Insulated drapery over door? Too tacky? Or not?

caroline94535November 1, 2013

Continuing the saga of the Little House of Horrors on the Prairie...

This house is cold. The furnace will, eventually, be replaced. The axillary heater helps, but this is North Dakota and when those blizzard winds howl...

We do not use our front door. People gravitate to the mudroom entry which is seen from the driveway. They can step into the mudroom, remove boots and hang coats before coming into the house proper.

We do not use the front door all winter. While it will be replaced, some day, it won't be this winter.

The door is metal; it actually gets icy on the inside at times. It is radiating cold into the room. We keep the thermostat at 66-68 but sometimes it takes a lot of propane to get it there. We wear proper "winter clothes" and are comfortable, most of the time, but still the propane expense is terrible.

I want to weather seal around the inside of the storm door, (it won't been seen from the outside) close the front door, and weather seal (or stuff batting) all around the inside of the front door.

I could then install a drapery rod at the top of the door frame and hang thick, full, insulated drapery panels over the door. I'm considering maybe using a quilt as the "drapery."

The two windows in the room have blinds only; no drapes. I won't be putting drapes on them since I know the pups would keep them dirty at best and shred them at worst.

They are hunting dogs and when stray cats or kamikaze squirrels run across the yard the guys loose their minds. While their manners are good under normal circumstances, there are times...

Would it look too "odd" to have a full-length drapery hiding the door and its frame?

Would it be warmer?

This post was edited by caroline on Fri, Nov 1, 13 at 12:29

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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

In those severe winter temps I would do it, if you do it well it will look ok. Especially since you see so many people hanging quilts on the wall to display them. Honestly I wouldn't care if it did not look great the important thing is to stay warm and lower bills, anyone should understand that. Just do what you need to do.
You might be surprised to see others around you stealing your idea.

At my Dallas house I had fully plantation shutters on my front windows, I had a LOT of big windows and the sun hit that side of the house full force in the afternoon. I had my office there right at the windows. At around 3pm each day I was baking there with the AC cranked. So inside of the plantation shutters I put up the heavy insulated draperies. From the outside it just looked like I had drapes on the windows, from the inside you could just see color and fabric through the shutters. Worked great.
Get creative!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:38PM
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I would do it too. No one ever comes in our front door unless it is a salesman. We have a bunch of steps to climb to the front door. We have a chain across the bottom of the steps. We always enter the door into the kitchen from the carport. Just make sure that you can get out in case of fire or any type of emergency.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:51PM
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I like the idea of hanging a quilt over the door. I think it would be bright & cheery.. I have a quilt hanging on the wall of my laundry room to help with the noise and to brighten up the room, since it is a walk through room that leads to my smoking parlor/office. Plus it is handy enough that if there (God forbid) is a fire I can grab it as I leave.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 12:58PM
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Use a heavy quilt, full size - not just sized to cover the door. Quilts on walls are terrific - wonderful, homey decorations. The fact that a door is behind it wouldn't matter.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Just an idea, but you say there is a storm door, and a front door. Is there a way you could insulate between the doors?

Many people hang ceiling to floor drapes on their windows....who's to say there isn't a window behind that quilt or drape?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 2:34PM
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Tacky or not - whomever might say so is NOT paying your electric bill! Use one if it will help reduce the cold and your heating bill.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 2:50PM
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Do it! It is your house, you have to be comfrotable and it will look nice;)

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 3:08PM
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I put a 1x2 inch strip all around my door, to keep the cold air from infiltrating so much.

It caused bruised knuckles, when people tried to use the door know. So, I put a door handle on.

Now, all I need is my kitty litter filled tube between the front door and the storm door to keep the draft out.

Often people step on it, and the storm door won't close, cause it squishes the kitty litter and makes the tube distorted. I have to re shape, to keep the draft out.

I just live with that for now.

If I where in your shoes, I would hang an insulated panel, and then a quilt for pretty, and not worry about if it looks tacky to others.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 4:15PM
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I think hanging a quilt over an unused door is a great idea. And it will look fine!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 4:35PM
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When DS moved (back home and)into my toasty sewing/computer room, I moved into the front living space that has arch into it.... and froze. We mounted a decorative curtain rod in the living area side and added an insulated drape and I am now toasty warm with my little space heater. I thought it would look tacky, as we rarely used this area, but pass by it when entering and leaving the house, but...Nice brown drapes look perfectly ok from the entry and I am warm again. Actually, that space was always more like an office/library so the drapes close off some of DH clutter and we are happy sharing the space and still have lots of 'public' (as in dining and family room) areas. Keep Warm! Everyone understands that!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 5:32PM
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Sounds like a very good idea to me, very creative. You could be more comfortable and save a couple dollars too.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 6:16PM
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I wonder about the level of insulation in older homes. First of all, eons ago, homes were built with considerably less insulation than is required today. I wonder what is in my attic after all these years, but DH is not handy. I hear stories of the wind having blown attic insulation off the areas it belongs close to the eaves and making parts of the house much colder.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 6:19PM
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You might want to hang something between the doors as well. go ahead and do it !!! stay warm

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 6:24PM
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I live in SD in a mobile home. The windows aren't very good. I hung blankets between the blinds and the curtains. I just put them up over the rod. It had two rods. Then I hung the valance with rod over the top. You can't see the blanket and it is a lot warmer. I wouldn't care what it looked like or if people thought it was tacky. It is my home and I want to be comfortable and I pay for the heat. I was just thinking for insulation between the doors you could wait until you had a nice blizzard and the snow was as high as the door like it just was out in Rapid City. Just Kidding.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 8:59PM
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I think it's a fine idea! Here in Ohio, it gets pretty drafty also, though not anywhere near what you get. Our front entry is over dead air space down to the footer, outside of our walls. It has a small porch that matches the front of the garage. It's freezing in the winter. There is a coat closet in the entry way that for some reason gets damp. I've actually had mold in the back corner. So we took the door off the closet so air circulates. The door sits behind where the front door opens. Very few use my front door either. But to block the draft, I hung a tension rod in the archway with a sheet hung on it that matches my living room walls. I can pull it closed or push it back. It really cuts down on the cold drafts.

On our back patio door, when we moved in, there was a roll up quilted drape. Think of a quilted roll-up blind. The edges fit in a narrow track to guide it up and down and hold it in place. I don't know what company made it, and I can see no labels on it. It's quite thick.

As to insulating between the storm door and the inside door, why not put actual insulation batting between? Ask at Home Depot or Lowes or whatever home improvement store you have in your area. Even if it's only the bottom half if you have a window in the top half of the storm door, it will help. Then put the pretty quilt on the inside to help keep you warm and give you a beautiful decoration to look at.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2013 at 10:17PM
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your visitors aren't paying your propane bill...I say hang whatever keeps it warmer in your home!! An insulated curtain or whatever it takes!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 12:08AM
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Hanging an 'insulator' over the inside surface of the door will reduce heat flow to the outside to a degree, but there may be consequences - condensation. If the insulation barrier is effective, the inside surface of the door will be cooler than before and since there is no vapor barrier, moisture may begin to collect on it (depending on the moisture level of the inside air). A better location for extra insulation is on the outer side of the door. If you are not using this doorway, you could fill the space between the entry door and storm door with closed cell foam sheets. Both open or closed cell foam would work, but i think that closed cell is better on the weather side of the door. The closed cells will not take on water whereas open cell may wick up water. A good finish on the inside of the entry door should provide a moisture barrier and the inside door surface will be warmer than before.

I infer that you are concerned with exernal appearance. Be creative with decorating the outside surface of the foam panels. For instance, if you have aluminum siding on front of the house, you could draw a continuarion of the siding on the panels. This would give the appearance that the doorway was sided over, but the storm door left in place. If the front siding is brick, draw a continuation of the brick pattern on the insulation panels. Maybe you could draw in a fake window where one might have been in the front door.

A removable masonite board could be put on the front side of the insulation panels. A thanksgiving scene could adorn the board, then turn it around to show a Christmas wreath painted on the other side. Confuse the neighbors - switch from Thanksgiving to Christmas decoration within an hour.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 1:27AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'm going to suggest that you set the thermostat a little lower. Yours is set higher than ours is in northern Alabama! Just three or four degrees can make a big difference in your heating costs.

Bundle up inside; have cozy throws available ; keep your feet warm.

I agree with the others about doing whatever it takes to create comfort. Who cares what it looks like? I'd also make sure that making permanent improvements to that door and your whole home in terms of weather stripping, insulation, etc., is a top priority.

Believe it or not, we've insulated our wall outlets for plugs and light switches. Little foam liners can be found at any hardware store.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 6:55AM
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My only concern would be in the event of a fire? Would you still be able to exit through that door easily?

We had an a young mother and her children perish in a fire in our community. They could not get out and then found two little ones by a door that had been closed off for the winter. They had been desperately trying to open that door to escape. The thought of that just haunts me.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Ice on the inside?

A metal door in your climate is a poor choice. You'll quickly recover the cost of replacing it (by using less propane)) with a properly sealed and insulated door.

I'd also turn down the thermostat.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Just a thought... Would the animals destroy a quilt?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Whatever you'll spend on this comes out of what it would cost to just make a permanent fix by replacing the door -- or at least the storm door. I bet you can do a new storm door for $300, installed.

Our old 1950's ranch had zero insulation between the walls. (Fuel was cheap in the fifties.) We had insulation blown in between the walls and added more insulation in the attic -- what a difference! The house also had aluminum frame windows that we replaced. I know all about 'heat exchanging metal', condensation and mold!

In our 2001 build we keep the temperature at 68F days and 64F nights. I think the trick is circulating *humidified* air in a tight house.

Our air supply is in the floor. There are two sets of returns: High on the wall during A/C season and low on the wall during heating season. The humidifier is flow-through, so there's no mold building up in the unit and being blown through the house. The furnace is two-stage.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I'm so thankful for all the replies and will try to address some of the issues! I do truly appreciate everyone that responded.

ChiSue - Once the doors are replaced we're going to have to tear out the frame, jamb, threshold, everything - leaving a gaping hole to be repaired, rebuilt and then proper doors put in. It's already far too cold to start this project so until around June, we're stuck.

The house does have the pink insulation in the walls, but I'm sure they'd benefit from more blown in. That's another item for the list.

We've slowly replaced all but two of the old, leaky windows with double paned, insulated, Marvins.

The living room is still waiting for its new windows. One is a double-paned picture window. It is always warm near that window! The other has a double-paned center flanked by two single-pane double-hungs. I seal them off with the shrink type plastic.

GrandmaBonnie - While my boys do often resemble wild beasts, LOL, the only reason they jump on the windows or move window treatments around is to try to reach the cats or squirrels that think it's safe to cross the front yard.

Since the door is three feet from one window and seven from the other, and they can't see or walk through it, I'm pretty sure the quilt will be safe. I'm calling it "wall art" for this season!

Snidely - Yep, these are insulated steel doors with a little half-moon window near the top. They apparently met some sort of rebate/energy savings program years before we bought the house. Nearly every house here in Larimore have the same front doors. I do plan on replacing the front door with an energy efficient wood door and a lovely storm door. I haven't picked them out yet, though. That's one of my winter projects.

IowaGirl - Those poor children; just thinking about it haunts me, too. Yes; I'm making sure the door still opens easily. I won't use sticky caulk, I'm just putting batting around the edges of the inside of the doors. The quilt will be hung from a decorative curtain rod above the door frame and if I attach it to the walls or threshold I'll use double sided tape.

We have the "side door" (same model as the front door) in the mudroom and a back door on the three-seasons sun porch.

The ceiling insulation is great. It's about 27" deep, soft and fluffy, all over the house. It was a nightmare when we rebuilt the bathroom. The contractor had move all the insulation away from the bath area since we replaced the ceiling and walls, too. When the bath was finished he had to replace it.

Rhizo1 - I know 68 sounds so warm, but when it's way below zero and the winds are howling at 30 or more MPH, and my furnace is churning away it rarely gets more than 58-62 degrees in the house. 68 is just a dream setting.

Thanks for reminding me about the outlet liners; that's something I can do right now. Every little bit helps.

My "normal" winter attire is - full set of thermal underwear, jeans or sweatpants (both when I go out to feed the birds) and a light, long sleeved tee topped with a sweater.

I have arthritis in my hands so if I'm just reading or lounging in the evenings I wear lightweight cotton knit gloves. They make a big difference in my comfort level.

I always wear thick socks and sturdy shoes. (Except now; I've not healed from the foot surgery yet to I'm still wearing socks and open toed sandals .

JemDandy - I had thought about the condensation; it's a real problem in this house. The siding is 8" wide steel siding; it's ugly, but it's so sturdy we don't dare replace it. Painting is a future possibility.

I could put insulation panels between the two doors and maybe go so far as to cut a plywood "cover" to put on the front side of the storm door. It could be painted with a whimsical "door," complete with real holiday wreaths, just to present a less cobbled look to the street.

This is probably the way I'll go! Thanks for bringing up the condensation problem.

The last two windows and the doors are the first projects for next spring. Then we have to decide on either springing for a new furnace, ductwork, air exchanger and all that happy HVAC stuff - or a buy a newer house.

Ben Gardening - If you're in Rapid City, we're almost neighbors! I'm in Larimore, ND, a mere 800 +/- miles away. Maybe the next time I venture out for a trip into civilization we could meet for coffee somewhere. (I have it on good authority that I in no way resemble an axe murderer and have met several KTers!)

This post was edited by caroline on Sat, Nov 2, 13 at 12:00

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Deleted duplicate photo.

This post was edited by caroline on Sat, Nov 2, 13 at 12:04

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I agree what others have posted...was thinking the same as I read your post. Do what it takes to stay warm/reduce costs. Anyone complaining (which I doubt as they fight cold weather, too) can just go jump in a lake or better your heating bill :-)

Before I had to get a new heat/ac unit I hung quilts over 2 bedroom doors (unused for sleeping) that open off my living/dining area. Looked a little weird, BUT it helped the expense. The rooms were at least 10 deg colder.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I love the look of your front door.... can see that it would be hard to give up that attractive street view. Keep warm, however!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 3:04PM
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OK, Gotcha. You just want a quick, temporary fix. I'd do whatever will *help*, and I think you're on the right track. DS has a big tapestry sort of hanging over a buffet at his house. You might make yours larger than the door -- so it doesn't remind people there IS a door under there! (You know how a remodeled garage on the front of a house always looks like "a remodeled garage"/)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Caroline I don't live in Rapid City. I live N of Pierre. Its even closer than you think. Someone mentioned a humidifier. I can tell you right now it makes a huge difference. My DH keeps telling me, he can't believe how much warmer it feels in the house when it is on. I think it is the moisture that makes it feel warmer. I can tell the difference right away. The minute I turn the heat on in the fall I start the humidifier. I used to have two of the gallon ones going at the same time. A few years ago I went to a yard sale and someone had one of the console ones. I think I paid about 5 dollars for it. for it. It runs all the time now. Every night I have to fill at least one of the 3 gallon tanks but it is worth it to me. WE have our thermostat on 57 at night and after I come home from work we turn it up but only about to 65

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Ditto - chiming in on the humidifier. We had a "whole house" unit installed right onto our furnace. Makes a world of difference - plus keeps your skin from drying out and throats from getting scratchy!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:56PM
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I know you said you only had a couple windows, and the dogs like to be at them, but the difference that cellular shades make on keep a room warm/cool is AMAZING!

We have them throughout the house. You can walk by a window that has the shade pulled up an feel the cold air. They are fantastic in the summer also.

I bought the non-custom ones from Menards (they have them at Home Depot, Lowes, etc... ) The extra length is actually great - they sit on the window sill, and that extra at the bottom keeps them in place.

We mounted them on the "inside" of the window - so they fit inside the wood trim around the windows.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cellular Shades

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 11:02PM
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You might be surprised at how fast an experienced carpenter can install a pre-hung door. Our entry door is in an arched surround with window panes. It was "in" in a couple of hours. This door has no storm; faces north; completely 'tight'. (Northern Illinois location.)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I lived in Michigan, on the lake. Brrrr!
Using the plastic sheeting mase by 3M and blowing it with a hairdryer to fit/shrink it made all the difference! If there was a need to open the door it was as simple as grabbing the doorknob and tearing the plastic as the door opened. Our large dog never bothered it-he knew we no longer used that door. Then put your quilt over the clear plastic. It will look great. As someone mentioned, get a quilt that extends well past the door.
There is also thick insulation material that can be bought at JoAnns Fabrics.
Would you qualify for LIEAP? It is a government program that will put insulation in your house, apply calking around windows/doors. You might want to look into it.
Stay safe, as others mentioned.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 8:58PM
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I second the plastic. We lived in a home that had old windows that needed replacing and the wind came blowing in. We covered them in thinner plastic, taping it around the trim (you could still see out). It worked. I imagine plastic sheeting shrunk to the door, would be thicker and even better in your colder clime. Add the insulated drapery or blanket, or whatever, and it'd be as though there was no door there.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Your house sounds a little like mine. We have a front door that is never used. The door is just a cheap builder grade. In the winter, it's at least 10 degrees colder down there. Our main level is on the second floor. We have tried to replace the weather stripping, but that didn't seem to help. In the past, I have rolled up blankets and placed "Draft Dodgers" in the door seam. My DH thinks it's ridiculous and ugly. I don't care since it does help and no one uses that door. If I lived alone, I would do something similar to your idea.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:08PM
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Caroline, I would not think that it would look terrible but if your house is cold, I think a quilt would make a big difference over that door and I would opt for the warmth before I worried about the looks......You have done so much decorating to your house and it is very attractive so I vote yes to the quilt idea and the warmth..

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 4:13AM
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I vote with the majority, Caroline: it'll look great, and it's important to stay warm, especially with arthritis.

I usually keep my home of the edge of chilly in winter, with several layers of clothing. My hand operating the mouse for my computer would get cold, so I used a safety pin to tie two corners of a washcloth together and used it as a cuff, over my wrist, with the washcloth covering my hand: it worked well.

Bengardening ... I can testify that Caroline neither looks nor acts like an axe murderer ... but then, I can't say that I've ever seen one ... or might have recognized him/her as such, were I to have done so.

So it looks as though my testimony isn't going to hold much water ... sorry.

ole joyful

P.S. Looks as though it'd be advisable to visit you folks in summer, Caroline.

o j

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 4:43PM
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My house is very drafty and my wooden front door seems to be smaller than the opening but I have had weatherstripping put around the trim to stop some of the draft. When it gets really cold here in the winter I put a sheet over the door to stop the draft so your curtain would not be "tacky" at all. In the summer I put white sheets over my white sheers to stop the sun from heating the house up too much.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 2:06AM
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