6 Reasons to Add French Tassels and Tie-Backs to Your Décor
Saturday August 19, 2023

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To tassel or not to tassel?

Well, there is no question really, add the tassel!

At least if you want to incorporate a touch of French regal décor into your home that is. ☺️

I added my first tassel and tie back earlier this year with the kitchen curtain I added to my kitchen library nook, and this simple detail was what completed to space.

My gratitude goes to Veronique Waldron for suggesting I add this finishing detail because I would not have thought of doing so without her. Raised in Belgium and having a keen sense and expertise when it comes to traditional European décor and textiles, she loves a good tassel, and introduced me to Houlès in Paris where all of the silk tassels and detailed trimmings and tiebacks are made and designed.

Sharing with me their catalogue, it was much like perusing through a Christmas catalogue from Sears back in the day – voluminous in size and abundant in eye candy as it pertained to the decorating details that came into fashion during Louis XIV’s reign in the 17th century. Definitely seen as a luxurious touch to convey one’s wealth, but as France was quite wealthy at the time, these opulent touches were a reflection of the times as much as status.

Now this is not to say, tassels came to exist during this time, no, there were tassels before Louis XIV built Versailles, it is just that when he commissioned them to add to garments and decor, they became the beautiful, detail rich and sumptuous detail we know today. Which is to say, these are investments, and the exquisite detail that you will find for example in Houlès creates can easily be the talking point of the room depending upon where you want to draw the eye.

Available in all different sizes and styles to fit the aesthetic of your home, tassels provide function and most definitely beauty. The term passementerie refers to the decorative trimming such as tassels, braid, and fringing, used on furniture and clothing (e.g. military uniforms), and during the 16th and 17th century in France to become a craftsman of this trade, it would take up to seven years to learn all one needed to know. What was the final exam, so to speak, of this passementerie training? To make a tassel. An item that could take up to 100 hours to create due to intricate and delicate detail various designs and styles would contain.

Which is to say, you are buying a piece of art, and the investment is very much worth it. So the next time you are in France, and are looking for something special for your home, but don’t want to take up oodles of space in your luggage, why not welcome a tassel or two, and a tieback if you are looking to hold back curtains or drapery?

Since adding my first tassel and tieback to my home décor, I see them everywhere in French (and British too!) films, television programs, blog posts, magazine profile home tour pieces, you name it. Much like the trugs from England, once you become aware of a detail, you begin to realize how ubiquitous it is. And spying them is quite fun as you begin to see all of the different ways they can be used to complete a room’s décor.

So let’s talk about just that. Below are a few ideas for welcoming a tassel and tieback into your décor:

1.To secure a pair of draped to the floor curtains

The most common use is to hold back drapery, and when you have a grand window or French doors, having a pair of tassels and tie-backs creates symmetry and creates a visual announcement that draws the eye to the space behind the curtains whether the be a vista to gaze upon through the windows or welcoming guests into a grand room or space.

Rest easy if tassels are not your thing or won’t fit a particular room’s aesthetic. Welcoming the tie backs solely can be just as luxurious on their own as the ropes, as seen in my photo above, are made of the same material and can be made with all sorts of colors and detail.

2. Use to hold back a door curtain

Frequently seen in Britain to keep out the cold, door curtains are drawn during times of draft prevention through the old doors, but of course, doors are meant to be used, so you need to pull the curtain back to enable the door to swing open, thus why a tieback and tassel are not only a beautiful idea but definitely a functional idea. Tour my Kitchen Door Curtain project here.

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A vintage French brass hook provides a place to secure the tieback and hold the tassels when the tieback isn’t in use and the curtain is drawn closed.

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3. Add to a tall or hard to reach to turn on floor/table lamp

Again, finding ways to use tassels that are both functional and add a touch of beauty. I am not one to add unnecessary kitsch to my house, so you won’t see oodles of tassels about Le Papillon, but in the right place for the right purpose, they can be a nice surprise. If you have a large lamp where it is hard to find the knob to turn it on or off, add a tassel so you can easily find it.

4. Use as a large bookmark in a statement book in your library

If you are a bibliophile and have books on display, or if you have a special or large book, select a tassel to be the bookmark that is placed with the book to draw even more interest to this vignette.

5. Attach a small tassel to a key

Whether this is a key that isn’t used often or at all, or a key you never want to lose, attach a small tassel to the key and hang where you need to so that it looks fitting to the space, but also will never be lost or out of sight.

6. Place on a door handle

Again, I won’t be placing a tassel on every door handle, but what I have done is use a tassel on my office door knob to indicate when I am recording a podcast episode or on a Zoom call if someone else is in my house (during my home remodeling: this let the contractors know I was either available for them to talk to me if they had questions or not). A simple detail that still looks nice, but has a purpose.


Adding the tassel, a simple, yet luxurious detail that amps up the quality when thoughtfully done and discerningly so. Enjoy exploring how and where you too might add this special French detail to your home.

Explore all of TSLL’s posts shared during the 8th Annual French Week here

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30 thoughts on “6 Reasons to Add French Tassels and Tie-Backs to Your Décor

  1. The idea of adding tassels to the curtains throughout my home has literally never crossed my mind! I’m not sure how I have not yet stumbled upon this decor uplevel, but I will most definitely be implementing tassels soon!

  2. To tassel, of course! No doubt.:-)

    I use tassels on some of the keys on doors and antique furniture pieces. On curtains, I have them on the main bedroom.

    Houlès is the dream. Absolutely sumptuous!

  3. Ah tassels–such an eye-catcher for your chest of drawers too –even more wonderful if you have a key to one of the drawers!

    On another note, although this comment really rests with British Week, in the September/October 2023 issue of Victoria, Lady Fiona Carnarvon, chatelaine of Highclere Castle (Downtown Abbey) is holding a trug in her hand with samples of the property’s gardens. However, since you referenced the trug and how your eye will spot them–yes, indeed for me. I immediately also thought of you , Shannon, for sharing trugs on your past posts.

    1. Thank you very much for sharing Robin! Isn’t it fun to now see these details seemingly everywhere? The Trug is iconic in Britain and now you will begin to see tassels on curtain tie-backs everywhere too. ☺️

  4. The tassel is such a nice punctuation mark to any drapery or handle. I have had one for many years dangling from a key that opens the top of an antique secretary. It has a special memory attached and I am reminded everytime I pass. Great post Shannon.

    1. Lucy indeed it does. What a charming keep sake for a tassel
      .It’s so lovely to have such a beautiful sentiment reminding you of a happy memory. All the more special. Kameela😊

  5. It’s fascinating how much history lies behind a seemingly small detail! Thanks for the little history and decor lesson =)!

    1. Mateja,

      So true! So much history can come into play when we slow down when choosing to bring our home’s décor together. Then, our home really becomes a sanctuary that deepens our practice of appreciation and we can then carry that out into the world. 😌 Thank you for stopping by.

  6. Shannon, the tassels (and upholstery fabric 🥰)you have incorporated into Le Papillion are spectacular! I have used tassels in my house to locate a light switch on a lamp, but am
    keen on your ideas to use them as bookmarks for statement books and on doorknobs to indicate availability!

  7. Lets do the tassell😀. Love tassels. They add a lovely finishing touch.In Britain they will be found in all the grand and not so grand houses . I have always had them in my homes and I like have small ones on all my doors . I also have a tiny one on the knob of a drawer if it’s a single knob.

    1. Dear Kameela, it seems that you are truly passionate about tassels! Not long ago, a local needlework shop had a class to teach the basic process. Of course, it filled before I could sign up. That was right at the cusp of the pandemic, sadly, they are no longer in business.
      I have seen some stunning, beaded ones, some laced with golden threads, and some as simple as fine threads twisted into braided shapes at the head…is that a correct term? Anyway, glam it up dear lady!

      1. It is correctvt term indeed Lucy. I like the sound of the beading.I’ve always had them. As you said it just punctuates the drapery. Here in France the.fashion now is for decorative metal hooks to hold the curtain back.( although not in historic homes) We have a famous tissue factory near to where I live and I often pick up small ones in the sample sale.
        It’s a shame you couldn’t get to do the course. Darn Covid! Any chance of the course being offered again? . Every time I look at mine on my writing desk I’ll think of you swishing past your secretarie and reliving that happy memory. Kameela😍

  8. Lucy indeed it does. What a charming keep sake for a tassel
    .It’s so lovely to have such a beautiful sentiment reminding you of a happy memory. All the more special. Kameela😊

  9. I have tassels on my red outside solar lanterns. The tassel just makes the decor more interesting. Really enjoyed this post and the suggestion to look for tassels in France. I am going over soon for the first time and can’t wait to see the sites.

    1. Hello Kate, may I ask what your outdoor tassels are made from? I find the idea of using something like this very interesting but living in the Northeast weather, I am not sure how well they would fare! Have a wonderful trip!

      1. My tassels are from Etsy. I am fairly certain they are made from a similar material such as a graduation tassel so some manner of synthetic. The solar lanterns light up along my roof line. I have six of them spaced out four feet. They are not very large, but just add that extra touch. I live in northern California and our weather is very mild compared to the northeast. They bring me joie! ~ K

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