Victorian Curtain Styles

Written by karen waggoner
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Victorian Curtain Styles
Victorians Loved Windows (Victorian house image by Kurt Anderson from

Most American cities and towns contain some Victorian houses built around the turn of the 20th century. These graceful, ornamented, multiwindowed homes were a standard of beauty for many years, then became less popular as tastes changed. At the turn of the 21st century, interest in Victorian houses and decor revived and whether the house is a genuine antique or a modern version of an antique, its windows require a Victorian treatment.

Lace Curtains

Lace curtains partner with Victorian decor perfectly as long as the total effect desired is not too formal. If the room is to take advantage of sunlight during the day, lace curtains will create a soft, diffused effect on the room and will not block the view to the outside. Depending on the density of the lace, the curtains may provide some privacy at night. Lace curtains have the distinct advantage of being easy to maintain because they are washable and they require no special handling despite the delicacy of their appearance.

Lace Patterns

Choices among patterns in Victorian lace are almost unlimited for they include stylised designs in florals, geometrics and abstracts, providing the decorator or homeowner with the possibility of coordinating patterns with upholstery or carpet design. For a more simple effect, lace fabric is sometimes designed in simple mesh or sheer portions banded with elaborate embroidery at the hem or sides. The only easy choice about lace is the colour: plain white and ecru are most authentic to Victorian decor, while pastels are not.

Lace Curtain Styles

Lace curtain styles are vast because lace is so adaptable. In a formal room, lace panels may be floor length, crossed in the centre, tied back with ribbons and draped with an elaborate lace scarf at the top. In a kitchen, short lace tiers may be threaded on curtain rods as cafe curtains. Lace is appropriate also in bedrooms, children's rooms, dining rooms and even in bathrooms. Where privacy is required, lace may be combined with pull-down shades or blinds.

Toile and Floral Fabrics

For more formal treatments, Victorian decor may be enhanced with heavy cotton fabrics such as toile or florals in muted colours. Occasionally geometric designs are available in appropriate Victorian fabrics. Made into floor-length panels, these curtains might be combined with lace or sheers separating the opaque portions. The heavier drapery panels may be open during the day to admit light, but closed at night for privacy.

Velveteen, Satin and More

Probably most traditional in Victorian decor are formal draperies in luxurious fabrics and deep colours. In addition to the darker colours, these curtains are often adorned with fringes, tassels, embroidery and appliques. They are always full length, may puddle on the floor and may be tied back with ornaments made of metal or jewels. The most appropriate fabrics are solid colour jacquards, velveteen, delustered satin and heavy taffeta. Drapes selected for embroidery with crewel designs are sometimes made of diagonally woven serge in wool or combinations of fibres. The only patterns commonly used for formal draperies might be Jacobean designs.

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