Top Treatments for Windows

Relatively small in size, valances, cornices, and awnings pack a big decorative punch. Use them alone or combine them with shades or blinds for privacy and light control. Pair them with operative or fixed draperies for a more luxurious look.

+ enlarge image Sheer valances with trimmed edges and tassles accent the sheer curtains on these windows.

Originally designed to conceal window treatment hardware, valances are now used to visually unite windows and doors of different shapes and sizes and to enhance the decor of a room.

Short valances typically hang down less than a foot. For this size it's best to choose a fabric with a print small enough to fit within the valance dimensions, but not so small that the design becomes unrecognizable when viewed from a short distance.

Long valances are generally 12 to 16 inches long and can be straight across, or they can be fashioned with longer sides, scalloped hems, or pointed tabs. This style is best for rooms with high ceilings or for larger windows.

Fabric selection determines whether your valance is more formal or more casual in appearance. Lightweight, sheer fabrics tend to flutter with the breeze; weighty fabrics tend to add more substance to your window.

The style of a valance is also important. Gathered styles have a romantic or casual appearance. Flat panels look tailored and neat and require the least amount of fabric. Formally swagged, draped, or box pleated versions look good in formal or traditional interiors. Choose the look that best fits your d├ęcor.


+ enlarge image A solid cornice is embellished with the same look at the room's molding.

Although cornices are more tailored in appearance than valances, they perform the same decorative function of topping a window and concealing window hardware.

Cornices are typically constructed from wood. This box can be decorated with moldings, then stained, painted or wallpapered.

Upholstered cornices provide a softer look than their wooden counterparts. The wood structure is covered with batting or foam before the decorative fabric is stapled over it.

If sun control or privacy is a concern, pair cornices with blinds, shades, or lined draperies.

+ enlarge image A jaunty awning gives this kitchen a French café look.

Interior awnings can add a new dimension and a touch of sun control to your windows. Awnings visually connect windows of different sizes and styles (like valances do), and they can also break up a boxy room, offering extra depth and angular interest.

These can be made in a variety of fabrics, including sturdy canvas as well as other heavy cottons and cotton blends.

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