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Dress Up Windows With Valances and Cornices

Recently one of my clients asked me for help with her new condominium. She lamented, “Perla, I’ve already over spent my budget on furnishings and it still doesn’t have a finished look. The windows look especially bare. Some rooms have blinds, others have plain fabric draperies. Is there any way to give the rooms a more finished look without taking on a major project?”

It doesn’t have to take much time or money to dress up your windows. Draperies can suddenly look very dramatic by adding a simple valance – a soft panel across the top. It blocks you from looking directly at the hardware and adds a nice finishing touch. This can be nothing more than a few yards of fabric hung on hooks or draped over a rod. If your curtains are made of a sheer or solid color fabric, a valance in a matching print would dress them up nicely.

Cornices are window treatments made of hard material such as wood that can be stained, painted or covered with fabric or wallpaper. It’s possible to combine a cornice with a valance for a very formal look. You can also put a valance or a cornice over windows covered with blinds. I advised her to have fun shopping for fabrics and stick with the simple valance solution.

Another reader asked me about a different type of window problem. She wrote:  “Our great room has windows of different shapes and sizes. Several of the windows have arches; three others are different sized rectangles. There are also sliding glass doors. I need curtains and a lot of advice. Do I need to match the windows exactly? What length do I make the curtains?”

This lady’s windows are a real challenge – even for Perla Lichi.  Before doing anything, she had to pinpoint problem areas and define exactly what it is that she needed to accomplish by asking herself these questions.

Do I need privacy? Will I be opening and closing the windows? Is there a lot of sunlight? With these answers, better decisions could be made as to the best window covering for each window to address these issues. She also needed to decide which window was the most important. It would be treated accordingly to set the tone for the others.

Here are some basic guidelines: Tie your windows together with window treatments of similar colors and patterns but address the practical aspects of each opening. Roman shades that suit an ordinary double-hung window won’t do on sliding doors. A high circular window might be better left uncovered. If the window you’re decorating around has sheers, then all the window treatments should have the same sheer fabric. If the curtain fabric is light green, all the window treatments should be the same color.

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