The Multi-faceted Natural Roman Shades
There are those times in life when you wonder if an investment you made was more a blunder that a wise decision. When Sara and I bought this little single storey, single garage 2 bedroom with attached bathrooms house downtown, it was with utter excitement that we moved in and slowly started working on it to make it a home. Though we didn’t have a backyard to speak of, we didn’t let it deter us as we had space in front for a stamp-sized lawn, which when landscaped would uplift the approach to our front door. We had a large sycamore a just inside our back fence that gave plenty of shade and blanketed our view of the space beyond. Sadly, a few weeks after we moved in, the large ground that bordered our backyard was bought up by developers and a block of apartments soon appeared, looming over our humble abode. And unfortunately, it wasn’t a very swanky set of apartments, and soon we faced the ugly grilled windows of the neighbouring apartment – both their bedrooms and kitchen! With pigeons defacing the sunshades that protected their windows, the view only grew more appalling!
We have a narrow strip of land at the back – 6 by 40 feet – and we’d never thought of doing anything to improving it as we had two double hung windows facing it from our dining space, and we’d decided to leave the windows unshaded as it got pretty dark when they were shaded. But now, we decided to put our heads together and consider a makeover that would make lounging around our very nicely done up open kitchen and dining space a pleasant experience, especially when we entertained.
The first thing we’d done when we’d moved in was to put in an Energy Star HVAC system in and overhaul the plumbing. We’d bought the place for a song, so the place was quite a dump, and we’d slowly built it up. We’d also substituted all the windows to high performance double glazed ones with low-E coatings to increase the energy efficiency of our home. Now, even though we needed to brighten up the dining area, we hesitated, because of the gross view out back. After many weeks of knocking ideas around, Sara came up the suggestion to plant bamboo along the back wall. This was because bamboo is a hardy but beautiful plant with superficial roots and would grow really fast to block the smutty view in a year or so. So we got down to it quickly, and dug a trench that was 3ft deep and 2ft wide, lined it with bricks to prevent unnecessary root growth, filled it with compost and planted 4ft tall green bamboo saplings along the entire back wall. Then we got someone to punch out a hole in the dining wall between the windows for a 5ft by 8ft pair of sliding doors. Once that was done, Sara decided she wanted to shade the windows and doors.
Pouring over the many online options for window shading initially drove her nuts! There was a multitude out there, but she finally decided on what she wanted in a couple of days. As the rest of the house was outfitted with wood blinds, we decided on the Tradewinds Natural Sheer Shades from Graber, to reflect the splendor of the bamboo we planted! They lent a decidedly exotic ambiance to the room. The bamboo was growing lush, and soon they would block the view of the apartments, and the light that now streamed in through the windows and sliding doors brightened up the room to lend a fabulously oriental feel. Privacy was not a very real necessity, so we opted for the sheer variety of natural woven shades in the standard Roman style that would fold upwards in neatly spaced out folds to stack compactly at the top of the sliding doors. We also opted for the Top-Down-Bottom-Up feature that would allow us the flexibility of lowering the shades from the top when the sliding doors were closed because the room caught the sun at a high angle. Sara opted for the Ascot Unan Umber, for its fine finish and weave, picking out the wooden accents of our dining ensemble and the borders of our otherwise white kitchen. The continuous cord loop operation was smooth and problem free, even though the length of each panel at the doors were over eight feet in length, its function enabled by a clutch system concealed in its head rail, in turn covered by a natural valance. We opted for two panels on one head rail for the doors, mounted outside the frame, and single panels for the windows, also outside mounted to coordinate with the doors. In winter, when it got decidedly nippy, we would use the thermal liners available, to help keep the heat in for energy efficiency. At the moment, they help keep the dining area remarkably cool, deflecting the unwanted heat while allowing us a view of the growing bamboo.
As the backyard looked to be taking shape, we went the extra mile and had a compact 4ft by 6ft wooden deck laid so we could step out of the dining and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, now and again. We also laid 2ft by 4ft paving slabs and put down grass and pebbles in the spaces between. Our house now looked classy and lived in, not the run down dump we bought, crappy apartment block and all!