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How the humble door curtain became the latest home must-have

Searches for door curtains are up 62 per cent in this cold weather, according to the curtain company Hillarys
Searches for door curtains are up 62 per cent in this cold weather, according to the curtain company Hillarys

It takes a really cold snap, like the one we’re having, to make you look around your home and try to identify how you can keep the heat in.

One simple and stylish solution for a draughty home is to fit a thick curtain over the inside of the front door, which will create an extra layer of insulation against the cold: searches for door curtains are up 62 per cent, according to the curtain company Hillarys.

Energy saving

Professor Richard Fitton, from the school of science at the University of Salford, has measured the impact of door curtains in the university’s innovative Energy House 2.0 project, researching energy use and loss. “Door curtains work to help with feeling warmer in two ways,” he says. “Firstly, they do stop infiltration of the cold air getting in and hot air leaving the house, and secondly, they insulate the door itself, so they stop heat transmitting out of the home that way.”

Door curtain by Hillarys
Door curtain by Hillarys - Hillarys

He warns that the energy saving isn’t massive – around 0.6 per cent of your energy bill, or around £4 a year on a traditional two-bedroom terrace house. “But that will increase with larger properties, and also it’s worth noting that those savings stack up each year,” says Fitton.

He also points out that without draughts our homes feel warmer than they are, “so someone might be less tempted to turn up the heating a notch or two, which helps with energy savings. Overall, they are a cheap and easy thing to install, and will pay for themselves over a number of years.”

Yasamin Feehily-Ghazizadeh, who documents her period property in Cheshire on Instagram (@overdale_house), agrees that a door curtain can help with the draught: “We have a big cast-iron radiator near the front door, but it was always cold as the heat just escaped. Now I would say it’s about three or four degrees warmer at night. We used a wool fabric from Warner House and a thick thermal lining. I also made the curtain extra long, so that no heat could escape at the bottom.”

Yasamin Feehily-Ghazizadeh says her home in Cheshire is three or four degrees warmer thanks to their new wool curtain
Yasamin Feehily-Ghazizadeh says her home in Cheshire is three or four degrees warmer thanks to their new wool curtain

Visual appeal

Feehily-Ghazizadeh adds that it makes the hallway look “more cosy” too. Because along with reducing draughts, one big advantage of a door curtain is that they add huge – and instant – visual appeal. “They’re another way to introduce texture and interest to an entrance or doorway, and can easily shield off things you don’t want to see or be seen,” agrees homeware designer Tori Murphy, who has just released a line of ready-made wool door curtains (from £799; Tori Murphy).

Tori Murphy's Harbour Stripe in Redwood curtain with velvet trim has instant visual appeal
Tori Murphy's Harbour Stripe in Redwood curtain with velvet trim has instant visual appeal

The designer Isabella Worsley says door curtains are essential for keeping in the heat in a place like the Walmer Castle pub in Notting Hill, which she recently redesigned, where doors are open and shut all day long, but the inside needs to stay cosy. “Door curtains can be a great way to bring interest into a room, as well as serving a practical purpose in the cold winter months,” she adds.

Isabella Worsley added door curtains to the Walmer Castle pub in Notting Hill
Isabella Worsley added door curtains to the Walmer Castle pub in Notting Hill - Helen Cathcart

Feeling secure

There’s another psychological element that a door curtain can add to a home – a metaphorical feeling of hoisting up the drawbridge. “Door curtains can really help install a feeling of security and privacy,” says Angus Buchanan, co-founder of interior designers Buchanan Studio, who has curtains in the studio’s Ticking Rose heavyweight linen fabric at home in London. When they’re drawn, “you forget there is a busy street outside.”

Door curtain by Buchanan Studio
Door curtain by Buchanan Studio - Alicia Waite

Best fabric

You need to make a sensible fabric choice depending on what door you’re covering; if it’s hanging over a front door in a busy hallway, the advice of Yvonne Keal of Hillarys is to “choose darker coloured fabrics to avoid showing dirt, and thicker hard wearing fabrics like velvets and bouclés.” The brand’s Darcia Velvet Emerald gives a dramatic and cosy feel (prices start from £125, including measuring and fitting, Hillarys), while La Redoute has a sleek velvet offering with a hidden tab in a range of colours (from £30 in the sale, La Redoute).

But Worsley says that you can get away with more than you might think in terms of fabrics. “They do need to be able to withstand daily wear and tear, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t also look beautiful,” she says. “More decorative fabrics can still be used, but add a robust border along the leading edge and base – we find that wools and leathers can work well.” She uses patterned fabrics from her own range; for a ready-made patterned curtain, The Mill Shop has an attractive tapestry-effect design (from £50, The Mill Shop).

Think about hardware

Feehily-Ghazizadeh says that people “are put off because they are unsure of how to configure the rail, or which side to have the curtain, but there is usually a way”. Bespoke rails can be an option: Made By the Forge, a family-run British forging company, custom-makes poles to fit (especially helpful in awkward spaces), but also has an off-the-shelf option (from £86.50, Made By the Forge).

Not just external doors

Door curtains don’t have to be used in the obvious place, on the front door: the interior designer Hannah Llewelyn Hughes recently worked on a stone cottage and fitted a curtain to an internal door, “to add an extra layer of warmth and help regulate the temperate balance within the space”.

Designer Hannah Llewelyn Hughes fitted an internal door curtain in this stone cottage to help regulate the temperate balance within the space
Designer Hannah Llewelyn Hughes fitted an internal door curtain in this stone cottage to help regulate the temperate balance within the space

Ana Perez, who owns Spinks Nest, a holiday cottage in Norfolk, used curtains instead of doors to the bedroom: “We were driven by lack of space, but also because they add not only instant warmth to the room, but also a touch of colour and personality,” she says.

Murphy agrees they can be used all over the house to create what she terms “soft doors”. “We have one at home, not covering our front door but covering an old doorway and nook that is now our children’s toy cupboard,” she says. “It is an exterior wall, so it can feel a little chilly – plus it’s impossible to keep things totally tidy in there all the time, so it’s the perfect solution to close things away until the morning while helping keep out the chill.”

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