Window treatments do more than just provide privacy, they also add beauty, charm and personality to your interior spaces. Blinds, shades, drapes and sheers all go beautifully with a valance, however, choosing the right type of valance can be a bit daunting. In some cases, soft valances may be appropriate, other times a hard valance is the way to go. While it is always a matter of personal taste, understanding the difference between the two will help you decide what type of valance is best for your application.
As the name implies, a soft valance is made of fabric and has no true structure. The shape and style of the valance depends upon how it is hung and the weight of the fabric that is used. Commonly, soft valances are pleated, gathered or draped from a rod hanging above the window covering or alone. They can vary in length, width and shape. A basic valance is a short fabric panel that is either sewn straight across, tapered, or otherwise shaped. Many times you will see them in windows where a second curtain is hung at the half-way point, leaving a portion of the window exposed. A scarf valance uses a length of flowing fabric that is draped over a decorative curtain rod, held up by special brackets. These are generally used over shades, draperies or curtains to create a dramatic feel. Blouson valances are reminiscent of a basic valance with one important difference. A second layer of fabric is sewn on to the back to create a long tube, in which paper or batting is placed to create a puffy appearance.
As you may have guessed, hard valances have a solid structure, making them more of an architectural element within a room. As with soft valances, there are different styles of hard valances. Some are created by using wood components and trip pieces that are attached to the wall above the window. The surface is painted, or stained, and the chosen window covering is simply hung within the cavity. Other times, the woodwork is covered by a layer of fabric to create a smooth, decorative surface that compliments furnishings, window coverings and other decorative elements. There may, or may not, be a fringe that hangs below the valance, further accentuating the window. Finally, hard valances may be covered in a layer of batting to create a soft appearance, which is then finished off with a layer of fabric. While it may be more common to see hard valances that are straight across, they can also be domed or cut into shapes at the bottom edge.
Regardless of the type of valance used, the purpose is quite similar. They add interest, draw the eye up toward the ceiling and cover unsightly hardware and fasteners. While both types of valances are perfectly suited to most applications, a hard valance is generally used in a more upscale setting, such as a living room, for formal dining room. Soft valances, on the other hand, are perfect for the kitchen, breakfast nook, sun room, bedroom and family room. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with these beautiful ways to dress up your windows. You truly can’t go wrong when you follow your own personal design aesthetic. Remember, as long as it makes you happy, then you’re doing it right.