The space I am fortunate enough to call home is a two-bedroom apartment inside a pre-1906 earthquake Victorian in San Francisco. The five bay windows in my living room are hallmarks of this architecture.
For 13 years, I have spent too much time and money trying to make my abode look effortlessly stylish. It wasn’t until I discovered the quiet minimalism of Nicetown sheer window curtain panels that I understood my misplaced design prerogatives.
Living in a top-floor Victorian that gets a healthy amount of sunlight—a rarity for this type of home due to the narrow architecture and asymmetry—requires that I hang blackout curtains in the bedrooms. (My vitamin D-deprived neighbors below likely have no such requirement.) In the living room, however, I keep the bay windows bare. They provide a power-line emblazoned vista of the I-80 overpass and downtown skyline.
At first the naked fenestration was unintentional; I simply had bigger tasks at hand in order to make my living room come to life. A coffee table, a new flatscreen, a sofa, art, minimal bric-a-brac, and low-level lighting were all higher priorities.
For more than a decade, the windows were appreciated and left bare. A few plants were placed in front of them during the early aughts, and a tangle of Christmas lights adorned them during the holidays. Their circa-1900 character deserved to be undisturbed. I was like the Alice Waters of decor: I preferred windows in their natural, unadorned, organic state.
How foolish I was.
One day, at the behest of my boss, I treated myself to sheer curtains. She stressed the proper length, placement, and style—a profusion of plain, diaphanous panels, pooling at the floor and placed within the window frame using a tension rod, for a shrouded, vaporous look.
I started out by adding three curtain panels to each window. My eyes were open. Church bells rang. A choir of angels sang. These cheap pieces of white fabric, effortless yet fussy, tied the space together.
A week later, I ordered several more packages of curtains, adding them to other windows in the apartment. Even better, I thought. But I had only just begun. Over a month’s time, the curtains began to pile onto the windows. The bunching effect only added to the allure. I was practically living in a cloudscape.
Like an addict getting a fix, I would turn to Amazon’s “Add to cart” button whenever I wanted to increase the number of panels per rod. It’s not expensive, just $16.95 for a package of two. And each time I add a curtain, the windows look even better. They block out the overpass and traffic, but also provide blurred sunlight.
At last, I had found my home's Instagrammable moment. Like the lovelorn hero who, after a succession of doomed romances, finally sees that his longtime friend was the one he loved all along, familiarity blinded me from seeing it.