There’s something undeniably charming about a set of cafe curtains hung above a kitchen sink. With their sweet ruffled edges and ability to filter natural light, cafe curtains can impart style and function to this busy area of the kitchen.
We’ll look at smart measurements, fabric and color considerations, popular styles, and creative display ideas. Read on for an abundance of tips that will help you design the perfect sink window treatment.
The Origins of Cafe Curtains
Cafe curtains actually originated in 17th century France, where they were used in sidewalk cafes to partition seating areas. The famous cafes of Paris then popularized the style, which crossed over into homes.
Traditional cafe curtains are defined by their utilitarian nature. They are functional curtains designed to decorate and divide spaces while still allowing light through. The ruffled upper half provides privacy while the straight lower half remains open.
This purpose makes cafe style curtains a natural fit above kitchen sinks. They enable natural illumination from the window above but provide a soft barrier from sightlines outside. The transparency also ensures you can still gaze out over your yard or street while washing dishes.
Maximizing Natural Light
One of the prime benefits of using cafe curtains at your kitchen sink window is that they allow light to filter into your workspace. Rather than fully blocking the sun like some drapery, the sheer upper layer permits ample brightness.
The transparent fabric creates a diffused lighting effect that prevents glare and shadows. This makes it much easier to complete tasks without squinting or repositioning. It also contributes to an airier ambiance.
Sheer Fabric Choices
To take full advantage of natural illumination, pay attention to your fabric selection. The most common choices for the sheer upper panel of cafe curtains include:
- Voile – Made from cotton, voile has a gauzy, lightweight feel that gently filters sunlight. It comes in solid colors and some prints.
- Polyester – More affordable than cotton, polyester offers UV-resistant durability and an easy-care finish.
- Lace – For a touch of elegance, lace overlays add an airy accent atop another sheer base.
- Embroidery – Decorative embroidered detailing can provide visual interest when backlit by the sun.
Avoid heavier opaque fabrics like canvas, brocade, or velvet, as these will block incoming rays. Focus on light, wispy sheers for the upper portion of the curtains.
If you want to temper the sunlight a bit more, consider adding textural accents to your cafe curtains. For example:
- Woven woods like bamboo or rattan layered over a sheer base
- Perforated vinyl that provides filtered views out
- Burlap panels for a rustic vibe
These elements incorporate natural materials that softly diffuse the light. They also introduce some visual interest to your window design.
In addition to illuminating your workspace, cafe curtains above the kitchen sink also enable privacy. While surround by glass, the sink area can feel uncomfortably exposed.
The layered look of cafe curtains allows you to maintain visibility out the window while obscuring sight lines in. Passersby outside can’t peer directly into your kitchen.
This helps create a sense of intimacy in the room. You can wash dishes, chop ingredients, or tidy up without feeling like you’re on display.
For even more privacy, consider using two tiers of cafe curtains. This style features:
- A top layer of sheer ruffled fabric
- A second tier of more opaque fabric in a complimentary print
- Straight lower edges with narrow ruffles
The double layers increase visual density from the outside looking in. However, the kitchen will still feel bright and airy when viewing through the curtains from the inside.
In addition to tiered panels, choosing curtains with generous depth will boost privacy. Look for styles that are:
- At least 50 inches long
- Constructed with triple width heading
- Made of thicker, weightier fabrics
The more volume and fullness your curtains have, the harder they are to see through from exterior vantage points. Yet you’ll still enjoy lovely illumination inside.
Complementing Your Decor
Versatile cafe curtains can match a wide range of design aesthetics. To select options that integrate beautifully with your existing kitchen decor, keep these tips in mind.
Think about the overall look and feel of your kitchen to guide your curtain choice. For example:
- Farmhouse – Checked gingham, burlap accents
- Contemporary – Solid brights, sleek lines
- Coastal – Natural textures like rattan or driftwood
- Eclectic – Mismatched tiers and edgy geometrics
Visit kitchens with similar styles to yours to gather inspiring sink window treatments. This will help you conceptualize what works in your own space.
Determine the core color scheme of your kitchen, then find curtains to match. Neutral solids like white, ivory, tan, or light gray make versatile basics. For more character, select patterned curtains that incorporate your kitchen’s primary hues.
You can also use the sink curtains as an opportunity to layer in accent shades that pop against your existing palette. Just be sure that bolder colors still coordinate and don’t clash.
Patterns and Textures
Patterns and textures provide visual excitement and dimension. For the sink area, we recommend choosing small-scale prints like ginghams or tone-on-tone geometric shapes. Large, bold patterns can compete with the workspace.
Consider jacquard-woven designs and interesting natural textures like seagrass, jute, or bamboo. Frayed edges and embroidered detailing also make charming additions.
Hanging Your Cafe Curtains
Installing your curtains properly ensures they function and look their best. Follow this advice for successfully styling cafe curtains above the sink.
Precise measurements are key for any window treatment. To find the ideal width for your sink curtains:
- Measure from edge to edge across the top of the window frame
- Add an extra 12 inches to account for gathering on the rod
- For outside mount rods, add desired overlap beyond frame as well
This will provide you with the optimum curtain panel width. Repeat for the window length to get the appropriate sizing.
When determining length for sink curtains, allow adequate clearance. Measure from the bottom window sill down to:
- 4 to 6 inches above the countertop
- Below any window opening mechanisms
This prevents the fabric from getting wet or caught. Leave a gap both for functionality and visual balance.
Mount the Rod Correctly
Install your curtain rod at least 2-3 inches above the actual window frame. This gives the panels clearance to hang smoothly.
Check that the rod doesn’t conflict with drawers or limit access to cabinets. If needed, mount it farther away from the window for easier functionality.
For a quick no-drill option, spring-loaded tension rods offer removable flexibility. Or select discreet adhesive hooks if you can’t drill holes.
Unique Decor Details
Take your kitchen sink curtains from simple to standout by incorporating special embellishments. These accents put a creative spin on traditional cafe style.
One easy upgrade is opting for double-tiered curtains, with two separate horizontal panels. Consider pairing:
- A solid sheer with a sheer print
- A lightweight fabric on top with a heavier bottom tier
- Mismatched patterns for an eclectic feel
Vary the length between tiers for extra dimension. Wider bottom panels also provide functionality.
Leaving your curtains casually untied creates a relaxed vibe. For a more put-together look, add playful tiebacks on each side. Choices include:
- Ribbon, raffia or rope
- Shell, bead or tassel accents
- Clips featuring antique buttons or brooches
This styling detail keeps the fabric neatly secured while infusing personality.
Trims and borders provide opportunity to play with color, texture and shape. Consider:
- Pom pom fringe along the bottom edge
- Contrasting bands of pattern
- Ruffle borders in a coordinating print
Add trims to just the lower panels or both tiers. Use embellishments sparingly to avoid overwhelming the space.
Installing charming cafe curtains above your kitchen sink comes with many advantages. This versatile window treatment lets in beautiful natural light, establishes privacy, and brings style to the space.
Carefully weigh your sink usage, traffic patterns, and lighting needs when selecting fabrics and dimensions. Measure precisely for the most attractive end result.
Have fun styling creatively to complement your kitchen’s decor aesthetics. Tiers, textures and trims offer lots of inventive possibilities. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have cafe curtain success!