Settled in 1732 and incorporated as a city in 1866, Wilmington, N.C. has a long and storied past. To this day, it enjoys a robust historic district, which spans 230 blocks and is home to sprawling mansions, landmark buildings and quaint homes that define “Southern charm.”
If you’ve ever taken a stroll through the residential streets of downtown Wilmington, or gone on any of the many historic home and garden tours, you’ve noticed houses with plaques mounted on their porches. Homes in New Hanover County’s historic districts that are more than 75 years old are eligible for these plaques. After undergoing a lengthy application process and a paying a fee, homes can receive their hand-painted plaques, color-coded according to age. While this may seem like a lot of work for a sign, it’s an important way to support the history and heritage of our city.
If you live in a historic home, chances are you’re well aware of the responsibilities and privileges involved in being a preservationist. Homeowners must adhere to guidelines for landscaping, paint colors and architectural details to stay true to the original spirit of the house. Rather than view this as a burden, many homeowners are happy to comply, and often go the extra mile, decorating the inside of their homes with historically accurate touches. This includes everything from wallpaper to window coverings.
Whether you own a historic property or you just want to bring a little history into your living room, here are a few ways to add some historic style through window treatments:
- Plantation Shutters: For a look that embodies the spirit of the south, plantation shutters are available in a variety of stains and colors and provide a beautiful solution. Older homes tend to be drafty. Not only do the insulating properties of plantation shutters solve this dilemma, they also control light and privacy – especially useful features if your home happens to be a stop on the horse-drawn carriage tour!
- Lace Curtains: Lace curtains are also a traditional material for historic homes. Lacy window coverings might seem like a frilly, overdone Victorian choice, but by pairing a hint of lace with another window treatment, you can achieve a clean, modern look that still echoes the past. A little lace goes a long way to filter light and add a layer of privacy to an otherwise bare window.
- Floor-Length Drapes: Many of the homes in Wilmington are Italianate style, featuring elongated windows, bay windows and other romantic architectural details. The best and most historically accurate way to highlight these features is through the use of ornamental brackets, set just below wide cornices. Floor-length drapes, hanging straight down or tied back with a simple tassel, complete this elegant look.
- Roller Shades: Roller shades have been in fashion since the early 1800s, and for a good reason. They allow us to protect our homes from sun damage while providing a sleek and simple minimalist style. In the early 1900s, roller shades were often painted with intricate landscape scenes, a choice that has since fallen out of favor (and with good reason!). To add some interest to your roller shades without overwhelming your home, decorative trim and edging is a more subtle choice. Remember that spring roller shade that always got away from you and would up flopping around at the top of the window? With modern technology, that too is a thing of the past.
- Venetian Blinds: When most people hear “blinds,” they think usually think of aluminum or plastic. Those aren’t the blinds we’re suggesting for your historic home! Instead, consider a set of wooden blinds, connected with a long, flat strip of cloth, in a dark cherry or walnut stain. First introduced to the United States in 1761 by way of Venice, these remained a popular choice through the 1940s, and are a great window treatment for many homes built during the interim.
We hope this article has given you a few ideas for how to best dress the windows in your historic home. For more than 70 years, Strickland’s has been proud to work with the everyday preservationists who are keeping history alive right here in our own community. (Just a few more years, and maybe we can apply for a plaque too!) If you are restoring a historic property, let us make the job easier with window treatment recommendations specific to your home. Give us a call
or visit our 5,000 square-foot showroom
on North 23rd Street.
Fred Kumpel is the owner of Strickland’s Window Coverings and Carolina Closet Company. Fred has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Strickland’s Window Coverings is a window treatment design center specializing in custom blinds, shades, shutters and fabric treatments for over 70 years. Carolina Closet Company provides professionally designed and custom built organization solutions. Its complete line of home organization solutions includes unique solutions to organize closets, pantries, garages, basements, laundry rooms as well as Murphy Beds. To learn more about our company, visit www.stricklandswindowcoverings.com and www.closetsbythesea.com. Fred can be reached at [email protected] or call 910.762.0944.