Jane Kubiesa reveals the top window dressing solutions for dolls houses and other miniature spaces. ...
1. …for coordination
Flick through any glossy interiors magazine and you’ll soon find terms like ‘design theme’, ‘decoration scheme’ and ‘mood board’, and what these phrases actually boil down to is colour coordination. Modern home interiors, of the large and small scale, are all about tying in aspects of colour, pattern, fabrics and accessories to give a united overall appearance to a room. This can be achieved in miniature with a little help from Susan Bembridge thanks to her range of printed cotton and silk fabrics which can be used to create miniature curtains and to re-upholster soft furnishings for that co-ordinated look. There is also wallpaper to match for the ultimate in co-ordination as demonstrated here by US miniature interior designer Ray Whitledge, who has used the delicate Coral & Flowers wallpaper and cotton sateen fabric.
Susan Bembridge Designs
Price: see website www.susanbembridgedesigns.co.uk
2. …for dressing a bay window
More glazing equals more fabric for curtains, so bay, bow or oriel windows are a dream come true for fans of 1/12th scale draperies. Plus, bringing fabric into a miniature scene creates a greater sense of realism as the folds of fabric add movement to a space. Bay windows can be dressed ‘outside’ of the bay, which means placing curtains at the opening of the whole window; ‘inside’ of the bay, by attaching curtains directly over each individual window; or by using a combination of the two for maximum effect. Dressing the inside of a bay window commonly uses two or more pairs of curtains joined by a matching valance or pelmet as shown here from Simply Silk Miniatures. These kinds of linked curtains were first popular during the Regency period where swags and festoons were all the rage in colours like coquelicot (a kind of red) and jonquil (yellow).
Simply Silk Miniatures
Prices from: bay window curtains £40
3. …to style a Neo-classical pelmet
The Neo-classical design period brought elements of ancient Greece and Rome into homes of the 18th century in the shape of festoons, swags and beads to decorate interiors. Curtains were no exception and while the body of the curtain was designed straight for a touch of elegance, this was often topped with swags and folds to mimic classical styles. As cabinet makers Thomas Chippendale and Thomas Sheraton were the stars of the interior design world at the time, no curtain dressing was complete without a wooden pelmet board in their style. These boards were usually painted and often contained urn, bead or fluted detailing. The luxury silk and brocade Kensington curtains from the needle of miniature curtain doyenne Carol Clarke are ideal for this style. They feature the trademark wooden pelmet board of the period, contrasting lining and a tiny cameo for a nod to Greek and Roman design.
Dolls House Interior
Price: See website www.dollshouseinterior.co.uk
4. …to retain positive energy
According to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui, which deals with balancing the flow of energies around a space, installing a beaded curtain on a window or door can help to improve positivity in a room. Students of Feng Shui believe that a person’s mood can be lifted by the soothing effect from the noise of the rustling beads. They say bead curtains can also act as a net to capture the positive energy in a room that would normally escape and that bead curtains fitted to bedrooms without a door can help to maintain marital harmony. For hundreds of years bead curtains were used in the Orient and were popular in the Victorian era and in the 1960s, and more recently from the 1980s onwards thanks to Feng Shui beliefs. Now miniaturists recreating any of these eras can own their own slice of positivity thanks to Andrew Britton at Venerable Bead Miniatures. Andrew initially made a curtain for his scale yoga studio and hasn’t stopped creating them since. Each one is handmade from hundreds of small beads and they come in a range of designs.
Venerable Bead Miniatures
Prices from: £10
5. ...for privacy
With the rapid growth of towns and cities during the Victorian period, privacy was much sought after to protect the prized domestic environment. One way this manifested itself was in fashionable curtain design. In line with period aesthetics, curtain design was over the top with elaborate fringing, braids and patterns which took full advantage of vibrant new synthetic dyes for fabrics. But more than this, it was also used to screen the home from sun light and passers-by. A common curtain configuration consisted of a blind against the window, followed by a lace curtain, then a pair of working inner curtains often made of damask, beneath a pair of ornamental, non-working curtains of a heavyweight material. The whole thing was topped with a coordinating plaster pelmet or fabric lambrequin to hide the rods. Begin your complex Victorian curtain design with this sweet lace and satin half curtain from The Dolls House Emporium which comes with its own rod.
The Dolls House Emporium
6. …to recreate early drapes
The earliest drapes were for doors rather than windows and were probably animal hides hung over tented doorways. Jump forward in time to the Medieval period and not that much had changed. The small windows were covered with wooden shutters, and draperies in the form of tapestries were reserved for hanging across walls and doors to keep the heat in, from ceilings to partition large rooms and from bed heads to keep out drafts and to add privacy in shared bed chambers. Draperies were something special and expensive and only the ruling elite could afford them. Join the ranks of the Medieval elite with a hand-stitched tapestry rug from Peppermint Designs. Rugs come in half-cross stitch kit form complete with a printed chart to follow, interlock canvas, threads and instructions. Peppermint can even offer a decor matching service to match thread colours to individual rooms.
7. …for unusual minis
Miniatures come in all shapes and sizes, which can make fitting small curtains tricky. Marlyn from Curtains-Petite recommends that 1/12th scale windows are measured for curtains by adding 1/4" to each side of the frame and 1/8” above the frame for the pelmet. Extra is then added to make the curtain drop, either to the window sill, just below sill level or to the floor. To date Petite-Curtains have made curtains for remote control trucks, a small scale lighthouse, a 1/14th scale hot dog trailer, a mini long boat and a 1/24th scale caravan to name but a few. Curtains are either supplied from stock or custom made.
Prices from: R/C truck curtains £5.99
8. …to summon Palladian design
According to the Victoria & Albert Museum, Palladianism was popular in England between 1715 and 1760. It followed the style of Venetian architect Andrea Palladio who took inspiration from ancient Rome. As such shells, columns and leaf motifs could be found around the period homes favouring this style. When it came to window treatments, like other elements of the style, symmetry was a priority as we see in these miniature curtains from expert miniature curtain maker Linda Toerzey. In true Palladian style these handmade silk drapes have a stiff valance which features a decorative design.
Simply Silk Miniatures
Price: standard curtains £24
9. …for a DIY project
Until relatively recently, before the advent of shop-bought and ready-made options, curtains were handmade either by an experienced seamstress or the lady of the house. Miniaturists wanting to make their own window coverings can cheat with the cottage shade kit from d. Anne Ruff Miniatures. These clever kits include muslin to make two blinds complete with cornices. To finish the look, the shades can be coloured in with pencils or felt pens to match your interior. Other products on offer include shaped cornice kits.
d. Anne Ruff Miniatures
Price (approx.): £10
10. …to furnish the English way
When it comes to curtains, it’s true to say that England was behind the times in the window dressing stakes when compared to nations like Italy. While Italians were experimenting with lavish styles and filling their homes with curtains at the end of the 16th century, England was only just leaving behind the simplicity of internal wooden shutters. It’s thought that our first true curtains came in the form of a single curtain attached to a pole. These asymmetrical varieties were only found in the homes of the very wealthy and tended to come in linen rather than the silk used by our European Renaissance counterparts. These miniature asymmetric curtains from the studio at Tanya’s Little Curtains are made to order and could bring an air of the late 1500s to any miniature home. They are hung from a decorated brass rod in the English style and add an Italian twist with the use of silk or velour fabric and tassels.
Tanya’s Little Curtains
This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you like making miniatures, why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine. Or better still take out a subscription so you never miss an issue. For fans of Facebook and Twitter, or to email, print or comment on the feature, please use the buttons above to share with your friends.
For materials and suppliers, please take a look at the Directory section of this website.