How to dress a bow window

Updated July 20, 2017

Bow windows, a window of set of windows that curve out from a building, date back to Victorian times. The advantages of having a bow window include adding a focal point to a room and providing a large area of light to a space. While bow windows are a beautiful, they are often difficult to dress with an appropriate window treatment. With a few decorating tips, a bow window dressing is easy and enhances this gorgeous architectural accent.

Incorporate your decorating style. When choosing an appropriate bow window treatment, it is important to consider the interior decorating style of your room. Different design styles affect the type of window treatments that are appropriate for your space ranging from shutters to blinds and shades to Roman shades and balloon shades.

Consider the location of your bow window. If a bow window is in the front of the house, a more private window dressing is needed, and windows facing the south need more light diffusion than windows located on the north side of your home.

Measure the width and height of each window with a tape measure. If there are spaces between your individual windows, measure them as well.

Purchase flexible, bendable or curved curtain rods if you choose to hang valances, draperies or curtains. Many Internet sites specialise in bow and bay window treatments and their hardware. Follow their instructions for measuring properly, and the curves of a bow window become much easier to accommodate.

Create a simple bow window treatment with valances. Valances, or simple gathered curtains that fit on a top rod over your inside window, are great window dressings when you have a gorgeous view that you do not want to obstruct with heavy draperies. Treat each window individually, and hang a valance above the window for a dressing that truly accentuates your bow window.

Use shutters for a bow window treatment. Cottage style, country and farmhouse styles homes often use shutters on the windows to add a quaint decor and also provide privacy and light control. Hanging shutters on the top left-hand and right-hand insides of each window provides seclusion and light control.

Create a cohesive look with Roman shades or balloon shades. Roman shades are panels that draw up and down on a pleated string, and balloon shades hang from a top window rod with the bottom edges visually ballooning out from several pinched areas. Treat each window individually.


Always consider what the window treatment looks like on the inside and the outside of your home for a window dressing that is visually pleasing from both vantage points.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Curtain rods
  • Valances
  • Shutters
  • Shutter hardware
  • Roman shades
  • Balloon shades
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About the Author

Based in upstate New York, Amy Mosher has been writing interior design and lifestyle articles since 2005. She is a prolific professional blogger, designer, artist and writer for various websites. She holds a bachelor's degree from Mansfield University and is a graduate of the Sheffield School of Interior Design.