everything has a past; curtains are no exception. While the history of curtains
may not be quite as interesting or as colorful as, say, a celebrity’s past, it
certainly does shine an interesting light on why curtains are not only
functional but a must-have decor items as well.
You may know
several people who insist they have no need for curtains. They may argue that
curtains are more trouble than they are worth, are hard to keep clean, that
it’s difficult to find curtains that aren’t completely hideous, or that they
are simply unnecessary. These are not the kind of people you need in your life.
On a serious note, we’re going to walk you through some of the most interesting
parts of the history of curtains and we guarantee you will finish this article
with a new appreciation for this seemingly simple yet intriguing invention.
As with just
about anything in life, curtains came about due to a functional necessity. Back
in the days before central heating and cooling, people lived in homes that
weren’t very well built. The windows and doors were quite drafty and allowed
freezing winds to blow through. Homeowners started hanging large pieces of
heavy fabric in front of the windows to keep out the draft, and the curtain was
states that the earliest curtains were actually made from animal hides. Once
the trend caught on, people started looking for ways to make these
draft-stoppers fashionable. Along came the advancements in textile production
and a new generation of fabrics took center stage. Linens and flax were first
developed in Egypt. Later, wool, silk, and cotton were woven into fabrics that
would change the course of clothing and drapery forever.
you will, early England. Castles there were known to be cold, dark, damp places
and with the dawn of curtains early people had a choice to make. They could
either hang their heavy curtains and tapestries over the windows and doors to
keep out the drafts or they could keep the window clear of curtains in order to
let the natural light flow through the room. Even with the large fireplaces
burning for warmth, many opted to keep their curtains closed, making rooms
exceedingly dark even during daylight hours. You can imagine how thrilled
people were when, in the early 13th century, the Italians succeeded in creating
glass, and thus, the modern-day window came into being. No longer did people
have to choose between keeping drafts out or letting sunlight in. They could
finally have the best of both worlds.
When we look
back through the history of curtains, we see that Asian cultures were using
fabrics and tapestries to cover windows and doors long before the trend caught
on in Europe. Persians, Indians, and the Chinese even used curtains as dividers
to separate rooms. The elite hung curtains made from the finest fabrics around
their beds for added privacy and luxury. Curtains, it seemed, had graduated
from being simply functional to functional and stylish.
1800’s brought about mechanization and mass production of clothing, bedding and
linens making these items more affordable for the average citizen to purchase.
Curtains were no longer only for the elite, but could also be incorporated into
even the most modest of homes. Soon textile production experts began to
experiment with the creation of different weights and designs of fabrics. We
see the birth of sheer fabrics come about after 1850 along with other fabrics
resembling our modern-day lace or netting. Curtains became fancier and more
elaborate as people used design and fabric choice to separate the upper class
from the middle class. Vibrant colors and trimmings also became an essential
part of curtain design and development.
1950’s every home in America was adorned with just the right curtains hanging
in the windows of each and every room. We see a somewhat simpler design than
those historians describe in early English castles, as the 50’s and 60’s were
remembered as a “less is more” time period. Curtains were most always kept to a
simple panel; functional, simple and tidy. It is later that we see more
billowy, ruffled curtains become popular.
Today we see
curtains as a way to express our individuality and design tastes. We wouldn’t
think about leaving a window naked or undressed, as we value our privacy but
also like to remain environmentally conscious. Using curtains for functional
purposes helps us use natural lighting rather than having to use electricity.
Using curtains for design purposes is just plain fun and helps to create a
feeling of comfort to a home.
quite the history, wouldn’t you agree? Who would have thought that an idea as
simple as hanging fabric would have such an impact on how we function in our
daily lives? Think about it; what would you do without the curtains hanging in
your home right now? Would you feel vulnerable having your windows wide open to
the public? Would you notice a change in your emotional state sitting in a room
where you once felt comfortable and cozy, but now with the absence of curtains,
the room just doesn’t have the same feel? We bet you’ll never look at another
curtain quite the same ever again. We know we won’t.