Window Valance Styles
Merriam-Webster defines a valance as “a short drapery or wood or metal frame used as a decorative heading to conceal the top of curtains and fixtures.” This basic description doesn't do justice to the variety of fabric window valances available today. Any of these styles would be a great addition to your home.
1. Rod Pocket
Rod pocket valances are the most popular, common, and least expensive style. They are sewn from a straight piece of fabric making rod pockets an easy DIY project. Their simple design also makes them super quick to install.
The top pocket hem slips onto a standard curtain rod creating soft gathers of fabric. The valance should measure 1 1/2 to 2 times the length of the rod allowing for maximum fullness on the rod. If you choose one with box pleats, make sure it's the same length as the rod so it will lie flat across the window.
Swag valances will give your room a decidedly formal look and are available in a variety of designs. They are made up of draped arcs of fabric spanning the width of the window. Some even feature a rod pocket for ease of installation.
Custom swags are typically board mounted to create intricate folds and pleats. Other versions consist of single lengths of hemmed fabric carefully draped through sconces or over a curtain rod.
To give them an elegant touch, consider adding decorative cascades or jabots. Cascades create the long tails of swag valances. They gracefully frame the window with gentle folds to create a stair step appearance.
Jabots are short doubled cascades. You can position jabots on each end of a large swag to artfully outline a window or place them between multiple swag sections to conceal seams. Both jabots and cascades often feature contrasting lining within their pleats and folds.
How Valances Solve Decorating Problems
If you have unattractive curtain rods but aren't ready to buy new ones, use a valance to conceal the offending curtain hardware.
In small houses and apartments, full-length curtains can be overwhelming. Add interest and color by using these window toppers instead. You'll get the same soft appearance without overpowering the room.
Awkwardly shaped windows can benefit from valances. Add one to visually minimize the height of a tall narrow window.
They require much less fabric and labor, so it will cost much less than curtain panels.
An ascot valance is a triangular piece of fabric often trimmed with beaded fringe or tassels. This style can have one or multiple ascot points. You can add more ascot sections depending on the width of your window. It is recommended to use a ratio of 2 to 1 for optimum fullness across the span of the opening.
Roll-up valances are also called "stagecoach" as they resemble the style of curtains used in Old West carriages. They have contrasting fabric on the reverse side and feature a rod sewn into the bottom hem. The fabric rolls up onto itself and is secured with two decorative ties on each end.
Most of these shades are modified to stay in the up position but can be made to roll completely down to cover the window. They come in ready-made rod pocket or custom board mounted versions.
What Do You Think About Window Valances?
The name of this valance aptly describes its appearance. The bottom edge consists of a series of semicircles that either lie flat across the window opening or slightly gathered. Scalloped styles can be hung via a rod pocket, rings, or fastened to a rigid board.
These work well in both casual and contemporary rooms, depending on the type of fabric used. To add a bit of fanciful flair, highlight the scalloped edge with decorative trim.
Scarf valances are similar in appearance to their swag cousins. The main difference is the weight of the fabric. Window scarves are typically made from sheer material and are hemmed on all four sides that resemble a long, narrow rectangle.
Purchase an extra long window scarf and drape it over the width of a curtain rod or through end sconces. The tails or ends should hang down and frame either side of the window. For added interest, position it so the tails give an asymmetrical appearance.
To stabilize your perfectly formed swags in place, secure with small pieces of double-sided carpet tape or with rubber bands or twist ties. Although scarf valances are typically sheer and lightweight, the long sections of fabric can pull the fabric taut if not properly anchored.
Balloon valances are a perennial window treatment favorite. They have a whimsical quality and are perfect for a feminine boudoir or child's bedroom. They are gathered on a curtain rod and feature a pocket of fabric to be filled crumpled tissue paper or poly fill to enhance their puffy profile. Without stuffing, they take on a sophisticated air.