IF, IN the Spring, as we have been told, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, it is no less certain that the housekeeper’s thoughts turn naturally to the condition of her windows and curtains. During the winter, it is impossible to keep the windows immaculate. They have sometimes been obscured by frost or snow, or made inaccessible by storm shutters. Inside, they have been steamed and dimmed. The curtains have lost their original freshness, and have become a dingy, depressing edition of their former selves. In fact, new and clean spring curtains seem to be as necessary as a new spring hat, and cheerful, optimistic people like to meet the summer half way with both.
As a hat has to be carefully selected with regard to the shape of one’s face, one’s age, and personality, so curtains have to be chosen for a window. The tall, stately windows of a mansion need a different treatment from the windows of a small modern bungalow, or apartment. The girl’s bedroom calls for lighter, daintier curtains than a man’s living room. As the curtains form. usually the only vertical mass of color in a room, their relation in color to the wall surface has to be carefully considered. Too much uniformity is monotonous, but too great a contrast is equally to be avoided, as it cuts up the wall space. Skilfully selected curtains can pull a color scheme together, by connecting the wall with the other colors in the room.
In speaking of curtains, we include several kinds, with several uses. There are the outer curtains. Usually of somewhat heavy material, hanging at either side of a window. There are the inner curtains, called glass, or sash curtains, made of thin, semi-transparent material, usually hung on a rod secured to the window sash. Their province is to secure privacy for the inmates of a room, and also to subdue glare, and spread a softly diffused light. There are also shades, or blinds, to draw up and down, but some decorators recommend, in place of blinds, curtains of raw silk, or natural colored linen or sateen, that can be drawn across the window at night, or when the sunlight is too strong.
Hangings for the Formal Room
IN A formal room, the outer curtains look well if made to reach the floor, and if the windows are lofty, a valance at the top is desirable. In the summer, a cretonne, or chintz, banded, or bordered with a plain material, or edged with a gimp that tones with the fabric, the wall paper, and the paint, is a desirable choice. If a plain material is preferred there are casement cloths, and various repps, whose monotony can be relieved with a varicolored gimp. For winter use, there are velvets, and velours, but materials with a heavy pile, or large pattern have to be used with discrimination, as their tendency is to reduce the apparent size of a room. Also, some of these materials are not reversible and need lining, adding considerably to one’s trouble and expense.
For the elaborate room, there is a great choice of silks and silk substitutes. These last are a great boon to the home decorator who desires to attain an air of luxury at a reasonable cost. They are known by various trade names, patented by the firms who manufacture them. They are to be obtained in nearly all the wanted colors. They can be had plain, covered with large or small designs, shot in two colors, or striped in several colors. They are usually reversible, and come in widths varying from forty-five to fifty inches. For side curtains for a narrow window, their width can be divided but this needs to be done with judgment, as a curtain skimped in the width never hangs in graceful folds. When a valance is desired, it should be fastened on to a specially made board, that is fixed to the top of, or above, the window trim. Sometimes a decorative cornice is used, either instead of the valance, or to hide the curtain rods supporting the valance and curtains. This cornice can be painted to tone with the curtains and the woodwork of the room. Some decorators have rediscovered the brass cornice beloved by our Victorian grandmothers. It is cus-
tomary for valance and cornice to completely cover the window trim.
For the inner or glass curtains of the same kind of room there is the new silk finished, or lustre marquisette. This is sold in ready made panels, which come in varying widths, and are usually two and a half yards long. These panels sometimes have an all over design, or they have plain centres, and a patterned border at the sides, but the most usual thing is a wide pattern at the foot. There is almost invariably a fringe also silk finished, about three and a half inches deep. Many of these panels are scalloped at the bottom and finished with gimp and fringe to match. This fringe is not only decorative in itself, but serves the useful purpose of weighting the curtain at the foot. These really beautiful marquisettes come in a great variety of colors. They are to be had in ecru, natural, yellow, gold, amber, shade of rose. I also saw a black with a large design in yellow. This material is sold by the yard and fringes can be obtained to match.
Panels of fish net, a filet net, of rather large mesh, are also being shown. These too have designs, and fringe at the foot, but they have not the silk finish. In fact the fringes resemble knitting' cotton. The designs on these curtains are interesting, being mostly from old Flemish and Italian sources and include heraldic animals, and bold floral motifs. These panels are sufficiently substantial and dignified in appearance for a library, or formal dining room.
The old favorite panels and curtains of Swiss net are still to be obtained. Many of these have inserted medallions, and panels, of reticella, Point de Venise, filet, Bruges, or Cluny lace. These panels can also be had in strips nine and a half inches wide, joined to suit windows of varying widths. One I saw had an interesting Louis Seize design of floral baskets, and ribbon knots. It would be suitable for a reception room done in French style. Naturally, these curtains with real lace insertions are beyond the purse of the average housekeeper. They are intended for conservative tastes, and long pockets, also for lofty windows, as some of them are four and a half yards long, and have a width to correspond.
For the Informal Room
NOW we turn to less formal and less expensively furnished rooms such as a girl’s bedroom, a little boudoir, morning room, or country living room, which may need only one pair of curtains for each window. For these, all kinds of frilled, or ruffled nets or marquisettes are being shown. Most of these have colored dots on a cream or ecru ground. These dots vary in size from a small pin head to a fair sized pea, and are spaced as closely as the so-called polka dots, or spread rather widely apart. The frills are down one side and along the bottom. Each pair of curtains is provided with a pair of tie backs to correspond, also edged with a ruffle, and provided with rings, to slip over a hook fastened in the side trim of the window. In some case the touch of color is given in a colored frill to a cream or ecru curtain. All of these materials are sold by the yard, ready frilled.
All the old time favorites in curtain materials are still to be had, but if I were asked to say what are the season’s novelties, I should certainly emphasize the beautiful silk finished materials, the lustre marquisettes, the extensive use of fringe, the revival of the frill or ruffle, the tie back, and finally the clever touch of color on plain cream or ecru grounds, which helps to connect the curtain with the color scheme of the room.
In selecting new curtains then, our range of choice is wider than ever before. Every style of window and of room can be suited, but in order to make a successful choice we must exercise taste and judgment. Having selected them, we must hang them with care. Some curtains that look most attractive in the store lose their beauty when hung. There is an art in hanging a curtain as there is in wearing a hat. The most beautiful of Paris models loses much of its elegance and chic, if worn at the wrong angle.
by the wrong individual, with the wrong clothes, and on an unsuitable occasion. There are many new fixtures, and fittings for hanging window curtains. It is well to see them, and if in doubt, it is wiser to consult an experienced decorator, than to buy experience at the cost of wasting many yards of fabrics that are expensive to buy, and really beautiful, only if hung in the right place in the right way.
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