Sunday, July 24, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Curtains and windows

We continue to settle into our apartment.  I have the new experience of assembling an Ikea sofa.  Who knew it also came in "flat pack" boxes?

But curtains were their own special disaster.  We found some and we puzzled through it, but it was weird.

First, let me say that curtains may not be required, depending on your tastes.  Almost all windows come with either working shutters or roll-top, external blinds.
Shutters that work - with ingenious folding shutter on one side
Roll-top blinds, half descended
If you're willing to cope with raising and lowering the blinds every day, you can get away with just those blinds.  The mechanism to control them varies from manual, like ours, to remote-controlled high tech blinds we saw in some apartments we looked at.
Bendy rotating lever that straightens and hides away beside the window when not in use
But, if you want actual curtains, you have to figure out how to attach them.  I was going to rant that curtains were so complicated here and why aren't they as simple as in the U.S.  Then I started iterating the kinds of curtain attachment systems in the U.S. and gave up the rant.

In the U.S. you get some kind of curtain rod.  The kinds I've encountered are:

  • permanently attached to the wall outside the window well
  • "permanently" attached to the wall inside the window well on a bent metal rod
  • "temporary" spring loaded poles that fit inside the window well
Then you buy curtains that fit over that rod.  Simple!

Here you have to first see if you have built-in curtain rails.  These were in many, if not most, of the apartments we looked at.
Curtain rails built into the window well
Problem solved!  Except when it isn't.  There are two different sizes of rail (that we've seen hooks for), mini and maxi.  Then you have to choose the length of the small hook that comes down from the rail rider.
Maxi rail rider plus long hook
Once you attach the hooks to the curtain, which varies by the kind of curtain you bought, then you slide the plastic tabs onto the curtain rails.  There are little access points at one end of the curtain rails to permit the sliders.
Insert tab A into slot B here
We have not yet discovered if there's a standard way to keep curtain hooks from falling out of these access points.  Instead, we're just pushing the curtain to the other end of the window when we need to get them out of the way.

Some apartments don't have this mechanism.  Or, if Ikea catalogs are to be believed, some people use the curtain rod mounted outside the window well approach.  The curtain rod users have as many confusing attachment options as in the U.S., but the rail approach was new to me.

Also, we haven't tried to hem the curtains yet.  The ones we bought so far come with some seam tape that you can use to shorten the curtains with just a clothes iron.  I haven't tried that or sewing them yet, but I'm sure that will be its own story.

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