The Window Valance Explained

The Window Valance Explained

What is a valance exactly, and why does everyone eventually need one? The valance has been part of window treatment fashion for centuries. It serves a practical as well as decorative and aesthetic purposes. Chances are, you have had one in your home at some point, even if you didn’t know what it was. Let’s find out more about this understated window topper and the ways it can enhance any décor.


What Is a Window Valance?

A valance is a decorative topper for the upper part of the window. It covers the hardware needed for your drapes and blinds. It also adds a polished finish to the top of the window that looks stylish whether your drapes are open or closed.

A valance is also called a window top treatment. They became common back in the Victorian era and were made with fabric that matched the draperies. In modern times, people began to use them with blinds as well. Blind companies often manufacture their blinds paired with coordinating valances. Given the many styles of valances available, your window treatments can range from basic to sophisticated.


Functions of a Window Valance

Aside from covering your window shade hardware, a valance adds texture, color, and pattern to the top of a window and, thus, to the entire room. You can add a valance in matching fabric to your curtains or draperies, whether they are basic fabric or rich tapestry. 

Alternately, you can add a depth of texture to the window treatment by alternating colors, fabrics, or patterns. For example, you could go with sheer curtains in a neutral color and add a patterned valance that connects the colors of your living room décor to your windows. 

As we mentioned, valances are decorative window treatments. In addition to looking pretty, they can accomplish several things, stylistically speaking. Here are a few popular and practical reasons to use a valance. 


Add Dimension to Your Windows

First, valances come in just about any shape you can imagine. You can use them to add dimension and weight to your window, drawing attention to your windows while creating a very modern look. Many people lay a swag over draperies for a classic, layered look. Some styles include a swag sewn into the valance, so you have the illusion of layers in what’s actually a one-piece valance. 

For a more modern look, you can also add a valance under a pair of heavy draperies, rather than over them. The overall effect is that you’ve added layers of color, texture, and dimension to the entire room, not just the windows.

Whether you go for classic or modern, layering your window treatments creates a unique look for your home. Feel free to experiment with colors and patterns until you come up with the perfect combination for your room.


Add Height to Any Room

Did you know that most people install an outside-mounted valance incorrectly? Most of the time, people install the valance so that the connecting hardware rests on each side of the upper windowsill. The valance, then, runs across the top of the window and covers a good bit of the glass. 

To add height to your room, you should install the valance above the window, closer to the ceiling. That way, the valance rests at the top of the window rather than falling onto it. Installing it higher allows the valance to frame your window rather than cover it up. By placing it higher, you draw the eye up, which makes your room look larger and taller. And, you won’t be blocking your view to the outside. 


Shape Your Window

Because one function of a valance is to frame a window, you’ll find valances in all shapes. Most valances are flat rather than gathered like swags or sections. The reason? Valances already have a shape and don’t need gathers or darts to dress them up.

For instance, some valances come in a scalloped shape or with an arched-bottom hem. These give your otherwise rectangular windows a rounded or arched look. Or, if you have an arched or palladium window, you can use a straight valance to hide the top for a new look.


Practical Solution for Children and Pets

Drapes can be problematic for families with children and pets. Children can get tangled up in heavy drapes and even bring them down, hardware and all, by tugging on them. A valance is a much smaller piece of fabric that’s installed out of reach of little hands.

The same applies to pets, who love to chase and tug on anything that moves. In particular, cats have a reputation for climbing up screen doors and curtains. Pet hair and dander is another problem pet owners face. Drapes and curtains attract pet fur and trap allergens. A valance is high enough to avoid pet traffic and small enough not to collect too much dust and dander. They are also easy to vacuum when needed to remove any buildup that gathers over time.


Bring the Entire Room Together

Many of us decorate as we go along. You may start with the perfect couch you found on sale and build pieces and layers of color from there. What you end up with is a complementary set of rich colors. To help blend them all, you most likely chose neutral-colored curtains. To tie it all together, why not add a custom valance and pillows with matching fabric? Choose a color and pattern the complements the curtains as well as the color scheme of your room. Valances and pillows are simple to make if you know how to sew. Even if you don’t, they are affordable to custom order.

Windows themselves are undervalued design points for a room. A window valance, like sheer curtains or decorative window film, is an inexpensive way to enhance your room’s décor. The next time you feel like redecorating, look up and find your inspiration at the high end of your windows.