You probably have noticed that your beautiful window above the bathtub is bare. It can be a very cold, sterile feeling, especially if the window is surrounded by heavy stone tiles or is embedded in a sea of white. Whether for design or privacy, every window above a bathtub needs a window treatment. So in this post, I’d like to share a few ideas of how other homeowners have tackled on their windows above the bathtub in their master bathrooms. Hopefully these ideas will help you decide what will work best in your home. But before we get to the ideas and beautiful pictures, we need to address one of the biggest concerns when it comes to bathroom window treatments…
Do You Need Privacy or Light in Your Bathroom?
Many of my clients ask me this question. And unfortunately, because many homeowners can’t make a decision on the answer to this question, many windows remain bare and many bathroom remodels remain unfinished, unnecessarily. The answer is that you can have both privacy and light.
When I first started in the business of custom window treatments over a decade ago, I was commissioned to create an Austrian shade that would cover a bathroom window fully. In other words, it would touch the sill at the bottom of the window. The client had a single window in a darkly painted bathroom. At first, I thought that it wasn’t a good decision, but who am I to question a client who was determined to get exactly what he wants? No joke, the client knew the exact measurements and had the fabric ready when he came to me.
Long story short, even though the fabric was of medium weight and the valance was lined (as all custom window treatments are as a standard), I was amazed after our company had installed it. Not only did the valance not block out the light, but it somehow made the bathroom brighter than what it was before. That’s right – there was more light in the room, it appeared. How could that be? The window treatment was fully lined and the window was fully covered. I later thought about it and the lesson stuck with me for years.
The reason why the bathroom became even brighter was because the client chose a solid fabric in solid, pure white. He didn’t select a beige or off white fabric. The fact that it was a pure snow white opened up the space. Fast forward to today and I recommend window treatments like these to my clients all the time. In case you want to go with a darker fabric, there are obviously other ways that you could have your cake and eat it too. Or better put, have privacy and still keep the light.
From my experience, here are a few solutions:
- Select fabrics that lighten up or brighten up:
- light-colored fabrics like pure whites, as seen in our example above; or
- bright, oversized patterns with a pure white background. For example, a fun and vibrant floral print in lime green, raspberry pink and yellow with a white background. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see an example of this.
- Select window treatments that can cover the bottom of the window:
- Think about a pair of cafe curtains in white burlap-like fabric. They would cover the bottom of the window while exposing the top. The bottom of the window is covered for privacy and the top of the window is left uncovered for light.
- Roman shades are obviously great when it comes to controlling light because you can pull them up or down by the cord. Most people love to pull them up during the day but pull them down at night or when they need privacy. A step up from the standard window shade is the top down bottom up shade. It’s an unusual name to give a window treatment, but it’s very self-explanatory. This is a shade that is still installed at the top of your window, but it’s made to cover the bulk of the bottom of the window.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into some amazing examples of window treatments above bathtubs that we can envy.
Traditional Swag Valances
We typically see swag valances in the most luxurious rooms. The two simply go together. Here, a master bath has an oversized bathtub that’s accentuated by two Greek columns. The color scheme in the room is an antique gold, from the frames on the artwork to the grasscloth wallpaper. To break it up, a casual pull-up swag valance in brown and blue was introduced. To make it at home in the room, gold was introduced in the tassel trim. Also, the medallions used to install it have a brushed gold finish.
For this Empire valance, a fabric with a tropical pattern was chosen. The fabric was a few shades darker than the light blue wall to create depth in the bathroom. Tassel fringe in blue and tan was used to add more luxury to the window.
Here’s another example of a large London valance over a large bathroom window. It too features a generous amount of volume, as seen in the ivory window treatment above. But did you know that all these valances can be turned into shades? In other words, instead of a stationary valance, they can be moved up or down just like your typical blinds would?
It’s a great idea if you need to control for light or privacy. In the example above, a freestanding clawfoot bathtub is the focal point in a traditional bath room. But to truly make it functional, privacy is needed. The London shade here seems to be the perfect solution for the space. And on closer inspection, we can see the beautiful beaded trim detail on it as well.
You’re seen plenty of examples of traditional bathrooms, but the trend now is toward a clean, transitional look. And when it comes to bathroom window treatments, the slatted Roman shade is the perfect solution. This particular shade has wooden or plastic slats that are sewn into the back of the fabric at specified intervals. That way, as you pull up the cord, the fabric is pulled up and stacks into folds. It’s certainly a modern and sleek way to control for light and privacy.
This window shade features a textured fabric with sage stripes. Nowadays, there are many new homes that have beautiful craftsman-style window frames and paneling in the master bath. Don’t want to hide these details but still want a window treatment? Then mounting the shade inside the window is the perfect solution. An inside-mounted window treatment won’t take away from the wood trim but will soften up the sharp lines and warm up the space.
We’ve seen a black and white color combination in a traditional master bath. Here is a modern take on these two classic colors. Here, a shade in a pure white covers a double window above a modern, freestanding tub. The entire space features white marble and medium gray paint on the walls. The white shade is a great contrast to the walls, but to bring this contrast out even more and deliberate frame the window, the shade is outlined in black banding.
Here’s a close-up of this simple, but beautiful window shade:
Balloon Valances over Bathtubs
It’s quite a popular choice. It’s partly because balloon valances tend to take us back in time. Using them in your master bathroom will bring you close to replicating the luxurious European bathrooms that are covered in marble, fancy arches and bold columns. Why? Because balloon valances require a lot of fabric and as a result, are rich in volume. Window treatments are sometimes a bit like furniture. The idea is equivalent to a grandiose dining room with seating for 12 that needs heavy, wood furniture to match.
Bathrooms are no different. And in our case, sometimes heavy elements in a room require a heavy window treatment. The beige balloon valance below is at home in this bathroom with its large built-in bathtub that’s surrounded by stone tile and luxurious brass fixtures.
And since the full glass shower is right next to the window, the homeowner chose to add blinds for privacy. As you can tell, the combination of blinds and balloon valance provide privacy, but they’re also able to match the traditional and luxurious style of the bathroom overall.
The balloon valance above features large poufs and is casually gathered. There is a way to have even more volume with a balloon valance that leaves no single inch ungathered. These window treatments are best as rod pocket valances. For even more emphasis, a header can be added above the rod pocket. Silks are also perfect as they have a crisp feel to the fabric that allows for this unique gathering effect to be created. Take a look at this balloon valance in a cool steel blue. Its color is a perfect complement to the dark walnut cabinets and paneling that are found in this master bath.
Notice how the crisp feel of the silk fabric gives the valance that bold, “scrunchy” effect? If you’d like to achieve this in your home as well, I highly recommend going with a silk or faux silk fabric. And to emphasize it even further, a header can be added over the rod pocket as well.
Did you know there’s a more modern way to do balloon valances in your home? It’s called the inverted box pleat. There are many other styles of valances that the box pleat can be applied to, but I’ll focus on the balloon valance here. So, what would make it modern? Instead of giving you that gathered, semi-ruffled look, every once in a while a deep pleat is introduced.
This does two things. One, it allows the valance to hang flat on a rod pocket or board. That’s what makes it sleek and modern. Two, it makes up for the volume in fabric that is necessary in balloon valances. Let’s see how this particular style of balloon valance looks over a bathtub.
This traditional bathroom had black and gold floral wallpaper, so it was imperative to bring as much light into the room as possible. Here, a box pleat balloon valance was introduced in a golden yellow to continue the color scheme. The valances were decorated with buttons and thick piping at the top.
But the real trick was to install the valances high to expose as much of the windows as possible and allow as much light in as possible. Notice from the close-up picture that the bottom of the valance barely covers the window. This is a trick I always recommend – the higher you can install a valance, the better.
Don’t let the pictures you see on the packaging of store-bought valances fool you. These valances have to be installed as low as possible because the manufacturers use a smaller yardage of fabrics, so it’s their standard practice to present their product that way. If you have a custom balloon valance, flaunt it. Install it higher on your walls and let as much light in as possible.
Continuing along the vein of balloon valances, here’s a very similar example. The homeowner also chose a wallpaper with a black background in this room, so it was imperative to let the light in. And of course, who would want to cover up the gorgeous view from these corner windows?!
Here, the terracotta red was picked up from the wallpaper and continued in the solid silk that the valances were made in. Rich tassel trim in gold was added to complete the overall look. One of the most popular valances chosen by my clients is the relaxed Roman valance. It’s a variant of the balloon valance, but this window treatments is more casual. Here, the valance features a simple center pleat to give the valance a bit more volume. Black vertical banding on each side finishes off the look and helps frame the bathroom window nicely.
Notice how the valance fits in with the classy black and white color scheme and is a perfect fit in between the two bathroom vanities.
The London valance is a also variant of the balloon valance. It also has plenty of volume but is finished off with tails on each side. In this bathroom, a deep brown color was used for the paint. A striped valance in an ivory color was used for contrast on the window. Notice how the valance is a great match to the mosaic stone tile detail around the tub and mirrors.
Pinch Pleated Draperies
Most people don’t imagine draperies in bathrooms, but if you have a large master bathroom with a freestanding tub, you should consider them. And if you’d like to be able to draw your pleated draperies shut for privacy, calculate about 2-1/2 times the window width for fullness. In other words, a 40-inch window will need pleated draperies that add up to about 100 inches in width total.
The example above used a silk fabric for the drapery. Although, it’s best to use a more water-resistant fabric as water stains can be hard to get out of silk.
A Pop of Color
Not every master bath needs to be designed with a neutral color scheme in mind. Walk into any home decor fabric store and the first thing you’ll realize is how colorful and vibrant fabrics are nowadays. This particular valance is right at home in this vibrant bath. The walls were painted in a soft yellow color that was continued in the fabric on the valance.
Even though the valance has trumpets on each end, notice how it fits on a wall-to-wall window.
Fun colors: Pinks are very trendy now and aren’t just for children’s rooms anymore.
I hope that this post has helped you see all the options in window treatments you can use above your bathtub. Remember, these are just fabric window treatments and the options are endless. So, which one of these examples did you like the most and which one will you choose for your bathroom?