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American made, decorating, product review

New American Made Shades for the Sun Porch!


American Made Window Shades

I’m finally giving the sun porch a little love. Thanks to a random email from Matt at, I’ve finally been able to take down the temporary IKEA curtains that had been hanging in the sun porch windows for the past year and half! Good riddance fussy old curtains. Meet my new best friend, American-made top down, bottom up shades.

Sometimes things come along exactly when you need them. When we first moved into the house, I hastily purchased white and blue striped curtains from IKEA. It was a stop gap measure, I assured myself. The previous owners had left the windows of the sun porch bare and instead installed an insulated curtain over the beautiful sun porch doors. This, to me, was a travesty. By closing off the doors with thick, white curtains, you’re losing the joy of having a sunny, window filled room visible from the living room.

I’m hesitant to even show you how bad the curtains looked. In fact, when I went into the archives to find a photo of the sun porch with the curtains, I had a hard time finding them. I must have really, really hated them if I couldn’t even take photos of them! Anyway, here are the curtains the weekend that I installed them back in January of 2014.

Ugly IKEA Curtains. Ugh!

Yeah, they just did NOT work in the sun porch. The horizontal lines never quite lined up the way they should have and the overall look was just way too fussy. The only thing I liked about the curtains was that they allowed light to get in while shielding the sun porch from prying eyes.

Not only did the curtains look bad inside the sun porch, they also looked pretty awful outside. The blue stripes – it was all about those damned blue stripes.

IKEA Curtains at This American House

I hated those IKEA curtains from the very beginning. There were maybe five minutes after I installed all the hardware and got the curtains up when I was actually pleased with them. And then I immediately hated them. They were cheap, I reasoned, and they were better than nothing in the meantime. But I couldn’t wait to replace them.


When contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing their American-made shades, I knew this was my opportunity to finally get back to the sun porch. They offered to send one shade to me for free in order to review it. Once I got the first shade up, I knew I had to go back and order enough to finish off the sun porch.

Window Shades Made in America

I’m happy to report that the shades are easy to install. We have similar cellular shades in the condo so I’m already familiar with installing them. I think that even someone who hasn’t installed cellular shades before would be able to do it pretty easily. It’s really just a matter of installing two pieces of hardware (more for wider sizes) and then snapping the shades into place.


The thing that I like about these shades versus the top down bottom up cellular shades that we installed in the city condo is that these new shades go up and down more easily. Back at the city condo, the shades tend to get uneven and need a lot of finessing to make them look good. These new shades, which are cordless and are raised and lowered by simply pulling the top down or the bottom up, stay nice and level.

I wanted shades that would still allow some light to fill the room. I mean, it is a sun porch after all. It should be filled with sun! The view from the street facing windows in the sun porch is not very nice. This is when the top down shades comes in handy. With the tops lowered we’re able to see the treetops and the sky while still blocking out the uglier parts of the landscape.


Now that the shades are up and the dining table and chairs are in the sun porch, it’s time to enjoy those summer meals in style!


Full disclosure: This American House was supplied free and discounted product from However, all views in this post are our own.

product review, setting up home, technology

Nest Protect: Making Our House a Little Smarter (and Safer)


Nest Protect | This American House

Maybe it’s because I love gadgets or because I grew up watching The Jetsons but I’ve been obsessed with smart home technology for years. One of the first things I did when we moved into our house was install the Nest Thermostat. And we love it. Not only can we monitor the house’s temperature from our phones, we can also turn up the heat when we’re on our way home. Now it’s time to start bringing in some other smart home products. Next up: the Nest Protect smoke detector.

Nest Protect Packaging | This American House

The folks at Nest have definitely taken a cue from Apple when it comes to design and packaging. The Nest Protect is packaged quite handsomely and includes easy to read instructions. I appreciated the fact that there’s a label instructing you to set up the Nest Protect using the app before installing it. I’m totally the kind of person who would get the smoke detector completely installed on the ceiling before realizing that I should have set it up first.

Installing Nest Protect Smoke Detector | This American House

My initial desire for installing Nest Protect is because we’re away quite frequently and I wanted to be able to monitor the house from afar. The fact that Nest is a whole lot more stylish that old yellowed smoke detector that has been attached to the ceiling for what seems like a couple of decades is just a bonus.

Old vs. New Smoke Detector | This American House

Installing Nest Protect was a cinch. Since we had previously installed the Nest Thermostat, we already have the Nest app on our phones. Syncing the new Nest Protect with the Nest app took just a few minutes. Then it was simply a matter of switching out the old smoke detector with the new one.

You know what’s even better than a stylish smoke detector? A smoke detector that talks. And a smoke detector that warns you that it’s about to get loud.

It’s alive! And very friendly. I love the @nest lady’s warning. “The alarm is loud.”

A video posted by Jason Loper (@jasonloper) on


The fact that the Nest Protect has this charming female voice helps me feel like we’ve adopted a robot or something. Although it also makes me worry that she’ll someday go crazy and start to self destruct.

I hope that we never have occasion to use our new smoke detector. I hope she gets to just hang out on the ceiling and occasionally ask to be tested.

Images: This American House

garden, landscaping, product review, technology

Test Lab: Does the Pocket Hose Really Work?


Does the Pocket Hose Actually Work? | This American House

I tittered at the name splashed across the package. “Pocket Hose. The House That Grows.” My inner thirteen-year-old boy found the sexual innuendo absolutely hilarious. I snapped a photo and put it, along with a witty caption, on Instagram months ago. Beyond the seemingly obscene name, does the expanding Pocket Hose actually work? Now that we have a house with a lawn and garden, I decided to find out!

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