Functionality of drapes was the main concern originally. Curtains were hung to keep out drafts in modestly built homes. Curtains were also important to regulate sunlight and protect interiors from inclement weather as well as to provide privacy. The first curtains were most likely made of animal hides. With the introduction of flax and linen as well as wool, silk, and cotton, and the creation of woven fabrics, curtains became more fashionable. Depending on wealth, some draperies were extravagant with layers of luxurious fabrics and trims in vibrant colors. With the introduction of sheer fabrics after 1850, including lace and netting, curtains became fancier. Design and fabric choice seemed to separate the upper class from the middle class, integrating lined, unlined, fringed, looped, swagged, tasseled, pinked, and otherwise elaborate features in the creation of window treatments.
The window treatment design in the East and West Parlors at Hillforest is attributed to French designer D. Guilmard, born 1810. The sheers are embroidered batiste made in Italy. Notice the reverse colors of the draperies between the two parlors, tying them together, but accenting each room’s prominent colors. The fabric shades rolled up from the bottom were common in the middle of the 19th century. The draperies at Hillforest were designed and sewn by Beverly Hafemeister, of Cincinnati. Ms. Hafemeister’s designs can also be seen at the Taft Museum of Art and the Taft presidential home.
Draperies in the house are of modern fabric and are reproductions in keeping with the style of the time period.
Hillforest Docent Manual