A window with a ruffled, plaid valance.

Window Valances

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/3/2021

Design Folly

If you’ve ever been out shopping for curtains or drapes for your windows, you’ve probably come across the term window valance. These fancy fabric window dressings were once very popular design choices, and they seem to be making a comeback with options ranging in price and style. However, even with many variations and designs available, a lot of designers consider them to be a thing of the past.


The term window valance refers to one or more pieces of fabric used to cover the top portion of a window. The design and style of the fabric may range from very basic to very sophisticated and complex. The fabric is typically hung from the wall or ceiling by a curtain rod or curtain wire. Do-it-yourself options are quite popular amongst the more crafty for a less expensive approach, with many design ideas and plans available online. Window valances should not be confused with cornices, as cornices are made from cornice board (similar to chipboard), whereas valances are made from different fabrics.

What Fabrics Can Be Used For Window Valances?

Upon first thought, the term window valance might bring up images of your grandma’s flowery kitchen curtains. They were often full of bright colors and combined with lace to achieve a traditionally cheerful look. However, modern versions of these classic window dressings come in many styles and designs, and your overall selection is only limited by your creativity:

  • If you’re looking for something a little more unique, try using some imported fabrics for a  sophisticated and adventurous valance. Korean, Japanese, and Chinese paper fabrics are one great way to create a chic worldly vibe, but you’ve literally got a world of inspiration to choose from.
  • Floral and stripe patterns may seem dated, but modern spins on the old standards brings them into the 21st century. Nowadays, it’s all about bold colors with statement designs by trendy urban artists.
  • If boho chic is your thing, you may want to try using pastel or neutral colors combined with a bit of embroidery to complete your look. Or stick with taupe or greige accessories combined with upcycled old denim to create new window valances.