Choosing The Right Window Treatment For Your Historic Home
If you're in the process of restoring an old house to its former glory, the finishing touches and decorative details make all the difference when it comes to reflecting the true era of your home. One of the main ways you can make a nod to your home's history is by choosing window treatments that are authentic to its age. Here are some basic style guidelines that can help you know which window treatment will be most appropriate for your old house.
Craftsman homes were popular for the first three decades of the 20th century. Commonly built in a bungalow, they feature plenty of exposed woodwork (often in oak or walnut), square architecture, pillared entrances and more open floor plans. Windows typically came in sets of three double or single hung units. For these houses, consider:
- curtains in a plain, earthy tone. Choose heavy cottons, canvas, or velvets. Common colors include muted blues, olive or forest green, dark brown, tawny, golden yellow, or ivory. These curtains should hang in straight panels and will not feature swoops or heavily ornamented ties.
- blinds. Blinds should also be made from wood, and instead of string, they should be made with cloth tapes. These blinds are more authentic to the time period.
- fabric shades. Pull down shades in a simple cloth would suit the aesthetic of a craftsman home.
A common feature in Midwest America, the farmhouse often features whitewashed walls, divided living spaces, and pretty but functional designs like fireplaces intended for cooking and staircases with nicely carved newel posts. Windows would often have divided grids but not always. Curtains (usually in a light cotton, canvas, or printed linen) were the window treatment of choice for a farmhouse, but wooden blinds with a white or light stain would also not look out of place. Don't be afraid of choosing a light print for your farmhouse curtains: florals and plaids were popular choices for those who could not afford expensive imported fabrics from Europe. Roll down shades were also common in farmhouse windows.
Victorian and Italianate
In a Victorian or Italianate home, windows were one of the crowing glories of the homes. Curtains were used almost exclusively for window treatments, though wooden blinds or interior shutters may also be used for bedrooms and kitchens. Plan on using several layers of fabric in long lengths -- including lace and heavier brocade or velvet. Victorian designs had deep swoops, exaggerated pull-backs, ropes, or other ornamentation, and fancy valences were not uncommon. Valences were also quite popular with Italianate designs, mimicking the ornate window casings on the exterior of the home.
Federal homes often have windows that are "built out" from the interior wall. This is an important feature, because it allows for two of the most common window treatments for this style of home to be combined: interior wooden shutters and curtains. Curtains would frame the built-out section of parlor windows, usually in lighter linen or similar semi-transparent fabric. Curtains would extend all the way to the floor as a decorative feature, but privacy and draft prevention came from shutters, which were typically painted white to match Federal moldings.
Any curtains in early colonial homes would not be floor length, but instead only extend far enough down to fully cover a window. American textiles were not widely manufactured in early American, and imported fabrics were costly, so wasting fabric on lengthy curtain panels was rare. Interior wooden shutters with rustic wood and iron fittings would also be appropriate for early American homes.
For more information on finding the right finishing touches for your windows, contact a treatment company in your area.