Bay window curtain design

Updated April 17, 2017

Bay windows often have attractive proportions and designs and may be a beautiful addition to a room. Usually consisting of one large window and two smaller ones built at angles to one another, they create an alcove which can be charming or elegant as well as functional. Many options exist for bay window curtains. Perhaps the most attractive curtain designs are those paired with other window treatments like valances, blinds and accessories.

Hanging Curtains

Bay window curtains generally require special curtain rods or poles that bend or curve with the lines of the windows. This hardware permits curtains to move easily over the entire bay window opening. Another option is to buy standard rods for each of the three window sections, in which case each curtain would need to be opened separately. Some interior designers suggest avoiding the single-window treatment because it can create a cluttered look.

Curtain Length

Curtains look well at full length, hanging from ceiling to just above the floor. However, when a seating bench or radiator exists beneath the windows, curtains should fall only to the window sill. Floor-length curtains should be drawn to the edges of the entire bay window, framing them and sometimes displaying handsome joinery. Curtains drawn between each window may created a fussy, cluttered look.

Curtain Fabrics

Fabrics, which add colour and texture to an interior, are available in a large range of materials and designs. They should work well with the colours in the room and the upholstery. Sheers and gauze permit light to filter through the window and maintain privacy. Fabrics designed with classic patterns contribute to the period design of a room.


Valances, which are fixed to the ceiling in front of the curtains and hide hardware, can be a very attractive addition to curtains. The more formal swags are placed in the same position as valances but are of a softer material and curve in scallop shapes. The pelmet is a shorter valance that also hides curtain fixtures. Valances and swags can be simple or ornate and can be embellished with decorative trim.

Blinds and Shades

Side curtain panels often work well with blinds or shades. A huge selection exists, from the standard roller shade to Roman shades and wood blinds. Most blinds roll up or down, controlling the amount of light entering the room. Roman blinds form folds as they roll up. One blind should be installed in each window.

Curtain Accessories

Accessories add to the attractiveness of curtains. The tieback, which holds the curtain back to the edge of the window, is available as a rope of fabric. Tieback treatment should follow the style or period of the curtains. A single, simple tassel attached to it, for example, increases the look of formality. Holdbacks, which can be simple or ornate, are rigid metal fixtures on which to gather the curtain.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Nina Kramer, a novelist who published her first novel in 2002, is currently working on a series of novels set in modern China. Previously, she managed the American Society of Civil Engineers' journals department. A passionate gardener and home decorator, she has a B.A. in English literature from George Washington University.