Valances – the good the bad and the ugly

Yes folks, valances are back.  But wait!!  I am not talking about the newspaper stuffed balloon valances, or heaven help us, the combination of  two or three   wide rods hung really close together with fabric all squished up.  Style and  beautiful fabrics are what make today’s valances different.  The fabrics do the work. Like a classic dress, it is perfect proportion, great fabric, exemplary construction and attention to detail that make or break a valance.  

When  pre-made blinds and shades became readily available in the early 90’s, a lot of us stopped using fabric on our windows at all. The result was a minimalist look that fit well with the pared down type of decor design of the era.

The trend now is toward a warmer, more cozy interior space and fabric window treatments are one of the easiest ways to achieve this. So, because we still have those blinds and shades in place and do not need window coverings to provide privacy or light control, good valances and side panels are the style of the day.

What makes a ‘good’ valance? It starts with matching the style of the valance to the style of the room.  If your room is truly a minimalist room, a simple, tailored box pleated valance works very well.  If this is your 7 year old daughters room, you may opt for a more ‘fluffy’ valance, perhaps one with some fringe trim, but again the more classic styles work best – like an Empire  valance.

You won’t tire of them as quickly as with a ‘trendy’ valance. Remember the pole with the fabric looped over and over?  Enough said.  Look at the style of the room, look at a lot of magazines and choose something that suits the room. If you can’t decide, ask for help. Then go look for fabric that suits the valance. 

I have a software program that allows me to take a picture of your window, design a drapery treatment on the photo itself, apply the chosen fabric and lets you see what the treatment will look like before you make a final decision.

Fabrics that blend with the wall color  work best.  Here is a design ‘rule’: The eye will go to the area of greatest contrast first. For example, think of a lady in a black blouse and black pants. Now put a wide white belt on the outfit. What will you see first? The black blouse or the white belt? The same  happens in design.

If you have soft  grey-taupe walls  in a room with pink accents and you use a bright pink fabric in the valance,  the valance is  the first thing anyone will notice when walking into the room.  More than likely this is not the reaction you want. If you put up a soft grey valance, perhaps with some of the pink in the pattern, the effect will be much less jarring. However you may want the valance to draw attention to the window. 

If you have a spectacular view, think of the valance and side panels as being the frame for the picture. Then the attention it draws is warranted, and wanted, and the color should compliment both the walls and the ‘picture’. 

The quickest way to ruin a good valance is to hang it too low or to make it too short. The rule of thumb is that the valance depth  should be  about  1/5 to  1/4  of the perceived window depth and  no less than 12 inches.  This takes a bit of planning. You may have to hang the valance higher and make it longer to achieve the correct proportion. Hanging it higher increases the perceived widow depth.

So, keep it simple, use great fabrics and stay away from trendy, fussy valances.  Most of  you have a great innate sense of style. Trust yourself.

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