Monday, January 27, 2014

Simple Fixes

The wind is howling outside as I type, coming straight out of the north with one heck of a wallop.  Periodically, an extra strong gust comes along and makes the entire house shudder.  Given that its an old barn made out of layers of cinder block, that's really saying something.

Of course, being an old converted barn, it means that the openings for windows and doors were chopped into the same cinder block, and the frames for each shoved into place.  Oh, they were pasted in with something--from what I can figure out by looking at it, in spots its old horsehair mixture and in others, that spray foam in a can.  Whatever it is, it has long ago given up the ghost which means that the windows and doors leak draughts like sieves when the wind blows.  I've used those plastic kits on the windows before, but the leaks aren't from the window glass, it's more the entire window frame that is the issue.

So I've come up with some simple solutions.  For the windows, I've sewn really simple custom layered fabric "shades" that bundle up and get tied into place with grosgrain ribbon.  If I'd really been thinking, I'd have either included a thin layer of batting (that thin wooly stuff that is all natural) or pre-quilted fabric on the back.  Then it would be like a window quilt...hmm.  Well, next time I get a redecorating urge, I may go for that.  But for now, it's a layer of thick decorator fabric that I found on clearance for a ridiculous $3 per yard, backed by a layer of good quality cotton fabric.  Even without the batting/quilted effect, just having the layer of relatively thick fabric that covers both the window and the frame by several inches keeps the draughts hidden between the shade and the glass.  No more cold breezes sailing through the room!

For the doors, I've actually gone with a quilt.  Really.  I was watching Larkrise to Candleford a while back, and noticed that the cottagers in Larkrise had quilts hanging by rings in front of their outer doors.  At night, to keep the cold out, they simply pulled the quilt across the entire door frame.  How ingenious.  So I made a trip to the local hardware store, bought a huge dowel, some large screw-in hooks, and made an industrial curtain rod that could hold up a heavy quilt.  I had a whole bunch of those simple curtain rings with little clips on them from previous curtains hung in old apartments, so I simply chose a quilt from my collection of ragged-by-still-useful rescued quilts that fit the door, clipped it to the rings, and hung the whole shebang from the rod above.  This really works extremely well, which is wonderful, since the back door faces north and on days like today, you can feel the breeze blowing through the cracks around the door frame.  I'll keep it drawn all day, which helps keep things nice and cozy inside.

All in all, I think I've maybe spent $100 between windows and doors to do cold weather window treatments.  They also work great in summer, and help to keep heat from getting in--it has made a big difference in the summertime AC bill, I tell you.  Although, it seems ridiculous to think of needing AC on a day like today--it is seriously arctic out there!


  1. We loves our window quilts! ;-)
    Even with our pull-down variety, there was a tiny little gap at the bottom that needed a plug of excess wool yarn. Good thing I had some handy!


  2. We have enjoyed curtains over our doors for years! Congratulations on a clever solution.



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