What happened to windows?

And what I mean by that is what has happened to the way we ‘dress’ our windows!? If we look back just over the last 20 years, the changes in fashions are dramatic. In the hey days of the late 1980s and early 1990s, window treatments were so creative that they could almost be described as ‘works of art’. They may involve swags and tails, elaborate pelmets. Not only were they lined but also interlined to add substance and weight, never mind the practical reasons such as insulation and black out.


Contrast linings were used and embellishments of trimmings down leading edges and borders. A further dilemma of choice revolved around the ‘heading’. Should it be a double or triple pleat? Or maybe a goblet heading. When my mother showed me how to make curtains, we used one and half window widths to calculate how much fabric we would need and Rufflette tape to gather up the heading. We didn’t know about interlining or bumph Mind you, that was in the early 1960s!

Once, it may be fair to say that blinds were installed for practical reasons rather than decorative features, perhaps for security or to protect from sunlight. But the industry’s never ending search for something new seized on the humble blind and exploited it! How else could you describe the creation of the Austrian blind with its glorious layering of luxurious ruffles.

With a move towards a more contemporary style of decoration, the comparative simplicity of the Roman blind with its clean horizontal pleats caught on and this design remains popular today. It can be trimmed to add interest but essentially remains functional rather than decorative. Effectively, a fabric panel when lowered, to cover a window, suiting pattern or plain designs.

Photo courtesy of Directblinds.co.uk

And then wooden Plantation shutters took off as the smart, fashionable way to cover windows. Anyone with style would insist on these for their home and it could almost be considered that they added value to the property.

Photo courtesy of uk-plantation-shutters.co.uk

Which meant that there was little need for curtains at the window. They had been made redundant.

But, as ever, style moved on, this time on the architectural front. It became the fashion to have huge walls of glass, sliding across to open your room onto the garden, creating a wonderful sense of light filled space. So the next quandary became how to cover these expanses, particularly in the evening when a little privacy from the outside world may be preferred. Curtain makers rose to the challenge. A fresh take on net curtains emerged – voiles and sheers, semi sheer or not, hung on the latest – ‘wave’ curtain systems.

Silent Gliss Wave System, photo courtesy of designercurtains.com


So where does that leave the window’s ‘clothes’ now? Looking through current magazines, it seems as if they are being left bare on the whole. Their architectural geometry has become the feature which doesn’t need to be covered. And of course, windows are a lot more efficient today. They are triple glazed to avoid heat loss so a curtain is not needed to provide insulation. There may be a renewed interest in pelmets for shape and interest but the art of creating curtain designs is nowhere to be seen.

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