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Cafe Curtains Are Having a Moment

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Transitional kitchen by Heidi Caillier with warm wood accents and soft beige cabinetry. Photography by Haris Kenjar.

A Classic Reimagined
Cafe curtains are making a comeback, and for good reason. See how they can add privacy without taking light away from your home! | Image Credit: Design: Heidi Caillier | Photography: Haris Kenjar

If you haven’t already seen them billowing in the breeze all over your social media feeds, you’re about to — cafe curtains are the latest design trend, and I totally understand why! These gorgeous curtains have found out how to strike the perfect balance between practicality and beauty.

What Are Cafe Curtains?

Roman shades and long curtains may be the long-time darlings of window coverings, but well-made cafe curtains bring a level of tailored sophistication to any space. These breezy window treatments hang on the lower part of a window, allowing lots of natural light while still providing the privacy of more robust treatments. Simply slide them closed when privacy is needed — but even when they are closed, they don’t darken and close off the entire room. They’re easy to open and close as needed, making them a simple solution for a variety of spaces and styles. They really do provide the best of both worlds!

Where You’ll Find Cafe Curtains

As you may have noticed on social media, high end designers are gravitating toward the cafe curtain look in lots of different spaces. You’ll see them hanging in bathrooms — a space that looks beautiful in natural light but rarely gets it because of privacy. You’ll find them in kitchens, especially in smaller windows above sinks and countertops. Dining nooks and breakfast areas are also sporting cafe curtains, which makes sense, given that their namesake is the half-curtains that once dressed the windows of quaint country cafes. These curtains are versatile and stylish, and they really work in almost any room. I’ve seen them used in living rooms, home offices, and even bedrooms!

Why Cafe Curtains Are in the Spotlight

If you’re not already hooked on this new window treatment trend, I might just convince you to try them out by the end of this post. If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of natural light, but I also love adding dimension and texture to a space. This option allows you to have your cake and eat it too, enjoying the rays of sun while bringing a beautiful fabric into your space.

Linen is one of the most popular fabric choices for cafe curtains, and I love it! The lightweight, airy fabric gives the room a classic, sophisticated feel without hearkening back to the traditional curtains your grandma loved. They’re a fresh new take on an old trend. Leave your linen cafe curtains unlined for an even breezier look — they’ll still offer privacy, but they’ll let more light in.

Because cafe curtains require so much less fabric than traditional curtains, they’re an affordable option for customized window coverings. You can be chic without breaking the bank! I love an affordable decorative solution that gives off a high end look and feel.

How to Style Cafe Curtains in Your Space

Not sure how to bring the cafe curtain look into your space? There are plenty of ways to make it your own.

Pair them with beautiful hardware.

Contrasting the breezy feel of a linen curtain with metal hardware and sliding clips is a fun way to bring dimension into the room — not to mention you can bring some design cohesion by matching your hardware to cabinet pulls in the bathroom, the faucet in your kitchen, or a light fixture in your dining nook.

Add a tailored pleat.

If you’re curious about cafe curtains, but not ready for a totally “breezy” feel, add a tailored pleat! It will elevate the space and bring an air of traditional style to what could otherwise seem like a casual, coastal choice.

Tie together a color palette.

If you’ve wanted to up the ante on an accent color, cafe curtains are the perfect way to do it. Because they’re made with so much less fabric than other curtain options, you can play with your fabric and color choice without the look taking over the entire room.

A rustic entry by Amber Interior, featuring white shiplap walls, a vintage runner and bench, and airy linen cafe curtain. Photography by Shade Degges.
Design: Amber Interiors| Photography: Shade Degges

Our Favorite Inspirational Looks

Want some dreamy inspiration for this new trend? Here are a few of my favorite looks.

A modern bathroom by Yond Interiors featuring vintage decor, linen cafe curtains.
Design: Yond Interiors | Photography: Amanda Birnie

Bathroom Pleats

See what I mean about a bathroom that lets the light in? This space by Yond Interiors is gorgeous, and these airy curtains allow you to soak in the sun while you soak in the tub, without sacrificing privacy. I love the tailored, pleated look here that fits the windows perfectly.

A row of airy white linen cafe curtains transition a long white hall with windows into a traditionally designed masterpiece. Design by John B. Murray Architect.
John B. Murray Architect

A Dreamy Hallway

You may never have thought about it before now, but this gorgeous space by by John B. Murray Architect proves that cafe curtains are perfect in a hallway! I especially love this look for a space with lots of windows on both sides. A full “valence and long curtain” look would have made this space feel narrow, but the white look with black hardware adds dimension and interest without taking away the light.

Bold and dramatic black veined marble paired with linen cafe curtains give an elegant look to a bathroom by Heidi Caillier Design. Photography by Harris Kenjar.
Design: Heidi Caillier Design | Photography: Haris Kenjar

Beige Bathing Beauty

The color selection by Heidi Caillier Design is perfect — it marries the accent chair fabric to various tones in the wallpaper, giving the entire bathroom a thoughtfully cohesive look without being overly matching. This design combination makes the cafe curtains look anything but dated, combining traditional and modern touches perfectly.

White bathroom with shiplap walls, light linen cafe curtains, and plaid tiled flooring. Design by Phoebe Howard.
Phoebe Howard

Short Curtain, Large Window

This gorgeous bathroom by Phoebe Howard proves that cafe curtains are not meant only for smaller, shorter windows! In a spacious bathroom like this, they do an excellent job of breaking up the light and bright space with a pop of black hardware and a texture that brings interest to a corner that could otherwise feel a little stark. Bathrooms are full of hard surfaces and cold metals, and this is a perfect way to balance those things out.

Rustic and transitional breakfast nook by Amber Interiors featuring rustic decor, modern art and line cafe curtains.
Design: Amber Interiors | Photography: Shade Degges

Beautiful Bench Seating

I love a breakfast nook that mixes chairs with a built-in bench, and these minimalistic cafe curtains only made me fall even deeper. I’m obsessed with the way these curtains add just enough to this room by Amber Interiors without being bold, loud, or drawing too much attention. They’re a soft, sweet addition to a chunky table — the perfect pair.

Transitional moody bathroom by Light & Dwell featuring linen cafe curtains, subtle accent trim, gold hardware and a unique modern light fixture above the tub. Photography by Amy Bartlam.
Design: Light & Dwell | Photography: Amy Bartlam

The Traditional Treatment

These curtains might be the new trend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t honor their traditional roots! This look by Light & Dwell offers a timeless feel, and I simply can’t get enough of the soft light. I also love that the pendant light doesn’t have to compete with the curtains, since they’re at different levels in the room.

Josh Young's breakfast nook pairs dark traditional wood chairs with a bistro table draped in a striped tablecloth for a European look. White cafe curtains add charm to the space.
Josh Young

Pass the Croissants

Doesn’t this space by Josh Young transport you to a chic European cafe in your mind? Pairing the straight line of the cafe curtain hardware with the high arch and beautiful millwork around these large windows is absolutely stunning.

Linen cafe curtains offset the drama of black shiplap and dark marble counters in this moody butler's pantry by Heidi Caillier. Photography by Haris Kenjar.
Design: Heidi Caillier | Photography: Haris Kenjar

Darkened Dimension

This is proof that cafe curtains don’t have to belong in bright, airy spaces! This moody kitchen by Heidi Caillier is a dream come true, and the simple pleated curtains above the sink add a soft touch without taking away the desired dramatic effect of the room. I also love the warm linen tone — it connects beautifully to the flooring.

Cozy breakfast nook by Heidi Caillier featuring upholstered chairs with scallop detailing, a bench seat and linen pleated cafe curtains. Photography by Haris Kenjar.
Design: Heidi Caillier | Photography: Haris Kenjar

Around the Curve

I adore the heavier look these curtains have in this room by Heidi Caillier, especially since this is a bigger space with more windows than most of the other options I’ve gathered up today. They offer great privacy in a space that looks out on multiple angles.

Are you ready to try the cafe curtain trend yet? After we painted the bathroom in our cabin, the Belgian Treehouse, I knew I wanted to hang cafe curtains in that space. I just couldn’t give up lighting for privacy, and thankfully, these were the perfect solution.

If you’ve used or will be using cafe curtains in a project, we’d love to see— tag us with #PrettyDomesticated for a chance to be featured.

Our Favorite Hardware for Cafe Curtains

A mix of custom and ready-to-ship rods & rings that caught our eye.

Inside-Mount Cafe Rod Set
Used in the Belgian Treehouse.

Concealed Mount Cafe Rod Set

Outside-Mount Cafe Rod Set

Cafe Pinch Ring
Other finishes available

Cafe Curtain Rods End Mounted

Cafe Curtain Rods with Outside Mount

Wrought Iron Cafe Curtain Rings

Shop Linen Cafe Curtains

Just like their full-length counterparts, café curtains are at their best when they are custom-made to fit your window. We like to use The Shade Store for projects, but there are great options online too!

Double Pleated Cafe Curtains

Pleated Ticking Striped Cafe Curtain

White – Pleated Cafe Curtains

Ballard Designs
Classic Café Panel

Texture Cafe Curtains
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