How Closed Curtains Keep You Cool And Other Unique Facts

4th Aug 2021
How Closed Curtains Keep You Cool And Other Unique Facts

One of the most paradoxical facts you may come across today is that closing your luxury curtains can keep you cooler than throwing open your blinds and windows on a hot day.

During a summer so hot the first-ever extreme heat warning has been published by the Met Office, this unique fact can do a little bit to keep you cool alongside the fans, water and ice cream.

However, this is far from the only fascinating fact about curtains and blinds out there, from the early mosaics and statues highlighting their importance to Greek and Roman culture to the fact that Venetian blinds never came from Venice.

The First Air Conditioning System

In a world before glass windows, with dusty roads and stone houses, debris blowing into homes was a considerable annoyance and problem, but the Romans came up with a pretty elegant solution.

They would dampen thin strips of cloth over the doorways and windows, and amazingly it not only solved the problem, but it also created a very primitive form of air conditioning.

Nowadays, you can replicate this effect (albeit without the damp window coverings) by buying Roman shades, which operate in the same way.

A very similar system was used by early civilisations that lived in warmer climates, using animal hide instead of cloth.

Venetian Blinds Never Came From Venice

Despite the name, Venetian blinds are not actually from Venice, or even from Italy. Instead, they were originally created in Ancient Persia (now modern-day Iran), who used wooden slat blinds (which are themselves sometimes called Persian blinds).

The Venetians, being a civilisation of merchants, did popularise and spread the idea across Europe, which would explain where the name came from.

Blinds Were Invented At The Same Time By Two Different Civilisations

Parallel thinking happens a lot, and people do come to similar conclusions at a very similar time, but the Ancient Egyptians, as well as the Ancient Chinese, can both lay claim to the invention of blinds.

Rather than put a thick cloth up, which would have obscured the daytime sun, a more elegant solution is to have strips of material control the amount of light and heat entering a room but without stopping the breeze and creating an oppressive level of stagnant heat.

The main difference between the two systems, which in some respects resemble Venetian blinds is the material that was used; the Egyptians used strips of reeds that were rolled up, put into mats and then were unrolled, providing some light but blocking out heat and prying eyes.

Ancient China used bamboo instead, and you can still find bamboo blinds in that style to this day, as well as Venetian blinds with bamboo slats.

It is impossible to tell who invented it first so both civilisations get credit for the invention.

The Wild World Of Victorian Drapery

The rise of industrial textile looms meant that curtains were an attainable luxury for many people, and would eventually become standard by the end of the century. However, there were so many oddities that came about as a result.

In the early 19th century, when curtains were becoming a major interior design statement in England, the advice wasn’t that curtains should simply complement the room or make some kind of statement, but should instead match the upholstery exactly.

Given how oppressive this look would be, it naturally only lasted a decade and less prescriptive curtain rules would soon reign.

The drapery would become massively popular, but not to everyone. There was an outspoken movement against using curtains because they were too difficult to make, too expensive and would get too dusty.

At the time, they may have had a point; wealthy households were expected to have a fully dressed window which consisted not just of a rod and two pieces of fabric but included:

·      Valance – A small drapery hung over the pole, also seen on bedframes.

·      Cornice – A decorative solid moulding that crowns the curtains.

·      Sheer Drapery Panels – Which are still used but oddly they were placed over the...

·      Opaque Panels – Which tended to be ornately detailed, elaborate and very thick.

·      Hardware – The rod, hangers and pegs.

·      Tiebacks – Cloth or rope that hooks the curtains in place when they are drawn.

Whilst all of these can still be found, most people and most curtain styles are simply a rod and two cloth panels that can be pulled together.

Finally, the choice of colours that most people could have was fairly limited due to the newness of artificial dyes and the expensive nature of natural dyes. This is the reason why most curtains are either navy blue, dark green, dark brown or burgundy.