Monday, November 04, 2013

Curtain Call


While I was in Greensboro, North Carolina a few weeks ago, I visited The Pink Door, a charming antiques and home accessories shop. There was a lot there that caught my eye, but what really struck my fancy were the rather elaborate and, yes, traditional curtains that hung from each window.

One room had curtains that were made of oyster-colored silk which had been fashioned into swags, tails, bows, rosettes, and ruffles. (You can see one of the curtains above.)  While I realize that for many people, this type of curtain has gone with the wind, I find it utterly charming.  These curtains were different from what we typically see today, something which probably heightened their allure for me.  They were proper, dressy, and a little fancy- basically, the antithesis of what people seem to want these days.  But more than anything, these curtains represent a bygone era in design that I miss terribly.  They spoke of the good old days of decorating.

Now, I don't think that this blog post is going to cause anyone to run out and ditch their plain curtain panels for swags and tails, but I do wish that people would start to reconsider certain elements of formal, traditional curtains.  Tailored swags, rosettes, pinked edges, and a few bows here and there don't have to look terribly fussy, especially when crafted of solid-colored fabrics.  Deeda Blair had swagged and bow-bedecked curtains in her home in Washington D.C.  And who can forget those magnificent curtains that John Fowler designed for the Bruces' set at Albany?  In fact, The Pink Door curtains kind of remind me of the Bruces' curtains, though on a much smaller scale.

Well, even if this blog post falls on deaf ears, I say kudos to The Pink Door for being such a stylish, chic shop, all within the confines of some very swish curtains.



Deeda Blair's curtains, which are so feminine and elegant.




The famous John Fowler curtains in the Bruces' drawing room, Albany.




A John Fowler curtain sketch.




Pretty curtains, designed by John Fowler, in Jill Chandos-Pole's bedroom at Radburne.





Mario Buatta is also adept at designing some very pretty curtains.



Top photo by Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic; Fowler photos from John Fowler: Prince of Decorators by Martin Wood; Buatta photo from Mario Buatta by Mario Buatta and Emily Evans Eerdmans.

28 comments:

  1. No deaf ears here. I am a diehard "curtain" lover. True, this style is not for everyone. I think we'd be able to do more in this fabulous style if the overall economy was recovered vs recovered for some.

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    1. Linda, That's a good point. Here's hoping that the recovery for all comes soon!

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  2. Mario's curtains are always fantastic.
    Mary

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    1. Mario is currently one of the best curtain designers around.

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  3. I think it boils down to the fact that people are now afraid of 'pretty'. Embarrassed by it even! so ridiculous...

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    1. Stefan, it is ridiculous! When did "pretty" become a bad word??

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  4. I love a more ornate window treatment in a kitchen or powder room window. Meaning I suppose a pretty Roman Shade, Valance etc.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. Yes! I especially love an ornate shade in a powder room.

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  5. hmmm...this echoes my dream of swag curtaining just last night...

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  6. I too love more formal curtains. The Bruce's curtain is a bit over the top EXCEPT for that particular room, where the curtains must hold their own against majestic interior architecture and fabulous furnishings. I think it's all about balance, the curtains should not be the only focal point in a room. The last picture says it all, elaborate curtaining in a vivid coloration, yet in complete harmony with the room and its contents. I personally love the fabric Maltese Cross as a curtain embellishment; a grand tailored bow...

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    1. I absolutely love a Maltese Cross embellishment. So luxe and resplendent.

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  7. There is nothing like beautiful curtains to finish a room. I still have some styled similarly to these and I still love them dearly - they suit my house and the rooms in which they reside. They, and their rooms, have stood the test of time. They're terribly expensive to make and so few workrooms of curtain ladies still exist that even know where to begin on curtains such as these.

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    1. So happy for you that you still have such lovely curtains! I wish that my apartment's interior architecture was conducive to such curtains. Sigh...

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  8. I do miss making those fabulous window treatments and I adore the last picture ! Hopefully some of it will come back, thanks Jennifer for doing your part. There are plenty of workrooms around who can still do those, just check the WCAA website if you are looking for one.

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    1. Tammy, Here's hoping that these curtains do make a comeback soon!

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  9. Anonymous12:52 PM

    Not only were the curtains you saw beautiful but they appeared to be beautifully made. Thank you so much for lifting my spirits today with these gorgeous photos of curtains that never stop amazing and enchanting me! For me, these wonderful curtains are works of art that show a craftsmanship and attention to detail that can be just as important to a room as any piece of furniture.
    Mattie

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    1. Mattie, Yes, indeed they were beautifully made. I have a feeling that they came from a North Carolina estate. That's just a guess, though.

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  10. Anonymous2:51 PM

    I miss beautiful curtains more than I can begin to say, and if John Fowler was the king, then Mario is definitely the crown prince. No pun intended as I purposely left out the word "chintz".

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  11. Anonymous4:48 PM

    More Deeda Blair curtains: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/02/t-magazine/02well-blair.html

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    1. Deeda Blair has the best curtains! I'm getting serious curtain-envy here.

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  12. Absolutely gorgeous, thank you for the lovely reminder of the magic that can be conjured with draperies!

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  13. Alan Dailey11:38 PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!

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  14. Love Mario's curtains..and that screen! SWOON!

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  15. Great post Jennifer! I love these drapery and this will not fall on deaf ears! Beautiful! Oh and thank you for putting me on your blogroll! I feel so honored!

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  16. Rachel7:21 AM

    "Proper" curtains such as are treacherous ground, b/c they can be difficult to get right (I have seen recent examples of tails and swags that don't work, and remind one of conference room curtains). Perhaps that's another reason they fell out of favor. You are right that curtains such as these might be more palatable to 21st c tastes if done in casual fabrics: slubby linen, seersucker (!!). In the end it's all about the mix, isn't it ? The John Fowler curtains work because they off set the heaviness of the antiques and gorgeous paneling. Fancy curtains in a dining room might be too trad, but in a casual living room or bed room, just right.

    Thanks for an inspiring post!

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