To my mind, there is nothing nicer, when evening creeps in and darkness overtakes us, than being able to close our curtains against the night outside and surround ourselves within a cocoon of privacy and seclusion. I have never been comfortable with windows with no coverings, where anyone can look inside your home as they please, particularly at night. If you live in a high-rise building and are well above the ground, curtains are sometimes considered unnecessary since nobody can peer in from outside. It gives you the opportunity to watch stunning sunrises and sunsets, enjoy unrestricted sunshine through the windows, and allows you amazing city skyline views which simply cannot be beaten.
Uncurtained windows are like being on stage!
Personally, I still prefer to have my windows covered at night, preferably by thoughtfully chosen curtains which add a touch of or casual elegance glamour to a room as well as keeping in the warmth in the evening. A well-lit room which has no curtains presents an unfinished look and exposes the room and those sitting in it to the view of any passer-by, whilst you are unable to see them looking at you. It’s a discomforting feeling! Even without the thought of being watched by an unseen outsider, that black section of window beyond which anything could be happening is disconcerting to some of us.
A very brief history of curtaining
I have conducted a little background research on the origins of curtains, and it is quite fascinating. It seems that the first form of curtaining was invented and used by the Egyptians from 3100 B.C. to the 3rd century B.C. These curtains were made from animal hides suspended from hooks in doorways, primarily, it seems, to retain warmth in the rooms. As the evolution of textiles advanced, curtains were created from textiles originally spun from flax and linen, and then from wool, silk and cotton. The purpose of these curtains was primarily to provide a measure of warmth within interior rooms, but it is unknown whether they were used for any specific decorative function at that point. Further investigations have led to the discovery of curtain panels dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries B.C. from civilizations dwelling in what is now modern Greece and Italy. The general thought is that these curtain panels were used to divide rooms into smaller or specific areas, and not as window coverings per se.
And the curtain trend goes on …
Whilst it appears that during the early to middle ages, curtains were not generally used, it is thought that curtains were used by the more affluent members of society over doorways and windows to help keep in the warmth. This would probably have applied to those living in castles, which, being built of stone, were extremely cold and windows at that point in time did not have glass panes to keep out the cold weather and winds. This all changed during the 14th to 17th centuries, known as the ‘Renaissance Era’, when architecture began to incorporate the use of glass panes as windows, letting in light and sunshine and providing some protection from the cold during winter. Because it was now possible to look directly into another’s private dwelling, especially at night, fabrics were used more frequently for covering windows and providing privacy.
The effect of mass production on curtaining
People in eastern countries such as Persia, India and China were experts in weaving beautifully patterned silks, and during the 18th and 19th centuries, these skills were passed to countries including the United Kingdom, France, Holland and Italy. Mass production was pioneered during the late 19th century with the introduction and development of machinery able to produce textiles, which led to the subsequent accessibility and affordability of material to all economic levels. It was also at this point that lace curtains were first designed which provided privacy whilst still allowing the householder to look outside and allow a measure of light into the interior.
The advancement and design of curtains has gone from strength to strength since the 20th century, and it seems that curtaining choices are limited only to one’s imagination in the modern world. We can achieve any style and design of curtaining to suit our tastes and needs, with a vast range of materials to choose from. There are various styles of curtaining, including :
- Panel-pair curtains, which are two similar curtains suspended from a rod and hung on either side of the window, and simply pulled together to close. These are extremely versatile and can be used in either classic or contemporary designs;
- Single panel curtains, which consist of one curtaining panel which is wide enough to cover the entire window and is drawn back to one side, creating an asymmetrical look which is both modern and casual. The curtain panel may be pulled to either side of the window and a tie-back may be used to hold back the fullness of the material if required;
- A window-treatment set, which includes two curtains and a valance, as well as tie-backs. This is a more formal style;
- A valance, which is a short curtain which hangs over the top of the curtains. This does not get pulled back when the curtains are opened, and provides a constant visual presence. A valance may be used for decorative purposes where a blind is used for the main covering, or simply for windows which do not require full curtains but need some form of decoration;
- Window Scarf. Similar to a valance, but this is composed of a long, thin piece of curtain fabric which is hung from the top of the window, or draped over a decorative curtain pole. Very often, this is the only window decoration required. A window scarf is not used with additional curtains;
- Cafe curtains. These are curtains which are suspended on a rod which divides the window horizontally. They usually divide the window in half, but can be hung from any level, according to your requirements. These curtains are usually used in kitchens and bathrooms to provide a measure of privacy or to partially obscure views which are less than ideal.
Choose the best – and relax!
There is no doubt that curtaining plays a huge role in our lives, for a number of reasons. It adds glamour, sophistication, elegance, simplicity, colour, warmth, decorative interest and enhances the style of the interior design of the space. Curtains can either set or enhance the decorative style, which is a tremendous bonus to any interior designer. If you are looking for a curtain specialist who can advise and produce the best results for your own home, then take your time and choose the best you can find. Sites such as Uptasker will definitely help you to broaden your online search in your own geographical area, as well as providing you with customer reviews and online ratings. Don’t compromise when it comes to the style of your living space. If you choose wisely, you will be looking at curtains which you love for many years to come.