Beauti-Vue beaded curtains – Made in the USA New Old Stock in 13 mix-n-match colors

retro beaded curtains 1970sIf you want a vintage-style plastic beaded curtain or doorway, don’t settle for cheap reproductions — we’ve found the real deal: New Old Stock, made in the USA “Lollipop” beaded curtain strings — in 13 colors — leftovers from 1960s and 1970s production, when plastic beaded curtains were all the rage.  

retro beaded curtains 1970sMade in the USA

Yup, Beauti-Vue — home to 48 designs of retro woven wood shade patterns that you can order custom-made into roman shades — also has hundreds, maybe thousands, of yards of these beads in 13 different colors — Dark Sapphire, Crystal, Beige, Amethyst, Light Sapphire, Rose, Topaz, Aqua, Emerald Green, Olive Green, Ruby Red, Shell and Jet Black. Combine them in any number of ways ways to create the vintage beaded curtain of your dreams!

During my recent visit to Beauti-Vue, Kristin Grumbeck, sales and customer service manager, showed me a large beaded display curtain that combined Olive Green, Ruby Red, Beige, Crystal and Amethyst beads — and it was stunning. The beads themselves are very substantial feeling — heck they were made in the USA back in the 1960s and 1970s. The way the light catches the facets in these beads makes them seem to glow from within.

retro beaded curtains 1970sretro beaded curtains 1970sretro beaded curtains 1970s

History of these plastic bead curtains

Stormy Grumbeck, owner of Beauti-Vue, told me that Beauti-Vue started making beaded curtains in the early 1960s. Beads were at one time stocked and sold through Marshall Fields. Stormy was about 20 years old at that time, working as the company’s stock guy. Each week, he would make the trip over to Marshall Fields to take inventory and make sure they had all the stock they required. Stormy remembers that there were at least 40 different beads stocked at that time – three or so patterns each in several colors.

retro beaded curtains 1970sStormy recounted that back when beads were very popular, people would make all sorts of custom curtains out of them. They would use one or more of three different bead styles – (1) all round, (2) faceted, and what he calls Lollipop – to create the desired effect. Out of the three original styles, the only one with remaining stock is the Lollipop style (S 56), in the 13 colors shown above.

Beauti-Vue continued to stock their beads at Marshall Fields until the early 1970s, when pre-bagged, cheaper beaded curtains from Taiwan began being imported. Prior to that, they could sell a custom beaded curtain for $200 – but once the cheap imported beads hit the market, customers could buy beaded curtains for about $15 for a curtain. Stormy says they couldn’t compete with that price, so they stopped making and selling the beads to focus on their core custom window treatment business.

retro beaded curtains 1970s

Tips to calculate how many strands of beads needed for a curtain

These beaded curtains are easy to assemble. The beaded strands slide into tracks that can be mounted on the inside of a doorway or directly on a wall. Strands hang from the track from the small, rounded bead in the pattern. You can also ask Beauti-Vue to add one of their New Old Stock decorative trims to the front of the track if you want to continue to bling it on.

If you want to order a beaded curtain from Beauti-Vue here are a few tips on how to calculate the amount of beads you’ll need:

  • Decide where you want to put your beaded curtain, measure opening to determine width and decide how long you want the curtain to be. Tip from Pam’s initial experience doing an inside mount: If you are inside mounting, you will need to leave space for a half-inch opening to slide the beads on; or, you will need to put on your beads before you screw the header into the top of your opening [awkward but do-able, although if you are going for 100% full you will need to leave a blank or two so you can get in between the strings to screw the header in.]
  • Choose your color or colors.
  • Determine how long of a piece of track you will need. Track is $2.50 per foot. Stormy thinks they have both square and round profile track in silver or gold, but he recommends calling to check as they have limited stock remaining. If you want to mount the track directly onto a wall — not inside a doorway — you will need end caps to keep the beads from slipping out the sides.
  • During my visit, Stormy estimated that the small rounded bead which fits into the track is about ½ inch diameter, meaning if you want to fill the track to capacity for a full looking curtain, you can fit two strands per inch/24 strands per foot. But NOTE: Pam ordered a load o’ Lollipops and has begun to set up beaded curtain in her office. She thinks that for a full curtain — no space at all between the small beads inside the rail — it’s more like eight strands per three inches — she actually had to call and order more yardage. For a less full looking curtain, you could use one strand per inch with a single bead in between to act as a spacer. Beads are 85 cents per yard with a 10-yard minimum order.
  • You can also order colorful trim (profiled in another one of our stories on the company) to glue on and decorate the track as shown on the display curtain above.

For example, if you were making a full coverage, beaded curtain to hang on the inside of a 36″ doorway that extends down from the doorway 6′ you would need:

  • 3 feet of track = $7.50
  • 72 strands of beads in desired colors (to cover the three feet of doorway at 24 strands per foot) that are each 6 feet long = 432 feet of beads = 144 yards at 85 cents per yard = $122.40. [But NOTE: Pam thinks more strings are required for a totally full curtain — approx. 8 string per three inches or so. Watch for our follow up report.]
  • This equates to about $129.80 + shipping and decorative trim if desired.

To order:

  • These plastic beaded curtains and attendant materials are not featured on Beauti-Vue’s website. We learned about them as we reported this story. To order, select from the colors shown in our story [click on the images and they should double in size on screen] and consider the instructions we’ve outlined here and contact Beauti-Vue directly with any questions. Write up your order, then call Beauti-Vue for instructions on how to submit your order, and/or to ask questions and/or finalize the details.

DISCLAIMER: We do not warrant our instructions; we are doing this as a service to readers to help connect them with this product; we are not making any money from Beauti-Vue or anything.

Close ups of the available colors

retro beaded curtains 1970s retro beaded curtains 1970s retro beaded curtains 1970s

Pam already has ordered a bunch of beads and a track to make a beaded curtain for her Big Fat Retro Crazy Epic Office window. First report: Beauti-Vue’s service was great — she loves the beads — they are beautiful and even ‘strung’ with real thread, not plastic — and she thinks her very full loading of beads on the header rail is requir-ing about 8 strands per every 3 inches. Stay tuned for a look at her project.

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Comments

  1. Robin, NV says

    At first I was all like, “how are they going to get 11 stories out of a company that makes Roman blinds?” Answer: This. And the lamps. And? Wow. What an amazing find. I can’t wait to see Pam’s office window.

  2. Ranger Smith says

    In 1988, I bought my first house; a small, traditional home built in 1940. The first morning, I woke up, looked at the clock and thought, “oh, I’ve got 15 more minutes before I have to get up and go to work”. Then I thought “no, you’ve got red beads hanging in the doorway to the family room, get up and take those down!” It was my first “improvement” to the home. Twenty-seven years later, I realize it would be fun to have those again. Oh well. 🙂

  3. Blondie7 says

    Lovely, and Gorgeous! DH and I have been looking for the true vintage beaded curtains for several years on eBay, but with little success.

    Thanks a million ladies for showing us Beauti-Vue New Old Stock beaded curtains! My gosh, these beaded curtains are beautiful! Wow!

  4. tammyCA says

    So cool that they still have the old beaded curtains..I’ve always loved all types of beaded curtains & wish I had a place to use them. I remember when a childhood friend had them on her closet & in laws had them on a pantry. I bet they would be neat to use for a room divider, too.

  5. Erika Tugas says

    Cannot wait to see your follow-up post! I have wanted an authentic beaded door curtain for years. I’ve come to love mid century modernism, but I’m a hippie at heart. I know what I’m asking Santa for this Christmas!

  6. June Cahill says

    Well, well, well – I NEVER thought I’d ever see these again! My Mom put these in our bathroom windows in our 1964 home in Scottsdale. “Rose, Amethyst and Crystal” – <3. Ten years ago, when we moved in our 1964 ranch home in Tucson, I wanted to do the same, but, alas, couldn't find anything similar ….I finally found some strings of capiz shells at West Elm – and cut the strings to fit my bathroom windows. Thanks for the memories!

    • Victoria says

      I did a similar thing in our basement bathroom. The window is in a window well right next to the sidewalk. We like to leave the frosted window open during the summer, so I found some beaded strings at Target. Not as good — they have metal rings between circular translucent plastic disc/beads and the rings have rusted over the years.

  7. Victoria says

    I had these beads in the open space over the cafe curtains in my bedroom. Not quite the same colors that are there — Hot pink, orange and blue/aqua. Pretty much the same, though.

  8. Joe Felice says

    Good-ol’ hippie beads!!! I had them between my kitchen & living room in the house I bought in ’76. Mine were wood. Today, I think I’d tire of the noise they make whenever anyone passes though. And to think, I had a dog, too!

  9. Neil says

    I’m betting that the next of the eleven stories will be…Tah-Dah! Swag lamps made with the beads!
    At least, I sure hope so….
    Neil

  10. celebutante says

    I could really use some of these… I’m getting too cool and groovy to share a room with two my little brothers, so my architect dad is gonna give up his home office and let me move in.

  11. jivesnake says

    I always saw these in Chinese restaurants in the 70s and thought they were fabulous. My friend and I tried to make some in the 80s (stringing by hand) and that lasted about 1 minute. Good to know that they still sell the track to hang them.

  12. Jennifer Williams says

    My mom had cafe curtains in yellow orange and green solid color plastic beads in our kitchen windows. She thought they were very practical. Thanks for the memories!

  13. Melissa B says

    Heading towards a 1970s gothic revival kind of set up for my apartment. Very much influenced by my aunt’s when I was a kid. I feel like these are going to be an essential element!

  14. Jana (Berniecat) says

    Wow! Am having a deja vu moment! I had a set of these hanging in my bedroom when I was in junior high school and high school in the 1970’s. Loved the colors. When I first got them, I used to turn the lights off in my bedroom and take a flash light and make rainbows on the wall. Happy to see they are still around!

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