published Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Curtain call

The curtain is coming down on blinds.

According to Jim Sharp, owner of Associated Fabrics on Dodds Avenue, many interior designers are reporting a dramatic increase in people wanting drapery treatments on their windows instead of blinds and shutters.

“Blinds are on the way out,” said Sharp, whose store carries upholstery and home decor fabrics. “Blinds have been trendy, but people are finding them boring. They obstruct views and collect dust.”

Draperies, on the other hand, are virtually care-free and practical, with “beautiful prints and textures” being produced by fabric designers, said Jane Mitchell, an Associated Fabric consultant who owns Cherokee Rose, a local custom sewing and design company.

“Draperies are energy-efficient. They save you money,” Mitchell said, explaining that today’s sun-blocking drapes are made from fabrics that can include a window-insulating felt lining.

Mitchell credits part of the turnaround to a younger group of buyers.

“We still have the older generation who prefers draperies [and now] a younger generation who wants them, and I do think it’s for economic reasons. Drapes offer efficiency,” she said.

University of Tennessee Extension agent June Puett said young adults are eager to save money and to live a simpler life than their parents.

“I’ve observed some young people learning from the overspending mistakes by older generations, and [they] are learning basic skills like sewing to make their own home furnishings instead of purchasing them,” she said.

  • photo
    Staff photo by John Rawlston These long curtains are hung over windows on either side of the fireplace in the Davis home in Ringgold.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In the 1980s, the curtain and drapery industry was dramatically affected by shifts in home-decorating tastes, reported “American window-blind manufacturers developed new technology that opened up a whole new area of hard window treatments, the aluminum miniblind. Soon Taiwan restructured its lightweight plastics industry to produce vinyl imitations of the miniblind that were cheaper than miniblinds manufactured in the United States. By the 1990s miniblinds were standard window coverings in millions of households across the United States.”

“Blinds are great and have a function,” Sharp said, “but a lot of people refer to them as dust catchers, and they are not as energy efficient as curtains.”

Interior designer Haskell “Hank” Matheny, owner of Haskell Interiors in Cleveland, Tenn., agreed that draperies are making a comeback.

“With the right fabric and design, draperies can draw your eye to a wonderful view outside, complementing rather than competing with it. Draperies are still very tailored, but we are seeing a trend toward clients ready to use brighter colors and more elaborate details. It can heighten the room.”

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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