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Transom Trouble
Designing Dilemmas - December 2007

Transom Trouble

Dear Debbie: I have a 15" transom window over my double front doors. At night you can see the family ascending/descending the staircase from the street. I do not like blinds from the road. I prefer a sheer valance but can not find one that works in the dimension of the window. It appears I would have to use a door panel but the rods would then be on the sides to "stretch" the panel sideways. I believe this may look funny. Any suggestions? Marguerite

Dear Marguerite: Yes, those transom windows are a problem! On the one hand, you don't want to cover up a nice architectural feature that allows more light into your foyer and upstairs hall. On the other hand, you don't want to block out all the light with a window covering that's hard to reach and can't be opened or closed. It is a small, rectangular window and you're absolutely right- stretching fabric across the width of the window can look awkward.

I have two suggestions for you that do not involve fabric or window hardware. First, if you like stained glass, this would be a great place for a rectangular piece sized so that it is just big enough to mount on the transom window frame. The decor would look great inside and out; you'd keep the light coming through and you'd totally distort the view from the outside in, eliminating your privacy problem. My second recommendation is simpler and cheaper- window film. Window film sticks to the actual transom glass and, like film, filters the view so that light remains, but you and your family have total privacy. Window film comes in all styles, colors and patterns. You can even get film that looks like stained glass, but is actually a thin coating applied directly to the glass itself. Best of all, you can do this yourself with a step stool and scissors. Check out www.wallpaperforwindows.com.

Pop Art

Dear Debbie: I have undertaken a renovation of my downstairs which includes the kitchen and family room. I like what I have done so far with the help of a friend, but it still needs accessories and artwork on the walls. I need some ideas of where to shop to find unique and unusual items without spending a fortune. My design style is a mix of traditional and transitional. Jane

Dear Jane: Two of my favorite sources for wall art are www.art.com and www.posters.com. Both offer posters and prints, framed and unframed at bargain basement prices. I advise that you choose what you like, unframed, and then make it uniquely yours by choosing your own custom matting and framing from your favorite local source. A really cheap poster can make a fabulous and even expensive-looking focal point with the right mat and frame.

I always like to mix up the display. Place some items directly on the wall with picture hooks and other items leaning on display shelves. Even if all your accessories are under glass frames, mixing up the way it is displayed will add the interest and variety. Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Teen and Pottery Barn Kids offer display shelving in all sizes, wood finishes and paint finishes. Don't overlook the kid catalogs- I get great painted display shelves from this source.

Kensington and Frederick Maryland both offer a wide variety of unique antique and consignment stores full of other wall choices at very affordable prices. Amish-style metal barn stars make a great Fold Art accent for walls and fireplace mantels. Empty picture frames arranged in groups on colorful walls are always an interesting choice. Bird cages can hang from hooks that are wall and ceiling mounted. Group mirrors along a stairs or down a long hallway. Mounted textiles will also work on shelving and walls. Got a great embroidered pillow cover with no pillow form to put inside? Put a hard piece of fiberboard inside the case and now you can mount the pillow cover on the wall or lean it on a display shelf. Colorful plates and platters do well on shelving or, invest in a few small acrylic table top easels to show off china, porcelain and ceramics.

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