s 120 degrees out, but that doesn’t mean we should live like a hermit. I would contend that getting some sunlight is more important than maximum home efficiency.

And this is where I lose my mind. I walk into client’s or friend’s houses and all of the curtains are closed. The plantation shutters (gah can’t stand those) are closed. The blinds and shades are down or even worse the blinds are down but open so you feel like in a sideways jail cell. Then, they wonder why it feels so dark in their home. They ask what color to paint. Should they get new floors? Should they knock down walls….NO.




It’s one thing if you aren’t home, but if you are, open those puppies! The first thing I do in the morning is open all of our curtains again. Even in the bedroom where likely I won’t return until nighttime. The reason is 1. plants need sun and 2. humans need sun 3. when the bedroom curtains stay closed, it feels like a the house has a black hole.

Whenever I go to someone’s house and they have plantation shutters, I recommend they get rid of them. A lot of people here in Phoenix and Scottsdale have them in their house. The problem is that the slats always break so they stay closed OR it’s just too much work to open and close them all the way. They’re cumbersome. They bang into each other. They’re awkward. Even if you open the slats, still 60% of the window is covered. Open them all the way and you feel like you’ve just been released from prison.

The blinds I am also not a fan. It feels like a jail cell when they are partially open. Even partially drawn shades can feel impeding if they aren’t pulled up high enough.

Ok enough of my rage-y complaining. Look. Just open your shit up. Let there be light.

STEP 1: Take down unnecessary, broken, ugly or daylight window dressings

But, what about some curtains. I do like a nice light and airy white curtain (duh) to straddle a window to soften the look. It takes the “edge” off. I also like them for a little privacy at night. If you have a front window that faces the street, try some white light curtains. DON’T KEEP THEM DRAWN ALL DAY IF YOU ARE HOME. It feels like you are adding walls to your house. Nobody cares what you are doing in your home unless you are putting on a show if you know what I mean.

My favorite cheap white curtains (bc of course white) are from IKEA. At this point I’ve bought so many that when I make the trip to IKEA (grrrr), I buy like 5 sets of them because i don’t want to have to go back anytime soon. I put them in all of my houses where blackout shades aren’t needed. That’s mostly the reason I bother to go to IKEA, anyway is just for curtains. The Vivan curtains are only $12.99 for a pair.

*Side note: the following bedroom is a staged bedroom in a flip, hence no blackout curtains.

I love that I don’t have to be bothered with choosing a pattern and trying to live with it for longer than a minute. These never get old. They’re also 98” long which always seems to be trouble for me when I go to buy curtains and they are all 84” long. I’m looking at you Target.

Anyway, let’s get to the important stuff in my opinion. BLACKOUT CURTAINS. I don’t have the mind space to get deep into why one should have blackout shades on their windows but let’s just say SLEEP LIKE YOU DO IN A HOTEL ROOM (or a FilppinWendy Airbnb). There is all the info out there about Circadian clock/rhythms and science, but I dislike science majorly. My husband gives me the lowdown and I understand the gist of it but can’t regurgitate bc science so maybe some day I will interview him. For now just believe that a dark AF room is best for sleeping. Anyway, if you aren’t on the sleep is cool bandwagon then have you been under a rock? New moms get a break on this one but I must tell you, the minute we put blackout curtains on my daughter’s windows when she was a baby was the minute she started to sleep through the night. Point proven.

So, the good stuff is that I finally found some decent blackout curtains at a reasonable length and price. They even come in extra wide versions that have wide windows to cover. At West Elm they run in the hundreds. Amazon’s got you though. I buy these for all of my Airbnbs now and even myself! At the bottom of this post are my favorite budget friendly window treatment options.

Affiliate links ahead.

You’ll notice in the photo of my bedroom, we not only have blackout curtains, but we also have honeycomb blackout shades. YES we are serious about our dark AF room. These things are great because they pull down and up so easily, without a cord. My favorite part is that they fold up nicely at the top of the window and all but disappear leaving me with all the sunshine and view to take in. When they shut they still let in a teeny bit of light on the sides which is bound to happen since there must be room to move up and down freely. Hence the curtains. They work together.


For curtain hardware i tend to frequent Target the most often. They have some good options including the wrap around the corner industrial style curtain rod. It makes it so the curtain can be closed on the sides, too for shutting out all of the light with blackout curtains. See my favorites below.

Be sure to hang curtains at a level above the window and far enough outside the window to feel like the curtains aren’t squeezing the window too tight. There is tons of info about this out in the interwebs but that is just how i think of it. i don’t want the curtains to feel like a tight wig on my window. The curtains in my bedroom feel too tight on the sides as they are and need to be changed. Go back and check for yourself. If my curtain is open, i don’t want my window to be covered at all on the sides and it is. It must be change.

STEP 2: Change out your window dressings to meet the needs of the room: prettier, lighter, blackout, higher hung, wider hung, easier to open, less prison like.

So break out your measuring tape.

Hang your curtains high.

Hang them wide.

Give your window some space to breath.

Open the curtains and shades up.

Get some sun.

Don’t be a hermit.


Click here to see the full list of challenges!

Kitchen Redesign: A Rustic Modern Kitchen

When we're not renovating houses, we're doing new designs for those who want to tackle the renovations on their own. A client asked us to put together something for her dining room and kitchen. She filled out our quick questionnaire and sent us some photos. Game on!

The Needs

"We need to move the washer/dryer- with this, we will be re-designing the eat in space of the kitchen. We're also looking to update the kitchen cabinets and floor. We don't have an extensive budget, but we are learning to be handy. We recently moved in to this house, and there's a chance we may move again in the next 5 years. So, we're looking for something functional for our family but not too custom that could potentially hurt the resale appeal. We are hoping to paint the kitchen cabinets white and change the floor of the kitchen."

The Room

Laundry closet in kitchen

The Design

When I saw this kitchen and dining area, I immediately knew what to do. Simple and clean lines of white cabinets and white backsplash would appeal to many buyers and won't be out of style within her 5 year timeline. A hint of color in the furnishings and window treatments would add a little fun without any permanency. 

The Roadmap 

  1. Cabinets: Let’s start with the most important part. We recommend leaving most of the cabinets, but paint them a nice crisp white. Behr’s Ultra Pure White is a good choice. To open up the space a bit, remove the cabinets to the left of the window, eliminating the awkward and bulky cabinet that sticks out over the peninsula. Ideally, the soffit would go, too but that could be costly. It’s ok to stay as it is. 
  2. Counters and Door Hardware: From your photos, it appears that you have black granite counters and stainless cabinet pulls/hinges that could remain and work with the new look.
  3. Flooring: To get the rustic look, use a tile that looks like worn wood. It will hold up well with the traffic in the kitchen and dining area. 
  4. Backsplash: Tile the backsplash with a simple white subway tile. It is classic, modern and inexpensive. White grout will give it a clean, simplistic look while a dark gray grout will give it a little more interest. Carry the backsplash from the refrigerator on the right, all the way to the peninsula on the left of the sink. We recommend carrying it all the way to the soffit where the cabinets to the left of the sink used to be. 
  5. Shelving: Replace the cabinets that were removed with open shelving. We like black brackets with a pine board painted white on top. If you will use the shelves for dishes, make sure it is deep enough to hold your dinner plates (10-12”). Keep the items on the shelves to a few neutral items to keep from looking cluttered. 
  6. Faucet: Replace the faucet with a modern stainless goose neck version.
  7. Laundry: Decide on whether to move the laundry to the basement. Several things to consider are: 
    • Do she really need more storage in the kitchen? 
    • Will moving the laundry to the basement be a huge inconvenience being further from the bedrooms?
  8. Closet: If she does decide that she'd like more storage in the kitchen and move the laundry to the basement, consider installing the same wire shelving that is in the pantry. This closet could be used to house small appliances such as the stand mixer, bulky serving ware and other items not used daily. Also good for this closet would be supplies used on the dining table for homework or craft time.
  9. Dining Area: A rustic wood table with a metal base will be great for meals as well as hold up to every day use. Add some interest with colorful metal chairs and an orb pendent light fixture. The rug could be used to add softness to the room, but could be left out in case kids will be dropping lots of food on it. 
  10. Windows: Bring out the bright color used in the dining chairs again in the window shades. Choose a geometric pattern that is lively for a roman shade over the kitchen sink and the same matching fabric in curtains in the dining area.

The Numbers

Along with the design and road map, she received a spreadsheet with the locations of all the items in the mood board, quantities she'll need for her space and the total cost to purchase the items for the 2 rooms. The total came to $2210, not including any labor costs and building materials.

What many of our clients do is use this as a starting point. We find middle ground priced materials at realistic costs, not best case scenarios. This way, if they find a coupon for Lowes or a similar tile at a discount store, they're going to come in under budget. Win-win!