Dressed for Success: Drapery Toppers Guide
Top window treatments can make a large statement while adding elegance or a touch of whimsy to a window or they can be of the simplest form that adds some casual charm to your spaces. Read on to find out about the different drapery top treatments and how they are used best.
Swag Drapery and Valance Ideas for 2021
Many terms are used interchangeably for swags and valances. Both are top treatments on a window and they can be paired with other window treatments or you can use them as a stand-alone window treatment. Some designers even group them together and call them swag valances. There are so many styles of window toppers from which to choose that you are sure to find one you like best in a fabric that you love.
What Are Valances?
A valance is any type of top treatment for your windows. It can be of any shape, fabric and pattern to add some class to solid drapery panels or it can be used as a stand alone top treatment in a window that doesn’t get much sun. You may often see a kitchen window that faces north or south with a valance only at the top in a cheerful and light fabric. A valance is generally one piece of fabric that hangs in the window to cover the top portion.
What are Swags?
Swags are a style of top window treatment that varies greatly in length. It’s a style that is quite casual but depending on the fabric you choose, you can also add a lot of drama to a window when using thicker fabrics. Swags are generally in two separate pieces and cover the top of the window just as a valance does. You can also use a swag window treatment as a stand-alone treatment in windows that don’t get a lot of sunshine and heat.
What is Jabot?
A jabot is actually a part of a swag. The swag with one graceful swoop of fabric in the middle has sides called jabots that can hang down at any length you wish. Many shorter jabots have doubled over fabric to make the jabot thicker and more elegant. Long jabots may extend all the way from the top of the swag to the floor or just above the floor for a more elegant appearance.
What is a Bell in Drapery?
A bell is formed in a swag where the fabric is gathered upward to create each swag and on the ends of the panel of fabric. Bells are very formal in appearance and add a lot of glamour to your spaces. The bells are smaller at the top where they are hung and get larger on the bottom to resemble a hand bell. Bells work best with patterns and thicker fabrics in order to keep their shape, however they do add a lot of finesse and class to a solid color fabric in a slightly lighter weight.
Where Do You Use Swags and Valances?
As stand alone window treatments, top treatments are often found in a kitchen or an upstairs bathroom with no privacy concerns. These are two areas in your home where you want to let all the natural light you possibly can to enter your spaces. In a bathroom where no one can see in the windows because of the direction it faces or because it’s upstairs, using a top treatment alone will allow light to enter so you may not need to turn lights on in the daytime to apply makeup, fix your hair or brush your teeth. In a kitchen, ample sunshine is lovely so you can see to prepare foods without losing a finger in the process and you can see to read recipes for a delicious dish. If your bathroom or kitchen gets a lot of sunshine, or when privacy is an issue, you can always use top treatments with another layer underneath them. Top treatments mount above the window and your layer underneath will more than likely mount inside of the window frame. You can choose from drapery panels, Roman shades, light filtering shades or mini blinds. Layering window treatments give all your spaces a finished and professional appearance in your home.
The Simple Valance
The simplest top window treatment is a simple valance. It’s a strip of fabric that is hung on a drapery rod either by rings or by using the rod pocket as a header in which the fabric simply slides onto the drapery rod. The fabric will cover the drapery rod fully except for the ends, so most people go with a nicer fabric and a simple drapery rod. The fabric is usually about twice the width of the window which will create pleats when the fabric is hung. You can also choose this same simple valance with the rod pocket moved downward on the fabric so that it creates a ruffled appearance on the top of the drapery rod. This style is quaint and adds soft gathers and folds to go perfectly with any casual decorating style.
The Custom Shaped Valance
Custom window treatments include shaped valances in any shape that you wish. They are usually a flat valance with beautiful curves and are a lot like custom cornices, which are made from wood in any design you desire and then covered with fabric.
The Pleated Valance
A pleated valance is much more formal and traditional than a simple valance. It includes box pleats that are stitched into place to hold it’s shaped. This type of valance is often attached to the wall with a simple L shaped rod. This gives you a classic design that works well with a traditional style bedroom or an old-world style such as Tuscan or even British Colonial. You can choose a fabric that matches your bedding in a bedroom for the most formal appearance or contrasting color in any room.
Scarves are simplistic but add a lot of drama and romance to any area of your home. There are more likely to be used in a bedroom than other rooms, but they also work well in formal dining and living rooms as well. You have a multitude of choices on how a scarf is hung. It can drape gracefully over a drapery rod and make one or more swags (areas that have folds and hang lower than others in a half-circle) and then draped over the ends of the drapery rod. The jabots may be anywhere from half the height of the window and finished off at a lovely angle or they may actually kiss the floor in a delicate pool of fabric. Swags are generally made from thin and romantic fabrics, such as silk or lace for a sheer window treatment. You can use a scarf alone in a bedroom where there are no privacy issues or you can pair it with drapery panels, blinds, shades or plantation shutters. Scarves are most often white or an off white color for a pristine appearance as a blushing bride on her big day.
Pleated Swags Hung on a Board
A traditional swag valance is usually made in this manner, but when you choose to have custom made window treatments, your possibilities are endless. In this type of window topper, the pleats of the fabric are used to make a swag in the center of a window. Imagine pleated material that is drawn upward on each end of the window and stapled to a board to remain in the correct position with lovely soft folds flowing down in the center of the window. It’s stapled onto a board to make it appear as if it’s draping from behind the board like an elegant waterfall of color. This type of swag usually has jabots falling down on the sides as pleated cascades. You can also have this same type of pleated swag on a board for the same appearance with multiple swags hanging down gracefully.
Modern Flat Swags
It seems like a misnomer that swags can actually be flat, since the term of swag is thought of as a fabric that drapes luxuriously. The recent push in designer valances are including tailored, flat valances as a popular item in 2021 and in the future. The flat swags still have the half-round shape but they only gather upwards slightly to form the bells in the center and on the ends of the fabric. This gives you the appearance of the swag, but it’s more modern with clean lines.
Formal Ascot Valances
This style of valance is very formal and tailored and is usually used over drapery panels to add a touch of elegance and class. The fabric is generally silk or velvet or something of this nature. Instead of a half round shape as a swag, the ascot valance extends down into more of a point with pleats. The pleats at the top are formed from the rod pocket heading with ruffles on the top of the drapery rod. It appears to be very tight pleats on the top and then the fabric cascades down to points with lovely ruffles.
Casual Balloon Valances
Balloon valances work well in an informal setting or in a child’s bedroom or perhaps a guest bedroom. The fabric is gathered upwards from the bottom but not all the way to the top as a swag is formed. This creates a balloon appearance where the fabric has a full and puffy sort of appearance. Balloon valances are often made of lightweight cotton fabrics and in a solid color or a pattern to add contrast to your space.
After you decide on your style and fabric for a top window treatment in a custom design, you will need to decide exactly how you want to hang them. This will depend on the header at the top of your window treatment that you’ve chosen already for the appearance and feel of a space. Drapery rods are often used for pocket style headers with the rod pocket at the top or a few inches down from the top to create beautiful ruffles on top of the drapery rod. Tab top headers in which the middle and two sides of the top treatment are tabs, look very nice when hung on an ornate drapery rod. Some homeowners love the more modern appearance of hanging their top treatments on knobs that are mounted on the wall. You can choose from a huge selection in colors, sizes and finishes to complete your style. When using knobs or other embellishments for hanging a swag, the fabric would attach to the knobs at the top of each of the bells. So if you have two swags on a window, it would attach on the center bell as well as the two side bells.
All The Bells and Whistles: Trim and Embellishments
If you really want to have a beautiful finished product on your custom window treatments, then adding the trim and embellishments is the area to do so. You can add any of hundreds of items to any window top treatment. Swags attract a lot of eye catching attention with the addition of tassels on the bottom and center of each swag. If you also have drapery panels in mind, you could consider drapery panels in a solid color and a swag in a coordinating pattern. Then the addition of tassels on the bottom of the swags and tying it all in together with tie backs on the drapery panels that also include the same tassels.
On a valance, you can really dress it up with the addition of border tape on the bottom. Border tape is about 2 inches wide and it comes in a huge assortment of colors and styles so you can find the perfect accompaniment for your top treatments. Some border tapes also have tassels that hang down from them for an extra fancy flair. You can also choose a smaller 1 inch wide version with a modern geometric shape if you prefer.
A formal appearance of a box pleated valance is highlighted by the addition of a special box pleated ribbon or tape on the top. It’s usually placed about 2 inches down from the top on your box pleats to highlight them even more and bring some extra depth and interest to your design.
You can also add individual buttons covered with fabric, frogs that look like an overhand knot and rosettes. With individual types of trim that are not in a strip, you can place them as far apart or as close together as you please and add just a few or more for greater emphasis.
You have a huge assortment of beautiful swag drapery and valances from which to choose in 2021. You can choose to dress your windows anywhere from formally to casual and anywhere in between. Remember to consider your scale and proportion and use trim to emphasize the shape and bring visual weight to your window space.