Do curtains work in cabins and mountain homes?

A lovely mountain room where the softening of curtains adds to the overall impression of comfort.
So often I find myself working with clients who believe that curtains never, ever, ever belong in rustic homes.  They prefer to leave most of their windows completely untreated and will only consider adding window coverings to rooms where they are absolutely essential for privacy.

Whenever this happens, I sigh yet again and start into my "up with curtains" pep talk.  Yes, curtains can look beautiful in mountain homes.  No, they don't have to block the views.  And by the way, curtains often have just the thing that mountain homes are lacking.

Consider this--many modern mountain homes have high volume ceilings and a lot of hard surfaces.  These days, most of the homes I work on have wood floors, tongue and groove wooden ceilings, lot's of wood beams or log trim, and maybe even wood walls or tall wood wainscot on walls.  Then there's the large stone works and the extra large windows, often stacking up several stories.

These room have lots of architectural interest and beauty.  However, they can often feel cavernous, hard and too over-scale to be welcoming and comforting.  Especially in our snowy winters, this can feel cold and impersonal.  How can we add a sense of coziness and intimacy to these rooms that makes them more human?

Well, the answer is, curtains, of course!  I do love curtains.  I love them for the color and texture they bring to a room...the way they soften, cocoon, envelop us and make us feel safe from the elements. Curtains can be pretty, they can be charming, whimsical, elegant or sophisticated.  They can be ultra-modern or utterly traditional.  They bring luxury, personality and style to mountain rooms.  Whether they are the simplest sheer white panels or the most elaborate of treatments, curtains are essential to creating beautiful mountain interiors. I find that rooms without curtains often feel unfinished, bare and even a little unsettling to me.

I can't tell you how many clients I have worked with that have added curtains only because I have arm-twisted them, that ultimately come back to thank me later. Curtains just make the room.  

Above, in a room by Susan Kasler, you see exactly how curtains can do that. These curtains are everything in this room.  You can also see how much they add to the welcoming and embracing feeling of this room.  

Above, is another example of how curtains can make a room, but in an entirely different mood and feel.  Here, the curtains have been banded to mimic Hudson Bay blankets.  The simple nod to old-style "camp" decorating makes a huge impact in this otherwise very simply decorated room.  Love these!

But curtains don't always have to make a strong statement...

Nothing could be more simple than these plain linen pinch pleated drapes. And yet the room has a cool, quiet and soothing quality that it would not have without them.  

And below, another pair of simple drapes in the nubbiest of linens...

These are in my friend designer Cheryl Tague's Aspen cabin.  Their simplicity and sophistication only adds to the luxury of the room.

And speaking of sophisticated...

The curtains in the photos above and below are in a mountain cabin designed and owned by Marylyn Turner's of M. Elle Design (also an old friend from college days).   

I'm just mad for the curtains in the office above.  In a room that has stone floors, wood ceilings and mostly glass walls, these curtains bring the romance.  
One of my favorite designers for mountain houses was the now deceased, Charles Faudree.  Here are some mountain house curtains from a few of his projects...

Every detail in a Charles Faudree room was finished to the max.  

Above by Charles Faudree, one of the prettiest mountain dining rooms ever and a large part of the effect comes from the curtains.  

And finally from Charles Faudree, curtains galore in this handsome bedroom packed with rich detail and personality.  I am not sure about this, but I think it may be Faudree's own bedroom in his Cashiers North Carolina mountain house.  (If anyone knows for sure, leave a comment and let me know, please)

What about in contemporary style mountain homes?  Do curtains work there, too?  In this Tahoe home by LA designer Jeff Andrews, long sheer white curtains that climb 20 feet high are used to block glare from the afternoon sun, but they also soften and sophisticate, below.

Curtains are also important contributors in the energetically youthful interiors of Cashmere Interiors at Vikings View ski chalet in Big Sky Montana...

A favorite architect of mine is Bobby McAlpine. In a contemporary-style lake-house project, tall floor to ceiling curtains were used at windows in the two photos below, and also hung between log posts to be used as room dividers, as well, below.  

In the first photo above, notice how the curtain rod for the enormous bay window was mounted at ceiling level from the most far forward point.  Also in this photo, you can see how the second rod is mounted to hang the curtains that divide the great room into two separate areas when pulled, below.

I love curtains hung to or almost to the ceiling and these last few beautiful examples in simple rustic linens or homespun nubby fabrics feel so elegant and modern, partly due to their height and partly due to the fabric selection.  

On the flip side, traditional plaids, paisleys and native American patterns can be just the right thing in certain cabins and lodges.

Above, the plaid curtains hung at Laurel Nest give just the right "Scottish hunting lodge" vibe for this beautifully traditional mountain lodge.  

The photo above shows a pair of curtains I created for a Martis Camp client who has a large collection of Western and horse antiques.  Many Native American inspired fabrics were used in this house.  In this case, the Southwestern striped curtains were trimmed with feathers and leather weavings.  

And below, another plaid fabric I used in a daughter's bedroom for another project altogether.

What about cafe curtains?  I feel that shortie curtains are perfect in older pine cabins, and especially, chalet style mountain homes, like in the example below.  

And here, too, below, in the bunk room of a Swiss style cabin I worked on a number of years ago...

Sometimes longer curtains just won't work (as in the two examples above where longer curtains would have interfered with the banquette or the beds) and when that's the case, a shorter curtain will still bring privacy and beauty to a room.  

In the bunk room below, curtains have been used to create private sleeping nooks.  This is such a great use for curtains.  Do you agree with me that almost any bunk room could benefit from privacy curtains?  

Do curtains always have to be newly constructed?  A resounding no is in order here.  A little clever invention can create the most charming looks, like in this lovely window treatment from a project by designer Kathleen Rivers.  Here vintage linens have been crafted into perfection with the use of a pair of scissors, a staple gun and a good iron.

A simple window treatment can be created out of almost any appropriate textile, like this valance, below, from a saddle blanket and a few concho buttons.

Finally, ask me if I like Roman shades.  Here's your answer--I love Roman shades!  And for obvious reasons, see below.  

Sometimes the window you would like to dress is too close to other obstacles in the room to accommodate the side stacks required (this could be because a large piece of furniture or a doorway is in the way, or perhaps the window is just too close to a side wall).  When this happens, curtains may not be your best solution and you'll want to see if a Roman shade will work. Also, occasionally, curtains just seem too "pretty" for the room.  That's when Roman shades can be the perfect solution.

So have I convinced you to see curtains in a new light?  I hope so.

Now...after all that I hate to be contrary, but I do have to admit that sometimes curtains are not at all what you need.  Every so often there is a room that is absolutely perfect without them.

If you're thinking about adding curtains to your mountain home but don't know where to start, visit our online store,  We have a large selection of fabrics that are perfect for cabins, lodges and ski chalets. Once you've selected a fabric you love, our workroom can make up custom curtains that are perfect for your mountain room (for information about ordering curtains, click here).  If you'd like to get a little free curtain advice from a designer, call us.  We're always happy to spend a few minutes helping you figure out what your best solution may be.  

For the ultimate treatise on do's and don'ts for curtains and window shades, see Cote de Texas posting, here.


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  3. Such kind of home in mountains are very beautiful , you have maintained it so well.The decorations are very pretty and the stone used for walls is really attractive.

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