DIY Skylight Window Shade

This is the post about my DIY Skylight Window Shade that I’ve been meaning to put together for a while now.  When we bought the new house it came with skylights – a neat feature that gives light to rooms that don’t otherwise have natural light.  Only issue is, the heat they generate is a killer when you are standing under them in the summer and the light, well, yup they provide it – even when you’d like to be sleeping.

DIY Skylight Shade Start

A beacon of light!

Sticker Shock!

One skylight is in a room directly across from the thermostat and I’ve always thought that the radiating heat from that room must have an effect my thermostat turning on.  Another is in a bedroom, not pleasant if sunrise is early.  So, one day I decided to do some research on a shade for it.  Because it is a skylight, I also looked at the remote control features – it just isn’t practical to get out the ladder each time you want to adjust.  Much like me and ice on the roof, there are stories of me and ladders.  You’d think I was uncoordinated!  Near instantly, I realized that I just can’t (or won’t) afford anything store bought.  Turns out (at least from my research) they are kinda custom done and so is the price.  I think $300 is a lot for one window.  Especially for a girl who sews.  Whoa!

Ole Fashioned Drop Back and Punt Time

So, I let the brain start down another road.  What if I sewed one myself?  I’ve made roman shades before, but they won’t work here – who wants a string hanging down?  And again, there’s the whole ladder thing if I create a hook for the string.  Sooo, French Curtains to the rescue.  Well, those and tension rods.

These might be some of the easiest curtains to sew.  All you need is the fabric, the tension rods, and a little bit of skill and knowledge.  The skill? – really just being able to sew a straight line (or reasonably close).   The cost was really inexpensive for me too.  I already had the fabric – I used an old sheet.  And the tension rods were like $3 each at either Walmart, Target or Meijer  — can’t remember which store.

Instruction Overview

I’m not perfect at step by step instructions, but here goes.  I think you’ll get the idea, as these are not very complicated.

First, measure your window, width and length.  Measure the inside opening because you are using tension rods.  You need to know the width measurement because tension rods come in different sizes.  Once you have it, go purchase some tension rods.

DIY Shade Step 1

Measure then purchase tension rods

Because you are making a pocket to slide the tension rod in, you’ll need to add additional length to the measured length.  So, for mine, I think I added an inch to each end.   You’ll also need to add to the width.  For fullness of the curtain, you’ll want to add at least 1.5 times the width – so if the width is 20 inches, you’ll want to cut for 30.  But you also need to have some side seams, so I gave mine a half inch each side.  So, for example I would cut my fabric at 31 inches.

Important – I’m leaving out the pic of cutting the fabric and a whole bit on actually sewing hems.  I’m assuming you already know.  But just in case, very quickly, iron your fabric, fold over for hem allowance, iron again.  You’ll want to at least initially sew along the cut edge (I use my serger, but you can do it with a regular machine too) and then you sew the hem allowance down.  One of my pics has a decent, but unintended shot of it.  Side seams get sewn first and then your top (where the rod will go) gets sewn next.

Slide your tension rod in.  I used two rods for this project, so for me, one in each end.  I’m guessing here that you’ve already got your tension rod measured to fit the window opening tightly.  If you didn’t, do it before you put the tension rod in the curtain pocket.  It’ll make life easier.

Skylight Curtain

Tension rod goes in pocket after hems are sewn

Tension rods now in, hang the curtain in the window.  Normally, I’d say start with the top rod first, but in this case they are hanging in the air so it didn’t matter.  Adjust to exactly where in the window casing (or frame) that you want the curtain to hang (meaning how close to the actual window) and then adjust your fullness so it looks right and you are done.

Hanging of Skylight Curtain

Place the tension rods and adjust

  The Finished Product

Finished skylight

This is how the skylight looked after I got them up.  The light coming through is now filtered. I haven’t gotten my next energy bill, but I’m hoping it made a little difference.  If nothing else, it looks better, and only cost me like $6.00.   Also, I can easily take them down or move them to one side to allow more light if I want.

A little more…

If you were to do both ends on a normal window, it could function as a shade, or you could easily move them up or down as I do in my living room.  I’ve included a  picture of that below for reference.  I needed to do something in that room and this was a quick, easy fix.  And the bonus is I can move them in any configuration I want, as I tried to show in the picture.


DIY Curtains

See how you can move them up and down?

Well, that’s it.  What do you think?  If I left anything out that you want to know more about, just leave a comment and I’ll respond.



PS – check out one of the sites that I link “or blog hop party” with.. Carrie This Home

Easy Woodwork Refresh

Woodwork Refresh, Door

My sad, worn, woodwork

I’ve always gotten a lot of wonderful comments on the woodwork in my home.   I favor the natural (or stained) look versus the painted variety and most of the comments center around the how really  nice it always looks.  I came to appreciate that when I moved into the new house.  The woodwork was scratched, marked and lacking a finish in spots.   Worn and scratched woodwork can make your home look old and outdated.  And that is an easy enough fix.

First, give the trim or doors a good wash-down.  I don’t use anything special, just a mild soap and water solution.  Next, you want to remove any paint goofs, marker or scuff marks.  To do this, I use good old fashioned nail polish remover.  Yup.  The kind you can pick up at the dollar store.  Use a Q-Tip or a cotton ball and wipe those marks away just like you would if you were removing nail polish.   It really is that easy and inexpensive.

Woodwork Refresh Tools-1

Use nail polish remover

Woodwork Refresh - Scratch removal

Remove the scuffs and such

Now comes the refresh part. I have a lot of left-over stain from various projects so it is fairly easy for me to match up the color of the stain on my wood.  Since you are only working in small patches, you can usually get away with “close-enough.”  Don’t have left-over stain?  A small can is easy enough to purchase, or for really small or touch up jobs, they now make these wonderful stain pens.  Find them in the stain aisle.  They come in all kinds of colors.  They work like a marker.

Woodwork Refresh - Stain tips

Supplies, dip the rag, wipe on, wipe off

I wear a pair of vinyl gloves and depending on the size of the imperfection, dip a q-tip or a rag into the stain and then wipe it on the imperfection.  A quick wipe off with a clean rag and you are done.   This works great on most scratches or light wear-off.  Got a little deeper scratch that the stain isn’t getting?  I’ve used colored marker.  I get the more expensive marker that you find in the craft store in the artist aisles.  I tend to go with a shade lighter as the match up is not as easy.  I know they make the colored wax, but I’ve never had good results with them.

I do this whenever needed, but it is a simple fix when going to sell the house, or moving out of the rental (think the trade of $10 or your deposit).

And there you have it — a woodwork refresh that can be done for under $10.   I’m not sure the picture does it justice, but here are the results…

GLI Woodword Results

The end result

See how the trim looks much better?  And the door doesn’t have the scratch or the fading finish?




Have you checked out the sites in the blog hop party I participate in?  You can click on this “party” link here and see some other great ideas.

Energy Savers Series – 2

Continuing the Energy Savers Series…some more tips to help you save money while you are saving energy.

The Doors:  do you need to replace the weather stripping?  This is inexpensive and easy to do and will help stop energy loss and drafts.  Think both the storm/screen door and the main door.

Why does stopping drafts make a difference?  When you eliminate drafts, your heating and cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable (or run as often).  And, as you enact these tips you might find that you can adjust the thermostat a few degrees – which again, will save you money.  Even one or two degrees in the thermostat makes a difference.   I’ve been able to adjust mine and it really does make a difference.  IMG_2361

Speaking of the thermostat – get a programmable one — change your setting while no one is home (school and work) and in the winter, drop the heat at night – you are sleeping and under covers and probably won’t even notice it.  Just program it to start warming up a little more before you wake up.

Running a Window Air Conditioner?  Make sure you use foam insulation around the window openings.  It is just a piece of foam cut in strips.  You just cut it to fit your needs (i.e. window width) and put ‘er in.

Block off rooms you don’t use.  So, close the vent, close the door.  This redirects airflow to rooms you do use.

Another tip — close closet doors.  Do you really need to heat or cool your clothes?

Window Film – this is a film that you can purchase to block the sun’s rays.  It keeps the heat out.  It is easy to install, just cut to fit and smooth it over your windows, like a window cling or those removable .  It also isn’t permanent, so if you are renting, it can come with you.  And it is tinted so you gain privacy as well.

Window Coverings – this is an upcoming project for a different blog, but my point here is to have them.   There are a ton of options here.  You can line them with a thermal covering to block out sun rays and drafts.  You can use a sheer fabric to filter the light – which in turns creates a cooler feeling in the room.   A simple sheer on a tension rod does the trick.  In a pinch, they even make the (admittedly cheesy) paper blinds.  They just stick to the window and you raise and lower them yourself and clip them open.  Where are they good?  Got a room you never use, like an upstairs where all you really need is to block the sun?  Perfect.  They are between $5 and $10.00.

I’ll got a few more energy savers to share….stay tuned for the next post in the series.


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Energy Savers Series

Oh the Energy Bills!  With the recent heat wave, and the arrival of the Edison bill, it got me thinking about all the energy saving moves I’ve made that are starting to really pay-off.  And by pay-off, I mean big savings last month.  And for this family on a pretty strict budget, that was welcome news.  So I thought it appropriate to do an Energy Savers series with tips and tricks that result in real-world pocket book savings.

Most of the items on the list are not new — you can find them in a number of sites and articles.  I thought I’d share with you what I’ve done and how it is working out.  Some of this would make for some boring pictures, so I’ll break the posts up into a few to help make it easier to read.

Caulking — when we moved in, we went around and repaired or replaced the caulking on the outside windows and door frames.  This was great, but I still kept feeling a draft in certain areas and then I remembered to caulk around the inside of the windows.  So, I purchased clear caulk and went around the window trim; top, sides and bottom (under the sill).  I also went along the thresholds of the doors (you know, the part you step on when coming through the door).  No more drafts – or at least significantly reduced.  Drafts make the room (s) feel colder which might lead you to turn up the heat.  And, although you don’t feel it, you also lose the cooling effect of the air conditioning in the summer.   I think the average cost of good caulking at the local diy center is in the $5-$7 dollar range.

Insulation (basement):  Admittedly, this is a larger project, but also one that can be done little by little when using the roll kind.  I think that a roll of insulation is in the $30 range, depending on what you get.  Honestly, most of my insulation came free – I mentioned to friends and family that this was a project and was amazed at the “donations” of left over insulation from their own projects, not to mention some left over from my previous home.   If you have a basement, there is a space between the top of the wall and the floor above.  (If you are like me, you have to remove the ceiling tiles to see it).  It is usually between each joist (I think I got that term right.)  This space is a pretty big energy waster and should be filled in with insulation.  It really doesn’t take that long to do and you don’t have to be “perfect” with your cuts, as you can always stuff a little more in to close the gaps.   This is also something that doesn’t have to be done all at once – I did mine over a few weekends as I had extra time to spare, but really could have done in inside of a day.   I didn’t get this completed until this spring – but I do notice a difference in my energy bill and the temperature of the floor above by the walls.

Duct Work Tape (sorry don’t know what else it is called).  This is a special, silver colored tape that you put over the seams in your duct work and outside of the furnace.  Basically, anywhere you see a seam.  Kinda like taping a tear in a piece of paper.  This tape is designed for the heat of the system – you can’t just use any ‘ol tape.  Good news is that it easy to use and isn’t expensive.  I may have used a whole role and it cost me in the $10 range.  What it does is stop air leaks at the seams.  This makes your heating/cooling system more efficient, as air is directed to your rooms instead of lost in the basement ceiling.  Doing this has proven twice now (old home and new one) to be a big energy saver – and the rooms have a more even heating and cooling.

I’ll add a few more tips and things I’ve done in my next post, along with some cost savings that I’ve seen.

You might also see a few more posts weekly from me – I hope that is ok.  To help grow my little business and the blogging effort, I entered into a challenge to post more.   If you have subject ideas that fit with my overall business and site, please feel free to suggest some.

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