Curtains do not exist for their decorative quality alone. They must be so made and hung that they will perform the use they were brought into being – regulating the air and light and securing privacy. To this has gradually been added the decorative idea, which in many cases has been carried to such an extent that elaborate draping has destroyed utility and simplicity.
Utility and Decoration
According to the underlying principles of “A More Simple and Restful Home,” utility and decoration should go hand in hand. A thing can only be simple and restful with acquiring more or less beauty.
Purchasing Curtain Material
The following suggestions may prove helpful when purchasing curtain material:
a. To ensure harmony between the background and curtains, the wall or rug color must be repeated in the curtain material.
b. Avoid realistic and highly colored floral or mixed-up patterns. They are seldom good and soon become tiresome; a boring thing irritates them.
c. When selecting material, study the design arrangement when the goods are spread out. It is good if the color is in harmony with the room background and the pattern repeats in regular order, not at too great intervals.
d. A further test should be made before the material is chosen. Drape it in folds and note whether the colors repeat regularly in whole or in part over and between the folds. Personality is revealed very decidedly in the choice of the curtain material.
Making and Hanging Curtains
There cannot be a hard and fast rule for making and hanging curtains, but a few general suggestions may prove helpful. Thin unfigured curtains such as net marquisette scrim etc look best with a gathered heading of about two inches at the top and a casing beneath it wide enough to allow the rod to pass through.
Texture of Material
A study should be made of the material’s texture about the other furnishings in the room, and consistency should be maintained. Try to feel the harmony of surfaces, which are suitable to use together in the same room, and that harmonizes best with their function. Printed linen or good quality cretonne, tapestry, and oak feel “together,”; but heavy silk, damask, brocade, etc., seem to require a similar richness in the other articles in the room to create fitness.
Both heavy and thin curtains are better weighted. The former should be finished at the top with a hem about three inches deep folded into box pleats caught at the bottom of the hem, forming what is called a “French heading.” This hem should be supported with some stiffening. The bottom of the curtain should be finished with a hem of three-and-a-half inches. If lining is used, it should be left free at the bottom. Lining the color of the material’s background or the wall covering will prove most pleasing.
Length of Curtains
If the window casing extends to the floor, the curtains should be opened; in all other cases, they should stop at the window sill.
Covering Window Casing
Unless the window casing is exceptionally beautiful, the curtains should be hung to cover it; otherwise, a meaningless and uninteresting frame is left about the hangings.
Unless rooms are furnished in strictly “period style,” all curtains should hang straight with the window structure and not looped back with ribbon or cord and tassels.
Valance or Overhang
A valance or overhang will make a low room appear lower and add width through its long horizontal lines.
Color in Curtains and Lampshades
True color in curtains and lampshades is important as the real effect of beautiful color in a room may be changed and rendered disagreeable by the light that filters through them.
Light through Curtains
Light shining through yellow and orange hues will produce almost natural light, which will “key” the furnishings and background, giving a sunny and cheerful effect. On the other hand, the greens have a cold morning, and blue and violet have a dim, muddy, unpleasant result.
A color shedding a pleasant hue over the room should predominate, or the curtains should be rendered opaque by lining. It is much more satisfactory to test the effect of filtered light on the room before making a purchase.
Curtains may be the decorative feature in the room; in this case, the other furnishings should be kept simple to avoid conflicting attractions and unrest. Or the furnishings may hold the interest, and the curtains made subordinate.
All appliances necessary for hanging and keeping curtains in place should be hidden from view as much as possible.
Window shades are a necessary evil but may be kept rolled up their full length except when in use. They should always show a light tone on the room side and one color on all windows from the street.