A portiere is a hanging curtain placed over the doorless entrance to a room. It's name is derived from the French word for door, porte. The portiere, (rhymes with affair), or door drapery, was a common practice known to have been in use in Europe in the 4th century. The portiere was first used in castles to ward off the drafts between rooms. The practice of using them reached England by way of France and they became quite common in wealthier households during the Victorian era where heavy damasks, velvet or chenille curtains were used for decoration as well as to keep out drafts. In the UK, portieres can still be found in homes as a way of closing off a room from drafts and sealing in the warmth of a fireplace.
The curtain looks stylish whether pulled across the doorway in times of need or tied back when not in use. Since they are simple to make you can easily customize them to match your space. I added one to an open doorway leading from my hall to our family room this past winter so it would stay warmer. I like the charm of it so much that I have decided to leave it up year round.
Designers today see the usefulness of the portiere and consider them as an old tradition well worth reviving.Whether you want to add drama or just lower your heating bill, using curtains in this way is a design element you might reconsider.
No wonder we tend to cringe when the thought of curtained doorways comes to mind.
The Victorians took the idea of French portieres and well, did what Victorians did best......... overdo the look.
Scene from the 70's movie Psych Out.
Then came the 70's and beaded doorway curtains made it nearly impossible for anyone to ever again consider hanging a portiere.
However, time has a way of healing everything and the portiere is once again looked at favorably by designers and homeowners alike.
Beautiful portieres will make an eye-catching welcome into public rooms.
And you can conceal the way to a private room by incorporating a portiere into your interior design.
Elegant portieres separating space in Sidney Poitier's living room.
Portieres are great for closing off a room that might be untidy or you just don't want seen at the moment.
Portieres can be used as problem solvers, particularly in situations such as a master bedroom that lacks a door to the attached bathroom or sitting space.
Portieres have long been used to dress up doorways and other areas. For homes that lack architectural detail, portiere curtains can be hung to add interest and texture around doorways.
A well executed portiere will bring a level of elegance to any interior.
This beautiful space is further enhanced by the softness the portiere provides.
A portiere made of heavy damasks, velvet, or chenille instantly adds an element of glamour.
Portieres in Château Gabriel,the former home of Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent.
Or if you prefer to keep it contemporary, try a solid silk, or velvet for your portiere and keep it plain and simple. You can also add a pretty ribbon tape border like in this image.
A portiere also can add privacy and intimacy to a room much like the dining room in the bohemian home of musician Lenny Kravitz.
Look into specialty drapery hardware. Drapery arms provide a smart solution for hanging your portiere.
Jean-Paul Beaujard's New York City Apartment via architecturaldigest.com
Another advantage to using a portiere that people don't usually think of is how they help dampen sound, especially if you choose a heavy fabric.
A simple bit of fabric in a doorway adds so much to a room by adding softness, color, and pattern to a space.
Tie backs are an important element of a portiere. Be sure to include elegant drapery tie backs and hooks to play up the look of your portiere curtains.
You can choose to make your portiere from one panel.............
.............or a pair of panels can be used. Hang the curtains high to make the walls seem taller.
I love this gorgeous dining room by designer Barry Dixon and the portiere is such a lovely way to add pattern and texture. When done right they can be so elegant!
A Pennsylvania Farmhouse designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber who creates lovely spaces using portieres. The faux painted doorway trim is stunning!
Another option for a portiere is as an elegant room divider for small home.
Here a portiere is used to soften a library room and make it a bit more feminine.
Whether you use a portiere for its heat conserving qualities or for the romantic look they impart, portieres are worth a second look.
Don't forget your outdoor entertaining space. Create an inviting look on your porch or patio by adding a portiere curtain in one of many weatherproof fabrics.
Traditional porch with portiere by Peachtree City Architects and Designers
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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer