Unfortunately, window valances have a reputation of being out of style thanks to the selection of store-bought valances that are distastefully shirred on a curtain rod and feature tacky fabrics nowadays. But once you get away from that and move more towards the world of custom quality, you realize that window valances can and do look modern. All it takes is a tailored valance style and a modern, trendy fabric, and any window valance can easily look modern.

So, what does it take for a valance to look modern? Here are a few tips.


Choose Tailored and Simple Cornices

A cornice is a type of  window valance that’s essentially like a headboard for your window. Meaning, it’s a window valance that’s mounted on a shaped wooden frame and then upholstered in your desired fabric. They’re typically dressed over a pair of pleated draperies.

Cornices are considered to be more modern than your typically store-bought valance because they’re flat and tailored. They can even be made with beautifully crafted arches and custom shapes. It’s a modern way to introduce a rounded shape to your window without having to do an old-fashioned swag in a tacky fabric on a curtain rod.

In fact, it’s safe to say that as long as you choose a simple and modern fabric, you could even add some tassel or beaded trims at the bottom and the cornice would still be considered modern instead of old-fashioned.


A black and white fabric cornice custom-made for a breakfast nook, dressed over contrasting roller shades.


This upholstered window cornice in a bold coral color features an arched bottom accentuated by gimp trim. A striped Roman shade in white was layered underneath.


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Box Pleat Valances Are Great With Large Fabric Patterns

Box pleat window valances are a popular designer choice nowadays in model homes and design magazines. It’s easy to understand why.

Box pleat valances are flat, so you don’t have to worry about strange-looking swags, ruffles, or scarves. Each flat section allows for a unique fabric pattern to be prominently displayed. This is great because today’s modern fabrics tend to feature oversized medallion or floral patterns.

And lastly, this valance style features simple pleats, giving you just enough of a hint that it’s a custom quality valance and not something you just picked off a shelf.

Box pleat window valances tend to be board-mounted valances, although some can be modified for a rod pocket as well.


This platinum blue bird toile fabric looks unique in this cozy office. The designer used it for both a box pleat valance and drapery here, all layered over woven shades.


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Choose Flat Valances If You Need a Rod Pocket or Custom Shape

Besides the box pleat valances, there are many other valance styles that can be modern. The key is to go for a flat and tailored look, and not a window valance that’s shirred on a curtain rod.

Flat window valances are versatile. While they too can be mounted on a board, simple flat valances typically are mounted on a curtain rod. They’re also great if you’re looking for an intricate shape at the bottom hem.

Here are a few examples.


The trumpet window valance features an arched bottom shape and trumpets on each side that are typically in a contrasting fabric. This style is rod-mounted. 


This truly custom valance allowed the paisley medallions of the fabric to guide the shape of its bottom hem.


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Relaxed Roman or Faux Shade Valances

Did you know that there are window valances that look like a Roman shade but can’t be raised or lowered? These stationary valances are great on the budget, and can be a great way to stay in the modern lane since Roman shades are considered more modern anyway.

We offer flat faux shade window valances if your aim is to go for clean lines and simplicity. However, the relaxed Roman window valance is a more casual and transitional take as well. It offers just enough of the volume of a balloon valance, but without being over the top.


Flat faux shade valance in a kitchen. Fabric shown is Monroe in Snowy.


Relaxed Roman valance over a kitchen sink. Fabric shown is Monroe in Snowy.


Relaxed Romans in a bold keylime green and aqua floral fabric. Of course, the chairs in the dining room just had to match.


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Choose Modern Fabrics Instead of Traditional Fabrics

You can have the most modern window valance style in the world, but it will still be old-fashioned if you pick a dated fabric for it.

Modern window valances simply have to be made in modern fabrics to be considered modern, plain and simple.


That means staying away from dated fabrics like:

  • brown, gold, and burgundy stripes or other patterns in this color combination;
  • polyester jacquards with a cheaply looking sheen, especially in darker colors;
  • small-scale florals and calico patterns;
  • tacky, over-the-top prints like florals and plaids together on the same print, for example.


Instead, choose modern fabrics like:

  • fabrics with a snow white or slightly off-white background instead of fabrics with a darker background;
  • geometric patterns that are simple and clean;
  • florals that are larger and prominent instead of small-scale florals;
  • striped fabrics with a modern twist instead of traditional striped fabric;
  • slightly textured fabrics like slubs, burlaps, and linens instead of a basic printed fabric;
  • florals and embroidered fabrics that are more abstract in design.


Geometric fabrics like this taupe and cream fabric used for a box pleat valance make this dining room modern.


Today’s floral fabrics are clean and crisp. This is our Grove fabric, check it out here.


In this example, a large geometric medallion was centered on each flat section of the valance. The valance is finished off with simple jabots on each side. These window valances are board-mounted.


You can also check out the fabrics we sell for inspiration and ideas.


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In conclusion, window valances are modern, as long as they’re tailored and made with a modern fabric. Modern window valances are often flat and simple instead of being shirred in an over-the-top way, and they typically hang on a board or curtain rod.

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