Some shower curtains are so pretty, you want to take them outside the bathroom.

By Lauren Phillips
November 02, 2018
Karin Smeds/Folio Images/Getty Images

The other day, I was wandering through one of my favorite home goods stores—one of my top weekend activities—and I saw a beautiful Turkish towel–esque curtain folded on a shelf. I’ve been looking for curtains for my living room and thought these might work. But when I took a good look at them, I realized they were shower curtains.

An existential crisis began. Could I use a cotton or linen shower curtain as a window curtain? I’m a huge fan of shower curtains used in unexpected ways, and I’m no stranger to using very intentional items for different purposes, like a diaper bag as my weekend purse or an infant’s playmat as a kitchen floor mat. But there has to be some reason shower curtains can’t be used as window curtains, right? Otherwise they’d all just be called curtains. But how could I know for sure?

Rather than let my existential crisis drag on, I turned to two design pros.

“It really depends on the material,” says Austin, Texas–based designer Maureen Stevens. “Not all fabrics are made the same, and not all fabrics fall right as far as being a drapery.”

Christie Leu, of Maryland-based Christie Leu Interiors, admits to using shower curtains for several other purposes.

“You can repurpose lovely fabric for a window shade or panel,” she says. “It is rare that there may not be a bit of sewing involved to make it the right length, and clip on rings can be added easily.”

Leu even used a shower curtain—with some pipes and shower rings—to create a barrier for her basement utilities.

“I used a lovely linen from Pottery Barn, which really saved time and money,” she says. “No finishing edges or creating pleats or tabs.”

Stevens says that, like with any décor, a great pattern, color, or texture can work as a curtain to accent windows and rooms, but it all depends on the material. (Meaning no plastic shower curtains in the living room.)

“But hey,” she says. “If it passes the materials test, I say go for it! Because really, these Anthropologie shower curtains can double as a window curtain any day in my book.”

So there you have it: A shower curtain can go in the living room—if it’s an appropriate material. You may not be able to get that sheer, ethereal look using shower curtains as window treatments, but for dark curtains that block out light and preserve your privacy, a shower curtain might be just the thing (especially if no window curtain panels have caught your eye).

Because, really, does it matter what it’s supposed to be, as long as you really love it? Next time I see a shower curtain I like, I may just hang it in my living room. After all, there are so many gorgeous shower curtains out there, and I only have one shower—but several windows.