The Best Drawn Plans

It’s kind of a little joke around here, but Jim often says, “It’s good to have a plan…” Of course, we both know that the best laid plans can often veer off track.

When we decided to get the new blinds for the bus, we figured we would build a nice light wood valance for them to keep them in line and keep any stray light from coming in around the sides. The stray light wasn’t really a problem, even at night in a Wal Mart with our old blinds, which were basically Home Depot mini blinds. We liked them because they were pretty minimalist, didn’t require a lot of hardware and were light in color. But it was time to go for something more permanent and we do love the Bali top down bottom up pleated blinds that we got. Now if we could just try them out a on an actual trip, instead of in our cold and frozen driveway…

Next step: more drawing for Jim to figure out the valances. We wanted to go with the light wood like on the computer cabinet and cover the window frames as much as possible. Jim did lots of drawings, then got our good friend and neighbor involved to spiff up the drawings even more. He even figured out a grocery list for the lumber we would need.

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Larry took Jim’s drawing on top and turned it into the refined diagram below.
He drew out the slide and bedroom, which are different from the passenger side and made up the materials list too. What a guy!

The really big favor he did us though, was to also build a small prototype of how the valance would be constructed so we could fit it around the windows and see how it would appear in actual size and space. That was a real eye opener.

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On top is the actual piece he built, fitted in the slot between the computer cabinet and the breakfast bar. Upon reflection, we probably should have made the computer cabinet the same height as the breakfast bar but we were trying to maximize space in the cabinet and brought it up to the window frame.  No real big deal, since everything in a bus is offset differently anyway. Below is a photoshopped projection of how the valance would look all around the window. Um, OK so far.

But with the wooden actual size prototype, we were able to get a much better idea of the area the valances would take up and the amount they would stick out from the wall. Almost three inches would stick out to cover and enclose the blind. For the bottom valance to be even between the computer cabinet and the granite top, a three inch crumb catching nook would be created at the back of the breakfast bar under the valance.

Three inches may not sound like much. But then we thought, especially in the bedroom, with so little space on either side of the bed anyway, that would eat up a good little portion of the aisle we use to plop into bed. We started envisioning a future of bruised and banged up hips and elbows from creaming into the valances. Plus I wasn’t real sure about all the extra material we would be adding to the bus, kind of taking away some of the minimalist aspect.

So Jim started investigating clips. We had clips on the old Big Lots blinds, but they were pretty worthless, broke off, were difficult to operate, and the blinds came loose from the wall. We weren’t sure how clips would work with the top down bottom up aspect either. He ordered a couple of different types to try them out.


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These metal clips won out on performance, durability and they have the longest pin, so the blind stays put. You can barely see them and they’re easy to operate. The side light thing will not be a problem, the old blinds were just plastic miniblinds; these are pleated, hug the wall closer and are thicker. And we bought a bunch of extra clips. Of course.


Above:  what the valances would look like.
This doesn’t really show the depth they would stick out from the window.

Below, the final solution. What do you think?

So all the time, drawing and especially the three-dimensional prototype led us to this conclusion. I guess however you work it out, the goal is to come up with the best solution. In this case, the best solution turned out to be the simplest, and least expensive approach. We would have spent several hundred dollars, even “doing it ourselves.” Who woulda thought?

Jim was looking forward to the actual building project and Larry was going to help. It’s always good to have a retired engineer across the street and everybody needs a distraction/project in the winter.  Isn’t that the truth?

Jim also built book holders in the cabinet above the dash so the books don’t fly out while you’re going down the road. Big, heavy books. That can be very distracting. More on those soon.


5 comments on “The Best Drawn Plans

  1. Well it has been over 10 years now still planning on valances and you have pretty much helped me make my decision. They look good on some interiors but not every one lol. Missed yall at Arcadia this year. We had some new folks show up and one couple in a drop dead gorgeous Flex from the Fla panhndle. Keep up the good work. Dori and the dogs say hey!

  2. I Kinda Like The Valance Look. I Was Thinking About Doing That In My Bus. I Can Really Understand The Added Room Used In The Bedroom…..So Just Skip It In There…. Just My Two Cents Worth. You Ask !!..LOL
    Hi Wendy….Hi Jim… Our Cats Say Hello Also..

  3. Jim…you and “Bob” are brothers!!!…I remember calling him several years ago asking if he could bring over some tools….I was going to put in a simple rail to the basement stairs at our FIL’s Home….he not only came over with the most elaborate tools I have ever seen…but plans that would rival anything “Frank Lloyd Wright” had ever drawn…I said, “Bob…its a frickin basement stair rail”…haha…it all ended well…I admire your Guys attention to detail!!…..but more important enjoy/cherish Bobs friendship!!!…enjoying the Koi/Dragon adventure…hope to meet up with you two this year…Horst sends

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