Today with modern technologies of air-conditioners and central heating we can chose light over warmth; but this wasn’t the case always. Curtains have been used from ancient times to define privacy and space. Animal hides were used to stop drafts and assert boundaries. It was suspended from doorways affixed using hooks and any large gaps in the home, the hides would stop drafts and assert boundaries. These hides because it was stiff did not drape properly.
It was during ancient Egypt era, the textile production advanced and household textiles’ evolution was in parallel to the developments in clothing. Early textiles popular were flax and linen which was then followed by wool and later silk and cotton. Though little evidence is available, but it would be safe to say that during Middle Ages woven textiles had found a place in the home. It was popular amongst the affluent families to cover windows and doors.
In a castle, it is often cold and the places are damp, rooms will be occupied with large fires. Tapestries or heavy cloths kept out the cold which excluded light and produced smoke-filled dark rooms.
During 13th century is when there was an advent of glass panes windows. Curtains then transformed from shields against the elements to drapes used for privacy.
While glass allowed in light from outside, it also allowed voyeuristic eyes of strangers and neighbors. Curtains and shutters were specifically used to define this privacy but how we see curtain ‘design’ today was still many centuries away. On the other side of the world, the primitive civilizations of the China and India and East in Persia had been using home textiles in more ways like to separate rooms and cover openings, but these concepts took years to reach American and European homes.
Time-consuming handmade items were a constraint which was overcome by production machinery in mid 1800s. This was a revolution in household textiles making it readily available. It became more affordable and was available to emerging middle classes which was prior reserved only for the affluent families. The complexity of the curtain at your house defined your status, most common being lace curtains. Throughout the rest of the century, curtain fashion changed as regularly as hairstyles. In following years, 50’s brought big floral along with abstract prints inspired from science and technology, 70‘s were all about pastels and ethnic textiles and stripes and checks were popular through the ‘80s.
This is how household textiles evolved and helped curtains become what they are today. Today, curtains play many roles in the household: light and air control, insulation, privacy and fashion. The multitude of designs and styles available now means that the perfect pair for your room can be easily discovered.