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The words pelmet, valance, and cornice are used interchangeably to describe the shallow box, board, or fabric that covers the hardware of draperies, blinds, or shades. When the valance is as glamorous as this one made of etched and beveled mirror, the draperies themselves should be simple and unobtrusive so as not to detract from the ornate toppers.
Black and white striped curtains topped with a matching painted cornice punctuate this sophisticated Southwestern-style bedroom with graphic flair. The special touch comes from mounting a framed print in the center of the cornice. The feature draws the eye upward to emphasize the vertical stripes and room's spaciousness.
A valance often serves a purely decorative function, softening the top of a window. This pinch-pleat valance goes from plain to posh with the addition of heavy cording and multicolor pom-pom tassels. Rope cord runs from one side to the other, with simple knots at each pleat.
A persimmon and melon silk handkerchief valance pulls the color of furnishings and floor coverings to the window. Paired with a loosely woven blind, this simple valance drapes over a metal rod mounted above the window frame, giving the impression of a taller window. It's trimmed with geometric charms that echo motifs found throughout the room.
Fully gathered valances and matching, operable drapery panels reinforce the mood of quiet, serene luxury in this master bedroom. The fabric sets a decorating direction that's relaxed yet sophisticated.
To increase the impression of height in the room, the softly gathered valances hang at the ceiling line. Piping at the hem provides a nicely tailored finish.
These fabric valances feature a pair of gathers at each end. The positioning of the gathers emphasizes the draperies as soft columns of pattern and color framing the wide windows. A narrow band of pleated fabric finishes the edge of the valance and the leading edges of the draperies.
The valances are attached to boards affixed to the wall above the windows, allowing the fabric to hang freely.
The seemingly simple pleated valance in this bedroom actually requires careful planning to space the box pleats evenly between scallop-edge panels across the width of the window. The valance is stapled to a board that projects several inches from the wall to clear the drapery mechanics.
Determining the appropriate depth of a valance is a matter of balancing proportions. This valance is nearly equal to the depth of the wall under the window.
A fern print fabric inspires the scheme for a bedroom decorated in the tropical spirit. Because of the fabric's open background and the simplicity of the motif, the fabric works equally well for the smooth cornice and the operable floor-length drapery panels.
The upholstered cornice box conceals the drapery hardware beneath. Pairs of white louvered shutters control light and views while reinforcing the tropical mood.
Pinch pleats topped with covered buttons gather the valance between the deep points. Layered over the striped panels, the valance creates a strong vertical line that makes the standard 8-foot ceiling seem higher.
Two single-pane casement windows shed the only light in this attic room. Rather than cover the available light with curtains, the designer topped the casements with a simple box cornice upholstered in a green fabric that matches the color of the window frame. In a room dominated by pattern, blending the cornice with the architecture helps define the window.
A simple half-circle swag of checked sheer silk edged with crystal beads softens the architecture.
Although valances usually hide curtain mechanics, they can also be a decorative feature on their own. This elaborate flouncy valance tops casement windows and softens the architecture in a little girl's room.
A pleated border in a contrasting fabric accents the edges of the valance, and fabric roses catch up the swags.
A straight valance in the same windowpane check as the bedskirt hides the hanging mechanism for the wide Roman shade. A valance like this is the easiest kind to make--you simply stitch together lengths of fabric to obtain the desired width and staple it to a board. The board is attached to the wall with L brackets.
In this attic bedroom, a small-scale wallpaper covers the walls and ceiling, enlarging the sense of space--it masks the edges where planes meet. The valance provides a line of definition, emphasizing the bed and window as the room's focal point.
Silk tassels draw attention to the arched shape of this deep cornice box and define the leading edge of the drapery panels. Mounted at the ceiling line, the upholstered cornice box boosts architectural interest in a traditional-style room.
The creamy white cornice and drapery panels might seem designed to blend subtly with the golden maize walls, yet they create precisely the opposite effect, becoming a dramatic focal point.
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