Different Window Valance Styles

Merriam Webster defines a valance as “a short drapery or wood or metal frame used as a decorative heading to conceal the top of curtains and fixtures.” This simple definition is rather misleading. In reality, there are many different styles of valances to choose from. I’ll stick with several popular styles of soft fabric valances -- any of these would be a great addition to your home décor!

Rod Pocket Valance

Rod Pocket valances are the most common and least expensive you can buy. They are the easiest to create because they are made from a straight piece of fabric. The simple design means they’re also quick to install.

The rod pocket valance is the most common type of ready-made valance.
The rod pocket valance is the most common type of ready-made valance. | Source

Valances Can Solve Problems

  • Is your curtain hardware less than attractive? Maybe you feel limited in your curtain choices because you’re fearful the hardware will show. No worries! Use a valance to conceal the offending curtain rod.


  • In small houses and apartments, full curtains and drapery panels may seem overwhelming. Bring interest and color in by using valances instead. You get the softness of fabric at the window, but avoid overpowering your room!


  • Windows that are awkwardly shaped can benefit from window valances. For example: shorten a tall, narrow window by adding a valance to visually minimize the height.


  • Dealing with budget constraints? Valances require much less fabric and labor, so they will cost less than full-length curtain panels.

A rod pocket valance slips onto a standard curtain rod, creating soft gathers of fabric. This valance should measure 1 1/2 to 2 times the length of the rod to allow for ample fullness on your curtain rod.

If your rod pocket valance has box pleat detailing and is designed to lie flat, use the exact measurement of the rod as a guide when purchasing.

Swag Valance

Swag valances project a decidedly formal look and are available in a variety of designs. Swag valances are draped arcs of fabric that span the width of a window. Some are designed with a rod pocket for ease of installation.


Custom swag valances are typically board mounted to create intricate folds and pleats. Swag valances can also consist of single lengths of hemmed fabric carefully draped through sconces (brackets) or over a curtain rod.

The graceful drapes of a swag valance suit a traditional room.
The graceful drapes of a swag valance suit a traditional room. | Source

To make a swag valance even more elegant, consider adding decorative jabots and cascades. You can position pleated or gathered jabots on each end of a large swag to frame a window. Smaller jabots can be placed between multiple swag sections to conceal seams.

Cascades are designed as end pieces with tails that hang down gracefully at each end of a swag valance. They appear to be gently folded and graduate (cascade) in length. Both jabots and cascades often feature contrasting lining fabric within their pleats and folds.

Selection of ascot valances at a big box retailer.
Selection of ascot valances at a big box retailer. | Source

Ascot Valance


An ascot valance is a “V”, or triangular piece of fabric trimmed with beaded fringe or a tassel. This style of valance can consist of one or several ascot points per treatment, depending on the window width. It is recommended to purchase or fabricate at a ratio of 2 to 1 for optimum fullness across the span of your window.

You can use one or more ascot valances depending on the width of your window.
You can use one or more ascot valances depending on the width of your window. | Source
Roll-up valances impart a tailored look.
Roll-up valances impart a tailored look. | Source

Roll-Up Valance

Roll-up valances are also called stagecoach valances as they resemble the style of curtains used on old West stagecoaches. These simple valances have contrasting fabric on the reverse side and feature a rod sewn into the bottom hem. The valance rolls up onto itself and is secured with two decorative ties on each end.

Most roll-up valances are secured in a fixed “up” position, but can be made to roll down for privacy in the evening. Roll-up valances come in ready-made rod pocket or custom board mounted versions. This is one valance that looks better placed under curtains instead of over them!

What Do You Think About Window Valances?

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Scalloped Valance

The name of this valance style describes its appearance. The bottom edge consists of a series of semicircles and is often designed to fit exactly across the window opening, sans gathers. Scalloped valances may feature a rod pocket, rings or can be fabricated for board installation.

A silky scalloped valance with fringe looks great in a formal room.
A silky scalloped valance with fringe looks great in a formal room. | Source

This valance style works well in both casual and contemporary rooms, depending on the type of fabric used. To add a bit of understated flair, highlight the scalloped edge with decorative trim. Many ready-made, budget versions feature a gathered rod pocket.

Scarf Valance

Scarf swags are similar in appearance to swag valances. The main difference is the weight of the fabric. Scarf valances are typically made from sheer material and are hemmed on all four sides to resemble a long, narrow rectangle.

Scarf valances can be draped through sconces or over medallions.
Scarf valances can be draped through sconces or over medallions. | Source

Purchase an extra long scarf valance and install it by draping and swagging it over the width of a curtain rod or through end sconces. You can also purchase shorter “scarf” sections and cover the joined sections with matching fabric rosettes. The tails of the valance should hang down either side of the window frame. For added interest, position the scarf so the tails create an asymmetrical frame.

To fasten your perfectly formed drapes of fabric in place on a curtain rod or through sconces; affix with small pieces of double-sided carpet tape or secure with rubber bands or twist ties. Although scarf valances are lightweight, the long sections of fabric can pull your draping taut if not properly anchored.

Puffy balloon valances give windows a light and airy feel.
Puffy balloon valances give windows a light and airy feel. | Source

Balloon Valance


I really like this style of window valance. Balloon valances have a whimsical quality and are perfect for a feminine bedroom. They are gathered on a curtain rod and feature a pocket of fabric that can be filled with crumpled tissue paper to enhance the puffy profile. Unstuffed, the balloon valance becomes more serious -- taking on a more elegant air.

Which type of valance is your favorite?

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Make Your Own Board Mounted Fabric Window Valance!

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Start a Conversation! 26 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for this well-done overview of window valances with some great tips. I use a variety of styles, depending on the room's purpose and theme.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

Great information and tips. I also like a variety of styles, but I find myself mostly using swags.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

This is a very informative hub with some great ideas. You have beautiful photos and well done. I have never had a valance on a window. They are very lovely. Thanks for this great informational hub. Thumbs UP


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

Valances are a great way to change a room's décor, too - we currently don't have any valances, but I might make a box valance in our guest bedroom!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

We are getting ready to redo our living room and you have given me some great ideas. Thanks for sharing! Voted useful.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

You are welcome RTalloni! I think it's great that you use a variety of valance styles in your home -- that's a great way to give each space a unique look!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Swags are wonderful and they're easy to change out when you want to try different colors and textures. Thanks for your comment and compliment, KoffeeKlatch Gals! :)


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Carol, next time you are wondering how to dress a window, you can give valances a try! Glad you enjoyed the tips and photos. Have a great day!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Leah, I just love box valances and cornices! They are so tailored and sophisticated. And , they are relatively easy to construct. You're right, valances are a fun and simple way to change the look of a room!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Happy to help, teaches! Oooh, your living room redo would make a great Hub with "before" and "after" pics. Good luck with your project! Thanks for the comment and vote!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

What a lovely hub! It was interesting to learn about each valance style. I also like your suggestions on how to use valances to solve certain window issues. Thumbs up!


Riverfish24 profile image

Riverfish24 4 years ago from United States

Great info! Honestly I didn't know they were termed as 'valance' although I have seen them all my life! :D


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

Ew these are so great. Valances can be so much fun, like a new dress aren't they?


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Om,valances are a great way to solve a number of window "ills". I've used them a number of times to create balance in a room and save money on window coverings. Thanks for stopping by!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

I know, Riverfish24! Most of us know them when we see them, but we don't know the design term or realize what an important role they serve!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Jackie, they are just like trying on a new dress, right? Valances may have a negative connotation, but I'm here to set the record straight! Thank you for reading and commenting!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Great hub with comprehensive information on the different types of window valences, and lots of photo examples.

I love window valences and have them on most of my windows. I also use them as toppers over blinds.

Voted up, useful and beautiful.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Happyboomernurse, valances are the best! It is nice to hear you use them in your home. They are the perfect accessory to bring color and texture to windows. I place them over blinds as well. Thanks for the votes and comment! Have a great week!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I love all these and I have made many even by hand with pretty material I have found and just have to use and even the puckered ones are easier to do than you would think, just stitching down them and tightening up the thread to make the pucker.

Great hub!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Jackie, you are a woman after my own heart! Valances are relatively easy to make. I used to love hitting the home décor section at the fabric store and picking up remnants for pillows, valances and such. However, I tried once (unsuccessfully) to try the puckered version, but could not quite get the hang of it. Maybe I'll give it a go again someday! :)


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I've never considered all the advantages of valances. I especially like balloon and roll up valances (before reading this Hub, I never even realized they fell into the valance category). We're moving in a couple of weeks so I'm going to rethink my decorating scheme and include valances on at least a few windows. Very useful--thanks! Voted up and shared.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 3 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

So glad this Hub was of help to you, vespawoolf! Sounds like you have things under control. Best of luck with your move -- are you staying in Peru? Thanks for the vote and share! :)


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

Yes, we're moving to a larger city in Peru. I don't yet know what our new apartment will look like, but I'm going start planning the décor as soon as I know!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 2 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Thank you keranique! That comes from my owning a curtain/window coverings store a number of years ago. I also do freelance writing part-time. Guess that combination paid off with this Hub. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)


Chloe 2 years ago

Hi, Do you know where I can find a tutorial to make a scalloped valance?


lindacee profile image

lindacee 2 years ago from Southern Arizona Author

Here are a couple of links that might be of help:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl4y5_UE71A

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/make-scalloped-window...

Hopefully these will get you started. Then you can search as you need specific info. Good luck with your project!

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