Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little Advice, or The Difference Between a Stud and a StudMuffin

Last summer, I came up with the most brilliant idea.

The. Most. Brilliant.

That is...until my idea literally came crashing down around my darling husband's head today.

Here's the thing. I love my house. We live in New England where every house is an adorable colonial with history and shutters. The first time I saw my current hometown, I thought two things:

1) "Wow, and I thought Gilmore Girls was fake,"


2) is that house on the left from Father of the Bride?

I was right on half. Gilmore Girls is based on my area, and they mention my town occasionally. It's awesome.

Father of the Bride on the other hand, was filmed in Pasadena, but whatever.

My house is a different story. Very. It was built by a local architect in the 1960's and it is definitely a product of its age. It is brick (very unusual around here) and originally had a flat roof - very modern. The layout is similar to a Roman villa, with three sides of the house enclosing an interior courtyard in the middle. There is lots of floor to ceiling glass and exposed brick walls. I LOVE IT. When we bought it, I tracked down the original architect to do the updating we needed. He is now 85 years old, and three years ago when I made that phonecall, he said "Well, I'm retired and I only work for old friends. At this point all my old friends are houses." He did a great job.

But let's be honest, this is Connecticut. It's gets really cold here, and double paned or not there's a heat-loss situation. Also, as wonderful as I think it is to have an entire wall of my bedroom be glass, I doubt anyone in the family really wants to be able to see straight from the dining table or living room sofa into my boudoir.

So, after almost a full year of sporting an awesome flattened-cardboard-taped-to-glass style of window treatment which I thought for sure would be a neighborhood trend-setter, I sucked it up and went curtain shopping.

Oh, the horrors.

First of all, I was clearly not made for interior design work. I like colors, and I have clear taste. But at the intersection of Indecisive and Overwhelmed, you find me. Plus, I had no idea how expensive curtains could be. For the length of curtain rod I needed, (and because it is literally as wall of glass, I needed to hang it from the ceiling) I was looking at a couple hundred dollars for a rod that looked like it was ten bucks. And that doesn't even come with a curtain!

Well, my Mama didn't teach me how to make do for nothin'!

I invented. After a few visits to Home Depot, here's what I came up with. (Disclaimer: I'm a girl, so these may not be what the things are *actually* called in the construction industry. But these names for them make sense to me. So there.)

  • 2 lengths of copper plumping pipe; 10' and 5', respectively:
  • 1 copper pipe connector sleeve
  • 3 two piece pipe hanging clamps like this one:
  • 3 double ended bolts, like these:
  • 2 copper pipe caps
  • 1 hack saw

So, I measured carefully and cut the pipe to length with the hacksaw. P was very impressed with my cutting skills.

Then, I covered up the tattered-looking end where I had just cut, as well as the nice clean other end, with the caps. I connected the two pieces of pipe with the connector thing.

Voila, curtain rod!

Next, I drilled the pointy (ei, intended for wood) end of the bolts into the ceiling* where I wanted them. I had to use three since the rod was so long and my curtain is quite heavy. Then, the other non-pointy ends of the bolts were hooked up with the pipe holder/clampy things. This made three rod-holding things hanging from the ceiling. All I had to do to finish it up was mount the rod in the clamp hangers and

Voila, a ceiling mounted curtain rod!

Now, making the curtains was a different story -- their sheer size almost defeated me. They're heavy dark mossy green chenille (gorgeous!) lined with cream colored cotton. I think I almost developed biceps from lifting them up and down. I've never felt so victorious as when I finally hung those suckers.

They looked BEAUTIFUL if I do say so myself. My real estate agent came over and was literally shocked speechless when I told her I made the all by myself.

Here's a picture of the final product:

Not too shabby for a girl with limited power tool experience, eh? See how the small copper pipe just disappears up there, and even matches the more reddish tones of the cork floor? Don't you think the visible bolts give it a kind of industrial-chic? Yes. You do.

*You knew there was a catch, right? Well, here it is. You see, when I told you that I drilled the bolts into the ceiling, I was being honest. I just drilled those suckers in. No pre-drilled holes for me, no way. More importantly though, no drywall anchors or stud-finding either.

Who needs a stud, you ask, when I have P hanging around all the time? I would ask myself the same question if my own Studmuffin hadn't gotten brained this morning when one of the bolts stripped out of the ceiling drywall, bringing down the curtain rod and 30lbs of curtain with it.

Currently the rod is wedged up with a book holding it in place, patiently waiting for me to install the drywall anchors, since the idea of moving the bolts to studded locations and thus mess up the zen of my curtain pulls is about as appealing as chimney sweeping.

Tomorrow, I install the anchors. Then everything will be fine.

Right? RIGHT??


  1. Enjoyed this! I'm surprised the pipe (which looks like 1/2" L- or M- type) would hold the weight without bending. K-type would probably do...

  2. Neat project. Even the thin wall stuff is pretty strong, likely stronger than a cheap aluminum curtain rod. I have seen pictures of furniture made from copper pipe.

  3. L -

    I need to point out you have actual readers... hmmm...

    As for the drywall anchoring - you know where I am if you need someone to laugh at you.. I mean - help.

  4. Please-oh-please get a stud finder and attach that rod to solid wood. Drywall anchors are great on vertical surfaces, but in the ceiling you risk adding an 8 inch disk of drywall to the next husband-seeking gift from above.

    p.s. VERY cool curtain rod, by the way.