Cottage curtain ideas – inspiration for a pretty, cozy home
Put the finishing touch to a characterful space
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Subscribe to Period Living for more inspiration Period Living is the UK's best-selling period homes magazine. A subscription provides you with all you need to know about caring for and improving a traditional house and garden.
9. Layer blinds and curtains for more light control
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
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
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 is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. 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.
Best coffee maker for Americano: expert tests and advice
We spoke with baristas to establish the best coffee maker for the perfect at-home Americano and gleaned a few tips of the trade too
By Laura Honey • Published
When is it antisocial to grill? The rules from the experts
Being a good neighbor doesn't cost anything, and under the terms of HOA, being a bad one could be pretty expensive
By Alex David • Published
How to paint wood furniture – an expert guide for the perfect finish
Learn how to paint wood furniture for a flawless finish to update any piece
By Holly Reaney • Last updated
Cottage living room ideas – 16 inspirational ways to add comfort and style
These cottage ideas for a living room, from comfortable seating to color schemes, will inspire you to create the perfect homely, relaxing space
By Pippa Blenkinsop • Last updated
The handmade beds fit for the King
Family owned and located on the Sandringham Estate, Wrought Iron and Brass Bed Company are flying the flag for exceptional British craftsmanship
By Homes & Gardens • Last updated
Cottage lighting ideas – 20 pretty ways to brighten your cottage
From task lighting to beautiful pendant shades, these cottage lighting ideas create the perfect ambience
By Holly Reaney • Last updated
Block printing on fabric – a simple step by step guide
Molly Mahon shares her simple step by step guide to block printing on fabric
By Pippa Blenkinsop • Published
Attic bedroom ideas – 10 inspiring designs for your loft
Expand your home's living space with these attic bedroom ideas
By Holly Reaney • Published
Traditional living room ideas – 20 classic decor looks for walls, floors and furniture
Be inspired by these traditional living room ideas and create a space full of timeless charm
By Pippa Blenkinsop • Last updated
Traditional decorating ideas – 15 inspiring, timeless interiors
Ideas and inspiration for creating comfortable spaces brimming with classic elegance
By Pippa Blenkinsop • Published