Chic Ideas for Window Valances

Merriam-Webster defines window valances as “a short piece of cloth or a wooden or metal frame that is placed across the top of a window for decoration.” These small-but-mighty window treatments are a great way to add style and dimension to your decor.

Window valance ideas can run the gamut from Roman-shade style toppers to window scarves, and also include more architectural options like cornices, which are wooden or metal boxes, sometimes covered with fabric. They can be used alone for a simple look in a room where privacy isn’t an issue, or with other window treatments like blinds, sheers or curtains.

What’s Your Style?

While they’re typically thought of as a traditional window treatment, window valances can also have a modern or contemporary vibe. For instance, a modern valance could be a clean-lined fabric panel done in a Scandinavian-style graphic floral or a glossy, bright yellow wooden cornice, unadorned except for the sunny color.

Traditional valances are typically more ornate, with an abundance of fabric in swags or gathers. Cornices have arched or scalloped edges and are typically covered with fabric and trim. Think English Country or Louis X – ornate, often floral or tapestry, and deeply colored.

Country valances are similar to traditional, and can be made from floral, check or striped fabric. A wooden cornice might have a rail at the top for dishware display.

Combine With Curtains … or Not

Valances and curtains are often used together to create a more formal look. Lighter drapes appear more finished with the addition of a window scarf draped over the rod. Heavier drapes can handle the visual weight of a cornice. While the valance can match the drapes, often they’re done in a contrasting fabric for more visual interest. Think stripes topping floral fabric or, in a little boy’s room, a Star Wars valance over simple curtains.

When using a valance alone, there are many ways to dress it up. Ruching fabric along a wide rod looks feminine without being overdone. Hanging patterned fabric in scallops from decorative hooks works well in kitchens, bathrooms and kids’ rooms. A woven bamboo topper is simple and textural.

Easy DIY and No-Sew Valances

While it may sound intimidating to make a valance or cornice box, there are many tutorials and no-sew options out there. This lets you customize your look and, if you go for less expensive fabric, can also save you money. Here are a couple of options:

For a quick, easy no-sew topper, drape a window scarf over a curtain rod. Use a premade window scarf, or buy scarves or fabric you like and use that. When using fabric, be sure to “hem” the ends with fabric adhesive for a finished look.

Valances – whether fabric, wood or even metal – give a room a polished look. You might use them together with curtains or by themselves, but when you’re considering window treatment options, be sure to keep these classic finishes in mind.

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