ombre pinterest fail

Some people say cleanliness is next to godliness but I’ll be honest: I’m not as particular about things being clean as I am about them being in their place.  Even so, I couldn’t stand the fact that my white shower curtain liner had a mildew stain.  (I’m opening up my real life to you here.)  Never mind the fact that I wrung out the curtain every morning and washed it repeatedly; that stubborn pale orange line would not fade.

stained curtain

“Well,” I thought, “if you can’t beat ’em….”  (This is a recurring theme in my apartment-bathroom philosophy.)  I decided to dye the curtain orange.  Orange ombre, as a matter of fact.  This trend looks fun; I thought I’d try my hand at it.  Take that, unsightly mildew stain!  Rendered invisible by Sunshine Orange RIT dye.  Now who’s stealing the show?

wet fabric in sink

I stuffed the whole curtain into the kitchen sink to get it wet, per the instructions I read three or four times to make sure I had everything on hand and fully understood the steps involved.  I may or may not have audibly talked myself through the steps before beginning.  (Okay, I did.)  When the fabric was wet and gently wrung out, I draped it over a tension rod suspended over the sink.

wet fabric hanging over sink

I pushed the fabric to one side and filled the other side of the sink with steaming hot water, a cup of salt, and a bottle of dye.  I stirred until there were no more salt crystals and no more swirls of dye; everything reached a vibrant homogeneity.  When doing this step, I heartily recommend gloves without holes in them.

dyed finger

I rest my case.

fabric dipped in orange dye

Then I lowered in a portion of the curtain.  I let it sit for 25 minutes before lowering in a little more fabric.  That sat for 15 minutes before I plunged in the rest.  I think I gave that portion five minutes.  Then I rinsed the curtain in cool water, per the instructions, and hung it over a tarp to dry.

fabric fully submerged in orange dye

Does it feel weird to cover half your kitchen with a tarp?  Yes, it does.  Does it make your heart sink to your toes when you see that the project to which you just devoted an hour has emerged a complete failure?  Yes again.

finished project hung to dry

Not only was the ombre effect very slight, but the middle of the fabric bore unsightly blotches.  I was a little indignant.  None of the blog tutorials I read had warned about this.  I had stuck my gloved hand in the water (obviously) to make sure there were no undissolved bits of salt or anything in the sink.  (And I cleaned the sink before beginning, my opening comment notwithstanding.)  Ugh!  How to redeem this mess?

color contrast {orange}

Turns out there was a noticeable color difference between the top and bottom of the curtain, but not as dramatic as I expected.  And that gradation was no consolation–the curtain was still ruined, in my opinion.  And I had an orange finger.  Bugger!  I had to go to work; no time to fret or craft a Plan B.

While working I landed upon what I thought was a redeeming solution: I would re-dye the curtain a darker color, absorbing those spots into oblivion.  After work I dashed to Hobby Lobby and bought Scarlet dye.  How romantic!  How dark!  For an hour–an hour!–I stood there stirring constantly while watching Season Three of Modern Family.  (Okay, constantly except for a few seconds off to snap this picture.)

fabric in scarlet dye

And what do you think, but the scrumptious shade of scarlet turned PINK after I rinsed it.  PINKER after I laundered it just to see if that would save the day.  And it still had those damn spots.  (I’m claiming that’s a literary reference.  Bonus points to whoever identifies it in the comments–honor system: no Googling.)

What’s even worse: the next morning when I showered, the pink curtain stained the side of the tub!  I bought a new white curtain.  I still have the old one but its lot in life remains undecided while I scrub with bleach, a cleaning supply I did not own until this happened.

pink fabric = fail

This one’s going down as a definite Pinterest Fail.  See more here.  If nothing else, they make you feel better about botched attempts at domestic mastery.

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layering it on

coffee table, couch, end table, bookshelf, with view into dining room

As you know, the living room is gradually graduating to a more restrained color palette than it displayed before.  That in no way means less fun–orange is involved, for goodness’ sake!  But I’m trying to balance orange’s energy with plenty of blue serenity.  To that end, I found a gorgeous pillow sham at a thrift/gift store and snapped it up to add to my emerging collection of patterned textiles.

exotic patterned pillow sham

Isn’t she a beauty?  That pattern!  That color!  That crisp border!  Just love it.  And as you can see from the first photo, the sham easily blended in to what was already happening in the room.  I have to show you what was on its tag, though, because this makes me laugh:

tag from pillow sham

It says, “International purple pillow sham $3.50.”  International?  Like, Indian, maybe?  The vagueness is funny to me, on par with a clothing item having “sexy” on the tag–think “sexy black t-shirt.”  Like that adjective will seal the deal somehow.  And purple?  I could see indigo or, at a stretch, maybe even periwinkle, but I don’t see purple.  Fussing aside, one part of the tag I had no problem with was the price.  Without waste, I “got rid of” a green pillow that didn’t fit well in the new color scheme while, without expense, I “added” a blue and white pillow in its place.  Sweet deal if you ask me.

Here’s the other side of the room.  I keep asking it what it needs, but, as all sane people understand, walls do not talk.  I think this wall secretly wants some art.  What kind of art it wants is the impenetrable part of the mystery.

daybed with coffee table in foreground and bike in background

Speaking of mysteries, I will never figure out why my neighbors throw away stuff like this.  Did you notice it in the background of the first photo? (Finds like this lamp and these chairs lead me to suspect that I have the best Dumpster in the city.)  I just have to figure out what to do to the lamp’s shade, because you know me: a virgin shade cannot last long here.  (Exhibit A; Exhibit B.)  The word “strie” goes through my mind every time I look at this.  Think it would work?  But I guess I better repaint the shelf first.  Most of the red paint I hastily slapped on came right off in the summer humidity.  I tell myself, “One project at a time…” but that’s about as realistic as saying, “Just one cookie.”  You know how it goes.

Ikea lamp from Dumpster

single curtain seeks mate

You may remember that I finally found a perfect-enough curtain for the bedroom window.  If you forgot, or never heard about it in the first place, no worries; I will bring you up to speed.  (Click here for the original story about how this curtain became The One.)  Here it is pulled across the window.  That looked okay.

one curtain, covering whole window

What looked slightly less okay was the curtain in its only possible “open” position, but I better explain the reason for that position.  Our apartment came with ridiculous, ugly, and out-of-date drapes on a pulley.  Kind of like drapes in a cheap motel, though thankfully not patterned like an ’80s bedspread.  I never liked them but I did adapt to living with them–until I started updating the bedroom.  Then they just had to go.  Technically we’re supposed to get our landlord’s OK to change the curtains, but I’d rather not risk being told no.

one curtain, open {pulled to center of window}

I’m keeping the originals nicely folded in a closet and figuring that as long as what faces out is white (like the originals) no one will be the wiser except the pest control and maintenance guys–the only staff who see this room from the inside–and they don’t care.  But the rod for the old drapes has a fairly sophisticated attachment I don’t want to recreate upon moving out, so I tried to work with it.  I attached the shower-curtain rings over the rod.  There was just one problem.  The sliders that allow the drapes to open and close aren’t removable.  The rings aren’t wide enough to slide over them.  So the only way to rig this curtain was to use the pulley to move the sliders to the middle, then attach six rings on each side of the sliders.  Thus, the only possible way to have the curtain open is to slide the sides into the awkward position above.

After trying to pretend I was okay with that look, I decided I should add another curtain.  Drama ensued.  The curtain was out of stock at my local Target.  It was an “in-store-only” product.  When I went back a few days later they still didn’t have it, even though the person I talked to when I first learned of the shortage assured me that more were coming.  I might have sighed a hundred times and scoured the web like a madwoman.  I know it’s dumb.  It’s just that moderation has left me stranded more than once.  I’ve learned that if I find something compelling, as long as the price is right I should commit without hesitation.  I was kicking myself for saying, “One is enough…I think” and not buying a second one just in case.  It was a few weeks before I found the same curtain in stock again, to my immense (probably disproportionate) relief.  Weird fact: they had changed the packaging.

packages for curtains bought at different times

These two curtains are very happy together.  Much like Lovey and me, they part ways in the morning and come together again in the evening.  And I think it works.  I’ve tried not to insist on rigid symmetry in this apartment’s decor, but in this room I think symmetry is the best look, and I think my curtains are both relieved to have found a partner with whom they have so much in common.

two curtains, open {pulled to sides}

How about you?  Are you attracted to mirror-image matching or unfussy asymmetry?  Have you ever regretted not buying an extra of something, or not buying something at all?  (I still fantasize about a pair of purple pineapple lamps I walked away from in a thrift store.  They would have been so perfect!)  Have you ever waited to buy something and then been unable to get it when you were ready?  How do you decide when to go for a purchase and when to exercise a little patience?