Get Creative With Café Curtains by Continental Window Fashions
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Get Creative With Café Curtains

Get Creative With Café Curtains

Cafe curtains are often maligned as too cutesy, but there’s a lot to love about them. Consider the pure practicality, for starters. Cafe curtains originated in the--you guessed it--cafes of 19th-century Europe so that patrons could enjoy their strudel or sachertorte and coffee free from the curious stares of passersby. And since they covered only the lower half, two-thirds or even three-quarters of the window, cafe curtains still let in plenty of light from outside. It’s a perfect balance of light and privacy.


Today, many people think cafe curtains belong only in the kitchen, mainly over the kitchen sink. But, to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, oh! The places they can go!


  • Do you have a home office or workspace nook? Cafe curtains cut the glare on your screen and shut out distractions while still allowing in light. If you want to keep your look clean and minimal, consider a single-width curtain panel.


source: Collins Interiors


  • Are your windows behind the sofa in the living room or behind the bed in your bedroom or any place else where full, floor-length drapery won’t do? Pinch-pleat cafe curtains on a pole with rings add softness and design pizazz without overdoing it.


cafe curtains behind furniture

source: Platemark


  • Does your front door have glass panels? A cafe curtain hung halfway or higher up the glass allows you to see who’s at the door without exposing the household comings-and-goings to the whole outside world.


cafe curtains on a front door

source: AtHomeArkansas


  • Is there a baby or toddler in the family? Soften the light in the room (and keep heavy draperies away from curious hands) with a charming, patterned cafe curtain.
  • Café curtains can even work in the bathroom! If you have no neighbors, a privacy hedge outside the room or a particularly gorgeous view from the bathroom, these curtains ensure a feeling of privacy without blocking your view. They’ll help a dark bathroom feel lighter, too.


cafe curtains in the bathroom

source: Holmes & Salter Interiors


Perhaps you’re envisioning cafe curtains only as flouncy, ruffled gingham check in a vintage kitchen. But no! There are so many different curtain styles and headers and just as many drapery rods to choose from. Typically, cafe curtains are hung on a tension rod; the lighter weight of the drapery lends itself to this easy solution. And not all tension rods are alike. Even these utilitarian rods come in various diameters, finishes and styles.


You can also use a decorative rod and rings, ranging from classic fluted wooden poles to sleek, modern wrought iron. Any curtain will look up-to-date and stylish hung on a narrow rod with matching rings.


As for curtain headers, keep it simple. Café curtains literally divide the window in half and a large complicated header above the pole ruins the symmetry and adds unnecessary flourishes. You’ll do best with a simple gathered curtain, with or without rings, pinch pleats or even, as we mentioned before, single-width panels.


single width cafe curtains

source: Etsy, RecreateYour


Fabric matters, too. Because café curtains are considerably shorter than full-length drapery, be careful with pattern repeats. A large repeat may be awkwardly cut off and visually confusing. If you’re using a pattern, stick to small repeats: small plaids, narrow strips or a motif that repeats every few inches.


cafe curtains with simple pattern


Consider the weight of the fabric. Typically café curtains are made with light fabrics that have some movement and a delicate drape. This isn’t the place for heavy brocade or velvet. A thick, heavy fabric will look static and stiff in such a short length. Heavy fabrics are also too voluminous for such a short run of for material. Linen, cotton, even a lightweight wool are better choices. You want fabric that drapes even in short lengths. With pattern, thickness and volume, aim for proportion.


Tall windows may benefit from adding a valence or swag to the top of the window. This is especially appropriate if you’re going for the rustic, country look or if the window casing and trim aren’t attractive. Use the same fabric as the curtain.


cafe curtains with valance

source: Sonya  Hamilton Designs


So, let’s get rid of the myth that café curtains are a kitschy 1950’s throwback to an earlier era. By choosing the right application, the right drapery hardware and the right fabric, these half-pint curtains can be the best of all worlds, providing plenty of privacy while letting the sun shine in! And, of course, if you are a fan of the vintage, the kitschy and the cute, go boldly and let the gingham fly!


gingham cafe curtains

source: Savvy Southern Style

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