Choose the right window treatments

Part three: toppers

Add versatility to your decorating and use a top treatment to complement your window. Use toppers alone on an uncovered window or combine with shades and blinds to create a simple, uncluttered, window fashion. Popular toppers like valances, cornices, swags, and scarves can add softness, colour, or pattern to a room.

A valance is the simplest window treatment, a rectangular piece of fabric that is flat, pleated or gathered and hung from a rod, pole, or board. Ready-made valances are available, and styles include tabbed tops or bottoms that are arched, scalloped, pointed, or puffed.

Cornices are usually shallow, rigid, boxlike frames installed across the top of your window and mounted outside the window frame. They are made of wood, moulded polystyrene, and other lightweight materials. Ready-made cornices are available in several widths and heights. You can customise a cornice by adding paint, wallpaper, fabric, or rubber-stamp impressions.

Swags are made from several pieces of unlined or lined fabric that join together. The pieces of fabric usually do not exceed 40 inches in width and the drop usually ranges from 12 to 20 inches. The fabric wraps around or drapes over a decorative rod and can be tied back at the top corners of the window with decorative brackets. Swags are often paired with blinds, shades, or shutters.

Scarves are single pieces of lightweight fabric that looks the same on the back and front. A generous length of fabric usually wraps loosely around rod or pole. Draped fabric can also be held in place with decorative brackets.

Hanging a scarf or swag

You can drape scarves and swags through rings, sconces, tiebacks, or wrap around a decorative rod or pole. They look great in many different lengths — framing a window, halfway down a window, or all the way to the floor. All you need is a generous length of fabric, the correct hardware, and the patience to pull and primp until you get the right look.

It's easier to arrange a scarf or swag if you softly pleat the material lengthwise, accordion-style, and pin the pleats at the two points where you want the fabric to drop down the sides of the window.

Place the fabric over a pole or thread it carefully through the brackets. Decorative brackets, often referred to as scarf holders or sconces, secure the fabric at the top corners of your window.

Pull the lower pleats in the centre of the swag to create an even drape. Release the pins, stand back, and make any necessary adjustments to the arrangement.

Decorative hardware

Today's decorative hardware can easily become a focal point for contemporary window fashions. You will find all kinds of appealing, useful, and affordable decorative items, such as rods, poles, finials, scarf holders, holdbacks, rings, clips, and pins.

Use decorative hardware to give the finishing touch to your window and your room. For example, you can pair wrought iron, brass, or pewter rods with decorative brackets and finials to complement any décor. Enhance top treatments such as swags and scarves with stunning swag holders that pull the entire window treatment together.

For accessory ideas that will top off your window treatments, explore the shops, look at model homes, check out catalogues, and surf the web. You will find hundreds of window accessories to choose from.

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