Pro Design Tip: Use A Window Valance to Juxtapose Subtle and Striking Decor Statements

Sunshine Drapery sliding glass doors window treatment
A custom window valance creates a stunning focal point in a room; choose fabric that complements decor.

The diminutive window valance has experienced a design resurgence. For interior designers, this rise in popularity should not be referenced as yet another trendy comeback. Designers understand the formative artistic strength of the small valance, with its distinct power to create bold, dramatic decor statements and imbue soft, conservative subtlety.

Window valances never truly declined in popularity; their necessity and usefulness for interior design were misunderstood or, at least, quite underappreciated by the mainstream consumer. Most homeowners choose their window coverings based on light coverage capabilities, which is a functionality that valances do not offer. The valance exists for form, not function. Every homeowner eyeing the top design trends of 2024 and beyond must note that the most en vogue homes integrate intrigue in every room by installing a valance. 

Take the home's design to the next level with Sunshine Drapery's guide to decorating with valances. 

Table of Contents:

What is a Valance

Imagining Custom Living Room Valances

Designing Custom Kitchen Valances

The Best Valances for the Bedroom

Popular Color Palettes for Valances

The Best Fabrics and Textiles for Valance Curtains

What is a Valance?

Valances are one of the most underutilized types of window coverings. Unfortunately, many consumers do not know how to showcase them properly. Others believe that a valance is an old-fashioned or out-dated trend. 

The imbalance over the striking valance lends to a lack of defined use for the small window covering. What is a valance? 

Valances look like short curtains. They cover the top quarter (or less) of a window; their purpose is strictly for decorative purposes (or "form"). While a valance blocks a bit of light, it does not offer much coverage.

The valance surged in popularity during the 1980s, and, at the time, homeowners favored floral valances with ruffles (and some featured lacy edges). The 80s valances meshed with the fashion and design trends at the time; many valances found in 80s homes were reminiscent of the frilly, conservative dresses of one of the most popular fashion designers of the time–Laura Ashley. 

Today's valances do not favor floral frills or 80s excess. Modern valances feature luxurious fabrics and patterns that align with the homeowner's design vision. While some homeowners love floral fabrics to create eye-catching details in a room, others choose a bold color that pops against the decor. Unique patterns and textured valances also add interest to the look of a room. Custom valances create a look true to every client. 

A custom living room valance frames larger windows for a diminutive accent that pairs elegantly with custom drapery.

Imagining Custom Living Room Valances

The living room is the primary gathering place in the home. Homeowners should not be afraid to make a design impact because this is the room where design confidence pays off in dramatic spades. 

Consider the space before choosing textiles or hues for custom valances in the living room. How much sunlight projects into the living room? If the room enjoys considerable sunlight, pairing a valance with drapes or blinds may be the best choice. Remember that valances do not cover most of the window; always pair a valance with another covering when light control is a priority.

When the design goal is to make the valance the primary focal point, choose blinds or drapery panels in a neutral hue. Design the valance in a hue that draws attention, or choose fabrics that grab the gaze of guests.  Brocade textiles create an elegant and formal design appeal, while  textured linen provides a laid-back casual vibe. Choose jacquard fabrics for whimsy or formality. 

Designing Custom Kitchen Valances

Kitchen valances must do the impossible; these decorative coverings must marry form and function. However, the kitchen valance's functionality denotes its wear and tear endurance. Do not choose formal fabrics for kitchen valances. Instead, think about fabrics and hues that hide dirt or kitchen mishaps (like oil splatters) easily.

Valances for the kitchen still offer opportunities for artistic creativity. Homeowners simply need to be mindful of hues and fabrics. Opt for easy-care natural fabrics like cotton. Patterns are ideal for the kitchen, as they may camouflage stains or splatters. Avoid white, cream, taupe, and other light shades. 

The Best Valances for the Bedroom

Homeowners have unique visions for an ideal bedroom. Window valances create romantic ambiance, sophistication, or whimsy. Customize valances to complement bedding and the room decor. Sunshine Drapery creates custom bedding and matching valances for the perfect pairing.

For homeowners wanting to add valances to their bedroom windows, work with Sunshine's interior designers to choose fabrics and custom details. From streamlined, simple valances with squared-off edges to scalloped valances that exude romance, Sunshine offers impactful designs for the bedroom.

Ditch the mass market valance and work with Sunshine to design a one-of-a-kind window covering for any room. Use our color and pattern chart to discover design ideas for custom valances.

Color and Pattern PaletteModern InterpretationsClassic or Conservative Design Ideas
Black and White ValanceThis contrasting combination tends to play more modern. Create a more modern styling for black and white valances by installing them on an accent wall window. 
Opt for geometric designs or choose custom black and white valances with a chess board pattern. Mod black and white designs incorporate circles and curving details.
Black and white toile is a classic pattern that does not look dated. Pinstripes or a solid black valance with a white border also adds simplistic elegance.
Yellow ValanceFor modern interpretations for yellow valances, use contrasting decor or wall hues for maximum impact. Blue and gray allow yellow to pop.
Valances with scallops or squared edging (think of the top of a castle wall) also display an edgier or contemporary style. 
Warm buttery yellow hues exude warmth and a softer design appeal.
Subtle floral or striped valances with yellow as the dominant hue create a classic design detail for any room. 
Teal ValanceTeal is a bold color that pops against neutrals. However, to style teal valances in a modern design, pair it with orange, yellow, or navy. Style teal valances conservatively by choosing patterns with teal details. Neutral valances with teal edging also pull in this bolder hue without overwhelming the room decor.
Tropical ValancesBold tropical flowers create a paradise-inspired valance. This design is for homeowners who want a daring, bold, and creative touch.Tropical valances with a muted pattern are ideal for a more conservative look. Opt for tropical designs that feature simple lush leaves or more simplistic patterns.
Blue ValanceWhen choosing blue valances for a contemporary design, go bold. Think beyond navy and choose azure, electric indigo, or neon blue. 
Valances customized with bolder blue patterns or cut with striking edges captivate visitors.
Navy blue and classic blue are the two most versatile shades. Valances in these hues also can include classic stripes, florals, or subtle texture.
Striped ValancesGo bold with stripes! Chunky stripes with contrasting hues create dramatic interest.Style valances with simple and thin stripes to stay classic. 


What is the difference between a curtain and a valance?

At Sunshine Drapery, we find the term “drapery” to be far more elegant than the term curtain. However, the difference between drapery and a valance is the size of the window covering. Standard draperies cover the full window, but a valance only covers the top quarter portion of a window. Drapery controls the amount of light in the room (function), but a valance serves a decorative purpose (form). 

Do people still use valances?

Yes! Valances continue to be popular. Today’s modern valances are not the valances of the ‘80s. Sunshine designs modern and contemporary valances that capture attention and elevate a room. We also design classic valance styles for a more conservative design approach. 

What is a cornice vs. valance?

A cornice is a molded board covered in fabric installed above drapery panels. Cornices add a decorative touch to the window. A valance is a small window treatment (drapery) that covers the top quarter of a window. Both cornices and valances serve a decorative function. 

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