I recently talked about bathroom valances specifically for the large windows above bathtubs in a master bathroom. But a lot of bathrooms also have very small windows, so what should you do about those? I get asked the question a lot about how to dress those windows.
The First Question You’ll Need to Answer
The first question you need to answer before even considering any valance styles whatsoever is whether you want privacy or not on the window. If your bathroom is facing the street or your neighbors, then a window treatment that provides some sort of privacy is a good choice.
However, you’ll find that the best valance options are available if your bathroom window doesn’t need any privacy. The reason for this is that valances that provide privacy will have to cover most of your window, which will make a small window look even smaller. Otherwise, you can select virtually any type of valance.
The Trick: Installing the Valance Higher
As long as the valance is installed high above the window, the window will appear to be larger than it really is. This will also create the illusion of tall ceilings and draw the eye up. I personally recommend simple valances for small windows.
These valances are generally flat and only have one or two unique features. Although you can still select elaborate swags that use a generous amount of fabric and fringe, you may find that a small window gets lost behind a heavy valance, even when the valance is installed higher.
Take Advantage of the Architectural Features of Your Bathroom
Many master bathrooms have unique architectural elements. I encourage you to look around your bathroom and to try to mimic or accentuate those elements in the valance. This will create flow and coherence in the overall design of the bathroom. For example, if your bathroom has a 12-foot cathedral ceiling, don’t be afraid to select a valance that has a length of 24 inches or longer.
You have plenty of space left on your wall to install the valance without blocking or covering up the small window. Again, you can keep the overall simplicity of the valance, so you don’t have to go with over-the-top valances. If you have arches in your bathroom, then consider a valance that mimics this arched shape.
The Parisian valance is a great example of that. If your bathroom doesn’t have any unique architectural features or high ceilings, then consider what kind of fabric you’ll choose for the valance. Pick out your towels and rugs, and then carry over the colors and patterns in the valance as well. For an overly large master bathroom, you may wish to consider adding draperies under the valance.
The combination of valances and draperies together can create the illusion of a much wider window. Our workroom turns simple 28-inch windows into windows that look like they’re almost twice as wide just by using this simple trick all the time.
Examples of Custom Valances On Small Windows
You’ll find that simplicity is key when it comes to small windows. Here are some valances that are able to dress a narrow window, without being overbearing.
Pinch pleats aren’t just for draperies. This small window was dressed using a simple pinch-pleat valance. No embellishments needed, just deep, hand-formed pleats on a nice curtain pole made of dark wood (we used a pole that was 1 5/8 inches in diameter with matching 2-inch curtain rings).
I often get asked if a custom balloon valance is too big to use on a small window. As long as you’re able to install them high enough, many balloon valances will work. However, the problem with a balloon valance is that it uses a lot of fabric, so it takes up a lot of room. This can be overbearing on a small window. And if you have a small powder room where you barely have enough room to move, the last thing you want is a heavy balloon valance that’s competing for the space.
I usually suggest a relaxed faux shade like this orange one as an alternative. It still is a variation of a type of balloon valance, but it has a mild pouf at the bottom that won’t overpower a small bathroom window.
Flat valances are your easiest option when it comes to small windows. Keep it simple by sliding the rod through a 3-inch rod pocket for installation. I suggest staying away from excessive, long fringe at the bottom, but a small tassel like this one will work just fine.
Take advantage of the flatness of the valance by picking novelty fabrics like this one. Have the pattern centered to make your window visually appealing.
But what about board-mounted valances? They’re heavy because of the wooden board, but that doesn’t mean that the valance itself needs to be heavy. Here, a simple valance was mounted on a board. It only has kick pleats on the side, giving it just enough interest to work on a small window.
Choosing an inside-mounted valance may appear to be counterintuitive when your bathroom has a small window, but there are three reasons that can make a case for it. First, an inside-mounted valance is a way to emphasize a thick window frame and beautiful woodwork around the window.
Second, as long as the valance is as simple as the window (like this shirred London valance), it won’t look overwhelming. Third, inside-mounted window treatments can create much-needed privacy in a bathroom.
If you want a bathroom valance that’s a bit more elaborate than a flat valance, you can still make it work on a narrow bathroom window. There are two things to remember. First, your valance will only have one swag, like this victory swag valance (it was installed on 24-inch wide panes of a patio door).
Second, you have to install it high. Out of all the valances on this list, this is the valance you’ll want to install as close to the ceiling as possible if you have a standard 8-foot ceiling. The bottom hem of the swags has to barely cover the top of the window..
That way, the valance isn’t covering up and overtaking the window, while the cascades on the side fall nicely and make the window appear taller.