Often, simple window blinds or window shutters are so easy and inexpensive to install that no second thought is given to decorating the window headings. A window treatment topping, however, adds color and vibrant design to any window in a home without negating the quality of or the ability to control incoming natural light.
The most common window toppings include valances, cornices, and swags.
A window valance is one of the most popular designs for window headings. Valances are usually short curtains or drapes that are gathered or pleated. They are used to cover up the top of the window or the top of the curtains hanging from the window. Sometimes trim or a border is used around the edge of the valance.
The fabric and color you use can change the look of the valance from dark and formal to light and airy. The fabric can be pulled tight or pleated for a crisp, clean look or be puffy and rounded for a more romantic look. You can even use a print fabric as long as the pattern is not too large or small.
You should take care that the valance style and color compliments any curtains or drapes they are used with. The valance should also be in proportion when compared to the length of the drapes and size of the window.
A cornice is different from a valance in that it’s usually a hard or soft frame that covers the top of the window as well as the curtains hanging down. The frame can be square or curved. This fixture can hide curtain rods, blind fixtures, or chipped paint at the top of a window. A cornice also adds dimension and depth to a window.
A cornice board is usually made of wood which is then either upholstered with fabric, covered with paper, or painted. Each of these options gives you the opportunity to then show off the window or the window treatment you are using on the window. For example, the fabric chosen can be the same as the curtain hanging from the window.
The depth of the cornice is also important. The depth should be in proportion to the length of the window treatment used – not too deep and not too short. A general rule is to keep the cornice box size about one sixth of the length of the curtain used in the window.
A swag, unlike a valance or and cornice, can be a window treatment in itself. A swag is one or more pieces of fabric draped over a decorative rod or mounted on a shelf at the top of a window. You can choose various types of fabrics depending on the decoration you want to achieve. For example, you can use silk to make a more luxurious statement.
How you hang the swag creates different types of window treatments. For a casual look, you can hang them loosely. Hang tailored material tightly, and the swag will look more formal.
Depending on the amount of fabric you use, swags can be different lengths. They can go from just covering the rod and top of the window or all the way to the floor. This is why swags are also called cascades.
When privacy is not an issue, but maintaining the view is, swags and cascades give the window that special touch without blocking the view. They are an affordable and practical option as either a window topping or window treatment.