Mother-in-law Suite. Kinda.

We’ve never had a guest room before. Well, not since we’ve owned homes. We did have a guest room/office in our first apartment. Not anywhere that you’d actually want a guest to sleep. More like the Room O’ Crap. You know what I mean, right?

Then we started having kids, and the hubs and I have both done a lot of work from home over the years. We usually had an office, but no guest room. And then we started working from the kitchen table when we took over the third bedroom for a classroom.

Oh wait. There was also one time when we added a fourth bedroom to a house, but it was shortly before we moved out. It was staged as a guest bedroom, but we didn’t stay there long enough to use it for guests.

Thanks to the formal dining room in this house that we’re using for the classroom, we have an extra bedroom. We don’t need an office these days. We have laptops and desks/tables all over the house, but a dedicated room is just not a good use of space for us. Also, my three boys love sharing one room. It has never occurred to them to ask for their own room, and it isn’t something I’m going to suggest. So for now we have a guest room.

We call it the GG room. That stands for guest and game. The boys named it. It stuck.

The Wii is in there, and we’re eventually going to put some shelves and storage in there for all the Legos. (Spell check is telling me that is incorrect, and my children would concur. The plural of Lego is Lego. You’re welcome.)

Right now they build Lego at their desks in the classroom, but they need somewhere that doesn’t have to be cleared away constantly, and I don’t want that somewhere to be my formal dining/craft table in the living room. So we’ll eventually work out some kind of Lego solution that will solve all the world’s problems, but right now we’re just making this room semi-inviting for Grandma.

She’s pretty much the only guest we have. And occasionally my nephews, but they don’t really count. They’re little boys. They don’t care.

My mother-in-law is a trooper. All the years she has visited us, she has slept in the room with the boys. We usually kick the youngest to our bed, but that still means she only gets a twin bed, and lots of times she has slept on a mattress on a floor. Bless her heart! She deserves a guest room!

We’re a long way from actually doing this room, but we have to get a curtain up. The last time my MIL came, the window treatments looked like this…

blackout drape

We did put a bed together for her, though, so there’s that.

This room is connected to the boys’ room via a Jack and Jill bathroom, so she has access to that lovely boy bathroom. That’s kinda like a mother-in-law suite, right? 🙂

She actually doesn’t live terribly far away (she’s in-state), so she doesn’t ever stay a really long time, but I’d still like for her to have a comfortable place to sleep without being kicked in the ribs by a kid or sleeping on the floor.

So since this is pretty much not any ol’ guest room, but really “Grandma’s guest room” (another reason for the name GG room), I am going a bit feminine. It won’t be typical grandma chic, and it for sure won’t be a “girl room,” but I’m going to use a quilt that she made for me.

quilt fabric

(I’ll show you that quilt in more detail when we actually decorate this room for real.)

That is the jumping off point for the window treatment. I don’t really want or need true curtains or drapes in here. We love the light that pours into the second floor from this window (the door is always open to the hallway).


(Yes, that wall IS orange. No, I did not paint it. It matches a stripe in the quilt, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t staying. The lazy part of me wants to just keep it, but I doubt the lazy part will win this battle.)

So, I don’t want to cover up the window and I don’t want to spend much money and I don’t want to make this a girl room (since its primary use will be video games and Legos for three boys). But I do want light blocking for when my mother-in-law sleeps over. We keep her up super late and she likes to be able to sleep in with the rest of us. She doesn’t need sun pouring in at the crack of dawn, and what kind of hostess would I be if I allowed such a thing?

So I figured one of those cheap room-darkening roll up shades would be the best solution. We could keep it rolled up all of the time that she isn’t here, and still have it dark when she comes to visit.

I swear those things used to be five bucks. Ugh. Stupid inflation. They’re $15 now, for the width I need. That’s ridiculous. They’re are paper-thin vinyl. So not worth $15.

Luckily, Lowe’s seems to mess up on their blind and shade cutting as often as they don’t. I started checking the section where they put the mis-cut items. I think it was the third try when I found one that had a sticker saying it was 43 1/2″, which is what I needed.

Silly me. I assumed they remeasured and labeled it with the correct width. I bought it without measuring. I got it home and it was actually 45″. I went back to the store to see if they would cut items that had been marked down. The guy was very nice and cut it for me after asking about the width I wanted the shade and how wide the opening was/how much room I needed for hardware, etc. We had a nice chat and clarified exactly what I needed. I got home and it was still a quarter of an inch too wide. Figures.

That was too much too wide; it wouldn’t go in the window.

Maybe the machine at Lowe’s is off and causes this problem? There was a guy there getting his blinds recut when I went back. Also, we got blinds for the first floor of this house when we first moved in and they cut about half of them incorrectly.

I wasn’t going back again. I have a dang saw. And fifteen measuring tapes. Good grief.

( do you say it? Tape measure or measuring tape? I totally say tape measure when singular and measuring tapes when plural. Never tape measures. Measurers?)

I popped this little plastic end off just like they did at the store.

roller shade shade end

I made sure the shade was rolled up evenly so I wouldn’t get crooked edges and then I went to the garage.

chop saw

Ignore all that sawdust in the background. We work here.

I really love this saw. We sometimes call it the “chop saw,” because that’s a thing and this saw does that. It’s a compound miter saw and it’s perfect for small cuts that don’t require the table saw, but need to be perfect so you don’t want to use a circular saw (Skil is a brand name, not a type of saw, y’all).

The compound miter saw is one of those purchases that we made after years of “getting by” with less appropriate tools. I love it and recommend it to anyone who is on the fence about such an item. (I mean, if you need an arsenal of saws, that is. We do.)

I cut off a quarter of an inch and then pushed the plastic end back in place. It was a perfect fit.

Once the width was correct, I wanted to remove some length. I could have left the length and just rolled up the shade more, but I didn’t want a lot of excess. These things are a pain to roll up half the time, so I didn’t want any extra to deal with.


I used a level as my straight edge (I can’t cut a straight line to save my life), and just ran a utility blade (“box knife”) along it. Cardboard underneath will prevent scratching your wood floors.

level straight edge

I removed the plastic rod that acts as a weight, and glued it on to my new edge. I didn’t worry about making a pocket for it with the vinyl, because I was going to add fabric that would wrap around the rod.

plastic weight glue plastic weight

fold over fabric

My MIL gave me the left over fabric a couple years ago when she finished that quilt, and I had purchased the coordinating fabric to make a baby gift. I didn’t have enough of either kind to cover this entire shade, so I decided to make a couple of bands across the bottom. (I was thinking it would look kinda like a valance when it was rolled up.)

fabric bands

I used a glue stick for this. Spray adhesive would probably be great here, but I didn’t have any. If the fabric falls off, maybe I’ll go buy some.

bands with ribbon

Then I attached some ribbon over the fabric edge. I used a different coordinating ribbon to make a little pull at the bottom of the shade and then I added a button in a third coordinating color.

ribon pull

So here it is. (I’m not sure why I didn’t get a picture of it completely rolled down, but it does go all the way to the windowsill.)

valance roller shade fabric

Totally functional. My favorite kind of project!

Happy Monday. Stay warm. (That’s not something I usually say in the middle of April.)