When it comes to beautiful bay windows, she's seen the light

Curtains couldn't compete with the sun, the writer found.
Curtains couldn't compete with the sun, the writer found. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 14, 2012

The Realtor, in her crisp navy suit, was delivering her practiced monologue about the virtues of a property when she swept us into the master suite.

I blinked at the panorama. We had stepped into a sun-splashed, blush world. A color mix of pink, beige, and peach was spread across the bedroom walls — the carpet perfectly matched — and a built-in platform bed angled on the wall seemed terribly sophisticated.

The adjoining master bathroom was done up in white tile and mirrors. It seemed enormous and was absolutely the sexiest, most lavish bathroom I'd ever seen. There was, of course, the requisite steeping tub — or did our Realtor call it a "garden tub"? It mattered not.

This master bedroom suite had somehow tapped into my ancient fantasies of Hollywood glamour, with flashbacks of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, the sex goddesses of my generation, in rooms just like this. And I wanted to own the fantasy, if not the condominium.

But they came as a package, so I tried to convince my husband that we really needed to sign on the dotted line. Maybe that very day.

He wisely insisted we'd better have an engineer check out the place. The days seemed endless and the nights were sleepless as we awaited the verdict, handed over on a computer printout full of technical terms. It boiled down to this: All systems were go.

So we bought the condominium with the blush master suite, and even bought the blush chaise longue that came with it. I fancied myself draped across it in a satiny negligee, even though I sleep in T-shirts and boxers. While other areas of this condo were somewhat problematic, that master suite was going to be the end-all.

On our first night in our new house, after the incredible physical and emotional stress of moving, we collapsed into bed. But not before again admiring the lush room in which we would now get our blessed rest.

And rest we did. Until sunrise.

The moment the light streaked across the summer sky, it also streaked right onto our faces. We hadn't noticed that the platform bed, rakish as it was, was also alongside the room's triple bay window. It was a rude awakening.

Of course, the former owners had window coverings that came with the house — pale fabric blinds that perfectly matched the rest of the decor. And perhaps they were better sleepers than we were.

So the search for solutions began. The initial approach was simply to find room-darkening shades that would block out all morning light, and our local hardware store had some that were expensive and unattractive. They would turn day into night, so we carried them off like pirate's booty, and my husband installed them immediately under the equally pricey valances we'd purchased to obscure the ugly shades when they were rolled up.

The next morning, as the sun rose, so did we. Our room-darkening shades were no match for the rising sun, and by this point, we were already walking around like zombies, existing on less sleep than we'd had in years. The hardware store owner himself made a house call to study the shades, the room, the valance, and our haggard faces. "That's as good as it's gonna get," he said.

We purchased new fabric blinds, now part of our window's armamentarium of covering. They sat under the new drapes with room-darkening linings that looked vaguely like heavy towels hanging from our window.

We also surrounded a skylight at the opposite end of the room with molding that blocked out light.

And still, our blush room was blushing at dawn each day.

Friends would cluck sympathetically, offering inspired suggestions that we just relocate the bed. We would have, if only it hadn't meant ripping up the carpeting, and getting rid of various pieces of built-in furniture.

Most of all, it meant completely altering the look of the room that sold us on the house in the first place.

After our do-it-yourself solutions had failed, we did call in a contractor to consult on our sleep problem. He surveyed our overdressed window. He poked around the platform bed and studied the blush carpeting underneath. He then came up with a complete, comprehensive plan for reconfiguring the room for a price that made us gasp.

It all has led me to this inspired idea: Before buying a home — arguably the largest investment you'll ever make — demand an "audition."

Cook in the kitchen. Kick back in the den. Dine in the dining room.

And yes, sleep in the bedroom.

We are wary — and weary — veterans of the folly of fantasy.

In the meantime, I've come up with a far cheaper, simpler solution than the contractor's. I bed down in two highly unglamorous sleep-shades, the kind the Lone Ranger wore. They're weird enough to frighten small children, and sometimes, when he's very groggy, my husband.

The hunt is still on — but now it's for sleep shades that are thicker, less restrictive and a bit more flattering. Most cost less than $10 but have proven to be priceless.

Our blush world seems a bit less seductive though my black eyeshades.

And when it comes to sun-splashed bedrooms, I've seen the light.

Contact Sally Friedman at pinegander@aol.com.

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