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Friday, January 2, 2015

Could Roller Blinds Be the Perfect Midcentury Window Treatment?

Amy Lau Designs 
The window treatments really make this room, don't you think? I learned from reading the interior designer Amy Lau's comments on Houzz that the curtain fabric shown in this picture was designed by textile artist Judy Ross. I keep that bit of info tucked away for future renovations. Because my current living room isn't having it. And that's not really surprising when you consider that this apartment was built in 1946.

Midcentury architects did not think living spaces should have window treatments. They felt textiles detract from the pristine nature of the architecture. The window boxes in our home are unadorned of wood trim even, and this does add an austere symmetry to the rooms that draws attention to the spare lines of the walls and ceiling soffits. The rooms have a geometric grace that I am reluctant to disrupt, even with a fabric I love as much as Judy Ross's.

Midcentury architects, however, did not consider how much the large expanses of glass they loved so much would let in sunshine - and heat. We live on the top floor of a 6 story building overlooking the rooftops of neighboring two-story tudor homes. There's no builidng facing us or blocking our light. We don't have to worry about privacy, day or night, but we do need light blockers during the day. Though most of our windows have a eastern exposure, the light in the morning can be blinding and in summer the heat grows stifling before noon. Clearly we would need shades.

If you have non-standard size windows like we do, custom window treatments can cost upwards of $400 per window. And that is what led me to hack the Enje: Ikea Hack: Cutting the Enje Roller Blinds to Fit Your Windows.

I had installed Enje before, when I lived in Ross's apartment in Sunnyside prior to our moving here. I love the spareness, the lack of cord, and the smooth spring loaded mechanicals. Even the plastic pull on the aluminum rails is good-looking. They have the look and hand feel of a much more expensive product. And did I mention the price? $18-$35, depending on the size.

A great deal for an apartment dweller who doesn't want to invest in expensive window treatments. But even as a homeowner who might spring for a more luxurious line, I didn't see anything out there that I liked better.

The only problem: The sizes.

Enje come in a standard 64" length and variable widths of 23", 30", 32", 34", 36", 38" and 48". While most of our windows are standard 34" wide windows, the "bay" in the master bedroom has these 18" wide side windows.

And in the bathroom, a 17" wide window.

The smallest size the Enje is available in is 23" wide. But they can be easily hacked. The roller and rail are aluminum, which can be cut with a standard hack saw. The mesh can be removed from the roller and cut with a sewing scissors, then glued and stapled back onto the roller and rails.

I've done this for three of our windows. You'd never know they aren't custom made:

If you would like to hack the Enje, see my step by step instructions:

Ikea Hack: Cutting the Enje Roller Blinds to Fit Your Windows.