Source: countrycurtains.com via Cindy on Pinterest
When I hear the phrase ‘café curtains’, I think of a country diner with red gingham curtains covering the bottom half of the window at my booth. The feel is casual, and the food is down home and hot.
Café curtains are generally informal. They are hung on a simple rod with rings, and there are no tie-backs or pleats. The fabric is lightweight or sheer to let light in and reduce glare. You can get creative and expressive with café curtains, though!
Café curtains allow for privacy and natural light
This is where the café curtain began in the 1800s so diners could have privacy from people walking down the street. There was still a street view, and pedestrians could get a peek inside without intruding on anyone. Café curtains also let light in, so the restaurant did not feel like a dungeon. They are still in widespread use today.
The café curtain now has many uses in the home. As originally intended, it is used for privacy. A rod is placed across the window in the middle, and the curtain hangs to the sill to block the view. It usually stays closed, and light is let in through the uncovered top portion of the window. This is still an effective option for dining areas, but café curtains can also be used anywhere you want privacy, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. They can also block out unsightly views or the neighborhood houses while creating a homey sanctuary and letting in light.
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Café curtains; atmosphere, whimsy, subtle, or bold
The fabric can set the mood for the room. Whimsical prints, stripes and bold colors become accents in themselves and create atmosphere. A cartoon animal print in a child’s room is fun and inspiring for the child while keeping the room private and bright. A bright color on a solitary window, say on a stair landing, becomes a focal point. A matching valance can be installed at the top of the window.
Sheer fabrics lend a dreamy, romantic mood, and velvet can add drama. Imagine tall windows with velvet café curtains on the bottom half! That feels to me like an intimate, cozy living room or reading room.
How to hang café curtains
The curtain does not need to be hung on rings. Fabric tabs can be soft or reserved. The curtain can slide onto the rod through an open hem. A ruffle on the top of this adds character and visual interest. The rod can even be elaborate. The overall design of the curtains needs to complement your décor, and prints and rods should be in scale to the rest of the furnishings and the size of the room.
Another option for privacy is to place a wooden shutter on the bottom half of the window instead. My mother did this in one room of our Colonial house. It was effective, but it also added to the old, rustic feel of the house.
Café curtains are not good for keeping the cold out in winter. They are more of a decorative addition to a room. Their main purpose is privacy. Full-length drapes would be more in order for cold climates, but they can be swapped out for warm weather.
You can buy café curtains at any home store, or you can make them yourself. It’s an easy DIY project. You may even be able to recycle some of your scrap fabrics. Individualizing small things like curtains makes your home a unique place!