Window Valances

gathered swag valance

What are window valances?

The literal meaning of a window valance is a window treatment that covers the uppermost part of the window. But in window decorating it is not only that. It is actually the answer to many window treatment dilemmas.

Here are some problems that some homeowners face and how they can be helped with valances.

  • Is the hardware of your primary window treatment unappealing? Certain useful window treatments come with either unsightly hardware or they are topped with a valance that leaves much to be desired.
  • Don’t be limited with your choice of window treatments due to these problems. You can choose the window treatment you need. You just have to add a valance design you love and you will get the perfect window treatment.

  • Do you wish for beautiful soft treatments like drapery; just you think you can’t have it because the room is too small and you are afraid it will be too overpowering?
  • A valance can help a small room feel more open and airy than with sumptuous drapes. Valances are like mini draperies, they have the beauty yet they lack the volume. Like draperies, valance styles range from simple to elaborate; and they can be made with the same fabrics, hardware, and trimmings as draperies.

    This is also a solution for those who resist draperies due to the price constraints. Some types of valances require very little fabric making it considerably more budget-friendly.

  • Is your window in a place where privacy and light control is not an issue? Do you prefer not to block the view or to allow more natural light to filter in; yet you do not feel comfortable leaving your window bare?
  • With window valances you can dress your window without blocking the view giving it a finished look.

  • Do you have two different sized windows on one wall? Is your window disproportioned? tall and narrow? short and wide?
  • Turn to valances for a solution. These problems can be solved by either correctly sizing or the strategic placement of the valances.

Valances can be matched to any room decor whether it is traditional or modern, formal or casual. You can always find a valance that will match your style.

The two most important elements in designing window valances appropriate to each decorating style is the fabric and the valance type.

Valance styles are best categorized in these varieties:

swag valance

    Swag valances: These are created with swags, jabots, cascades, and horns. They are usually used in formal settings, but with more casual fabrics they can be used to create a lighter affect.

    For more information on swag valances click here.

    balloon valance

    Balloon valances: The simple ones are made from a tightly gathered fabric and they are stuffed up so that they balloon out; giving it a 3-dimensional look. The more elegant ballon valances are a shortened version of fabric shades, like the austrian valance, roman shade valance, or the butterfly valance.

    For more information on balloon valances click here.


    Cornices: Any stiff valance is a window cornice. It can be made with wood or covered with fabric. When using a wooden cornice a soft valance is sometimes added below. Fabric cornices can be either smooth or padded; sometimes swags or shirred fabrics are added to it for a unique combo.

    For more information about cornices click here.

    kingston valance

    Kingston and Empire Valances: This family of window valances are made with swags and horn railroaded one next to the other. There are a number of ways to design an empire or kingston swag valance to complement just about any design style.

    To learn more about these valances click here.

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Do you have an odd shaped window and are wondering how to cover it?

Check out our window treatment ideas for specialty shaped windows.

  • Separate page for each shape window
  • Ideas that allow you to get the most use out of your window
  • Don't lose the unique architectural look of your window
  • Protect your window's view while protecting your privacy

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