Cottage decor should hit outdoorsy notes, playing on each one of your five senses. You should almost see woodland wildflowers, smell and feel salty ocean air, or hear birds and wildlife without stepping outside or driving for miles. Window treatments are one of the most important layers of any space, backing furniture and framing views, and the right ones certainly help to set an al fresco stage.
White, crisp, breezy and with a nod to effortless relaxation is how cottage-style curtains should appear. Consider ruffled linen for a country-bungalow kitchen or no-frills organic cotton in the bathroom of a seaside chalet (or seaside-chalet wannabe). But just as important as the fabric is the hardware. Wrought iron or wood curtain rods and finials work in most cottage settings -- whether or not the exterior setting reflects cottage life. Hang window treatments high and wide to stretch a small space and make the most of nice views. If sticky little fingers have you boycotting white, go with creamy off-white fabric, rustic burlap, a gingham check or pastel stripes, or let your guard down in acceptance of the tranquil vibe -- you can use a stain-guard product on many white fabrics, or use stain-resistant materials, after all.
The visual and literal warmth of heavy drapes helps to create a cozy setting. Velvet, tweed or lined cotton drapes in cottage bedrooms, a den or living room help to stifle a cool, damp atmosphere. Look to the colors of nature -- rose, forest green, ocean blue -- to complement a window’s view. As with any heavy fabric, drapes can be a suffocation hazard concerning infants; keep a baby’s crib away from a window.
Forget about metal, faux wood or vinyl blinds or shades; they are the outcasts of the cottage-decor “family.” Instead, look to bamboo or hemp roller shades, or natural wood blinds. Roman shades with a floral pattern on a white background would work as long as they tie in with the colors of surrounding furniture and fabrics. In any home with young family members, child-safe cords are a window-treatment must.
Wood shutters, even if they are just for decorative purposes, are right at home framing the windows of a cottage. Finish natural shutters to go with the decor, using family-friendly products such as paint or stain with no volatile organic compounds, or leave them as is. You could distress painted or natural wood features to go with the casual cottage atmosphere -- if supervised, the kids may enjoy helping with such a (destructive) project.