Protecting the Neighbors (or, My Custom Order Curtain)

The best thing about having a new back door has been the light streaming into a once dark, sad space.

The worst thing has been the assault on the neighbors’ eyeballs every time we get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and have to wander past the back door in our pajamas. Contrary to the beliefs of college students across the nation, pajamas are not for public consumption.

Pete’s been asking me what I was going to do about the curtain back there for a couple weeks, and I told him I had something up my sleeve. Well, this weekend, I finally got my new curtain!

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I ordered it from a seller on Etsy. Probably most people know what that is, but for those who don’t, Etsy is an online community of makers and artists who sell their work via the online marketplace. You can buy everything from furniture to jewelry to clothing to tech to special design services for your blog or website.

A long time ago, I “favorited” a shop on Etsy called Giardino. Pam Garmhausen, who runs the shop, makes hand block printed textiles and art prints. I have always loved her designs and her colors, and since I’m frequently accused of wanting to paint everything in the house grey, I decided to take a chance and order something that had color and pattern.

I know. Big step.

I was super drawn to one of her block printed patterns in a yellow shade, and emailed her to ask if she’d be willing to make a curtain for me in that pattern and color.

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Pam emailed me back within an hour and said she’d love to work with me on a custom design. Over the course of a few emails, I gave her measurements, requested that she add both a rod pocket and back tabs in case I needed to use the curtain elsewhere someday and needed all the hanging options that were available, and then asked her to wait a day so I could triple-check my measurements (once a type A personality, always a type A personality).

Pam set up my special order, I purchased it through Etsy, and after a couple of weeks, my curtain arrived! It was freshly laundered, packaged in brown paper, tied with a cute little twine bow, and accompanied by a hand-written note from Pam in a card with one of her other prints (and she even wrote her note on an extra piece of paper so I can use the card).

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loved this buying experience. I knew the whole time that I’d be getting something that was one-of-a-kind, due to the nature of block printing and because I was setting up a custom order. I got a chance to chat with the maker, and ultimately, I knew I was helping her continue doing what she loves and making a living at it. There was no going to 3-4 different stores, not seeing the options I wanted, no settling for something that wasn’t quite right. I got a piece of someone’s artwork.

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I love the way the new curtain looks and the way it lets in light without being so sheer as to be problematic. I think sometimes, my decorating can seem a little cold, so it’s nice to have a bright color and a fun pattern to make the mudroom seem more like someone with opinions actually lives in the house. I switched out the artwork in the mudroom (not pictured) because the yellows were clashing, so now, one of our Yoshiko Yamamoto prints resides back there. I love the saying at the bottom of the print; it seems like a good reminder every time we leave the house or come home.

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I forgot to take a picture of it once I had switched it out on the wall, but this is from Yoshiko’s website.

Yoshiko Yamamoto does block prints that are directly inspired by the Craftsman era, and a few years ago, she published a series called The Wisdom of Trees. Pete let me pick one as a birthday gift, and by Christmas, we’d decided to spend money we didn’t have to get the whole series. Pete built the frames, as having the prints framed by Yoshiko was going to cost much more.

There are a few other purchases throughout our home that I’ve made on Etsy or Etsy-like sites. One is the set of candle holders that sit on our mantle.

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I actually fell in love with them on Etsy, but found them a few months later on a site called ScoutMob (similar to Etsy, but a smaller and more “curated” collection– stuff tends to conform to a more modern, maybe more hipster look) for half the price. The shop is called Convivial Production and the artist makes really neat, architectural pottery. The WPA reproduction print above them is also an Etsy purchase; it was a birthday present for Pete.

The point of all of this is that it’s easier now than ever to find interesting things with which to furnish your home. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and the things you buy help someone make their passion their livelihood. And, bonus, you end up with a one-of-a-kind home that feels comfortable to you because it reflects the things you really love and the values you hold dear.

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Someday, I’d love to learn to do what Pam does and make things like this myself; in the meantime, though, I love that I could buy her work. It makes me smile every time I walk through the door!

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