Chick Wit: Curtains a misadventure in fabric

Posted: October 16, 2011

More misadventures in home makeover, this time with curtains.

You may recall that two years ago I painted my family room myself, on a Type A tear, but I took the Scottoline route. By which I mean, I took shortcuts. Lots of them.

I painted around pictures rather than removing them, and the paint only reached 5 feet, 6 inches up the wall, which is my height plus my arm length, minus a ladder, which I don't own.

This would be the mathematical formula for do-it-yourself wainscoting.

You could barely tell since I used the same color, which was white, but recently I started hating that my walls were white. So I went crazy and hired real painters to make the family room a gorgeous yellow. And it looks so yummy, like melting butter on a stack of pancakes.

If your walls look fattening, you picked the right color.

But then I started to notice that I had no curtains in the family room.

Correction - I have no curtains anywhere in the house. All my windows are bare. Sometimes this bothers me, like when I'm bare.

But mostly I stay away from the windows at times like that, and there's only trees around me anyway. Still it's a little creepy late at night, when I'm working in the family room and those scary commercials come on for Saw 5 and Hostel 6.

I'm hostile to Hostel movies.

I hate movies where people get murdered, especially when they distract me from writing novels where people get murdered.

Anyway, since I was worrying about psycho killers and also classing up my house in general, I thought I would get some curtains on my windows, but I didn't know where to buy some. I asked Best Friend Franca, and she knew somebody who made them, and long story short, the curtain lady came over and showed me a yellow swatch, which was perfect, with cottony white flowers on a buttery yellow background. A few months after painting, the curtains were ready, and the lady came and put them up. I stood, watching in happy amazement. They looked beautiful.

It wasn't until the next day that I saw the problem.

They were covered with black flecks.

I didn't see them from a distance, but close up, they were obvious. It looked like mold, and I panicked, running to check the furniture, to see how I had grown mold overnight.

But I hadn't.

The only moldy things were the curtains.

So I e-mailed the curtain lady, who called the manufacturer, and they said that the curtain material was supposed to be that way. The black flecks weren't mold, but authentic bits of cotton seed, which was supposed to be in the fabric.

This would be the proverbial good and bad news: your new curtains aren't moldy, they just look that way.

My curtains have fake mold. Or in decorating terms, faux mold.

I tried to visualize the flecks as something other than mold, but it didn't help. They also looked like dirt, but I'd like to dirty my curtains myself, not have them come pre-filthy. The flecks also look like black pepper, but I can't remember the last time I seasoned a fabric.

It gives new meaning to a high-fiber diet.

Meanwhile, I own a lot of cotton clothing, and none of it retains its cotton seeds. This would be like lumber that comes with its own family of squirrels.

I went and checked my sample swatch, and it has no fake mold.

In fact, I held the swatch up to the curtains, and they were so different, it looked like the Before and After pictures in a Proactive commercial.

My curtains have blackheads.

Then I realized what had happened. The swatch is only three inches by three inches, and if I looked hard enough on the curtains, I could find maybe one or two three-inch patches without the black dots, but they were the rare exception, not the rule.

Bottom line, I'm calling the manufacturer.

It's a clear case of bait and swatch.

Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's new book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter," coming November 22, 2011. Visit Lisa at

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