Pipe dreams

Have you ever had a negative shower curtain encounter?

For example, you’re in the shower and you pull the shower curtain open and the entire contraption – curtain rod and curtain – fall in the bath with you? This is most likely to happen when you are visiting a friend, or staying with your parents for Thanksgiving.

In my experience, you will then have to face the delightful chore of purchasing a new shower curtain rod, or curtain, or curtain rings for your host. And the whole time you’ll be swearing in your head, or perhaps out loud. Why don’t those pressure-loaded shower curtain rods work? If I were cynical, I would say they are not intended to work – they are intended to collapse frequently, requiring constant purchase of annoying aluminum rods. But I’m not cynical (not much, at least). And I’m also willing to try something new.


Which is how I developed a deep and abiding love for pipe – regular old hardware store pipe. Combine that pipe with some pipe joints and you have a fix for many a problem. Start with the shower curtain rod – and chuck the damn thing. Replace it with a nice piece of pipe and it will never collapse again. You may still be able to rip off the shower curtain, but the pipe won’t go anywhere.


Next, have you ever spent a day searching for curtain rods? Did you eventually decide you would rather chew off your hand at the wrist than ever spend another day doing so? Try some pipe (see above – pipe as curtain rod plus shower-curtain rings plus curtains). Looks great. Even if you have a fancy-schmancy formal area, a little industrial edge is often fun to add to the mix. Most people won’t even notice, but if they do they’ll be impressed. You can also use alternatives to traditional curtains. Old wool blankets and lace or crochet table clothes are stunning over a window – and you can dye old lace. Old linens of any kind can work for curtains or shower curtains. Just sayin’. How about metal mesh? 


If you set the pipe a few inches away from a wall, it becomes a bookshelf. Closer, and it’s a towel rack. Perhaps you, too, have had too many regular towel racks collapse on you (same as shower curtains in my mind). Now I go for a sturdier alternative. Hang a piece of pipe in the kitchen, add S hooks, and you have a great place to hang your favorite cooking implements.  

And check out this nifty TP holder from Wire and Twine.

 When I look at the price, I compare it to my time, effort, gas, or shipping, and the ability to create it myself. Now, if you have a guy around the house, that’s free labor. Maybe he can make you one of these. And I’ll be jealous.

Portlander Nancy Ranchel is a self-described accountant, design fan, serial re-modeler, compulsive re-user and blog writer.