Only One Giraffe

I have been thinking about drafts lately and that thinking brought me back to one of my earliest memories. We lived in an upstairs apartment near the highest point of a street on a (rare) hill in Elgin. I think my parents were having a party in this memory and I remember someone, possibly my mother, saying there was a draft in the living room. 3 or 4-year-old me heard “giraffe in the living room” and was disappointed that I could not see this giraffe my mother spoke of.

We’ve lived at our Bethesda house for more than 28 years. It’s an older home (built in 1947 or so) with mostly original windows on the main and second floors. For the first 13 or so years in this house we only had valences on the windows in the living and dining rooms. Each room has a large picture window plus up to 4 sash windows, so besides sort of living in a fishbowl at night, those rooms were also drafty and chilly in the winter.

Sometime in 2006 we installed honeycomb-style pull-down blinds on all the windows on the main and second floors of our house. It made a considerable difference in the temperatures of all the rooms in the house, especially the living room and dining room (and back room in our kitchen area that had two walls of windows). Winters were much more comfortable because of these shades.

A couple of years ago we bought new living room furniture. One piece was a beautiful leather “cloud” chair that sits next to the fireplace. It is exquisitely comfortable, has a light and plug nearby, yet I find myself drawn to the end of the sofa instead. I realized that the reason for that is because the chair is sitting in the coldest spot in the living room. The cold air from upstairs flows down the steps and into either the living room or the dining room. The cold air from the window behind the chair flows past the chair, into the kitchen. So even with the window shades, there is still that draft.

I searched online for a solution (I wanted pocket doors, but that was not practical) and found recommendations for curtains hung from expansion rods in the doorways (we have two into the living room). I bought some and installed them about a week ago. They are not haute couture by any means, but they do the job — very well!

The living room used to be several degrees cooler than the dining room (where the thermostat lives), but is now several degrees warmer.

When I realized that the curtains were working I proclaimed to no one in particular, “No more drafts in the living room!” Then I noticed the giraffe that Dean brought back from South Africa on one of his trips and amended my proclamation: “Only one giraffe in the living room.”

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