Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kvar-FAIL: the story of a room divider

Quick review: when we first realized we were going to need a nursery (and that we didn't want to give up the guest room for it, at least not right away), we planned to hire someone to put up a wall with french doors, dividing our ginormous (29 by 13) master bedroom into two sections. Then this started to seem....expensive. More expensive than necessary. So we switched gears and decided to put up a cheaper and more temporary room divider of some sort instead.

When we last left off, Dave and I were staring helplessly at the Kvartal curtain hanging system section at Ikea, thinking that surely if we went around a corner there would be a useful (and very lengthy) explanatory poster of some sort, or maybe an actual full time Kvartal assistant to answer our many, many questions. But no. If there's one thing Ikea's short on, it's explanations. We finally gave up, figuring that when we returned sans kids everything would make itself clear.

This did not happen. We found ourselves there again, weeks later, no kids in sight or earshot, just as confounded by this mysterious "system" Ikea had come up with. As near as we could tell, the deal is that if you want to use the Kvartal panels, you are in pretty decent shape:

They fit right into the little Kvartal track, and you can slide them around, and all is well. But this is not what we wanted. For one thing, the selection of panels is a little lacking. They come in very limited colors and patterns, and all the ones that might have worked were very thin and translucent. I know anything short of a real wall isn't going to offer a whole lot of privacy, but we did want something we couldn't actually see through. Ikea also needs to replace the display Kvartal panels a little more often if they want to move those things. The ones there were all beat up and frayed and looked like they wouldn't last an hour in our house. (Is this the part where I add a disclaimer that Ikea is not compensating me for my opinions on the Kvartal system? Sorry, Ikea; you know I love you and lust after your Strandmon chair, but the Kvartal stuff needs some work, IMHO).

So. If you are not impressed with the panels and want, instead, to get some of the regular old curtains that are "compatible" with the Kvartal would think "compatible" would mean there is some way to just buy the curtains and the track and some kind of....clips or something, and go hang your curtains up, right? I would. This certainly does not seem to be the case, even though we spent a lot of time in Kvartal-land, examining every Kvarcessory and trying to make it so. You do buy little packs of clips to fit into the tracks. But then you also have to buy this strip of clip-holding fabric that you take home and sew onto the backs of all of your curtains before you can use the clips.

Now. I do own a sewing machine (I don't know where it is right now, but I know there's one in the house somewhere) and I guess, in some very generous definition of the word, I "know" how to use it. But I prefer not to. Sometimes I see people on the internet make cute pillows and whatnot, and I think, "maybe I should do that sometime." And then I don't. The idea of sewing something like 18 feet of this little fabric strip thing onto the backs of curtains made me want to cry.

"I think you can do that," Dave encouraged me.

"Maybe Kristi would help me," I said doubtfully.

The end of the saga is that we finally decided the Kvartal system was too much trouble for too little payoff and that there MUST be an easier way to do things.

We left Ikea with some cheap curtain rods and hardware that we hoped to somehow rig up so that they would hang from the ceiling instead of the wall and 6 white (non Kvartal compatible) curtain panels that we intended to put on said cheap rods:

Then we came home and thought about it for a long time and ran into a few flaws in the plan that would likely make adapting our cheap Ikea rods and hardware more trouble than it would be worth. Also, we thought to ourselves, we couldn't possibly the only people who'd ever wanted to hang some curtains from the ceiling to make a room divider.

Google and Walmart came to our rescue. Walmart's website sells exactly what we needed, which turned out to be the Verona Ceiling Mount Curtain Rod. We ordered three of them, waited for the notice that they were ready to be picked up at the closest Walmart, and we were ready to hang a room divider! (Walmart's not paying me, either. Not all of my opinions on Walmart are as positive as this one about how easy it is to get ceiling mount curtain rods from them).

Then we got to work!

First we had to decide how big to make the nursery part of the master bedroom. The final decision was more or less arbitrary, helped along a bit by outlet placement....we ended up deciding to put the curtain 10 1/2 feet from one wall. So the final dimensions are something like 17 1/2 by 13 for the master bedroom part and 10 1/2 by 13 for the nursery.

Next we made marks on the ceiling in several places to make sure the curtain would go straight across the room.

I stood on a step stool by the wall and held one end of the tape measure while Dave stood 10 1/2 feet or so into the room on a stepladder, held the other end, and made Xs in pencil. Then we moved the ladders a few feet and did it again. And again. And again. Then Dave took the first picture of me ever to appear in this blog, I believe. See? Pregnant. And yet on a stepladder. I am SO dedicated. Also, you can get a preview of the Newburg Green, albeit a cruddy, flash-illuminated one. I am very in love with it.

Then I sat on the bed with my laptop and ordered pretty lamps for the nursery and picked out fabric for curtains while Dave screwed the brackets into the ceiling with anchor screws and cursed a lot.

This was a tedious process. We had three rods, and each needed three brackets to hold it. We decided to put the middle one just behind the ones on either side, so that the middle curtain  panels could overlap the ones on the sides and not leave any gaps.

Then we put the curtains on the rods, the rods through those little loops, and we were done! The curtains are 8 feet long, and so are our ceilings, so it worked out very nicely. They're almost flush with the ceiling and they pool on the carpet just a tiny bit.

Here it is in the light of day, all finished!

There are six panels total, so we can open it up anywhere, but there's probably going to a dresser on the other side in the middle, so we'll probably mostly use this spot as the "door." It's closest to both the door to the room and to where the crib will be, so, assuming I'm growing a baby who will stay asleep for transfers to the crib, that will be convenient.

In case you're wondering why we forgot to paint the bottom half of the wall there, that's where the board and batten is going.

And, since my iphone camera has a far wider lens than my real camera for some reason, here's one more shot from it:

I'm feeling much better about the status of the nursery now. We haven't even dipped into Dave's winter break yet, and the only really BIG project left is the board and batten. There's maybe an hour or two of finishing up painting to do (I mean, not counting the painting associated with the board and batten), and everything else should be little things that can, with luck, be finished in an afternoon. I mean an afternoon each, not an afternoon for everything all together. But still! We're getting there!

Cost breakdown:
curtains: $75 for three sets of panels
brackets and rods: just under $100 for the three rods

Linking with: Hookin' Up with House of Hepworths, Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage, The Shabby Nest's Frugal FridayTuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of SuburbiaChic on a Shoestring's Flaunt it Friday


  1. Gretchen, these look lovely! It might even be pretty to put a few up behind your headboard for balance :)

    1. hmm....that would look nice! although between board and batten on one wall and curtains on another, there wouldn't be much Newburg Green for me to gaze at adoringly.

  2. What a creative solution! I love it. And your master bedroom is HUGE. hot dang!

    1. I know; it's absurd. Not to sound all whiny about the huge bedroom (I believe it's the biggest room in the house), but I really wish there were an actual 5th bedroom and a reasonably sized master instead.

  3. What a great idea! I was worried for you at one point, but it looks awesome!

  4. I wish we had talked about this last week when I saw you, because we installed the kvartal track without sewing anything. But I love what you came up with!! I also forgot to ask if Wes could get the house tour, because he never did get to see your enormous bedroom. Maybe next time.

    1. no way! how did you do it?! anyway, I think we were already done with Kvartal by the time we saw you...I believe we'd already ordered the new curtain rods at that point

  5. ok, WHAT a neat idea with the seperation like that! and as far as the other post with the wall paper, it could definitely read gray brown, i think.

    1. Thanks! yeah, I'm really hoping the wallpaper will work...I should probably order a sample so I can see it in person!

  6. LOL. I *would* have helped you sew it! But the curtains look great.

  7. We are looking at a Kvartal installation right now to break out a portion of the basement as a room for our son. We put in an egress window and just need to add some "privacy" and definition to the area. In fact, we are just going to IKEA today to look at things.

    Perhaps it is better that I started on the internet, because I found some other helpful videos, but they all talk about using panels. As for selection, you can use fabric from anywhere with their top/bottom kits. But they do have a PDF online that shows a variety of combinations to attach various types of curtains/etc...

    I also found this video helpful:

    Even after seeing your solution, I think what draws me back to IKEA is the rail system. Since we may want to open the whole area up it may work better than just being able to move panels aside to the next ceiling mount as it looks like you can do from the photos you posted.

    Thanks so much for sharing, though, ideas ideas ideas, I love ideas. :)

    1. I looked at that PDF and it gave me flashbacks! ;). Yeah, it seems that if we'd stuck it out a little longer we would have found a way to make it work with the track system (someone else commented earlier that they'd hung curtains without sewing anything). Sounds like the rail system is definitely the better fit for your situation than what we came up with. Good luck on your Ikea trip....stay strong when you hit the Kvartal section ;)....and thanks so much for stopping by!


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