Decorating in the kitchen and breakfast nook areas can be difficult because you do not have the advantages of carpets, upholstery fabrics, and large amounts of wall space. Instead, kitchens and breakfast nooks have tile or linoleum floors, hard surfaces, and cabinets or windows covering the walls. Therefore, you need to use those characteristics to your advantage. The window treatments in the breakfast nook are just such an opportunity. However, most homeowners do not want heavy curtains in the kitchen because of the possibility of exposure to grease, food smells, etc. That is why window valances are so useful in the kitchen. A valance treatment gives you the advantage of color and texture but it is small and up high so it is not as noticeable if it gets has an odor or gets some kind of stain on it. Also, the distance between the top of the windows and the breakfast nook seating where you might have cushions, is large enough that the patterns or fabrics do not have to match exactly. Valances are the right choice for the kitchen or breakfast nook for many additional reasons.
Most homeowners choose to use blinds of some kind rather than drapes these days. For whatever, reason, drapes or curtains seem a bit old fashioned and they are much harder to manipulate. Blinds can let in a little bit of light or block it out entirely. But blinds rarely offer the touches of color and texture that a decorator needs. Thais why window valances are so popular in the kitchen. They do not get in the way of the operation of blinds, but they add color and possibly shape to a window depending on the variety of window valance.
Another advantage of valance window treatments is that they are a way to tie the kitchen and breakfast nook together. Some homeowners believe that you should try to tie the two rooms together with kitchen furniture like a pantry cabinet that looks like the kitchen cabinets, but is a free standing storage cabinet that is actually in the breakfast nook. Nevertheless, the window valances offer another opportunity. Not only can you draw on colors in the kitchen counter or backsplash tiles, but if you install your window valance on a line that is level with the top of the cabinets in the kitchen, it will help tie the rooms together. Designers and architects use lines like that all the time to make the eye flow easily room one space to another. If you are interested in having a valance above a window over your kitchen sink or a set of window valances in your breakfast nook, there are several different varieties to choose from.
Types of Window Valances
There are probably as many as twenty different window valance styles. We won’t go into detail for each style, but we will discuss some of the most popular and the categories that many styles fit into. The main point is that you can have a window valance be almost any shape you desire and out of any kind of fabric as long as it matches the rest of your décor.
The tailored valance is probably the most popular. This window valance hangs on a normal curtain rod if there are no other curtains, or sometimes on a curtain rod that is installed out slightly further than the other curtain rod if there are curtains or drapes. There are three parts to a tailored window valance that are all really just one large piece of fabric. There is a rod pocket where the curtain rod is places so that it is hidden from view and the valance hangs from this rod pocket. Above the rod pocket is an area called the header. When you form a rod pocket you turn the fabric over and sew two seams with a space in between. The fabric above the top seem of the rod pocket is called the header. It generally sticks straight up and is no larger than one to one and a half inches. Most tailored window valances will be puckered meaning that the rod pocket will have elastic in the seams and the header will look kind of pleated. The last part of a tailored window valance is the fabric that hangs down. It is usually about twelve inches long and only covers the very top part of the window falling loosely.
Another popular type of window valance design is a shaped window valance. As the name implies, these valances are shaped around something rather than just hung from a curtain rod like the tailored valances. They are essentially the same design as a tailored valance, but the shaped window valances have pieces that turn back towards the wall and form a kind of three sided box against the window. They are mostly used where there are also curtains or drapes hanging behind the window valance in order to hide the curtain hardware. The way the shaped window valance is achieved is with a special curtain rod that has pieces that extend directly out of the wall and then make ninety degree turns into the long curtain rod piece. While not essential, most shaped window valance curtain rods and rod pockets are larger than tailored rod pockets, as large as three to four inches. I think this effect is to make the window valance look even more box like. Also, shaped window valances are generally not puckered for the same reason.
There are many different variations on these two window valance designs and most of the variations have to do with the hanging part of the valance and the cut of the fabric. One variation is a scalloped window valance. Scalloped valances have anywhere from one to three scallops across the bottom rather than a straight line. The scalloped valances are also a little longer than the straight ones and the scallop shapes usually fall about sixteen inches. Some window valances have pointed bottoms. The valance has a triangular shape and comes to a point at the center of the window. Alternatively, there could be several points like with the scallops. Still others use generally curved bottoms and these are called tapered valances. The shape of your window valance should reflect the decoration and style of the rest of the breakfast nook and kitchen.
Some other variations include a banner window valance and ruffled or trimmed window valances. The banner window valance is a valance with at least three pieces of fabric rather than just one. There is a central piece that looks like a tailored window valance with a round bottom, but it does not start the rounding after coming straight down at the sides. Instead, the half circle piece starts in the upper corner leaving a large part of the window uncovered. Then, behind that round piece of the window valance on either side are triangular fabric pieces that cover the outer parts of the window. Ruffled and trimmed window valances can be scalloped, straight, pointed, or tapered. The only difference is that there is some kind of fringe or ruffle at the bottom for decoration.
One last variety of tailored window valance treatment is the balloon valance. Instead of a hanging piece of fabric whether straight, puckered, or pleated there is a balloon of fabric below the rod pocket. The fabric is brought all the way around to the rod pocket again to create a kind of balloon effect. Sometimes, people put things in the balloon to make it more voluminous, but most of the time it is just billowed fabric. While everyone is free to choose whatever kind of window valance they want for whatever room they want, balloon valance window treatments seem to work best in country themed kitchens and breakfast nooks. One downside to this type of valance window treatment is that they need to be maintained more than other varieties. If the balloon is not periodically puffed up, the valance will look wilted and not pretty.
There are also window valances that are not shaped or tailored. Scarf window valances are another classification of valance style. These valances are essentially a very long and thin piece of fabric that you drape over a rod at the top of your window like a scarf. The scarf can hang down to the floor on either side, or it can be cut off further up. You can drape it once so there is one long scalloped shaped piece of fabric or you can drape it over twice like in this picture to create two scallops. The fabric is adjustable so you can make the scarf look any way you like. These window valances are much easier to install and to remove when it is time for cleaning. They are generally made of sheer and light fabrics, but they do not have to be. The sheer fabrics tend to drape in a more aesthetically pleasing manner.