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Saturday, 4 August 2018

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
BEFORE... natural light at a "hot" cost...
Are you a fan of skylights?

I am, to a degree... which is both a play on words and the theme of this post.

To me, having a lot of natural light is a necessity for my well-being. There is a spot on the main floor of our house where one can see through large windows in three different directions; this abundance of natural light means that we don't have to turn on lights of the electrical sort at all during the summer.

That said, about ten years ago, we had tinted UV film installed on the southwest windows, as the heat passing through them was making our AC have to work all that much harder.

I briefly thought about DIY-ing that film on the skylight in our vacation home, then decided that it would be a headache given the shape of the dome and its placement beneath two "beams". Not to mention that that UV film stuff is not necessarily cheap.

When we dropped in for a short visit in June, the temperature was nearing 30 degrees (86-ish for my US readers) and inside our tin can trailer — yep, no fancy cabin for us; our vacation home is one of those dwellings that twisters love to toss around — it was just plain hot, despite our portable air conditioner chugging away valiantly. Had we been able to turn on the unit in the morning, the result would have been different, but we didn't get there until the mid-afternoon and by then, it was not a game that we were going to win.

The next day, for the first time since we've owned this place, I stared up at the skylight in the kitchen and deemed it the enemy. The heat that came beating down on me as I stood underneath it may be welcome during the winter, but certainly not now.

In came the ladder and some pieces of cardboard, with the following result.

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
Blocking the heat, but also blocking out the light...

It was not an optimal result by any means. Having the cardboard block out everything (as in the middle) left the kitchen dismally dark. Leaving openings (as on the two sides) still allowed the heat to come in while dialing down the light significantly.

Not to mention that it didn't look great.

We decided that we wanted a permanent solution that could be adjusted — i.e., opened and closed, preferably easily and without the help of a ladder — and that would still allow light to filter through.

To the internet I would go... once we got home. (No internet out there apart from hubby's cell phone plan.)

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Surprisingly — or maybe not — several solutions popped up online, including one that was for the very same skylight configuration. (High probability that it might be the same vintage of trailer!) This was found on instructables.com from member tnt.thomas.

image courtesy of Tim Thomas via instructables.com...

It's a (vinyl?) table cloth cut into three sections and strung across three wooden rods per opening. While I appreciated the concept, the need to do all that measuring and cutting put me off. I also didn't want to have to reach waaay up with a broom stick handle to open and close this thing. (This skylight is built into a vaulted ceiling, so accessing the interior rim where the rods would have to be balanced is too high to reach without help of some kind.)

After a bit of browsing, I decided that my solution would be a double rod pocket curtain installed on the ceiling around the skylight. My parents' old house had a side door with a window on the top half of it that had the exact same setup: a ruffled, gathered, semi-sheer panel stretched between two rods. (You might be familiar with the full length ones on French patio doors, commonly with a "waist band" in the middle.)

To execute this, I would only need approximate measurements, which — she admits sheepishly — was all I had from when I measured quickly for the temporary cardboard solution.

Sash curtain rod...
The width of the whole skylight is about 72". The length/height was about 30".

The first thing I did was source out a couple of sash curtain rods. These are from Lowes; they are adjustable from 48" to 84" and were $5.99 each on sale. Then I went to a liquidation/discount store and picked up a beige-y 55" wide x 95" long sheer curtain panel for $7. (Turns out I could have gotten one at Dollarama for even less, but I'm thinking the one I have is of higher quality.)

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
Light filters in and heat is reduced!

All I had to do with the curtain was cut off the top header section of grommets (about 4") and then divide the remainder into two halves, each about 45.5" high by 55" wide. I needed it to cover 30"; I went with 32" just to be safe.

This meant that I had 6.75" (45.5 - 32 = 13.5 / 2 = 6.75) of material along the top and bottom to convert into a rod pocket. It's actually not a whole lot considering that you usually want quite a bit of ruffle above the opening, but I wasn't looking to be high fashion about it.

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
Reverse angle view...

Simple coverage was the goal. It is, after all, just a mobile home. ;-)

To create the rod pocket, I merely folded the material over itself on the wrong side, hand-basted it down, and then ran two rows of stitching to create the opening for the rod, which in this case was 7/16" in diameter. It's an easy sewing project if there ever was one.

The rule of thumb for curtains is to have them be at least twice as wide as the width of the opening (in this case, 72" x 2 = 144"). My 55" panels only gave me 110", but again, I wasn't looking for high fashion.

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
Opening and closing — if needed — can be accomplished by standing on a chair...

Last week, we returned to the scene of the problem to see if my handiwork was do-able. As you can see from the photos, it is infinitely do-able!

Installing the sash rods was a cinch. A couple of screws on either end and it's done. The rod slides into a clip and can be unclipped easily.

DIY a Skylight Curtain for $20
AFTER... light with less heat...

We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of heat that can be blocked by a sheer curtain. Light-wise, it's perfect. And the best part is that if we ever want to open the curtain to allow the full light to come in, all we have to do is hop up onto a chair. No ladders, no awkward broom sticks.

And all for only $19.93, taxes in. That's what I call a worthwhile DIY!

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Here is something else worthwhile every now and then... appreciating a glacier fed lake and snow-capped mountains while "enjoying" 30 degree heat.

Getting away from it all...

The only problem with these occasional sojourns out to commune with nature is that I have virtually no internet connectivity and no ability to sew (insofar as I don't want to lug my sewing machine and supplies out there).

Then again, maybe it's a good thing to take those breaks... until hubby declares that we must re-stain the fence!

The fence — er, the work — is never-ending...

Which we did. Such are the joys of home ownership.

1 comment:

  1. Great solution for the skylights and it looks nice too. We have 2 skylight in the entry and one in each bathroom. In our sunny climate, it's not the heat I feel as much as we get a fine powdery film of dirt seeping through the skylights when the wind blows here, which is often. Then I am always wiping down the counters. At least they don't leak when it rains and we have been having some rain lately.


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