Wasn’t it about 10 years ago when the ends of curtain rods suddenly got very, very fancy and important? No longer was it OK to have small, plain black balls on the ends — they needed to be big and bold and dramatic, or classy and elegant (but still big!). Suddenly you could buy them everywhere and you could get big metal holdbacks to match. People everywhere threw out the tiebacks that came with their curtains, and then happily spent way too much money buying just the perfect new accessories to embellish their curtain rods. And god knows I tried! I remember looking through the curtain rod and accessories aisles at Linens and Things, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Target, Sear’s, JC Penney, Bed Bath & Beyond, and most likely K-Mart. But no luck. I was too picky, I was too cheap, I was too subtle in my desires, but at the same time I wanted the finials to be unique and cool. Some of the swirly ends didn’t swirl quite right. The balls were too big or too shiny; the colors didn’t match or they were just too bright (or too pastel). I searched for months, maybe even years, and the ends of our curtain rods seemed destined to remain unadorned forever. Then one day I was cleaning out a bag we’d brought back from the beach. In it were empty food wrappers, lots of sand, a few shells, and some pieces of driftwood. One piece had a pleasing knot on one end and the whole thing was worn smooth from the waves. The other end was a slender taper, about 3 inches long. As I looked at it, turning it over in my hand and caressing it, I suddenly felt the caress of inspiration — I could use it in the curtain rods!!! I climbed up onto the couch and tested my idea; it fit perfectly and looked great. Not too big, not too flashy, plus it was cheap (as in free!) and definitely one of a kind. A few squirts of glue to hold it in place and I was done! It took a few months to find another “perfect” piece of driftwood for the other end of the rod (did I mention I’m picky?), but we finally found one and now our driftwood finials have served us well for 6 or 7 years. And a few months ago, they even served as a safe haven for a little mouse the cat had dragged in. My husband, Bruce, saved the poor thing by sweeping it into a paper bag with a rolled up magazine and then taking it out into the forest, as far from our house as possible. But I was able to snap a few photos before he completed his brave rescue mission. Enjoy, and please share your most ingenious decorating hacks!