The most luxurious valance in the world won’t look good on a window if it’s hung the wrong way. One of the most common misconceptions is that a valance should cover a window. Actually, an outside-mounted valance should frame the beautiful view, not block it. But how far down on the wall should a valance hang? For most windows, a valance should cover about 2 to 6 inches of the top of the window and window frame (this is called the window overlap), with the rest of the valance covering the wall above the window. If there is not enough room to do this, then the valance should be hung immediately under the ceiling. Let’s go into more detail and talk about what the proper way to hang a valance is.
The Difference Between Drop and Length
The longest point on a valance is called its overall length. For most valances, these are the side tails or jabots, although not always. The part that really matters is the drop. You’ll usually find the drop in the center of the valance and more often than not, this is a swag or scalloped section. Keep this in mind. There are many valances that may have a 36- or 48-inch extra long jabot, yet the drop is only 20 inches.
Drop and length on a traditional rod pocket swag valance.
There’s More to Valance Length Than Just the Fabric
Take the entire valance treatment into account when measuring its drop and length. All those things actually make a valance longer. If the valance is hung on rings or tabs instead of a rod pocket, add those extra features to the length, too. Don’t forget to add trim if your valance has any. Trim makes a big impact on the scale of a valance, and as such, its length.
What Should the Drop of the Valance Be?
A standard valance should have a drop of about 18 to 24 inches. You may be able to make a 16- or 17-inch drop valance work in some cases, but anything less than that may be too short. Short valances should only be used when it’s an absolute necessity (for example, if the window or ceiling is lower than usual or if the valance is just a small accent piece to a layered window treatment). You may consider a drop of 21 to 28 inches if the valance will be hung 9 feet from the floor or higher.
How High Should a Valance Be Hung?
Remember, the idea is that a valance should frame a window’s view, not block it. This also creates the illusion of height.
The difference between hanging a valance low and high up on a wall.
There are two ways to go about figuring out how high to hang a valance. The first is to let the bottom part of the valance fully cover the top of the window and its frame. Usually, having a 2- to 6-inch overlap is a good idea. You’d then measure the rest of the drop length above to mark where the curtain rod or other hardware needs to hang. In other words, you measure your way from the bottom to the top. This method works when there are no obstructions and the ceiling is reasonably high. Here’s a few pictures that represent this idea.
The second method you’d only use after realizing that the first one from above won’t work. This is usually because of thick crown moldings or valances with a longer drop. The idea here is to push the valance up as high as possible and hang it right under the ceiling. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Valances are commonly hung about an inch or two down from the crown molding in rooms with 8-foot ceilings. Faux shade valances like this one tend to be long, so it isn’t unusual for them to hang right under the ceiling line.
If you look closely, you’ll realize that this orange and yellow London valance barely covers the top of the window.
These corner window balloon valances had to be hung lower because of the 4-inch crown molding.
And lastly, a few more valances that had to be hung right under the ceiling…
A Final Note on Outside Mounts
You may have noticed that I was referring to outside-mounted valances all along. To clarify, these rules should only be followed when the valance is hung on the actual wall, not when it’s hung directly on the window frame or between the window studs as an inside mounts.
A frame-mounted valance.