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From the Archive: Window Wise

by Bo Sullivan on February 29, 2016

in Textiles

Drawing from a 1911 catalog show real Arts & Crafts curtains.

Drawing from a 1911 catalog show real Arts & Crafts curtains.

Today, Kirsch is a household name in curtain hardware; the company was founded in 1908. In this early Kirsch publication, virtually all of the 14 window treatments show the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement—remarkable, given the popularity of competing styles.

Actual examples of Arts & Crafts-era window treatments are hard to come by. Highly taste-driven soft furnishings changed frequently with the next popular style. Lace, roller shades, and drapery fabrics are not well represented in old furnishing catalogs; furthermore, often they were tailored at home and then tossed away when they got dirty or sun-bleached. We are left with a few blurry photos, and somewhat romantic notions of how curtains may have looked in real homes.

Window treatments popular at the turn of the century.

Window treatments popular at the turn of the century.

That’s what makes this 1911 drapery-hardware catalog a rare treat. It shows not only authentic examples of lace, shades, and textiles, but also how they were hung, and in what combinations—all illustrated mounted on the lintel-casing window trim found in countless bungalows and Foursquares. Kirsch made its name with the inexpensive telescoping flat rod that mounts on a simple hooked bracket. The rounded ends of the rods allow shirred lace or drapery to return to the wall or casing, “shutting off the side light.” Novel and innovative then, this familiar hardware is easily overlooked today. Yet it turns out to be not just cheap and accessible, but completely authentic as well!

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