A valance is a piece of fabric that hangs across the top of a window to hide other window treatment’s hardware and add softness, color, and pattern. A simple valance is the most basic and casual treatment; it’s normally just a slip of fabric attached to the rod with clip rings or a rod pocket. Simple valances can be used alone or layered over other window treatments. The soft gathers and folds are perfect with any casual room
More formal and traditional than a simple valance, a box-pleated valance hangs straight down over the window, thanks to its stitched pleats. It’s generally attached to the window with an L-shaped rod. A box-pleated valance is a classic design that is perfect for traditional bedroom styles or old-world Tuscan look or British Colonial. Choose a valance that matches your bedding for the most formal appearance or go a bit more casual with a valance that contrasts in color or pattern.
Swags are pieces of fabric loosely slung and draped over a decorative rod or wound over a tieback at each corner of a window frame to add a little style and romance to your room. There are many ways to hang swags, but one of the most common is a simple swag. In this look, the swag drapes in the middle like a valance; the ends, either cut into diagonals or simply hemmed, softly hang down on each side of the window.
Swags are great for a glamorous cottage or country-style bedroom because of the sheer, romantic softness of the window treatment. A swag by itself cannot provide much privacy, so it needs to be combined with other window treatments—such as curtains, blinds, shutters, or shades. A swag by itself cannot provide much privacy, so it needs to be combined with other window treatments—such as curtains, blinds, shutters, or shades.
Swags are also a wonderful alternative to drapes for a canopy bed. Just wind the fabric over the bed’s posts, and let it drape gracefully around the corners of the canopy frame.
A cornice is a box-like wooden valance typically crafted from plywood, then covered with paint, wallpaper, or fabric and mounted to the wall above the window. Other cornices are carved from attractive wood and then stained to look good without needing paint or fabric coverings. A cornice can be paired with soft window treatments—such as fabric shades, drapes, or curtains—or used alone, which provides a more formal look to a master bedroom suite. Cornices work best in rooms that lack architectural interest; they can spiff up a window without trim or give a room with no crown molding some extra appeal.