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What is the Difference between Valances, Swags, and Cornices?


A valance, swag, or cornice can give your bedroom a little bit of decor and flair needed for a wonderful design. But what is the difference between these window treatments and which one will work for your room? To help you decide, here is a list along with some great examples.

1. Valance

Chris Madden Rosalie Tailored Valance
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A valance is a piece of fabric that hangs across the top of a window to hide other window treatment’s hardware, add softness, color, and pattern. A simple valance is the most basic and casual treatment used and it’s normally a slip of fabric attached to a rod with clip rings or pinched pleats.

Designer Tip: Valances can be used alone for a more casual look or paired with curtains, drapes, shutters, blinds, or shades to add more color, pattern, or formal look to your bedroom.

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2. Box-Pleated Valances

Tucson Box Pleated Valance with Suede Trim
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A box-pleated valance is a stationary window treatment with stitched pleats that lie flat against a mounting board, which is attached to the wall with an L-shape bracket.

Designer Tip: A box-pleated valance is a classic style and perfect for formal or traditional bedroom designs, which will easily match furniture patterns, bedspreads, bed skirts, or duvets.

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3. Swags

Ricardo Beverly Hills Ricardo Venice Lace 3-Pc Swag Set
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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 softness in your room. There are many different ways to hang swags, a simple swag is where the middle of the fabric acts as a valance; the ends, either cut into diagonals or simply hemmed, softly hang down on each side of the window.

Designer Tip: Swags are great ideas for a romantic, cottage or country style bedrooms because of the simple beauty of the window treatment. A swag by its self cannot provide much privacy, but if combined with other window treatments--such as curtains, blinds, shutters, or shades--will add the much needed privacy and shade from the sun. Swags are also a wonderful alternative to drapes for canopy beds if they're paired with cascades of fabric.

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4. Cornices

Home Decorators Collection Cornice Shelf
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A cornice is a wooden valance--typically custom-made--crafted from plywood that is assembled with wood screws and corner brackets, then covered with paint, wallpaper or fabric and mounted to the wall above the window. Often paired with soft window treatments--such as fabric shades, drapes, and curtains--or used alone, providing a more formal look to a master bedroom suite.

Designer Tip: Cornices work best in rooms that lack architectural interest; they can spoof up a window with small trim or give a room with no crown molding some extra appeal.

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