Monday, July 14, 2008

Long Drop Shower curtain

A cheap and easy alternative to the boring old shower rod and curtain.

Rather than the typical, enclosed on three sides type of surround that is common with a tub/shower combo, our world famous (or not) NYT-featured guest bathroom has a tub/shower set up that is open on two sides.

On purpose.

I haven't shown you much of it in the past because I still haven't decided what to do with the tub base which means that yes, it's unfinished, but hey, progress has been made. And the shower has technically been usable since we moved in, with the exception of not having a shower curtain, that is, so the impending arrival of a recent weekend houseguest (our first!) forced me to get going and get it together in the curtain-ing department.

The room has ~9'+ ceilings so between that and the open on two sides thing, I needed to get a little creative. Sure, there are 90 degree bend curtain rods out there, but they're ugly and cumbersome and..well...usual. Plus then I'd need "special, extra long shower curtains that still wouldn't be long enough and can't just be bought on a whim at Target (where I noticed you can now get PVC free liners!).
Not liking those options led me to investigating hospital cubicle curtain track systems and I had sort of decided that's what I wanted, but every time I sat down to get serious about buying the stuff, it seemed like it was going to be either too expensive or too ugly or too complicated when it should be simple...because it's just a shower curtain, not some OSHA approved industrial strength kind haz-mat, antibacterial kind of thing.

On the other hand, IKEA's awesome KVARTAL drapery hanging system has parts that allow a 90 degree bend and a ceiling mount application just like a hospital curtain track plus it's a nice, sleek look and I could go and buy it at the store instead of having to order and wait.
Problem solved.
So, a couple of hunks of the straight rail, one 90 degree elbow and some of the ceiling mounts that go with it all, and I was almost there.
Like any work that involves arms-above-head for extended periods of time, getting the track mounted on the ceiling was a bit of a pain and required two people, but it's a very simple system and a fairly straightforward, according-to-the-directions install. Just remember to feed the proper number of the little plastic glide thingies (see below) onto the track before you attach it to the mounts. (FYI, a regular shower curtain has 12 holes)

Then, on to actually hanging something from the newly installed track (while I let my arms rest).

The KVARTAL system offers a few different options for attaching the drapery depending on what type of panel you are using. In my case, I bought a package of these pictured below
and used both the glides and the hooks as IKEA calls them.
And from the hardware store, some bead chain and end thingies:

I was originally thinking I was going to order the chain online, in bulk, but I was pleasantly surprised to find my hardware store carries bead chain and a large variety of styles of ends in several different sizes. A little more money, but I could buy just as much as I needed. They keep it by the key stuff. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway, I got the largest gauge bead chain they had (this is totally an aesthetic choice as I'm sure even the finest gauge would be plenty strong) and enough of the eyelet shaped end pieces to use two per strand. The bead chain is easy to cut with a wire cutters, and the ends just snap right on and off.
When I got home, I cut my 36 feet of bead chain into appropriately sized, even lengths and snapped on the ends. Then one eyelet on each strand got a clip from the package of KVARTAL glide/clips. These end up just snapping right onto the glides you already installed in the track:

ignore the photo and leave the other end eyelet-free until you can loop it through the holes in the shower curtain. Then feed the end through the hole in the eyelet and attach it so that you've created a loop with the chain through the curtain hole:

Repeat. In my case, repeat 18 times, using one and a half shower curtains and liners:

and be sure and keep the other half of the cute, heavyweight stripey cotton shower curtain to make something else. Guest towels come to mind...