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Part Your Window Shades, Think of Cleopatra

Friday, April 26th, 2013

History of window blinds: Old Egypt to modern day

You’re about to indulge in a subject that’s not talked about every day – the history of window covers … a surprisingly wondrous subject worth exploring.

After reading this, you’re going to appreciate the window furnishings in your home every time you part them, roll them up, or tie them in a not.

You’ll think of Cleopatra, laying in her bed, surrounded by leopards and pharaohs … renaissance characters like Elizabeth I, Shakespeare and Machiavelli, writing at their desk and studying court documents in a room decorated with long, elaborate window curtains … and unfortunate events like The Great Depression and the housewives who used rags instead of fanciful drapes to blind the outside light.

 

 

Ancient Egypt: Origins

Ancient Egypt was arguably the first civilization to conceive interior decorating, as we know it today.  From the beds they slept in to the cushions they sat on while playing board games like Senet, they appreciated comfort and custom design.  It was also fairly easy for affluent Egyptians to acquire the look they wanted due to Egypt’s production of certain textiles.

The spinning of linen and flax is native to Egypt and was in large supply back in the day.  After taking an interest in fashioning the home, wealthy Egyptians began accessorizing.  Things like bed drapes, sheets, and window curtains became essential pieces in all homes.

The Renaissance: Same Style, Different Design

Fast forward thousands of years and affluent people living during The Renaissance were decorating their homes with curtains similar to the Egyptians.  Some of them were still made out of linen and flax, but textiles that were easier to obtain like cotton were dominant.  People who were especially rich were able to cover their windows with drapes made from silk.

Although the hanging style didn’t differ from the style used in Ancient Egypt, the design did.  Like the dresses women wore, curtains attained a puffy characteristic.  Much like the women flaunted their wealth with their dresses, the curtains flaunted their light-blinding sill with their balls of fabric clumped together at the top.

The Great Depression: Simplifying

The Great Depression obviously wasn’t the first occurrence that forced people to simplify their homes, but it still serves as a relevant depiction.

In the 1900’s and earlier, interior furnishings became cheaper and more available to people in all financial situations.  Curtains weren’t considered a luxury item anymore – they were considered a natural element in all homes.  But, when The Great Depression struck, window curtains ceased to be considered a natural element.  Things like food, clothing and bedding were prioritized.

Those who were lucky could spare a sheet to block out the early morning sun.  Others, however, weren’t so fortunate.  They needed every piece of clothing and bedding to stay warm during the winter.  Because of this, a new window drape – a worn rag – came to be.

The Modern Day: Options Galore!

Today, there are countless window cover options.  Whether you’re own a budget or swimming in money, you’re sure to find the curtain right for you.

But wait … curtains?

Yes, of course they still exist, but window blinds are the new popular form.  They’re easy to install, easy to control, and easy to clean.  Some of them even provide insulation benefits like cellular window shades.  During the winter, they work with your heater to keep warm air in and, during the summer, they work with your air conditioning unit to keep warm air out.  In addition to looking good, they’re also very practical.

Today, we have so many stylish and affordable options to choose from.  The first characteristic can be attributed to civilizations like Ancient Egypt while the second can be attributed to the modern industrial world.

Whether you’re a fan of Good Housekeeping shades, Bali blinds, or custom drapes, remember this: there’s a history in everything worth appreciating, even window covers.

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