Using velvet as a curtain fabric is an intriguing choice, resulting in a stunning luxurious and classy effect. But curtains originally were much different: how did they change over time?
So yes, one can use velvet as a luxury drapery fabric even in modern homes, but its origins are lost in the sands of time.
Before they turned into a – mainly – decorative item, curtains have long had strictly practical functions:
creating separate areas in houses consisting of only one or two rooms;
protecting houses against cold weather.
Indeed, animal skins were hung in doorways even in ancient times, until the Egyptians decided to use fabrics instead. It seems that Ancient Greeks and Romans used them, too, but rather to divide rooms in smaller spaces.
“Curtains” functioned as partitions up to the Middle Ages, when there was no glass on windows at all: glass panes made their first appearance around the 12th century. And prior to that? How did the poor inhabitants of castles and monasteries find shelter in the cold? With very small windows – due to the structure of buildings itself – and wooden shutters.
During the Middle Ages, however, a sort of curtain did exist: an extremely heavy cloth, used to keep out draughts, at least in the houses of the rich. What we know for sure is that curtains hid the bed, a sign of a household’s wealth and therefore often decorated with fine fabrics such as velvet.