Tag Archives: embroidered valance

Design Definitions: Toran

One of the questions we are frequently asked here at RHW is where the curtain in Opal’s room came from. Today we thought we would share what the textile is, and also give the inside scoop on where to look for one of your own!

The textile is called a toran.  The word is from Sanskrit, and means a sacred gateway. Decorative torans range in size from quite large – ones made to span wide entryways – to smaller torans designed to adorn a narrow door or window.

Red House West || Torans

At over 70 inches, Opal’s toran is on the larger side.

Torans are versatile pieces – they work well as a way to add color to achromatic rooms, but are also at home in bright, eclectic spaces.  This room is restrained and antique-y, and the toran adds just a hint of playfulness.

The pinks and maroons of this toran make this wee kitchen space particularly inviting, even if it is just to practice the sacred art of washing dishes.


The colorful toran hung over the bed makes this simple room a gateway to beautiful dreams.

The deep burgundies of the toran framing this window seat work beautifully with all the indigo textiles in this lovely room.

We love the way this toran spans the work area (a gateway to writing and reading of other worlds!) in this eclectic space.

When looking for a toran of your own on eBay or Etsy, we suggest also using the search terms ’embroidered valance’ or ‘Indian valance.’  Here are some lovely ones we found that are currently for sale:

Would you hang a toran in your home, or are they too over the top for you?  We love to hear your thoughts!

Mera’s House: Updates in Opal’s Bedroom

Opal turned three at the end of December, and from my completely objective perspective she is the smartest, funniest, sweetest child the universe has ever known.  For example, upon being congratulated for not having any accidents on a recent afternoon, she explained “my kidneys didn’t make any pee, so that’s why I didn’t have an accident.”  Also, she has told me several times that she writes a blog called “Brown House West.”

Her bedroom was really cute before, but definitely babyish, so we decided to start to transition to a look that can grow up with her.  Here’s what it looked like before, during the halcyon days of summer:

Red House West || Opal's Room

And here is what is looks like now, as we start to emerge from winter:

Red House West || Opal's Room

Opal helped me peel the forest creature decals off the walls and we painted over the green and blue with the same white that we used in the living room and kitchen (Pittsburgh Paint’s Mother of Pearl in the no VOC version).  I loved the green wall color, but we wanted to hang this vintage embroidered toran, and it has a lot going on so white walls were the way to go.

Red House West || Opal's Room

Opal’s room is full of angles and tucked-in spaces, and the toran (which I got from eBay) perfectly spans the bed nook area of the room.

I got this ceiling mounted curtain rod, and at first just used cafe clips to suspend the valance from it.  It looked droopy and a little sad so my mother in law, who was visiting at the time, suggested sewing a fabric tube to the back of the valance for the rod to pass through.  Actually, she not only suggested it, she offered to sew it.  By hand.  While Chester and I went to a movie.  Okay, if you insist!

Red House West || Opal's Room

The valance is beautifully embroidered and the little mirrors glint in the rare winter sun.  Opal loves to pick out favorite animals from it (her only complaint is that it doesn’t include more purple).

IMG_1805I didn’t expect that Opal would still be sleeping in her crib at three years old, but it’s great and I’m going to ride it out as long as possible.  She doesn’t climb out, and at this point she’s so big that she could probably do it safely.  At some point we’ll put the old captain’s bed that was built for this nook back in here.  I think the toran will look even better with a bed that fills the space completely.


The moon chart is a silk screen I found on Etsy.  Babar and Zephir were accidentally ripped out of the pop-up book “Babar’s Moon Trip” and this seemed like a good second home for them.


You might remember from my first post about Opal’s room that I was struggling to figure out what to do with the internal window between the bedroom and the little upstairs hallway.  It was previously covered by a  quilt made by a dear relative for Opal when she was born.  The quilt worked perfectly with the first incarnation of Opal’s room, but it clashed (as anything would) with the toran.  I wanted something that would let light into the hallway when the big windows in Opal’s room are uncovered, but that would block some light going into her room from the hallway so that she can nap during the day.

Our post about decorating with piano shawls was really my way of convincing myself that a fringed beauty (found on eBay) was the solution for this window.

Red House West || Opal's Room

It lets a little light into the hallway, doesn’t visually compete with the toran, and I love the way it looks from all angles.  Plus Cromwell likes to sleep on the chair below it and luxuriate in the fringe.

I’m still working on the rest of Opal’s room, and I’ll share a full tour soon.  For now I’m pleased with how things are coming along, and most importantly Opal really likes it too.

And here is the big girl herself, reading one of her favorite books, The Little Puppy.

Red House West || Opal's Room

What you can’t see in this picture is that Opal is wearing Spider-Man undies made for little boys, except she likes to wear them backwards so the Spidey image is on the front and the little boy flap is on her bum. She’s the best.

Have a great week everyone!

Opal’s Room: A Quick Tour and Plans for a Big Girl Room

At 2 1/2, Opal is an extraordinarily good-natured person, and quite the conversationalist.  She often inhabits an elaborate imaginary scenario in which she is Baby Boy’s mom (Baby Boy is the proper name of one of her dolls) and she drives around in her pickup truck (we have a Volvo) with him safely in his carseat and flies him around in a floatplane (she has never been in a floatplane).  Also, her favorite place to go on a rainy day is Cabela’s, where she has taken an archery class, and she can tell you about the finer properties of waders and different types of camouflage.  Her good nature must come from my husband, and I have to claim the love of driving and flying, but the truck and hunting equipment fascination is all her own.

Opal's room

She also loves to instruct us about things.  For example, she recently taught me how one would, if one wanted to, climb out of a crib: “you put your hands here, and your foot over the top . . . .”  She hasn’t actually climbed out yet, but she is obviously able to should she so choose.  So I’ve been thinking more and more about the transition to a big girl bed, and what I’m hoping to do in phase two of her room.

Opal's room

The room is tiny, full of angles and slanted rooflines.  It’s a sweetheart of a room, with windows that look out on three (yes, three!) sides of the house, plus an internal window into the hallway.  The internal window allows a lot of light from the big windows in Opal’s room to filter into the hallway, but because light also goes from the hallway into Opal’s room, we have covered the window with a beautiful quilt, a gift from a relative when Opal was born (thanks Netzy!).

Netzy's quiltOpal's room

I painted the room green long before Opal came along, and added the blue skyline and creature decals (purchased from Etsy) just before her arrival.  The animals are cute and have a hand-painted look in person.  Opal used to love saying goodnight to each of them, but it has been a long time since she mentioned them and I don’t think she’s very attached to them anymore.

Opal's room

Opposite the bed there’s a window seat, and these great bookshelves that we had built before Opal was born.

Opal's windowseat

The birch tree running through the bookshelves came out of my parents’ yard.  The room has always felt like a little treehouse to me, and I love the way the tree brings that in without being too theme-y.

Opal's shelves

Another thing I love in this room is the handles on the closets and drawers: orange leather!

Opal's room

Opal's room

So orange is a given in any future color scheme, which is fine by me since I love orange (in small doses).

As you can see, her crib is in its own little alcove, and the future big girl bed will have to go in the same spot.

Opal's roomAs I’ve mentioned before, I have an idea for creating a curtained and canopied sleeping area for Opal.  I love forts and tucked in nooks, and I think I could create something really sweet in this spot.  I don’t picture it being too frilly or pink–that’s not Opal (at least in this stage of life), and I would like for phase two of her room to be something that can easily transition with her as she grows up.  I recently scored this vintage embroidered fabric valance, which is just a little wider than the width of the bed nook in Opal’s room.

Hung here for demonstrative blog purposes only.

Hung here for blog demonstrative purposes only.

I asked Opal if she would like to have it in her room, and she said “yes, right now!”  Then she went on to list the animals she recognized:  “monkeys, horses, mariposas, elephants, peacocks–I don’t like peacocks but I love parakeets!”  Doesn’t like peacocks?  Loves parakeets?  Who is this kid?  I didn’t know she even knew the words peacock or parakeet, let alone held strong opinions about their relative virtues!

Needless to say, I think she’s excited about it, peacocks and all, and I’m hopeful that the valance animals can replace the wall-decal animals without any strife.  The idea is to hang this across the width of the alcove, and then make curtains to go behind it.  I have a vintage cut-lace table cloth that I think I can use to make the curtains, and in the end I’m hoping it looks similar to this, but on a larger scale:

From Oh Dear Drea (I really like this blog, by the way).

From Oh Dear Drea (I really like this blog, by the way).

I’m still trying to figure out how to craft the canopy and sides.  The idea is to have Opal’s bed enclosed so that the interior window doesn’t have to be covered.  Also on the to-do list is to paint the walls white (the list of walls to be painted white in this house grows ever longer….).

So that’s the plan.  I could use some engineering help figuring out the best way to suspend the canopy and curtains.  Any suggestions?  Check back with us later in the week for another installment of Pinterest Friday!  Thanks everybody!