Sheer Value

There are certain things you expect to cost a small fortune in life.  Rare jewels.  NYC pre-schools.  Prosthetic limbs.  Eradicating polio.

But window treatments?  Now, that was a rude awakening.

Maybe the guy could smell my desperation.  We’re coming up on a year living in our house, and the main living areas on the first floor have nothing on the windows.  I’m completely tired of the fishbowl effect, and I’m sure my neighbors are sick of seeing me chase two toddlers around in full view.  I mean, we’re not nudists (well, the kids are, at times), so I don’t think we’re offending anyone, but — still — it’s just odd to have no privacy filter.

And why haven’t I just gone out and bought some cheap, makeshift temporary blinds?  The short answer is I don’t know.  The point is that now I’m ready for the real deal.

Or so I thought.

The window guy wants to charge me the equivalent of one child’s future orthodontic work.  He tells me about my 100 year-old windows and how their sizes and shapes are no longer standard.  He tells me how they are also, due to the age of the house, all just more than a little askew.  This, of course, translates to the word you never want to hear.


I decided to tell P about the quote while we were trapped in endless crosstown traffic in Manhattan on Saturday.  I figured he was a captive audience.  But we were going on 45 minutes to cross two city blocks, so in retrospect, maybe he wasn’t in the best frame of mind.

I remember the look on his face when I told him the quote.  I can only describe it as blinking audibly.  He’s a calm and collected guy and so he had a few questions, which were not dissimilar to my own.  They went kind of like this:

  • Are you sure that’s the number?
  • Seriously?
  • We’re talking about fabric, right? 
  • Fabric?
  • Not replacement windows for the entire house?
  • Is said fabric spun from gold?
  • What else will these insanely priced, custom window treatments do for us?

The last question is a good one.  At that price, we both felt we should get more than some white fabric that drew up and down and rotated to angles to block the sun.  I mean, that was the original intention, but, upon further reflection, here’s what we’d like to see the window treatments do for us at the proposed price point:

–Of course, self clean the fabric.  Also, clean the window panes themselves, and possibly, by extension, the living room in its entirety.

–Rotate on their own to accommodate the position of the sun, and adjust their own height based on the time of day and year.

–Serve as a motion detector and house alarm as necessary.

–Babysit the children when we want to grab a quick dinner in town.

–Produce matching clothes for my kids, spun from the same gold (I’ve always had a soft spot for the VonTrapp kids).

–Write a blog post for me from time to time.

All things being equal, P and I think that these features would help us feel like we are getting sufficient value for our money.  So now I have to circle back to the window guy and discuss these customizations.  Surely he’ll understand.  I mean, everything is open to negotiation, right?

What do you think — am I missing anything we should add to the list?

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  1. Nadja says:

    Yes, they should wrap you up and feed you grapes like an Egyptian goddess. I mean, you don’t ask, you don’t get!

  2. Markus says:

    I hate to ask…but did he mention the necessary hardware to hang said window treatments? And…gulp…did he include the labor to install?

    • fordeville says:

      Yes, hardware and labor included. Small consolation, though. But maybe the hardware is pure platinum and the installer is Bono. Those would help the justification process somewhat.

  3. I can relate to your dilemma. I’ve been without window treatments in my living room and dining room for over a year as well. Here’s why. I had gorgeous, new windows installed with wood mouldings that were professionally stained. Looks beautiful. However, I did not consider at the time of window installation that I wanted those expensive mouldings to show. So, I didn’t tell the contractor to build up the sides of the window boxes so that shades could be installed within the window and not completely covering the tuition-priced f#$%ers. Add to this the fact that my living room window is a bay window with odd angles. So here we sit, in our very fancy fishbowl with everyone peering in at us. I’ve just sucked in my cheeks and puckered my lips. See the resemblance to Nemo?

    • fordeville says:

      OHHH. So you can’t install them inside the frames? Hm. Well, I can send my window treatments over to fix yours as part of the newfangled agreement I’ll be proposing.

  4. Ed says:

    I think the problem here is in the marketing and terminology. Once “curtains” become “window treatments”, you’re automatically adding cachet (and exorbitant cost) to… fucking curtains.

  5. The cost of window coverings is insane. I remember the last house we lived in was brand new and had no window coverings when we moved in. We were only able to get blinds for 3 of the windows because they were so freaking expensive. I was so glad when we finally moved out of that house and got another house that was older and already equipped with blinds. I think your window coverings should also heat the house in the winter and cool it in the summer so that you can save money on your electricity bill.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks for validating my experience before I felt like the lone, bare-window sucker in the world 🙂
      And I’ll add in the energy efficiency request to my next round of negotiations — good idea.

  6. That’s the kind of home remodeling news that drives me to pull out the Singer and whip up a set of “window treatments” myself. Ugh. I have a suggestion: if you can tolerate the waiting and the searching, you can often find window treatments – no, I mean, curtains and draperies and their hardware at thrift stores. It’s surprising how often you can find decent stuff there. That’s because some wealthy (or foolish) soul is always upgrading from curtains to “window treatments.”

    While you’re searching, you can always put up tinfoil. That’ll give the neighbors something to stare at and ponder.

    • fordeville says:

      Excellent ideas all around! Thank you. I’m off to see how much Reynolds Wrap I’ll need for full coverage…(just think, it’ll even take care of the pesky sun glare).

  7. anna says:

    when we bought our house we also had to spend a king’s ransom on window treatments. we could only afford to do 2 of the 4 rooms i had originally wanted to do, and can i tell you… those window treatments give me so much happiness. never did i think i would love them as much as i do. now to getting around to doing our two remaining drape-less shade-less rooms….

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