A previous post covered the difference between bow windows (also known as compass windows) and bay windows and determined that they make an excellent addition to your home. Let us say, though, that you already have bow windows. Perhaps they came with the house, or may be you already have them installed. Now what will you do with the extra space they provide? After all, the arch the windows create protrude beyond the walls of the house. It’s not often a big space, but it does provide many decorating possibilities.
A good suggestion for a bow window that faces the sun most of the day, especially if it is a little bow window in the kitchen, is to place potted plants in the space. You can set up a little herb or flower garden in window planter boxes or set pots of plants on shelves. Plants generally need at least 4 hours of sunlight, but they tend not to need much room. It can be your little kitchen garden even during the winter. You can place your more fragile biennials in the window to overwinter when it gets too cold in your outside garden, or you can place one potted palm in the space year round.
If you don’t like that plan and your bow window is in a place that is convenient for it, another good idea is to install a window seat. Window seats can be made to as long as the bow window, and they are pretty simple projects to do over a weekend. Pick draperies and matching cushions, and you will have a beautiful nook for curling up in.
Window seats can double as a storage space by simply making the seat into a lid with hinges. You can also make cupboards out of the sides. One site has suggested that putting a shelf under the windows and stacking books on it will somehow interrupt the vibe of the room, but so long as the shelving doesn’t block out the light, the nooks made by bow windows are a great place for shelves. This frees up space in the rest of your room for anything you might like.
If the space created by the bow window is really big, you can make it into a breakfast nook, complete with table and chairs. It gives you a great view of the room as well as outside while you eat a leisurely Sunday morning brunch. You will have a semi-private space for chatting with friends and keeping an eye on the kids.
It is no surprise that these versatile architectural features have been popular since the Federal period. It gives you so many choices, both practical and decorative, when it comes to utilizing the bow window. While people frequently want to make them a focal point in the room, the fact is that their use is up to you. The only real ‘rule,’ if you want to call it that, is that you shouldn’t cover the windows. Their ultimate purpose is to bring more light and space to the room, and covering them would be counterproductive.
I hope this has given you some good ideas for your bow windows. Have fun decorating!