This Old School Curtain Trend is Equal Parts Cute and Practical, and It’s Not Just for the Kitchen Anymore

updated Jan 19, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Cafe curtains in blogger Blue Barn and Cottage's Kitchen

I’m very excited, because how often do you get to talk about window treatments? Nerd alert, I know, but it’s true: For something as high-impact as curtains and shades (and trust me, they are hugely effective in any space), the home design world is rarely treated to a trend refresh in this category. 

I get it; classic window treatments are classics for a reason. You really can’t go wrong with a linen Roman shade or rich velvet pinch-pleat curtains. If, like me, you’ve been jonesing for something new to dress your windows in, then this new old trend may be for you. Enter: cafe curtains.

Yes, you heard me right. The cafe curtain trend sweeping Instagram and the portfolio of designs actually isn’t actually new at all. Cafe curtains are actually a genius solution that marry form with function, seamlessly solving the design dilemma of wanting privacy but also needing natural light. These window treatments have gotten a whole lot more stylish since they first arrived on the scene back in the day. Even better, cafe curtains tend to be on the smaller side, since they’re purposely only meant to cover portions of windows. That means they tend to be, on the whole, cheaper than other types of window coverings, making them an affordable decorative solution.

Aptly named for the half-curtains that once dressed the windows of quaint country cafes, cafe curtains typically hang from the bottom half of your window via a tension rod and rings. Eras past have seen cafe curtains in traditional frilly fabrics, perhaps with lace edging and almost always featuring an embroidered rose of some sort. Now, though? They’re cooler — much cooler, in fact — thanks to sophisticated colors, lively prints, and all of the chic hardware options you can pair them with. 

While you can use cafe curtains in almost any room where you want to add a bit of extra privacy, they generally make the most sense in a kitchen or bathroom. There, they’ll cover the bottom half of your window (and subsequently, much of your room) from prying eyes, while leaving the top half of your window exposed to max out all the natural light possible. Personally, I’m going to experiment with this curtain trend in my new kitchen, which boasts a bay window behind my sink that is just begging to be dressed up (and slightly hidden from our nearby neighbors).

You can opt for pre-made styles, or you can snag ring clips and hang up any formal dinner napkin or tea towel you particularly love; if your windows are standard size, this napkin hack makes for the perfect dimensions! I’ve picked a few of my favorite cafe curtains below, and every single style is well-under $50 per panel.

Ticking Stripe Cafe Curtains

For that traditional farmhouse vibe, look no further than a ticking stripe cafe curtain. The soft flax shade of this style is neutral, but the small stripes introduce some visual interest while the curtain clips add just the right amount of extra flair.

Buy: Ticking Stripe Cafe Curtains, Starting at $34.95 from The Vermont Country Store

Maison 24-Inch Kitchen Tier Pair

You can’t go wrong with basic white cafe curtains. Keep the look a little more modern by opting out of the matching valence, as shown in this kitchen.

Buy: Maison 24-Inch Kitchen Tier Pair, Starting at $24.99 for a Pair from Bed Bath & Beyond

Orange Blossom Kitchen Curtain

If a pop of color is more your thing, this next pick from Saffron Marigold will be right up your alley. The tropical-inspired vintage floral pattern is sure to bring the right amount of spunk to spaces big and small.

Buy: Orange Blossom Kitchen Curtain, Starting at $44.99 from Saffron Marigold

Credit: Target

Button Tab Kitchen Curtain

Usually I’d say when in doubt, opt for ring hooks over a pocket rod when it comes to cafe curtains, but this sweet style (those buttons!) has my heart. These would be be super charming in a bathroom or powder room.

Buy: Button Tab Kitchen Curtain, Starting at $34.99 from Target

Credit: Wayfair

Colmar 20″ Cotton Napkins

Remember that napkin hack I mentioned above? This set from Wayfair would make for the perfect cafe curtains for your Grandmillenial dream kitchen. You might even have a pair left for setting your table, depending on the size and amount of windows you have to cover.

Buy: Colmar 20″ Cotton Napkins, $39.99 for a Set of 4 from Wayfair

Credit: Amazon

Linen Cafe Curtains

Depending on the rest of your decor, linen can look super romantic — or even earthy and organic — on your windows. A cafe style in linen would be nice for a laundry room or anywhere you want a little bit of texture and lots of sunshine.

Buy: Linen Cafe Curtains, Starting at $16.99 for a Pair from Amazon