Tuesday, 17 December 2013

'Hotel style' .. or is it

Although it has been a while, today only a quick post, as my books are still packed away and I've got 3 boxes of Christmas decorations to empty.
Being 'into' curtains, pelmets, poles and all that, I always find it disappointing when designers or architects have tried, but in my view not hard enough to make these interior elements exciting. That happens, for instance, when the room cornice (crown moulding in the US?) runs in front of the curtain track, thus forming a kind of pelmet box.
In contemporary interiors this system has its valid place and can look perfectly adequate, particularly in rooms where the whole of the window wall becomes one big curtain from floor to ceiling, as is the case in most modern style hotel rooms. For example The Four Seasons hotel in Istanbul, where, although it's not my own taste, I wouldn't mind staying a night or two.

In more traditional settings, however, it doesn't work for me. An extreme example of this is a bedroom in a top London hotel, in which I, for one, would not be able to go to sleep. Not only is the cornice too deep for the room, it jumps out of the wall in several places, where it becomes not only the curtain cornice, but also the corona top of the bed hangings.
I am sure my readers of good taste will agree that this is rather lazy and just not very nice. In my view traditional pelmet boxes and bed headings should be separate things and not simply mushroom out of the ceiling like this.


Last week I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which has recently reopened its doors after a lengthy restoration project and is looking absolutely magnificent (perhaps something in a later post on the background colour for the paintings). Several historic interiors have been built into the museum and one of these is a salon which was designed and put together around 1794 for a well-to-do merchant in the city of Haarlem.
It is an exceptionally fine and elegant room, which, apart form its plaster ceiling, has survived virtually intact and original. At the end of the 18th century this was the best money could buy in the Netherlands, even if the 'production' is very European. The chandelier is English, the fireplace Italian, the carpet is Flemish and the silk hangings, chair covers and curtains came from Lyon.
The borders around the wall panels and the curtains are not just mitered in the corners in the way we would do it today. In this case there is both a horizontal and a vertical version of the pattern. That's how smart it is.
The carving around the door cases and the doors themselves are beautifully detailed too. Here is the room from the other side:
And here is my own photograph taken in the Museum. Although the cornice is more ornamental than architectural in character, it clearly jumps forward above the windows, forming the curtain pelmet boxes, precisely in the way that I have just been criticising. 

So there you have it. Plus ca change. Very few things are really new. Some kind of historical precedent can usually be found; even for these 'hotel' curtains, which, to be honest, I'm still not going to be designing like that myself.  

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

In Memoriam - Hambleden Manor

When I started this blog I listed some of my favourite rooms that over the years I had found in books and magazines etc. in order to devote special posts on them. Some of these are historical views, others are photos of interiors created in the 20th century. The room I am writing about today was on the list as a room that still existed, but sadly this post has turned out to be an obituary. Not that it changes the beauty of the room, which I only know from a photograph anyway, but it so happens that all the contents of the house were sold at auction last week, which means everything has gone and with this not only a most beautiful room has completely disappeared, also another interior created by John Fowler. And that is a sad thing. Here is the room (scanned from pages 48 and 49 of Chester Jones' Colefax and Fowler and instantly recognized by many of you I'm sure).

It is the drawing room at Hambleden Manor, which reads as one of those timeless English houses in a particularly dreamy village which is often used for filming. It is that beautiful. The house, estate and indeed most of the village has long been the property of the Smith family, who started a newspaper shop business, which is now well known on every High Street in the UK as WH Smith. So the Smiths became very rich, purchased themselves a gorgeous place to live and were even ennobled as Viscount Hambleden. They have owned the estate since the 1870s, but in 2003 large parts of it were put on the market by the 5th Viscount, including 44 houses in the village, but not including the Manor itself. Here his mother remained; on her own since her divorce from his father, the Viscount nr 4. Read more about this business HERE .
I have no idea what happened to the estate or its sale other than internet gossip, but it seems that last year the 4th Viscount died and that this has prompted the sale of Hambleden Manor.

It was for this 4th Viscount and his first wife, the sophisticated Contessa Maria Carmela Attolico di Adelfia, that John Fowler worked on the house in 1955. Here she is in her drawing room, by all account a formidable lady of great culture and style.

Chester Jones recounts how she wanted a yellow drawing room but John Fowler chose a darker shade than she liked, convincing her that it would fade over time into the perfect colour. And from the photographs it does indeed look like the most gorgeous apricot yellow. It was probably put on in several layers and required the lovely layered depth that John Fowler is famous for.
I am not particularly fond of yellow, but this colour I could live with very happily. I particularly love the grey detailing in the ceiling cornice and the picking out of the plaster band of decoration on the ceiling itself. The same grey picks out vertical lines down the corners of the room, which is a very smart detail indeed.  

The furnishings are an interesting mix of English calm and symmetry and some Italian exuberance, and I'm sure Lady Hambleden herself brought a great deal of style to the house a swell.
The colour scheme was inspired by the carpet (as it often is in these traditional  'Colefax' interiors); a large Aubusson, famous for its beautifully faded pinks, greens and yellows.
The carpet is the main decorative fabric element in the room; all the other fabrics are plains or weaves, without pattern, except for the cushions which seem mostly embroidered and the large sofa and two chairs, which are covered in damask silk. The scheme is really beautifully simple: a pink, a green and an ecru taken from the carpet, all appearing throughout the room as plain chairs, sofas and table covers. The somewhat sharp velvet on the central seat and the sofas in the windows is a wonderful touch and stops the room from going too soupy.
And then there is that gorgeous colour on the wall and small bits of black scattered throughout the very symmetrical end wall.

The room sums up the ideal vision of English interiors: grace and luxury, colouring and light, but above all comfort. There isn't a chair in this room that you wouldn't want to go and sit in, and that comfort must surely be largely thanks to Lady Hambleden herself, because this photo was taken several  decades after John Fowler helped her with the house.

It is all a reminder that these houses are merely (other peoples') collections of furniture and fabrics that may have been beautifully put together by a master, and maintained and improved by a person of great taste, but may ultimately just as easily be dispersed and lost for ever. Every table, chair and picture will now become part of somebody else's house, though I doubt if many of them will find their new home in a room as beautiful as this one.

The sale was at Christie's, South Kensington on 10th July 2013 - go to :  Sale 8999 (for as long as it's on the Christie's website). There was lots of furniture including curtains from other rooms.

Portrait lady Hambleden:  Francesco Arena - from an ITALIAN WEBSITE 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A Fabric Covered Mirror

Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire is one of the greatest treasure houses of Europe. The quality of the furniture is breathtaking and it is all very, very palatial in a rather un-English sort of way. However on a recent visit I noticed something quite modest and unassuming that I had never seen before. In a small room upstairs, redecorated in recent years by David Mlnaric there is a mirror frame that is entirely covered in fabric, ensuite with the walls, the curtains, a sofa and the bed. 
 Here is a detail of the mirror - as it's easy to miss .. 
 I have to say I'm not a fan of the solid red carpet, but apparently that is 'very Waddesdon'. As is the elaborate furniture, including those green vases in their gilded bronze mounts, that are to my mind FAR too grand for a room that just wants to be a simple and charming, secondary bedroom. But I suppose this is Waddesdon, so even small, secondary spare bedrooms are given priceless furniture.
It's Le Gout Rothschild ... after all.
So as this is Waddesdon, the lovely printed cotton was recreated specially for this room, from a fragment found elsewhere in the house, but an almost identical pattern (as far as I can work out on the website) is done by Nicholas Herbert in London. He calls it Kaveri and anybody who likes soft faded cottons and linens should check out his website here. It's all beautiful stuff.
But anyway, I had never seen a mirror frame covered in fabric like that before and wasn't sure I liked the way it made the mirror disappears into the background. What I did know, and have always had a soft spot for, were wooden cornices for curtainboxes and fourposter beds that are covered in fabric. They go back a long way, as here at Knole in the 1670s.
I think that is one of the most beautiful beds ever made. I love the proportions, the richness of the material, but at the same time the simplicity of the design. It's so strong but perfectly ladylike at the same time. In the decades that followed it the design and execution of state beds became ever more complicated but the basic idea remained the same; an architectural cornice, carved in wood and glued with the same fabric as the swags, tails and curtains that hang from it. Here is the Queens bed at Hampton Court from the 1690s. 
And about 15 years ago in the same palace, they beautifuly recreated various beds and curtain headings in the rooms where William III used to live. This is a cornice over a festoon curtain in the King's private bedroom, with decorative swags, tails and ribbons.  
 I guess one of the last great state beds that had this kind of  architectural and entirely fabric covered top was the famous bed at Houghton, designed by William Kent in the 1730s. It looked back to the earlier, more architectural style of the bed at Knole,
and is totally covered in green velvet and intricate embroidery that started life being silver. 
After this time a different style came in and the fabric gave way to elaborately carved headings that were usually gilded, providing an amount of bling that the glued fabric could not compete with, as here in the state bed from Petworth. At night, with a few candles, the effect must be gorgeous. 
But that's another story really.
Cornices covered in fabric enjoyed succes in the various William & Mary revivals that the 20th century produced and I think it is still a very attractive way to make a grand statement that is not  over the top. Here is a bed, also by David Mlinaric:
  I think curtains and beds look so much more finished with a cornice like that - Surely it's much smarter than the usual gathered and velcro'd way ? And it's only a wooden cornice with fabric, so it's not that difficult to do.  And also if you have swags and tails, they look so much better coming from a cornice than when they just dissapear over the top of the board that they are fixed on. 
Here are curtains that my colleague Alec Cobbe and I had made when we redecorated Kenwood House, London for English Heritage, using a now sadly discontiued Jean Monro chintz.
We didn't want another silk room, but they had to have style and presence. Reproduced carved and gilded things would have interfered with the original room, so the fabric covered moulding was the perfect solution.
 So anyway, I started with a mirror. And then I digressed to one of my favorite things; fabric covered cornices. But a few months ago I found this image, from the 1840s. It is a tented dressing room in Paris and on either side hangs a mirror frame that is covered in fabric, just as at Waddeson: 
And here it is:
 To be honest, I'm still not entirely conviced by the Waddesdon mirror,
but as far as I can see, it does have a historical background.
Waddesdon from the air; from the Waddesdon.org website. photo by John Bidelow Taylor
A Bedroom in the Bachelor Wing, Waddesdon Manor
Photo in: Mlinaric on Decorating, Mirabel Cecil and David Mlnaric, 2008
Queen Mary's bed, Hampton Court Palace
Photo in: Great Interiors, edited by Ian Grant, 1967
Detail of Yellow curtains, The Kings Bedroom, Hampton Court Palace
Photo in : World of Interiors, December 1995

Green Velvet Bed at Houghton
Photo in: Fowler / Cornforth, English Decoration in the 18th Century
State Bed from Petworth
Bedroom by David Mlnaric
Photo in: Mlinaric on Decorating, Mirabel Cecil and David Mlnaric, 2008
Kenwood House
Photo in Country Life article on the redecoration
View of a Parisian Dressing room, by Francois-Etienne Villeret
in: Authentic Decor, Peter Thornton, 1984

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Small Winter Garden

After my last post about plant screens in Russian interiors, I came across the magnificent interior views of the Winter Palace in Saint Peterburg, as published by De Gourcuff Editions in 1994, with texts by Emmanuel Ducamp, a great expert on Russian interiors and furniture. They date from between the 1830s to the 1870s and they show how much the Tsarinas loved having plants in the rooms, especially the Empresses Alexandra Feodorovna and Maria Alexandrovna. Besides large flower and plant arrangements in varoius private rooms, the palace had two rooms that were wholly dedicated to plants; the Winter Garden and the Small Winter Garden. 
When after a huge fire in 1837 substantial parts of the palace needed rebuilding, a large, double height, winter garden was installed that overlooked the palace courtyard. We would now call it a 'state of the art' affair, as the windows in the ceiling could be removed for air and sunlight and plants could be brought in from the floor below through a trap door.
This is the south side of the palace during a military parade. Interesting are the various little balconies, that were presumably light, wooden constructions, clinging to the outside wall like birds nests on the edge of a cliff. With all the pomp and ceremonial life of the period the Winter Palace must have offered precious little in the form of privacy or anything that looked like a pleasant place to sit and gossip. The Palace was in the middle of a very grand city and had no garden, so these winter gardens offered a connection to nature and the outside, however artificial.

 Apart from the large and formal Winter Garden, there was also the Small Winter Garden, right next to the Empress's own rooms. It had one of these balconies and must have been a very private space.

Here is the palace from the river, which shows what a fabulous view the balcony must have had. To the left, towards the river, were the rooms for the Empress, which faced south west and must have had  beautiful evening light.
On a side note, these images also show that the Winter Palace wasn't always painted in the blue green that it is today. I presume that is a reconstruction of what is thought as the orginal, 18th century colour, which certainly gives the building an instantly recognisable look but I find rather hard (not to say electric, particularly the side that faces the square). 
What made me write this post. however, are the following images; the Small Winter Garden with and without plants, as decorated for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. They give us a wonderful look behind the scenes of what must have been a great extravagance. Before the fire of 1837 the space was a small study for Tsar Alexander I, who was Alexandra Feodorovna's brother in law, but in the reconstruction stairs were created to the floor below, designed as a kind of grotto with a fountain and seats. Along the walls, under the windows and on the side of the steps we see empty troughs and decorative containers ...  
... ready to receive all sorts of plants, individual pots and lots of  ivy.
Narrow poles were also fitted across the room and around the alcove at the end and around the arches and the windows, all smothered in ivy. The mirror in the alcove on the back wall must have heightened the sense of exotic luxury, reflecting the row of Chinese style lanterns.

And in this view from the other side of the room we get a glimpse of the space downstairs, where birdcages stood on wooden stands.
Architecturally I suppose the space wasn't that succesful; they had to make do with what was there and the room below looks rather dark and low, but it must have been pleasant enough in a Palace that was extremely public and had virtually no corridors so people must have constantly walked through one's  rooms. The Small Winter Garden, however, was at the end of the Empress's suite of rooms, reached through her Dressing Room, which certainly in this view looks very private: 
Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860) was born in the Scharlottenburg in Berlin as princess Charlotte of Prussia. She was a rather private and frail woman, who remarkably chose to spend the 5 years of her widowhood in the company of her husband's mistress.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

'Verdant Boudoir'

In 1839 a French nobleman with the wonderful name Astolph Marquis de Custine travelled to Russia and published a memoir. Amongst his impressions and observations he described something that was new to him:

'The residences of several Russians of taste are distinguished by a peculiar ornament, a little artificial garden in a corner of the drawing room .. In this little verdant boudoir are placed a table and a few chairs; the lady of the house is generally seated there, and there is room for two or three others, for whom it forms a retreat, which , if not very secret, is secluded enough to please the imagination'.

Clearly he was quite taken by the 'ornament' he observed, which was unknown to this Frenchman 'of taste' (I love that description), and indeed the 'verdant boudoir' that he described was particular to Eastern European and especially Russian interiors. Over there, in the second half of the 19th century, bringing plants inside became very popular and I guess the grander you were the more elaborate these arrangements could become.
It so happens that one family's appreciation for indoor plants has been recorded very carefully. They were the Wittgensteins, a Princely and well connected family that used to travel all over Europe; servants, tutors, nannies and even furniture in tow. The family had an album of watercolours of their various residences, from the 1830s and 1840s, and in virtually every room there are several planters, pots and vases with flowers.
Later I would like do a post about plants in general, but here we are just concerned with plants as described by the Marquis that were used to screen off parts of a room in order to provide some privacy for just one or two of people.

The Wittgensteins were particularly fond of a house called Pavlino and this was the Drawing Room: in 1835:

Not only are the windows completely filled with plants, in the right hand corner we see a seating arrangement that could have been the model for Custine's description: a sofa and a table, screened off by a row of plants:

The Princess Wittgenstein also had an extraordinary bathroom in this house, with a sunken bath tub surrounded by plants and screened by tall frames covered with climbers.
The room had elaborate drapery (partly wallpaper?) of a kind that I wrote about before: 

In Berlin the Wittgensteins had a town house designed by Schinkel and one room seems to have been a bedroom, dressing room and study all at once. Here again long tubs with scrolled feet were used as ornamental screens.  

The interiors of the Russian Imperial family also show huge amounts of plants and flowers. Here is a room in the Winter palace, St Petersburg, which was given to the artist Luigi Premazzi to use during his stay in 1852. He has left us some of the most finely painted and beautiful of all interior views, so he must have been put up here while he worked on a series of interiors for the Tsar. In front of the corner windows stood a raised seating area behind a planted screen and I presume on the right hand side the bed was hidden behind screens of fabric.

There is also an amusing pair of views (but made by different artists) of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's study in the St Nicholas Palace in the Moscow Kremlin.  Here is one side of the room in 1847, with not only one of these screened off seating areas, also a pyramidical construction of pots in front of the window as well as several vases containing loose flowers.

The seating area seems raised slightly, with probably metal screens for training the plants. To us this arrangement, right next to a perfectly comfortable sofa and chairs seems rather artificial and much like sitting in a cage !

It must also have been so dark in that corner. On the other side of the room, however, there was another one of these seating area, but now in front on the window.

Interestingly, this is the only example I have found WITHOUT the relevant greenery and plants and it shows the construction really well. It was clearly meant for just the Tsarina herself and the table in front has various little pots, ready to be filled when she was in residence.

And finally the image that inspired this post. It is the only photograph of a plant screen that I have ever seen, which (having just said how Russian these things were) was actually taken in London in Grosvenor House, the town pad of the Dukes of Westminster (demolished for the Grosvenor House Hotel in the 1920s). The photograph dates from 1889, when as one of the first buildings in London electricity was introduced, so perhaps it was taken to show off the chandelier, with lightbulbs instead of candles.

Astolph Marquis de Custine (1790 - 1857) had an interesting albeit rather tragic life. He was one of the first 'outed' members of French high society and also became one of the first professional travel writers.

The Saloon at Pavlino, by Sotira, 1835
in: Nineteenth Century Interiors -  An Album of Watercolours. Charlotte Gere, London 1992
also in Mario Praz.

Bedroom in the Wittgensteins House in Berlin, by Eduard Gaertner, 1836
in: Nineteenth Century Interiors -  An Album of Watercolours. Charlotte Gere, , London 1992
also in Mario Praz.

The Princess' Bathroom at Pavlino, by Sotira, 1835
in: Nineteenth Century Interiors -  An Album of Watercolours. Charlotte Gere, , London 1992
also in Mario Praz.

An Artist's quarters in the Winter palace, St Petersburg
by Luigi Premazzi, 1852
in: Authentic Decor, The Domestic Interior 1620 - 1920, Peter Thornton.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's Study in the St Nicholas Palace, Moscow Kremlin
Both images are in: The Moscow Kremlin in Watercolour, watercolours and lithographs of the XIXth century. Irina Bogatskaia, editorial director Emmanuel Ducamp, Paris 1994
The first one was done by L.A. Riezantsev in 1847; the second one I have lost the name of the artist of.
Photo ca 1890 - Old Grosvernor House, from : http://www.british-history.ac.uk/

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

'Newbridge' curtains

This post is about a particular style of curtain valance, which originated in the early part of the 19th century and which I have really grown to appreciate and wish was used more often.
The historical example I have come to know well is in the Drawing room of Newbridge House, Ireland. Since I started work with Alec Cobbe in 1994, I have had the pleasure of numerous visits, as it was built for his direct ancestor Charles Cobbe (1686 - 1765), Archbishop of Dublin.
The house was built in the years around 1750, after plans supplied by no-one less than James Gibbs and it is this original house that can still today be seen across the lawn, virtually unchanged. It is a restrained Palladian structure with 6 windows across the facade; it is three rooms wide and two rooms deep.

The second generation Cobbes needed more space and in 1764 a new wing was added to the back of the house containing bedrooms above and a very grand drawing room below, which also served as gallery for the growing collection of paintings. One side of the room has a large three-window bay in the middle with single windows on either side. Above these there are heavy gilded poles with enormous wooden rings and from these hang the valances.
It is this arrangement that I have come to like so much. It is actually a really simple way to make a grand statement. There are no swags, tails or cornices and no complicated separate pieces pretending to be one drapery. It is simply a pleated skirt hanging straight down from a decorative pole. Behind this the curtains themselves hang from an invisible track. Unlike 'swag and tail' pelmets with gilded cornices etc both the curtains and valances can easily be removed for cleaning and dusting.
 Not only the curtains, but the whole room is an incredible survival, virtually untouched since the 1830s. The flock wallpaper may even date from the 18th century, although a Greek style border was added to it later. The accounts have a substantial sums to a carver gilder, ‘Mr Kearney’for curtain ‘rods’ and an upholstering establishment, ‘Messrs Mack and Gibton’ for ‘curtains’ in 1828, which probably refer to these poles and curtains. The fitted carpet was definitely supplied in 1823 and amazingly is still there.
This is one of the side windows. Curtain geeks like me will want to know that the valance is not 'gathered' but kind of pleated, forming ca 15cm (6") wide folds, and there are small rosettes marking the points where the rings are attached.
A gold coloured braid goes round all 3 sides of the curtains, not just the leading edge and the bottom, as is usual today. 
The curtains are remarkably narrow. The track runs along the top of the window architrave and is 160 cm (63") long, but each curtain is 120 cm (47") wide, making for a fullness of only 1.5 (as opposed to the 2.5 - 3 that is often used nowadays). Perhaps not wide, they were certainly long; in fact no less that 30 cm (12") 'overlong'. This extra length was recommended at the time against drafts. When opened, the curtains were hooked up on brass stays, creating great billowing swags.
In 1840, an amateur drawing of the room was done, probably by the young Frances Power Cobbe  (who became an interesting person in her own right), which depicts not only the curtains, but also many pieces of furniture that are still present in the room today. Interestingly it shows a summer arrangement with four curtains removed, or perhaps pairs of curtains were drawn to one side . 
This particular curtain/valance type seems to have been a kind of house style for Newbridge. Above the Drawing Room there was a bedroom with the same bay window and a photograph of ca 1905 shows this room with a continuous skirt, which came down to chair rail height in between the windows. The Dining Room has this type of valance as well, but those came from another house in Co. Dublin, Kenure Park (built in the 18th century and enlarged in the first half of the 19th) and were purchased by the Cobbes when the contents were sold up in 1964. Finally, the Library has a bay window too, with one big continuous pole above it. Originally there were two sets of curtains for this room: chintz for summer and heavy rep for winter. About ten years ago I made new chintz curtains and a valance for the room, in the same style
This style of curtain valance - a skirt hanging straight down from rings on a decorative pole - I haven't found anywhere before the second quarter of the 19th century. It was in that period that books began to be published that not only supplied professional upholsterers but also interested amateurs and house holders with the latest trends and fashions in interior design. One such book, by John Claudius Loudon, contained this plate in 1833, which included a section of the pole/board/track construction, explaining how it worked.  
Loudon recommended that this design "may be considered for a cottage finished in the Grecian style , including under that term the Italian manner". What that last bit means I don't know, but it is clear that he thought this style suitable for a room considerably more modest than the Newbridge Drawing Room. He also stated that "the pole to which the drapery is attached would look remarkably well if stained of a mahogany colour, or in a gothic cottage to resemble oak".  Perhaps this 'cottage' use, explains why so few valances of this type seem to have survived and how seldom they have been depicted.
Here is one from 1835, decorated with rope on the valance and braid around the curtains:
Valances like this are surprisingly rare in historic interior views; I have only found a handful; amongst them is this country library, with points that come down to about two thirds of the total height.
 George Pyne painted a number of student rooms in Oxford colleges around 1860.
They are charming and one day I should write a piece about them here.
 Some of them have what I now call the 'Newbridge' type valance:    
In Germany there was a strong tradition for windows draped in the Empire style throughout the first half of the 19th century, often entirely made of muslin, but around 1850 in the Royal Palace in Berlin there were several rooms with simple, straight valances hung from poles. One of these is just visible in the left margin of my blog - and here is another, in one of those beautiful watercolours by Eduard Gaertner. The fabric in the valance seems to hang almost flat, which is a surprisingly un-grand effect for what must have been an important royal palace. 
From the 1870s onwards there was a change in the fashion for curtains and valances, partly caused by writings by authors such as Charles Eastlake, who despised the complicated constructions of fixed swags and tails that were impossible to clean and were deemed ugly and unhealthy dust traps. There were also new theories about fresh air etc and general good health.
Eastlake recommended simple iron rods with curtains that hang straight down, just touching the
floor. Tiebacks were not allowed. The only possible elaboration was a 'lambrequin' ; a rectangular piece of fabric attached to a wooden board above the rod, with the sole function of draft exclusion. His book became extremely influential and the new theories permeated the highest echelons of society. Although rooms could become ever more covered in pattern and crammed with furniture and objects, and although the textiles became ever more richly woven and embroidered, the actual shape of curtains became very simple indeed.

So there was a simplifcation in style but at the same time an elaboration in materials, and this can be clearly observed in the pages of  'Artistic Houses', which was published in 1883 and recorded the latest and most sumptuous interiors of the time in places like New York, Boston and Philadelphia etc. It is a fascinating insight of how the richest people in the world lived at one time, and a must for enthusiasts for Edith Wharton, who was 22 when the book was published and knew some of the houses.
Amongst the 203 photographs only one shows swagged curtains in the style that Eastlake railed against (Mrs Cornelia's M. Stewart's bedroom, but her vast house really belongs to an earlier age).
All other curtains are made from richly embroidered and decorated materials, often with horizontal bands of decoration, and although they look undoubtedly expensive, their construction couldn't be more simple. There is only one exception; the Dining Room of the Clara Jessup Moore House in Philadelphia. Although the window curtains are as simple as Eastlake would have them, over a doorway we find our old friend the valance from a pole:   
In the Netherlands there is a beautifully preserved house of the same period, built by a wealthy Bisdom van Vliet heiress and her husband in ca 1875. She was widowed 6 years later, was childless and left the house and everything in it to a foundation after her death in 1923. It is one of the most complete survivals of late 19th century interiors, as it was only ever lived in by one person. 
The interiors show the mid-19th century neo 'tous les Louis' style with swagged and tailed curtain valances everywhere. Everywhere except in the 'front' and 'back'  rooms downstairs.
Here the curtains must have been redone about 10 to 20 years later with flat valances hung from brass poles. In the front room these are of red velvet with panels of brocade in the 'artistic' style of the 1880s : 
In the back room they are embroidered with flowers in Art Nouveau style, which I would say date from a few years later again. Eastlake would have approved of the fabric and the flat valance, but hanging it from a pole would for him defy the purpose of draft excluder: 
Something not dissimilar, called 'Window Lambrequin' was offered in a Boston catalogue of 1883 : 
I will end with a couple of windows that  were dressed in this 'Newbridge' style more recently,  returning first to the original ones, as Alec and I had them copied for English Heritage about ten years ago. When they asked us to redecorate the four main rooms of Kenwood House, London, for various reasons the 1828 of the Newbridge curtains date was exactly right for the dining room, which doubled as a picture gallery, and we installed exact copies of them.
 I also found this American dining room online, decorated (I believe) by Jed Johnson.
This is how it can look in a sleek modern room, although to my mind the poles could have been more interesting : 
And finally the curtains I wake up with every day myself, done in a Braquenie fabric which is now sadly discontinued, on a wall of Farrow and Ball 'Dead Salmon'. There is 50 cm (20") of wall between the top of the window and the ceiling cornice, so the valance simply fills that whole space and takes no light away from the room. Putting the pole right up gives the room a great sense of height as well. I think this is a type of curtain valance that is very historical,
very attractive, very simple to make and surprisingly unusual.
1. Newbridge Front - from Country Life Magazine, Photographer Paul Barker.
2. Newbridge Drawing Room - from www.newbridgehouseandfarm.com.
3. Newbridge Side window - my photo.
4. Drawing by FP Cobbe - supplied by Alec Cobbe.
5. Newbridge Library - from www.newbridgehouseandfarm.com  (detail).
6. Curtain design by John Claudius Loudon, from Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture and Furniture, 1833. In : Capricious Fancy Draping and Curtaining the Historic Interior 1800 - 1930, Gail Caskey Winkler, Philadelphia, 2013.
7. Curtain design by Thomas King, from Valances and Draperies, consisting of New Designs for Fashionable Upholstery, 1835. In : Capricious Fancy Draping and Curtaining the Historic Interior 1800 - 1930, Gail Caskey Winkler, Philadelphia, 2013.
8. Interior of a Library. In: Inside Out, Charles Plante Fine Arts. Also in: Nineteenth-Century Decoration, the Art of the Interior, Charlotte Gere, 1989.
9. Interior of an Oxford College, George Pyne, ca 1856. From Sotheby's sale catalogue (Safra Collection).
10. Room in the Berlin Stadtschloss, by Eduard Gaertner. In: Authentic Decor, The Domestic Interior 1620 - 1920, Peter Thornton, 1984.
11. Dining Room of the Clara Jessup Moore House in Philadelphia. In: The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age, all 203 Photographs from 'Artistic Houses', Dover Publications, 1987.
12 & 13. Interiors of Museum Bisdom van Vliet - my photos.
14. Window Lambrequin, from sale catalogue R.H. White & Co. spring and summer 1883. In : Capricious Fancy Draping and Curtaining the Historic Interior 1800 - 1930, Gail Caskey Winkler, Philadelphia, 2013.
15. Kenwood House Dining Room, in: Country Life Magazine
16. Dining Room, Jed Johnson, from Internet.
17. Sitting Room, from Internet
18. Bedroom, my photo.