Should you hang curtains in the kitchen? Experts have their say on whether this divisive window treatment is a good idea or not

Kitchens are busy areas prone to spills and splashes, so should you really hang curtains in there? Here, the experts weigh in

should you hang curtains in your kitchen
(Image credit: Paloma Contreras / The Misfit House / Heather Peterson Design / Photography Josh Grubbs)

Adding softness, color, and privacy, having curtains in the kitchen sounds like a great idea on paper. But it's also a space where humidity, heat, water, and sometimes open flames come into play. So, I asked the experts: is hanging curtains in your kitchen ever a good idea?

A pretty divisive topic, kitchen curtain ideas can help to make or break a scheme. Curtains and window treatments can soften the hard lines of a kitchen, creating a more inviting atmosphere, while your choice of design will show more personality than you realize.

So it does seem like a missed opportunity to forgo them entirely as a window treatment idea. Here, I ask interior designers if curtains do belong in a kitchen – and all the practical things you need to consider first.

Should You Hang Curtains In The Kitchen?

white shaker kitchen with large doors and windows with linen curtains and blinds and rattan bar stools

(Image credit: Paloma Contreras)

The rather unanimous decision is that you can have kitchen curtains. But there are a few practical factors that you need to consider first.

Of course, you're going to have to be mindful of placement. Naturally, if you have a window right by your kitchen range cooker, long pooling curtains aren't going to make sense, look right, or be safety compliant.

'At Neptune, we believe that every room, including the kitchen, can benefit from the addition of elegant curtains or classic Roman blinds,' says design director Fred Horlock. 'Curtains can add a touch of warmth and style, making the space feel more inviting and cohesive while also helping with acoustics, by softening the noise of a busy kitchen. Opt for fabrics that are easy to clean and maintain, as kitchens are prone to spills and splatters.'

Similarly, if you have a sink underneath the kitchen window to maximize the views while washing up, any window treatments placed there must be as high up and away from moisture as possible.

black kitchen cabinets in a neutral kitchen with large doors and a linen curtain

(Image credit: Neptune / @cornishwife.cornishlife)

It just takes a little common sense. Most curtains aren’t waterproof, which means that they don’t tend to last long in kitchens due to humidity, splashes, and spills.

To avoid this, 'clever' fabrics might be your savior. In the kitchen, you want curtains that are easy to clean and maintain. Look for wipeable options and machine washable to handle the inevitable messes like polyester and synthetic blends. Be sure to opt for curtains labeled as fire-resistant to minimize risk, especially if they are close to cooking appliances.

'Kitchens can often be busy, high-traffic areas, especially if there are children and animals in the house so it's best to avoid fabric pooling or puddling on the floor and keep that fuller look for a living room or bedroom,' advises curtain designer Tori Murphy.

wooden oak kitchen with panelled ceiling and a cafe curtain at the window

(Image credit: Heather Peterson Design)

As the heart of the home, kitchens are typically bustling spaces, where natural light is crucial for cooking and socializing. Light-filtering curtains are a fantastic choice for kitchens, they allow ample light while ensuring privacy and reducing glare.

'Wafty sheer curtains are wonderful in kitchens especially if they lead outside, allowing the breeze to come in but keep the heat out in the day,' adds Tori. 'Particularly good too for covering French windows that can often look very dark and cold at night if not dressed.'

This can be achieved with your fabric choice (think linen and lightweight cotton) or with a half-height cafe curtain.

'We love a cafe curtain in a kitchen for a bit of privacy without blocking the light and view entirely,' says Heather of Heather Peterson Design. 'In this lake house kitchen [seen above], the traditional cafe curtains we chose are modern in their construction and application. We installed an inside-mount rod (rather than surface mount) with rings hand-sewn to the header making more of a ripple-fold than a traditional pinch pleat.'

wooden kitchen with green accents and a large kitchen island and windows with linen curtains

(Image credit: The Misfit House)

Curtains can also add an unexpected element of softness to a kitchen, balancing out the typically hard surfaces like countertops, cabinets, and appliances.

'The kitchen is a place that primarily houses hard surface materials and a hit of softness from a curtain can break it up and be an opportunity to add a soft material,' suggests Kristina Khersonsky of STUDIO KEETA.

'There are a variety of Cafe Curtain or Roman Shade styles that can be applied to different styles of kitchen, whether you lean contemporary or traditional. Since kitchen window treatments are fairly small investments, consider keeping a rotation of colors, textures, or pattern variations to swap out seasonally for a quick change.'

Softness is a big word in kitchen design in 2024. With us all seeking a more 'living kitchen' aesthetic, meaning a more sociable, comfortable, and beautiful space that accommodates family living and convening better than a utilitarian cooking space does. Curtains help to blur the edges between your living room and kitchen area to create a space that feels more intimate and inviting.

small ktichen with beige cabinetry and walls and a cute cafe curtain

(Image credit: Shannon Eddings)

Additionally, kitchen curtains help to pull the entire scheme together. They can complement existing decor, highlight architectural features like stained glass windows or high-arched doors, or even act as a focal point in their own right.

They also provide an opportunity to introduce pattern and color into a kitchen. Whether you choose bold prints or subtle tones, a new window treatment can add character to the space, making it feel more personalized. A relatively easy and inexpensive fix for updating and refreshing a neutral kitchen that you might be feeling tired of.

'Whether or not to hang curtains in your kitchen is a matter of personal taste,' says interior designer Kathy Kuo. 'But I do find that window treatments are a nice way to add color and personality into a room of the home that often tends to be a bit more utilitarian. Coordinate your curtains with your kitchen wall art for a chic and pulled-together look,' she suggests.

white kitchen with a statement european cooker and a blind at the window

(Image credit: Dina Bandman / Photography Christopher Stark)

Alternatively, you might prefer a blind – or a mix of blinds and curtains – for a more practical take that still dresses your window and doesn't leave it looking like an afterthought.

'Not adding a window treatment in the kitchen is a missed opportunity to add softness to a room full of hard surfaces,' agrees interior designer Dina Bandman Goldstone. 'They can also be used to connect the space to other nearby rooms that already have window treatments.'

'I love to use classic Roman shades in the kitchen as they’re more practical than curtains (and not such a fire hazard!). I typically use curtains to make a room more dramatic, especially if the room has windows that are longer and take up a greater scale in the room. Kitchen windows tend to be smaller and Roman shades can feel more appropriate,' Dina advises.

As Dina suggests, window blind ideas could be better suited to your kitchen – particularly if you have a small kitchen window. Combining blinds with curtains can offer the best of both worlds, merging functionality with warmth. It’s a versatile solution that works well in various kitchen styles, from contemporary to traditional.

Ultimately, the decision to hang curtains in your kitchen is a personal one, depending on your desire for aesthetics, functionality, and ease of maintenance. After speaking with interior designers, it is clear that there are no hard and fast rules on having kitchen curtains – just a few sensible things to consider before you invest.

Whether you choose curtains, blinds, or a combination of both, the right window treatments can significantly enhance the look and functionality of your kitchen.

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