Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Valance Analysis-- Tasteful Vs. Tacky

In a few earlier blog posts, I've highlighted affordable furnishings and accessories offered by JC Penney. I've been impressed lately by their reasonably priced Ballard Designs/ Pottery Barn look-alike offerings. But it occurs to me that a disclaimer is in order: if you're going to shop successfully at JC Penney, you must have good taste...or you must shop with someone who has good taste. Really; it's imperative. Because if you happen to have poor taste and you blunder into the store and start indiscriminately throwing things in your shopping basket, you could very well be heading for decorating disaster. Take the valances above for example. Both are offered on JC Penney's online outlet for less than $15 each, but one is tasteful and relatively timeless, while the other one is essentially the eight track cassette player of the window treatment world. Can you guess which is which?

If you guessed that the forest green number on the right (Sunrise II, $5.99 to 9.99) is the outdated one, you've earned a gold star! Now, let's examine why this one is best left on the shelf. Please see Figure 1A below. What makes this a dated look? Is it: A) the color (hunter green circa 1987) B) the ruffle above the rod C) the way that the fabric is tightly gathered on the rod D) the sawtooth edge or E) all of the above. Correct answer: E! Each of these elements would be OK on its own, but in concert, they spell disaster. (Note: if you happen to own this very window treatment and you love it, far be it from me to tell you that you shouldn't love it. I'm not here to judge-- I just offer this information as a public service.)

The tailored valance (top left) (Surrey Inverted-Pleat Valance, $12.99) is tasteful, but it could be improved. Adding lining to make it more opaque would help give it the feel of a custom tailored cornice. Also, swapping the buttons for dark, contrasting buttons would give it a smart look.

This concludes my public service announcement. You are now free to shop at JC Penney.


After I published this post, I saw the photo below on the JC Penney website. If a bridesmaid dress and a curtain got married and had a child, this is what their unfortunate offspring would look like. I'll leave it at that.