Cafe or tiered curtains.

palimpsestDecember 3, 2012

Custom shutters with split or tiered opening (top half and bottom half separate) would be ideal for a project I am working on.

In the evening the neighbors have a straight on view into the eating area from up above, so it would be nice to be able to close that. In the daytime, there are some ground level, privacy proximity issues where it would be nice to close the lower and keep the upper open for light.

Shutters are coming in at about $1000 and up for this paired window, and there are lots of other things that need to be addressed.

So, an alternative seems to be tiered curtains.

The thing that I don't love about tiered curtains is that if you use rod pocket they don't open and close nicely, IMO. If you use rings of the clip on typy there is a huge (to me) gap of about 1.5-2" between the rod and the top of the fabric, and it starts to look like hardware gap fabric hardware gap fabric, in succession.


Buy tab tops in a longer size (if possible) and turn down and sew the tabs on the back to create back tabs? Buy sew on rings and sew them to the top edge of the fabrick? Sew the rings onto the back of the fabric so that the top of the fabric touches the rod instead of hanging down?

Confounding this issue is: don't a lot of people think these are "country" or hokey?

I see a fair amount of these used in the urban environment (at least the lower tier only option) for privacy issues, but they mostly seem to be of the IKEA sort on a tension rod.

If I am going to do this type of treatment though, I feel like I might as well do it right and semi-permanently with good rods and good curtains rather than the quick fix that could still be $100+ all told and then "saving" for the shutters. Too many times the quick fix ends up being around indefinitely because it solves the problem at hand, but it still Looks temporary.

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It's hard to say without seeing a picture of the window wall. As far as looking country, it all depends on the print of the fabric.

What will you get first, the shutters or the curtains? I'd definitely get the shutters and then figure what type of curtains you want and how they can be hung.

I swear, if my shutters weren't so expensive, I'd throw them all out. LOL.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 11:35AM
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With the right fabric I don't feel that the window treatment need necessarily read as "country"?

Other suggestions I've sure you have already considered:

1. Would it work to do simple roller shades
to block out the top of the window when needed and at night,
combined with cafe curtains to provide privacy in the lower half of the window by day?

2. A top/down roman shade.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 12:15PM
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I didn't think they were necessarily country, myself.

They are in an eating area and this is where I think they are most appropriate anyway.

The windows in this house are standard, but they work out non standard because of house construction and trim. They are set in a deep embrasure (masonry walls) and the trim is on the wall surface, about 6" interior from the sash.
It is similar to an old house in this way.

The interior width measurement is 73.5" and since the sash is relatively narrow off the rack inside mounting of a wooden blind or roller blind (72") shows a significant amount of light and from some angles a sliver of glass shows.

Then outside mount is something like 79.5, so a standard 84" width of a blind is *too far onto the wall past the edges of the woodwork.

We saved by keeping a famous maker venetian blind on a window of this sort (put up by PO, but it looks too narrow, and we had to camouflage this by putting up panels anyway. It is also so heavy that the homeowner can't raise and lower it. We moved it to a window where the blind can stay Down all the time and the louvers adjusted.

Since nothing standard works very well, a roller or roman shade needs to be custom, and with a roman, we are back up into $1000+ territory.

The plain, blockout, inside mount, roller blinds that were necessary on a couple windows were almost $400 a pop, custom, so with basic panels and hardware we are getting pretty pricey. In a couple of bedrooms a good portion of budget is going for some pretty basic window treatments (basic but custom).

So I thought of tiers as something that would look somewhat complete without taking a lot of budget.

But how do you handle the rings or tabs?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:20PM
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I never thought of cafe curtains as necessarily country-- but they do lean towards the cottage look. I don't know what I'd do to give them more of an urban feel. Hiding the clips/loops and the right fabric selection would give them more of an urban feel but they'd still be cafe curtains.

I have lower level shutters in my 2nd floor bathroom and love them for all the reasons you described--they allow lots of light in but provide the privacy required. The truth is, I never open them (I can't imagine what I'd do in the bathroom that I wouldn't want to be private.) Are there times you'd think your clients would want the full exposure?

I wonder if there isnt another, better solution that would work better for design plan. I don't know if you are going urban industrial, urban modern, urban eclectic or whatever.. but perhaps some kind of collection on the window sill would obstruct the view-- bottles or metal objects. Or perhaps a frosted window.. fully frosted or an architectural or geometric pattern? a funky metal grate or antique asian shutters? DIY Shoji screen?

I know I am all over the place here-- but I am thinking that a less conventional solution could work very well!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:23PM
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The client is actually pretty traditional-cottage-country in these matters of taste so I have been trying to steer her away from the more cliched aspects of her taste, while still keeping with something that is totally her. Then I suggest tiered curtains :) That is what I am analyzing, I guess.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:31PM
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I handled this problem for a client by making cafe curtains with a scalloped top edge, with small simple rings affixed to the points of the scallops. The curtains were cut to sit flat when they were closed.

The lining was sewn to the fabric at the scallops, so that the upper edge was a turned finished seam with very little bulk, and the openness of the scallop helped them stack up neatly when open.

The top curtains hung just to the lowest point of the scallop on the lower tier, so that the rods and rings in the middle of the window were all covered when either just the bottom was open, or when both were closed. The scallop looked nice and finished running across the window when only the lower tier was closed, and when both were closed, you only saw the upper scallops, which quieted the look.

You could also add a flat valance at the top, if you wanted to cover the top rod as well.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:34PM
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ah ok. Well, I completely rescind my last post lol! I think cafe/tiered curtains sound perfect. I understand what you mean by cliche decor but I would hesitate to label a good but common solution as "cliche". The right fabric selection will go a long way towards avoiding the "expected" look.

FWIW I am certainly not an experienced decorator but I love the look of the clip hooks. I like the extra bit of metal and mechanics against the soft textiles.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Normally I don't mind the clips on long curtains so much but with two curtains stacked and short panels and such I wanted to streamline the appearance somewhat.

If the panel is only 30 long, a 2 inch gap is more substantial (6.7%) part of the length, vs. a 2 inch gap on an 84" curtain (2+%)

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Grommets in place of clips? They should move more smoothly than back tabs.

Rowley makes a grommet tape along the lines of pinch pleat tape. It looks really cool and easy - there is a string control within the tape to keep the curves in place when opened and closed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grommet tape video

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:28PM
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I am planning to put just the lowers on the windows in our breakfast nook. I
searched through images on Houzz looking for examples that didn't look too country to me (nothing wrong with country, just not the look I am going for). I found myself drawn to the images with solid as opposed to patterned fabric, fabric that let some light filter through, and rings to attach to the rod rather than tabs or a pocket top. Those images seemed more current to me. Just my observations though.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 6:37PM
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What would really work well is sheers for daytime light and privacy and drapes over the sheers for night time privacy. Put them on a double decorative traverse rod for easy opening and closing.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Actually sheers and heavier drapery are my go-to in most traditional settings, but since this is a kitchen eating area we did not want to do sheers and drapery to the floor, which is generally how I do them if I do both, and it's a traditional setting.

Since we wanted to go to sill length that is why I was thinking of this treatment; I don't mind sill length drapes if it's a single layer.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:25PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

It sounds to me like the lower curtain need never be open if you want privacy during the day, so a simple sheer shirred on a rod, or two rods, top and bottom, could work. Then you are free to use whatever treatment you want on the top.... A curtain with a pullback could make it easy to get night privacy without having to worry about anything sliding. Nothing wrong with a treatment that goes to the sill...

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:04PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You can hand mount the rings on trad'l pinch pleats down low enough so that the gap between curtain and rod disappears.

Traditional Dining Room design by Boston Architect Siemasko + Verbridge

you can also do a valance to hide a shade from the top for the night with sheers for daytime

this version with the grommeted cafe curtain yields a more modern take...

Traditional Family Room design by Philadelphia Interior Designer Robinson Interiors

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:19PM
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The upper photo is just how I like to see these things done. I think it is a matter of getting the rings or attachments on the right way.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 9:23PM
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I don't know if the scale of these is right for you, but in two of our bathrooms we've used the inside mount cafe rods and pinch rings from Rejuvenation. The rings are a crazy $3 each, but I looked and looked and couldn't find other tiny (1/2" inside diameter) rings. The rods and rings come in 6 different finishes. Ours are polished nickel although they don't look very polished in the photo. Bad light. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: rejuvenation pinch rings

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 7:26AM
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Arlosmom, that helps me! I am planning something similar for our breakfast nook and hadn't gotten so far as to research rods and rings yet. That's a nice set up. Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:09AM
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I am not a fan of the clip ring either. An alternative can be this type of ring from Walmart. A drapery pin can be threaded in the fabric casing and then hooked onto the ring.Thia avoids "the gap".

Here is a link that might be useful: Walmart

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:29AM
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How about blinds instead?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:13AM
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It's also possible (though fiddly to do) to sew a small white plastic ring - the kind you use to thread the pull cords through on the back of a Roman shade - to the hem of a panel, and then clip the ring to that, so that you see the ring but not the clip, and the clip doesn't affect the hang of the panel.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:21AM
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I have seen curtains that are sheer on the top half, and a solid opaque fabric on the bottom half. Those might be the perfect solution here. They provide the privacy needed, but they look modern and don't add bulk. I would treat them as sheers, and layer them under a set of regular draperies. I've had a tough time finding pictures, but I did get one of just the half-and-half curtains, without the additional thicker drapes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drapes on Houzz

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 9:00PM
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