An ode to the cafe curtain: here's why interior designers love this vintage-inspired trend so much

This window treatment is a chic homage to the classic French cafecore aesthetic – and interior designers are obsessed

cafe curtains trend
(Image credit: Shannon Eddings / Neptune)

Cafe curtains have had a bit of a resurgence of late. You might already have noticed, but the cafe curtain, once relegated to Grandma's home only, is firmly back in style, and it's really easy to see why.

A chic and versatile window treatment, these charming vintage-inspired half-window drapes are especially popular with interior designers right now. Originally thought to date back to 19th century Vienna, Austria, cafe curtains were used to adorn the bottom half of windows in bistros to create privacy for diners while still allowing sunlight to filter in from the top.

Creating a cozy, farmhouse and cottagecore feel while working with just about any interior design style, this curtain idea provides just the right amount of light while ensuring a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Here, the experts make their case for embracing the cafe curtain trend.

Are Cafe Curtains On Trend In 2024?

vintage kitchen with a floral cafe curtain and blue marble countertops

(Image credit: Gilded Hearth)

Cafe corner ideas or 'Cafecore' is big news for interior design trends this year. Encouraging comfort and connectivity, this trend is all about evoking the feeling and style of your local bistro cafe and bringing it home with you.

The trend forecasters at Pinterest predicted it would see a huge spike in popularity in 2024, and they weren't wrong. We've already seen designers creating cafe corners in their kitchen designs, carving out coffee nooks, and coffee stations, and coffee bars. You name it, we're into it.

And the humble cafe curtain, well that's just the cherry on top of these European-inspired convening areas.

dark pink kitchen with a butler sink and floral cafe curtain at the window

(Image credit: Shannon Eddings)

Of course, that means they are especially popular in kitchens, bathrooms, and dining areas, where they strike the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics.

These darling miniature curtains could just be the solution you're after for dressing a window where you still want natural daylight to flood in, and benefit from the view outside. They add a quaint, yet sophisticated touch to kitchen windows, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

'Cafe curtains are my go-to window treatment for any room that requires privacy but would benefit from natural light... and a little charm,' says interior designer Shannon Eddings who designed the pink kitchen seen above. 'Their history of use in French cafes and English Country homes only added to their charming allure.'

pale yellow pantry with a cafe curtain and shelving

(Image credit: East London Cloth)

And, they're not just reserved for windows. Cafe curtains are also being creatively utilized as alternatives to traditional cupboard doors for valance ideas for kitchens, as demonstrated above in this pale yellow pantry with an under-counter curtain by East London Cloth.

This trend reflects a move towards more relaxed and personalized, living kitchen spaces. Replacing cupboard doors with a curtain can soften the look of a kitchen, introducing texture and color in a way that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. It's an ideal solution for open shelving, where the fabric can hide clutter while adding a decorative element.

'In recent years we've really seen people embrace new ways of using fabric within their homes. Of particular note, is the use of curtains to replace areas where joinery had once reigned, such as window shutters,' notes Gemma Moulton, founder of East London Cloth. 'Cafe curtains offer a pretty way to add a veil of privacy whilst still allowing the light to flood through. There's also something very comforting and cocooning about fabric, it also has a lovely effect on acoustics and is a great way to add color and interest to a room,' adds Gemma.

blue bedroom with rattan accessories and view into ensuite with cafe curtain

(Image credit: Shannon Eddings)

But don't think you're stuck to one 'look'. Cafe curtains come in all shapes and sizes, varying prints and patterns, with different hardware and methods of hanging them.

'Cafe curtains have been around for ages, but they are enjoying a boost in not only popularity, but also, perhaps, in chicness,' says interior designer Bethany Adams. 'The curtain itself can be as cute or as elegant as you please based primarily on the fabric and hardware you select,' she suggests.

'A darling pattern in cotton with clip-on rings would be adorable in a kids' bathroom, a mudroom, or a country kitchen, for example. A silky pinch-pleat sewn-in ring cafe curtain has a more elegant look and pairs well with sophisticated and expensive finishes. They're both fantastic and appropriate uses of cafe curtains, but they are not exactly the same.'

vintage style bathroom with an anqtiue cabinet filled with shells and a cafe curtain

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL who makes timeless kitchens and accessories including aged brass cafe curtain rails, is a huge fan of the vintage look.

'The café curtain is not only the prettiest of window coverings, but it is actually a very useful and authentic method of sectioning off a room, hiding a view, or creating privacy,' says Helen.

'Find a window, find a delicate piece of sheer wispy fabric, and attach one of our brass rails to create a vignette of beauty. Our rails are all supplied with fancy little brass clips [seen above] that allow you to hang up a muslin, vintage cotton, antique lace, or a simple crisp linen panel in an instant.'

colorful living room with a striped red cafe curtain

(Image credit: Colours of Arley)

Typically, you'll see a cafe curtain in either a soft, breezy linen or a frilly floral. But for more contemporary spaces, we love this bold red stripe by bespoke stripe fabric makers Colours of Arley.

Louisa Tratalos, founder of Colours of Arley, says: 'Cafe curtains are a firm favourite for window dressings, done right they are anything but twee, and if anything, they give a little more of an edge than a traditional curtain. The overall look you want to achieve will depend on the type of fabric you opt for, from floaty, lightweight linens to more quirky designs in heavier-weight fabrics.'

'Stripes pair brilliantly with almost any pattern, so whether your space is complete with painterly florals, scallop shapes, or geo prints, a stripe will be the perfect match,' she suggests. 'If your home is more on the minimalist side, stripes can be a great way of introducing patterns without committing to an overly busy design. Generally, thinner stripes tend to give a more classic look, so for a contemporary update opt for a bold, thick stripe in a vibrant colorway to add a fresh new take on an old-time trend.'

Full of vintage charm, the cafe curtain can be introduced into any style of home. From dainty florals to organic linens and contemporary stripes, they really do add a lovely touch to any space. So will you embrace the trend?

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome