Between the front entry and living room, I’m using a doorway curtain, (also known as a ‘portiere’). Here are the reasons why I’ve installed a portiere… who knows, maybe you’ll find cause to do the same.
I just need to pause a moment and show you what ‘real life’ is like at my house whenever I get out my camera to do a photo shoot…
We have this adorable little dog, that follows me around, and wherever I point the camera he always gets between me and the subject matter and stares at what I’m looking at with the camera, earnestly waiting for ‘the great thing to happen’. I have so many photos I’ve not been able to use because he’s, unknowingly to me, quietly planted himself in them.
Ok, back to the main focus of this… the portiere, or doorway curtain…
I’ve installed one in our 100 year old house for several reasons, here are a few:
1. At night, when the living room lights are on, it feels a little creepy to me with that large glass on the front door just bare open to the front porch and street.
2. In the winter, the small front entry of our 100 year old house is a bit chilly. Though most of the rest of the house is over a full basement, that little front entry has only a crawl space, and no heat source, so it does get a little chilly. By having the curtain closed during cold spells, (and remember, we’re in the Midwest… it gets below zero up here) can really make a big difference in the drafty feel of the adjoining living room.
3. I already had the drapery from our former house.
I had used it in the library there, incorporating a chinoiserie, or chinese influence to the decor in that room, but when we put the house on the market, I took it down, to do the ‘de-cluttering’ and ‘de-personalization’ one is supposed to do before trying to sell their house. So if I can re-use or repurpose something and have it look and work well, I will.
4. Although I’m not a diehard towards only doing what’s historically accurate in my house, I do for sure listen to the influence of that historical lesson. A portiere is very historically accurate for our 100 year old house. Though I already had my doorway curtain installed before I read this, The Old House Guy blog, wrote an interesting post about the historical use of portieres a few weeks ago.
I also found these two pictures as examples in Victoriana Magazine to share with you:
Portieres started around the mid 1800’s and continued through the Victorian era, both to keep drafts at bay as well as for the visual appeal, being embellished very beautifully.
This historical sketch shows how portieres were still being incorporated into the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900’s.
In my daughter-in-law and son’s home, an arts and crafts bungalow, they have all the original woodwork.
Here you can see the doorway that is between the living room and hall leading to the kitchen has the original little runner with rings meant to hold a doorway curtain.
5. Lastly, I felt a drapery hanging in the doorway between the living room and entry would really look good and add charm. However, I must clearly state that being an interior designer myself, I strongly believes in the principle: “form follows function”. I considered the use, (ie: function) of the portiere first, then figured out what would look the best (ie: form) with that function.
So, for my doorway curtain,
I used a 2″ diameter wood rod, finials and brackets with rings. Wayfair.com has about a zillion choices of rods.
The rings, and this gorgeously chunky drapery holdback that holds the large tassled tie back that holds the curtain open, were already the lovely dark brown finish, but the rod and finials were unfinished, so I painted it in a mottled effect with some leftover latex paint to match the rings.
***Here’s a little tip: after I got everything done and mounted it all, the rings didn’t glide across the newly painted rod very well, so I vigorously rubbed the rod with a piece of wax paper. That’s all the latex paint needed to be super slippery for the rings.
When I first made this doorway curtain for the library in our former house, I found the chinoiserie fabric on Ebay.
They had just enough for me to do one side of the curtain, so I used a brown crushed pattern faux silk for the back, which does show a little, so I wanted it to look a bit more decorative than just white drapery lining.
Then with scraps of different fabrics I always have in my sewing room, I fashioned a very simple attached black valance to the curtain. Repeating the same black fabric for a flange edge along just the one side that is the open side. and adding a fun accent of animal print welt cord I made from leftover fabric.
The tasseled tieback is a coordinating one from same line as the top beaded tassel trim.
So should you install a portiere too? Only you can answer that, but maybe you found some of my reasons compelling enough to consider putting one in your home as well.
Although I really enjoy sewing and all the choices available to me if I custom make it, if you want a portiere, but don’t want to sew one, a ready-made drapery panel would work just fine too. (I would recommend a lined panel though, if you are hoping to keep drafts out)
Here are a few examples of ready made drapery panels I found:
Hancock Fabrics sells fabric to sew, but also finished drapery panels.
And of course Wayfair.com has so many choices of finished drapery panels, I’m sure you could find one or two if you have a wide doorway, that would coordinate well with your home.
Want to read a little more?
I found this beautiful fabric on Ebay! It is a fantastic resource for soooo many things. Check it out, see if they have what you’re looking for:
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