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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


Our views are so gorgeous that most of us don’t want to hide them. But sometimes a partial covering of a window is desirable to absorb sound in a concrete-and-tile room or to add a splash of color. After the occasional rain shower, keeping draperies dry can be a problem. As an alternative to vertical blinds or bamboo shades, I've used several different fabric window treatments especially for the tropics.
Draperies that won't get wet
We wanted to put a drapery in our bedroom to keep the rising sun from awakening us and to darken the room for naps. I bought plain shower curtain liners for a lining and attached them to the drape. No more wet draperies.
How to
To hang drapes lined with shower curtain liners, you need to buy the plastic rings for shower curtains. Because each side of our window is wider than a shower curtain, I bought three and cut one in half. Our window is 16 feet wide and I was delighted to find 110-inch wide material at The Fabric Store in downtown St. Thomas. One width of fabric for each side of the window meant no seams! This fabric also makes bedspreads without seams – just cut the length to hem both ends.
Make button holes in the top of the drapery material at intervals about half an inch wider than the distance between the holes in the show curtain. Grommets are commonly used in the states, but they corrode here and can stain fabric.
Overlap the half-width of shower curtain with a full shower curtain, matching up the holes if one width of shower curtain is too narrow. Secure the material to the shower curtain by simply placing the plastic rings though the holes, just as you would connect a shower curtain to its liner. The curtains hang on poles from a hardware store. Plastic shower curtain rings slide more easily back and forth on the rod than the fabric loops found in many ready-made curtains.
A splash of color
Swags are a decorative way to soften a window without hiding the view and to coordinate the colors in a room. I found some left-over material which included the colors in my living room. I split the material lengthwise as I didn’t need much width and sewed the pieces together end to end. I had some coordinating fabric left from pillow covers I had made for the sofa and lined a section of one end of the material with it.
Looped hardware at intervals along the 25-foot wide window holds the fabric. The lined end hangs a couple of feet from the first loop. We can open and close our sliding door without interfering with the swag.
Privacy treatment
Our entryway window has a lovely view of plants in the courtyard. However, by night, we prefer to have the window private. I had tried traverse rods and found they didn’t work well and are given to corrosion in the tropics, making them difficult to open and close.
I made a fabric cornice across the top of the window and under it put two widths of materials sheered onto a rod pocket with the opening in the middle. Since this window doesn’t open, we don’t have to worry about rain coming in, so I lined the material with old sheets. I bought two items shown in the picture which would hold back the fabric.
In the morning, the material is drawn back behind the hold-backs. By night, the material covers the window.
How to
To make a quick fabric cornice, you need only two regular curtain rods which stick out farther than the rod holding the drapery under it. Mount the rods about 12 to 18 inches apart, one above the other so the lower rod will cover by about three inches the top of the curtain which will go under it. Make two rod pockets in the material to match the distance between the mounted rods from top to bottom. Mount the curtains and then sheer the fabric onto the rods.
Window treatments for frequent redecoration
Upholster or paint a cornice. Staple Velcro on the inside lower edges of both corners of the cornice, about 6 inches deep and turning the corner about a foot. Gather a length of material (one half of a width) to hang on each side under the cornice and sew Velcro on the right (as opposed to wrong) side of the top of the material. The material then easily attaches to the under side of the cornice and frames in the window.
When you want to change the drapery, you don’t have to buy a lot of material. Just take one more width of fabric which coordinates with the solid color of the cornice, split it into two lengths, and attach the lengths with Velcro.
Whether you are moving to the Virgin Islands or redecorating, this column offers solutions for carefree living in a tropical home. Have a question or want to share a solution? Send it to Source@viaccess.net.

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