Sunday, December 16, 2012

Half-round hell

It's the bane of every suburban tract home owner's design existence: the half-round or half-circle window.
Example configurations screengrabbed from this Supreme Windows site.
They look great on paper.  They even look great in your exterior facade.  But how in the heck are you supposed to dress them?!

Here (gulp) is some of what the internet offers up in the way of ideas, almost all of them pathetic in my opinion:
You can install these plantation-style arch shutter-y things, but my issues with these are as follows:
(1) They look very traditional, and our house is transitional to contemporary, so they won't fit this style.
(2) Almost all of them are fixed in place and un-openable.  Why even have something that blocks the window entirely?  I like being able to look at the sky through my office half-round, even though it's a pain in the butt when the sun is shining directly through it. 
(3) They are frightfully expensive. 
Screengrabbed from this eDirect Blinds site.
Sorry - I cannot look at any tie-back or swagged drapery and not think "1970".  This is a room where Sean Connery as James Bond could walk in and not look the slightest bit out of place.  No thanks. 
Screengrabbed from this TLC site.
There are cellular-style shades in fixed or moveable configurations, but they are expensive - I've been quoted around $300, just for the half-round portion, not for the cellular shade in the rectangular window below it.  I don't like my window enough to spend that much money on it.  The window itself did not cost that much!!

Also, I do not recommend cellular shades in general.  I invested big bucks in some at a previous house circa 1995 when they were first becoming very popular, and I found that bugs would crawl inside the cells and poop there, leaving unsightly little brown dots that made permanent stains.  So I ended up with a slight smattering of poop polka-dots in my way-too-expensive top-down-bottom-up shades.  Ugh. 

Screengrabbed from this Symphony Shades site. 
Love this, "A" for originality, and it would look great with a more contemporary-styled home.  It appears to have been someone's custom idea.  However, as much as I like it, it would not work in my application because my issue is direct sunlight coming straight through my half-round and screwing up my computer display. 
Screengrabbed from this Amaysn Creations site.
This looks like something my Grandma would have had, and she passed away 25 years ago.  I loved my Grandma very much, but my house has no place looking like hers did.
Screengrabbed from this Adjustaview site
This is palatable, but way too traditional for our house, and this half-round option would not block enough direct sun. 
Screengrabbed from this Houzz site.
Again, very traditional, but tasteful, at least.
Screengrabbed from this Drapery Design blog site
Grandma strikes again, big time.
Run for your lives!!
Same URL as above. 
Four out of ten?!
These voters are wa-ay too generous!! 
Screengrabbed from this KeywordPictures site.
This is one of the very few examples I found on the internet showing a drapery configuration that might be adaptable to contemporary-transitional styles.  However, this approach works best to unify multiple arched windows in proximity, and I only have one standalone window. 
Screengrabbed from this Proctor Drapery and Blinds site.
Tract home design trauma!!!  HELLLLP!!!  Now it looks like someone's Grandma is hiking up her skirts!! 
Silver alert!!
Screengrabbed from this Houzz site. 
I inflicted the above pile of visual misery upon you for a specific reason: I needed to soften you up to the possibility that there just aren't any good options right now for dressing a half-round window in a transitional-style home.  Which maybe justifies your forgiveness of me for living with the likes of this for quite some time now:
Oh my gosh.  Read it and weep: that's a manila file folder thumb-tacked to the drywall.  But as pathetic as it is, it scarcely looks worse than some of the very expensive "custom" examples I showed above.

 I can't have direct sunlight on my computer monitors.  I initially hung that piece of stained glass in there trying to cut down on some of it, but it wasn't large enough or the correct shape. (Incidentally, that's a very old stained-glass window I bought in Taos New Mexico for two whole dollars many years ago, back before it was considered uber-cool to hang out in Taos New Mexico).   
I've heard Genevieve Gorder say that, if you have an arched window, just bite the bullet and run your draperies all the way up above it, because there's really not a single other thing you can do to dress it.  But I find that approach looks much better in a traditional rather than a transitional design, and it also looks much better if there are a number of windows in series, such as in the example pics given above.  I'm not yet sure that I want to do that here with this one standalone office window.  I've held the curtain rod in place above this half-round, and it just looked a bit... weird.  Especially because I'm aiming to keep very minimalistic thin drapery panels just to frame the window but not add a lot of weight.

But obviously a tacked manila file folder isn't the kind of option I want to keep long-term either, so I was able to at least come up with a slightly better interim functional solution, as follows:
I know that's bizarre, but it's a giant paper and bamboo folding hand fan and it's just balanced there on the top of the casement without being attached. 
Oddly enough, it doesn't look as bad as theory would predict.  The fan is a shade of white that matches the two-inch blinds perfectly, and the spines are natural bamboo of a color that matches the furniture. 

And I can also do this with it:
Most of my issue is with the direct sun streaming in through the right side of this window, so I can simply tip the fan over to block just that side.  And then simply remove it entirely when the sun is not being a problem. 
It would have been nicer if I could have found a fan as wide as the window, but this is the largest plain white one that the internet would yield.  And here's the best part: it was less than twenty bucks including shipping

That particular solution was probably underwhelming for you, so I'll reveal another of my prototypes.  I love to re-purpose "found objects" from around the home.  The creative thought process helps to keep my middle-aged brain from ossifying. 
Do you remember those desk-top "photo trees" that were popular for about fifteen seconds back around the year 2000?  They cost about ten bucks apiece and were made of metal (here, a stainless steel-looking metal that matches my drapery hardware) and you could insert cards or print photos or any other two-dimensional object into the clips and bend the "arms" into any desired configuration.  Well, here, I bent the arms into a semi-circle and I cut circles out of white cardstock, just for the prototype.  It wouldn't stop all the direct sun from frying my eyeballs, but during those times of year when the sun doesn't impinge upon this half-round, it could be used to diffuse the cross-lighting. 

I'm not done playing with this design yet.  I could make the circles a bit larger and black to match the drapery panels.  I could make them out of a translucent polyethylene or Lexan.  There are many as-yet-unexplored possibilities. 

Some clever bugger is going to find this photo on the internet, realize what a gold mine this represents within the obvious consumer retail vacuum, and figure out how to make a million bucks from it. 
Here's a close-up of the base.  The old photo tree is simply sitting on the top rail of the two-inch blinds.  It couldn't be easier. 
This idea is reminiscent of the Pottery Barn retro-looking starburst mirror produced a few years ago but since discontinued.  I have long jones'd for one of these, but could never see my way clear to spending five hundred dollars on a mirror.  These things were such design home runs I have seen prices in the aftermarket exceeding the original retail price by 20% to 30%.  There were knock-offs produced but nothing I've ever seen could hold a candle to the artistry of this one, hence the price. 

So I decided not to spring for such a wildly-expensive mirror, but I've been on the look-out for ways to incorporate a similar feel into my home, in some location, using some other element that echoes this idea.  Repurposing my un-used photo tree such as I've started to experiment with above... that might be the solution.  For ten whole dollars plus whatever the "burst" circles cost me. 
So, no runaway design coup with this blog post, but at least I've come up with a few new ideas for dressing half-round windows:  one crudely-functional solution and one other potential artistic adaptation.  Those will have to do until my fertile imagination can refine a better option.  And when I figure out what would work best here in a more permanent sense, I will post about it. 

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