Terms of the Trade: What Is a Window Valance?

a bedroom with window valances

A window valance, sometimes called a top treatment, pelmet, or swag, is a decorative layer that hangs in front of a set of curtains or blinds. Covering just the very top of a window area, valances can be rectangular, curved, pointed, pleated, or gathered together, and might be decorated with embroidery, studs, grommets, or buttons.

They are typically made from a fabric like silk, polyester, linen, or cotton, and suspended from a rod or decorative backboard, but they can also be crafted from hard materials, like wood or metal. They date back to the era of the renaissance, though they became more elaborate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

When valances are connected as draped bunting, they are sometimes accompanied by jabots, which drape in front of them, covering the connections between segments of fabric.

Valances offer an elegant way to conceal the rods and other hardware that support window drapes, and can enhance an interior design by matching or harmonizing with other fabrics in a space, creating a sense of aesthetic unity.