Cottage curtain ideas – inspiration for a pretty, cozy home

Put the finishing touch to a characterful space

Cottage curtain ideas – Vanessa Arbuthnott curtains
(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuhtnott)

Are you looking for cottage curtain ideas to complete your decor scheme? Curtain ideas are the perfect choice for a cottage: their soft pleats complement the romance of rural properties, plus, they introduce color, pattern and personality, with limitless fabric designs to choose from – you can even edge them with a trim to add extra detail. 

And, of course, on a practical level, curtains control light levels and bring a layer of insulation to your living space. Scroll for our cottage curtain ideas, plus tips from experts on which designs to choose. Then find more cottage decorating ideas in our design gallery – we cover everything from color schemes to material choices.

1. Exaggerate ceiling height with floor-length curtains

Cottage curtain ideas

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

If you want to capture that quintessential cottage charm and enhance your space, then you can't go wrong with full-length curtains with a floral print, says fabric designer Vanessa Arbuthnott. 'Florals are an obvious choice for cottage curtains. Cottages are mostly situated in the countryside and hopefully have at least a tiny garden. The florals on the curtains will reflect the flowers climbing up and nestling against the cottage walls.'

If choosing florals, it's important to think about scale, too, she says. 'You don't want anything too big, so you could choose fabrics with smaller prints such as my Cow Parsley and Dainty Daisy (as pictured above).'

For cottage kitchen ideas, don't miss our inspiring image gallery.

2. Add a trim to frame a window seat

Cottage curtain ideas

(Image credit: Susie Watson Designs)

Edging curtains with a pretty trim of your choice – be it embroidered, pom pom or fringed – will bring extra flair to a romantic scheme, and makes for a beautiful frame for a window seat or lovely view. Alternatively, if you're keen to keep your fabric choice neutral and understated, then adding a trim can be a great way to add a touch of detail without overpowering a space.

When sharing her advice for choosing cottage curtains, Susie Watson, founder of the eponymous interiors store, advises, 'to maximise the natural light through cottage windows, hang your curtains high and wide (space allowing).' 

'Stripes and florals work well for the quintessential cottage look,' she continues. 'I like to add a trim to the leading edge and back with one of my printed cottons, for a more contemporary and interesting look.'

3. Use checks for classic cottage charm

Cottage curtain ideas - checked curtains

(Image credit: Colefax & Fowler)

If you’re looking for cottage curtain ideas that will stand the test of time, you can’t go wrong with a classic check or stripe. Often bringing together multiple colors, they can be a great starting point for an interior scheme, as they offer several shades to build from, and, as a finishing touch, they are easy to match with your chosen upholstery or wall color. 

If you change your curtains with the seasons, then this Donovan plaid from Colefax & Fowler, with its dark natural Slate/Umber colorway and soft woven texture, would make a brilliant choice for winter curtains, but would also sit beautifully with the weathered stone and wood of traditional cottages year-round.

4. Opt for a cottage-style pleat

Cottage curtain ideas - Cottage pleat curtain

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

When choosing curtains for a cottage there's more to consider than just the color and print – the form of the curtain and how it hangs can have a big impact on the final look. 

From eyelet hung to pencil pleats, there are all sorts of ways of hanging curtains, but for cottages, a traditional cottage pleat works well, as Vanessa Arbuthnott explains. 

'They give a pretty, soft gather and are made by seeing the curtain tape a few inches below the top. This is gives an informal and more interesting look than the traditional pencil pleat.' 

5. Create uplifting spaces with pops of yellow

Cottage curtain ideas - checked curtains

(Image credit: Future)

Often, due to their small rooms and windows, cottages can lack light and feel gloomy. Opting for curtains in fabrics with vibrant sunshine shades is guaranteed to make spaces feel more joyful and bright. Checks or stripes are a great choice as they will stand the test of time.

6. Use French poles for a relaxed look

Cottage curtain ideas - curtains

(Image credit: VSP interiors)

When thinking about cottage curtains our thoughts automatically jump to fabric choice, but fixtures and how they hang can make an impact, too. Interior designer Henriette von Stockhausen, from VSP Interiors explains: 'I use French poles for more relaxed cottage curtains, as here in my bedroom.

'I also try and be a bit more playful with these spaces when they’re not formal rooms. This Soane fern fabric makes a statement. Larger patterns work better in my opinion, very small can look too fussy. Playing with scale works perfectly in cottage interiors.'

7. Use faded French florals for a relaxed cottage feel

Cottage curtain ideas - kate forman floral curtains

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

Romantic floral fabrics are a mainstay of country style, but when it comes to cottages it's best to keep things simple rather than opting for dramatic prints, as Kate Forman, specialist in 19th-century French-inspired prints, explains. 'Less is more in cottages,' she says. ‘Keep patterns fairly simple and headings unfussy using narrow poles if ceilings are low.'

8. Create a vintage feel with a pelmet

Cottage curtain ideas - Curtains

(Image credit: Penny Morrison)

Thought pelmets were a thing of the past? Then think again. Interior designer Penny Morrison explains how they are a brilliant way to showcase your favourite fabric. 'If I find a wonderful vintage fabric, which I don’t have a huge amount of, I like to use it as a pelmet with plain curtains underneath, perhaps with a matching trim down the leading edges.

'This image shows a pole with a self-attached gathered pelmet. Using a pole is great way for maximizing the light in a room.' But, if adding a pelmet, take care to consider size. 'The most important aspect of using pelmets is getting the proportions right, we go for 1:5.'

It's also important to consider what type of pelmet you chose as certain designs can be better for certain house types, as Penny Morrison explains. 'In a contemporary setting, and in townhouses, I like using hard flat covered pelmets with a smart trim inset.' Alternatively, gathered pelmets, with their soft pleats, are often more suitable to cottage settings. 


This feature was created by H&G's sister brand, Period Living magazine 

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9. Layer blinds and curtains for more light control

Cottage curtain ideas - Floral blinds

(Image credit: Clarke & Clarke)

Are you after more control over your light levels? Do you want to block out the light some of the time, but at other times have light coming through without compromising on privacy? Pairing two types of window treatment is a great way to create different levels of illumination, but can also help control temperature, too, giving an additional layer of insulation if needed during the cold winter months, not forgetting the option to layer up beautiful fabrics. 

Pairing a pretty floral curtain with a roman blind in a plain pastel tone will bring a feminine, classic feel as this Clarke & Clarke scheme proves.

If you want your cottage to feel brighter, don't miss our cottage lighting ideas for pretty, practical solutions.

10. Embrace bold, bright prints

Cottage curtain ideas - floral curtains

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

Just because your space is small, it needn't lack personality, as Molly Mahon explains. 'Don't be afraid to use a big bold pattern for curtains if the space is small, which is often the case in a cottage,' says the fabric designer. 

'A large pattern such as my Poppy design seen here can actually add the feeling of space to a small room. Lovely bright colors like these also help the light bounce across a room which if its low ceilinged or beamed can be a very positive thing.'

11. Make spaces feel brighter with light fabrics

Cottage curtain ideas - bathroom

(Image credit: Penny Morrison)

To keep bathrooms feeling bright and breezy, then opting for a simple, single layer and lightweight voile or fine cotton curtain, such as these from Penny Morrison, will bring privacy without blocking the light. Soft and delicate, they beautifully balance bold botanical wallpapers, as this bathroom proves.

For more cottage bathroom ideas, don't miss our dedicated gallery.

How do you dress a cottage window?

There are two distinct ways to dress a cottage window, both of which are equally pretty – though the one you choose will depend on how much light you want to allow into the room. The first is to go for curtains – or curtains and blinds – to create a pretty frame for your cottage window, but be aware that anything bulky around a window can make a space feel smaller and, if the fabric is anything but pale, darker, too. The second option for dressing cottage windows is to choose sheer fabrics that can give you privacy and which can be pulled across in the day, too; these will let in more light. 

In both cases when dressing a cottage window, if you can hang the curtains back from the window edges to exaggerate the size of the window itself, you will help your room feel bigger and brighter.

What can I use instead of curtains?

There are plenty of options other than curtains for cottages. If you want to allow in light and to make the room look as bright and spacious as possible, consider window film, which can provide privacy, too. A pretty option, and another that offers privacy, is café curtains. Shutters are a more contemporary option, assuming your cottage windows are square. Roman blinds will look beautiful, but be aware that, as with pelmets, they block light from the upper part of the window. 

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is a contributor to Homes & Gardens. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.