So, you’re wondering if valances are dated or out of style? When you think of the word “valances,” what’s the first thing you imagine or visualize? If you imagine white, overly ruffled valances and curtains, then the answer is probably yes. Nowadays, these styles are sold as primitive valances and are just a tiny subset of all valances that are available out there.
If when you think of valances, you imagine droopy valances without form made of some cheap polyester jacquard, then they definitely are dated and most definitely out of style.
But here lies the problem. Besides the fact that the fabric might be dated from today’s vantage point, what most people don’t realize is that many of those valances that are clumped into the pile of being “dated” were simply ill-constructed, ill-fitting valances to begin with.
They were “in” a few decades ago because they were more common. This doesn’t change the fact that they were poorly made valances then just like they would be today. Of course, as in any market, manufacturers came in and offered better quality products like shades, blinds, and draperies. So by lack of demand alone, many of those valances became dated, and rightfully so. Fast forward to today. Just like any product, valances are still used quite frequently by professional interior designers, even in the most modern of homes. So to answer the question…
Are Valances Old Fashioned?
Valances are NOT dated if you have a designer to guide you through the process and keep you away from poor quality that will become obvious and out of style in a few years.
When it comes to custom valances, there are many options out there that will weather the calendar. That’s what our entire website is for, so feel free to check out our photos to see what others are choosing for their windows. I might not have a crystal ball to tell you what the trends in the future will be, but I can tell you some things to look out for to help you choose the right valance that will last you years:
Tip #1: Pick a Valance with Only One or Two Focal Points.
There are many styles of valances out there. Rather than list every single one of them and make this more complicated than it needs to be, let me tell you what it all comes to in the end: Some valances will inevitably become dated because the designer tries to include too many features and fails at implementing all of them. That’s right, I can already tell you your valance will be out of style and old fashioned before you even hang it up on the window. So, if you’re trying to design a valance and rush into adding every single available feature like ties, buttons, trims, accent fabric, and so many others all in one, it will inevitably become a fad. If you want a valance to last, it has to be designed in moderation, as I like to say.
Contrary to some beliefs, some of those features on their own won’t make a valance dated or out of style.
There are plenty of valances that have beautiful tassel trim on them that are sophisticated and fit right into their newly remodeled homes. But they fit in because they don’t take away from the rest of the design in the room. Next time you decide to buy a valance, add up all of its features. If it has more than two, it might be best to pass on it or find a way to simplify it. Even three might be fine if the rest of the room has the luxury to match it, but anything beyond that will already be dated before the needle even hits the fabric.
Now, we’re not saying that an elaborate valance is dated. If you want one, you’ll need to put in more careful effort into its design. You’ll need to look at the bigger picture and consider how it fits in with the rest of your room.
And because this can be a daunting task, you may need the guidance of a designer as well. But if you’re just looking for a simplified, quick way to choose a valance, then my recommendation is to limit it to two features. Here are some valances that will stand the test of time, all because their design is simple and focused on one or two key features.
Focal point 1: grosgrain ribbon detail on inset edges
Focal point 1: scalloped bottom hem
Focal point 2: centered bird print on the fabric
Focal point 1: installation on medallion holdbacks
Focal point 2: banding at the bottom
Focal point 1: centered bird and floral print of this traditional fabric in persimmon.
Tip #2: Pick the right fabric.
After you’ve found the right style of valance, it’s important to create it in a fabric that won’t make it look dated. It really all starts with the fabric when it comes to styling a valance. This is by far the most important factor. Luckily, it’s simple to understand, so if you just get the fabric right, you’ll stand a better chance of enjoying a valance that’s keeping up with the times. If you pick a fabric that has a pattern with cabbage roses or some classic color combinations, then it will be a traditional valance.
Keep in mind that just because a valance is traditional, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be dated. If you select a geometric pattern with cool blues and shimmers of silver or gold, then you’re closer to a modern valance. Also keep in mind that in the world of custom, fabric manufacturers constantly release new fabric collections and fabrics on average are discontinued roughly every 3 to 6 years.
Thus, if your designer is able to source a fabric from a manufacturer that’s still in print, then by default you’re staying with the trend. And even if the fabric has been discontinued, chances are, you’ll get the design itch again before the new wave of interior decorating trends is ushered in, before it’s even time to become old fashioned. In fact, most homeowners keep their custom window treatments up for an average of 7 to 8 years before they replace them.
(When you think about it, in many cases a custom window treatment is used for as long as a new car is. Design your room well and put thought into your window treatment so it can last you for years.)
2023 Fabric Trends for Valances
Let’s talk a bit about current fabric trends. Expect this to generally stay current for at least another 5 to 10 years.
I don’t know about you, but back in the 1990s it seemed to me that every living room had a painting of a bouquet of roses in a traditional vase. You know, those paintings that had a ridiculously overcarved gold-brushed frame. But did you know that in the last few years floral prints have been coming back in home decor fabrics?
Luckily, fabric manufacturers are interpreting floral prints in contemporary ways now. Florals are now abstract and bold. I see a lot of bold pink being used in living rooms and master bedrooms, and red and corals are making a comeback again. Turquoise is also a color that is frequently part of floral prints, although it’s been popular for almost a decade by now. Floral fabrics now are deliberately designed in a childlike, imaginative manner, with other unusual and seemingly disproportionate things brought into the design like birds on vines, paisley insets, and a few intentionally distressed or tribal print details. Some of the floral prints are designed in a structured manner with some geometric details that are introduced into the pattern as well. Dimension and depth are also apparent in newer fabric patterns.
Many of our clients initially come to me with a safe (neutral) color scheme in mind, but when I open my fabric books for them, these colorful floral prints quickly grow on them. But just like with anything else that’s unexpected, sometimes these clients understandably need time to get used to this trend. They’re looking around for validation that the fabric that they fell in love with will work in their home. Only after they look through design magazines or see another example elsewhere do they realize that there are plenty of homes that have already used these bold patterns in recent trends.
Update in 2023: We’re starting to see a subtle shift toward warmer florals. From cold blues to forest greens and from pale reds to bolder reds. Smaller floral patterns are also becoming more abundant compare to large centerpiece floral prints. Pale pinks are also coming back.
The craze for ikats started quite a few years ago, but they are still alive and well. That’s because ikat has a history that’s as unique as its distinctly unique pattern. Centuries ago, ikat weavers would dye each thread individually before putting all the threads together onto the loom that would ultimately create the fabric.
It was similar to putting together a puzzle. But because it was impossible to predict how exactly the threads would come together, the final fabric had distorted lines that we have come to appreciate. Of course, in modern times this complicated, manual way of creating a textile is almost extinct. The ikat effect is instead deliberately mimicked by fabric screen-printing machines.
Update in 2023: Ikats are slowly being phased out since they’ve been hot for over a decade now, but they’re still a staple piece in modern, sleek rooms, especially when the pattern is printed on a crisp white base fabric. Blue ikats are still popular
Chinoiserie is simply a Western interpretation of Chinese design elements. When it comes to fabrics, this typically is a toile with designs of Chinese country scenery or architectural elements. If you see ginger jars printed on a fabric, more than likely it belongs to this category of design as well.
Chinoiserie is nothing new. It has been around for a while just like ikat, but I noticed that it’s being used more boldly with modern pieces.
In the past, designers were combining the two styles, but they let Chinoiserie and modern elements tiptoe around each other and kept them at a distance. But in 2019, it’s not uncommon to see a pillow made in Chinoiserie right next to a pillow with an ultra-modern geometric print, for example.
Update in 2023: Chinoiserie fabrics tend to be a novelty, and because they are a rare find, they typically exude more luxury than the average fabric out there. These kinds of fabrics have always been in style, and will equally continue to be in style, no matter what year it is. In fact, Chinoiserie prints in bold colors are coming back strongly.
Geometric Lattice Fabrics
Intertwining lines and intricate geometric patterns have always been modern. If you’re really concerned that your valance will be dated, these fabrics are then for you. The more complex and large the pattern, the more modern the fabric tends to become. There’s also a trend towards embroidery rather than print.
If you’re worried that the lines might be too stark, I recommend choosing a pattern with some rounded shapes. Arabesque designs are a great example of this. With their rounded lattice pattern, they make a fabric modern while giving it a subtle feminine flair. The first two fabrics below are a representation of this.
Update in 2023: Modern style isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so geometric lattice patterns are here to stay for many years.
Tip #3: Pick an inside mount or outside mount that barely covers your window.
Most valances are installed as inside mounts or outside mounts. Inside simply means that a window treatment is installed in between the two studs of the window. Outside means that it’s mounted above the window on the wall.
You might ask, what does this have to do with a valance being dated or out of style?
We circle back to the beginning of the post. Remember, many valances aren’t necessarily dated. They simply don’t fit a window properly. I see so many store-bought valances that are intended to hang flat in a simple, modern way. I’ll be fair – many of those valances are lined and of decent, even good quality sometimes.
But in order to fit a window that’s slightly wider, the customer is sometimes wrongfully instructed to purchase two of them. Have you ever seen a window that has a valance that sticks out 6 inches beyond it on each side? Any valance that’s installed that way will be dated, no matter what. Valances are meant to be complementary to a window. Ill-fitting valances overwhelm a window instead. It’s just going to look strange and make you vow to never buy a valance again (wrongfully so).
You may also (wrongfully) conclude that valances just cover your beautiful window and ruin the view. Actually, a properly fitted custom valance is supposed to cover the wall more than the window. It’s supposed to frame the window and the view, not block it. In fact, the bottom hem of your valance should be flirting with the top of your window frame. On the other side of the spectrum, inside-mounted valances are framed by the window instead of the other way around. This keeps the focus on the window and its beautiful frame.
In conclusion, valances are not dated at all. By following these three tips, you’ll find one that’s perfect for you.
I also recommend that you check out our custom valances if you want some inspiration. For even more modern solutions, check out our faux Roman shade valances.