A valance is a type of curtain that covers the upper part of the window only. You can use a valance on its own in a small window or pair it with cafe curtains in a kitchen window or with a pair of tieback curtains or drapes in a more formal window. In addition to being decorative on their own, valances also help conceal unsightly hardware.
Basic Straight Valance
The basic straight valance usually covers about 1/6 of the window and stretches across it widthways. Usually, the valance is about one and a half to twice as wide as the window so that you can gather it to give it a fuller look. The edges of the valance can extend outside the frame of the window to make it look wider. You can use a basic valance by itself or hang it over a pair of curtains or blinds to cover up the hardware. For an extra decorative touch, you can use a valance with a trimmed edge.
As its name suggests, a balloon valance is slightly puffy and inflated. It's also known as a cloud or pouf valance. To make a balloon valance, you fold a piece of fabric in half so that it will fit the width of your window and cover no more than 1/6 of the window's height. The valances work well on their own but can be paired with cafe curtains for a casual look in the kitchen or bathroom. Stuff the valance with tissue paper or newspaper to give it the full look.
A scarf valance adds an elegant touch to a window. The valance drapes across the width of the window, forming an upside down arch. The ends of the valance gently hang down the sides of the window. Most scarf valances are made of sheer fabric. You can use the scarf on its own or atop a pair of curtains. Typically, the scarf hangs on two sconces at each corner on the top of the window. Wrap it around a decorative curtain rod.
A pelmet is a hard valance. Usually, it's a three sided plywood or wood box covered in fabric and batting. It's also called a cornice board. Since a pelmet or cornice board is stiff, it usually works best in a formal room, such as a dining room. The primary purpose of a pelmet is to cover the hardware used to hang the curtains or drapes.
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- Apartment Therapy: Valances, Pelmets and Lambrequins; Anna Hoffman; 2011
- Alternative Windows: Making Scarf Valances
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- Alternative Windows: Balloon Valances
- "Curtains, Blinds and Valances"; Eaglemoss; 1998
- "The Complete Book of Curtains, Drapes, and Blinds: Design Ideas and Basic Techniques for Window Treatments"; Wendy Baker; 2009