What Is a Valance?

So just what is a valance? In home decorating, a valance is piece of window décor (or "window treatment," as it's commonly defined or described) that is generally used as drapery across the top of the length of a window to complement existing curtains or drapes, to accentuate a room, and/or to conceal the mounting hardware of curtains or drapes, covering just the top portion of the window. Valances can work wonders in adding that extra "touch" to the look of the curtains, the overall window, and the room in its entirety. Keep in mind that while many home decorators like to pair valances with matching curtains, valances can look stylish on their own; they can be used without any other additional drapery.
Valances are usually between 10 and 18 inches in length, depending on the length of the window they are designed to accent. Valances are available in a wide variety of colors, fabrics-including cotton, polyester, acrylic, as well as blends of these materials-and styles to include balloon, pleated or French pleated, swag, gathered, scarf, or embassy, to name a few. Balloon valances have layers, often with fillers placed between the layers for a fuller look. Pleated valances can use box pleats, pinched pleats, or spaced pleats.
Valances can be purchased separately or as part of a drapery "set" (for example, a matching curtain and complementary valance sold together in a package). Oftentimes, valances can be installed directly on an existing mounting rod for curtains; however, you may also purchase a separate rod specifically for a valance.
When choosing a valance to purchase, consider the size, length, shape, and design of your window; the color, fabric, and style or design of the curtains or drapery; and the colors, look, and "feel" of the room. You don't necessarily need a valance that perfectly "matches" your curtains, etc., but it should complement your curtains, as well as the window and the room. You could even consider a similar fabric and style or design, but a contrasting yet complementary color for your valance.
You'll need to measure the dimensions of your window before purchasing a valance, to ensure it fits properly. If you already have curtains or drapery on the window for which you'd like to add an accenting valance, then consider taking a picture of your window and curtains to bring along for your shopping trip. A swatch of the curtain color and fabric would also be helpful. If you'll be purchasing a valance as part of a curtain or drapery set, then you can leave this step out. Of course, if you decide to shop for and purchase a valance online, then you won't need a photo or swatch. Remember that valances can work beautifully on their own; "matching" curtains are not required.
If you can't find the valance you're looking for, or if you'd prefer to save yourself some money, you could even consider making your own valance. If you have basic sewing skills, valances are relatively simple to make-plus, you can choose your own color, fabric, and design, and you need only a small amount of material.

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