Curtain History: Past & Present

history of curtains

curtain history

Curtains have a history almost as long as textiles. For centuries, curtains have been used to define spaces and create a sense of privacy, as well as protect the inhabitants of a home from harsh weather conditions including changing temperatures.

Past: Curtain History

The first known uses of curtains were fashioned from animal hides. These hides were placed over doorways and fastened with hooks. As you imagine, being as stiff as they were, hides didn’t drape well.

Increasing advancements in textile production, including weaving and dying, saw the evolution of household textiles intended for warmth (e.g. blankets, hangings, bed hangings, and curtains).

These early textiles, first spun in ancient Egypt, were comprised of linen and flax. Wool, silk, and cotton shortly followed. These fabrics, still in existence today, provided a more flexible material for protecting a home’s inhabitants from harsh weather conditions.

Although little visual documentary evidence exists from the Early and Middle Ages, it is reasonable to imagine that inhabitants of early homes – particularly those occupying castles, used woven tapestries over doors and windows.

These tapestries, which were quite heavy, were used to keep out the cold. This was especially common in Northern countries. Tapestries helped to keep warmth (and unfortunately, smoke) in rooms.

The Renaissance saw a drastic improvement in both windows and their coverings. During this time, we saw the development and implementation of glass windows, thus causing homes to look more similar to present day homes.

For privacy and warmth, curtains were hung over them. Textile manufacturing machinery in the 1840s allowed for the mass-production of textiles. Textiles, including curtains, become more accessible to the middle class shortly thereafter.

The World Wars altered the way people lived. With increasing populations, cities began building homes closer together, thus increasing an occupants need for privacy – and, as a result, driving the manufacturing of curtains forward.

Present: Modern Curtains

Today’s curtains factor in form, function, and style. You can find curtains that are both functional and decorative; or purely decorative. If you’re looking to outfit your home with curtains, click here, or contact Nancy at (720) 212-6558.

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