Re-inventing your Curtains & Paint Swatches that Work

Curtain Obstacle

I have a beautiful set of curtains in storage that don’t fit my window. I don’t want to part with them! Any suggestions?
Adrian, Chestermere 

If the curtains don’t fit because they are too large for the window, you can bring them to a sewing room and have someone look at whether or not they can be deconstructed and re-used. They may be able to hem the bottom or take the sides in, saving the curtains entirely. You may even be able to turn them into a set of blinds if it’s the style that doesn’t work for you. If you are very short on fabric, consider using the loved ones as an edging border to a new set or as the bottom quarter as a detail (see image).
If you can’t re-use, then re-invent. Think of them as fabric. Where else in your home could you see this pattern? The curtains could become throw pillows on a sofa, a bed pillow, the upholstery on a chair or even napkins. Don’t be afraid to chop them up! There is no way of enjoying something when it’s hanging in a closet and you will be thrilled to have your favourite fabric back in your life.
A note on storing curtains: Make sure you keep them wrapped lightly in plastic to keep the dust off and hanging without the bottom dragging. You can fold them over a curtain hanger once but messy creases can be hard to get out so take care to store them correctly. 

Peerless Grey

I am having a hard time choosing a soft grey colour for my walls – the swatches are so small! Is there a good way to test out a colour before committing to it?
Emily, Airdrie

Don’t feel defeated! Those tiny little paint swatches are difficult even for the pros. To narrow it down, always put a few swatches side by side. You will read the colors against one another and their tones will stand out more.
Many paint companies offer an alternate paint chip or mini pot of paint that you can purchase. If you still find it small or if your paint company does not have an alternate sampling system, I recommend purchasing a quart and painting two coats on a piece of Bristol board. This will allow you to hold up an extra large sample in different areas of your home and at different times of the day. It avoids a patch on the wall that you have to paint out and if you think it’s hideous, you can try again.
Paint Tip: Make sure when you purchase your quart of paint you dab a small drop onto the sample chip. Let it dry and make sure it matches. Sometimes the colour can be a bit off (it’s called a mis-tint). It doesn’t happen a lot, but if it does, you’ve caught the problem before painting your whole room or house.
For that perfect light grey tone, try Benjamin Moore’s HC-172 Revere Pewter or Sherwin-Williams’ Repose Gray SW7015.
For help with your next home project, send a question to You can also address your queries on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #ASKsteph. Please include first name and city/town of residence.
ABOUT STEPHANIE began her residential design career in 1999 following a BA in Art History from McGill University in Montreal and studies at The International Academy of Design in Toronto. Her aesthetic is ‘natural contemporary’, blending organic materials with sleek, clean edge design. With 15 years experience in residential design, Stephanie is comfortable in both construction boots and stilettos. Her projects include new builds and renovations in Toronto, Creemore, Georgian Bay & Kenora. She has a keen interest in the real estate market, has flipped several homes and is always working on the next project. She has two children and resides in Toronto but secretly considers her home 2 hours North in a town abutting Georgian Bay.