There’s nothing that can beat the luxury of a custom swag with jabots on each side. It’s a classic way to dress a window that will never go out of style. In this post, I’d like to show you some custom examples to inspire you for your next design project in your home.
A Bit About the Swag Valance…
Most custom swag valances are mounted on a wooden board. By avoiding visible hardware, the focus is kept on the beauty of the valance. Plus, board-mounted valances are a sign of luxury that means you’re getting a window treatment that will last for years.
A board mount also avoids the visible threads that a rod pocket must have. That way, the jabots that hang off on each side of the window hang in a clean, tailored way. The swags and jabots are pleated on top of the board, so to the naked eye, a subtle waterfall effect is created when viewing the valance from eye level.
Also, the projection of the board gives the valance some depth, making the valance beautiful when viewed from the side and blocking some of the light that tends to come in through the sides of most other window treatments. Let’s take a look at some board-mounted valances with single swags.
It was important to keep the overall traditional look of the rest of the dining room on the windows as well. The swag followed the neutral palette of the light beige on the walls, while sheer curtains in pure white were added underneath. This is a trick often used in custom window treatments. By keeping a valance the same color as the wall, the room is made to appear larger and other elements are allowed to become the focal point.
Also, by adding white sheer curtains (it’s very important that they be pure white sheers, not off white or ivory!), the light is amplified. In essence, white sheers bring in even more light to a room. Speaking of bringing in more light, notice the satin finish on the woven fabric of the beige valance.
By choosing a fabric with a subtle sheen that allows light to bounce off of it, the light in the room can yet again be amplified.
This window valance is part of a trio of bay windows in a den. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the valance was installed on a beautiful arched window with a thick wooden frame. This valance shows us that a window treatment doesn’t always need to follow the shape of an arched window. In this case, a board-mounted traditional swag covered the top arch of the window. The key with this type of installation is to treat the valance as if it were installed on a transom window.
In other words, it needed to be long enough. This example would not have been possible if the jabots on the sides were only 24 inches long or so. The swags and jabots had to be a bit longer than usual to be of proper scale and proportion to a window such as this one.
Not all swags are created equal. This master bedroom valance has a few tweaks that are a little different. For one, its single swag has a pointed tip that has been adorned with a single tassel. Notice how the pleating on the top of the swag still creates a waterfall effect since the valance is installed on a board.
Also, the jabots have additional pleats, which gave the valance a lot more volume. Not in the picture, but another matching valance was installed on the other side of the king bed. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that there is another window right next to this valance, although here you see a pleated drapery with an attached single swag (read more about pleated draperies with attached valances here).
Why am I telling you this? It’s a common trend in master bedrooms nowadays to use valances alone on single windows in master bedrooms, while the other windows in the room are dressed using only draperies.
To some, this might seem like a mismatch, but it’s a request I am receiving from many of my clients (both homeowners and interior designers). It might be an idea to explore in case you came to this blog looking for ideas for bedrooms.
Here’s a unique example that really emphasizes the concept of a board-mounted valance. A traditional blue and brown swag and jabot set were mounted on a pelmet that was stained in a dark espresso finish. The valance appears to look tucked in. This effect was created deliberately since the swags and jabots are only exposed partially. Another point I wanted to address here is the length of the jabot.
By the way, jabots are the side sections of a valance that fall down in a cascading fashion and wrap around the window.
So, how long should a jabot be? It depends on the window, but it’s best to keep a jabot at standard length if a valance is installed by itself on a standard window. If the valance is layered over draperies, however, I recommend a jabot that’s a bit longer. This is especially necessary if the window in question is taller than usual, as the valance must be in proportion to the window and drapery. Every valance is created differently, so the jabot length is relative to the pattern of the design.
You will either purchase your own sewing pattern for a DIY project or commission a designer to help you find the best window treatment. The good news is that valance patterns typically give you a few patterns to cut out, so you’ll more than likely have a long jabot as part of your pattern.
And when the designer is concerned, he or she should obviously be trained enough to create a design that will be appropriate for your type of window.
This valance is installed over 10 feet above the floor, so the ivory silk draperies underneath are very long. The draperies are also made in single widths only to fit the narrow window. The valance also had to follow along, so its jabots were made very long. If the jabots were only 3 feet or less in length, the valance wouldn’t have been able to frame the window properly.
In case you’d like to recreate this valance as a DIY project, be prepared to buy a lot of yardage – jabots like these need plenty of fabric.
This nostalgic living room uses a beautiful blue and yellow fabric with floral scrolls. Notice how the window treatment also needed to be installed higher in this case, so the jabots had to be extra long. The valance was finished in antique gold chainette fringe.
A long window above a stair landing needed to be covered in a valance that would wow anyone who entered the home and saw it from the large foyer. The valance was made in a yellow plaid silk to continue the warm color scheme in the space. The jabots were made extra long since the window was also extra long and in between the two stories of the house.
Not all swags are heavy board-mounted valances with extra long jabots. This single swag valance had a rod pocket. Once the valance was gathered on the curtain rod, its swag formed naturally. The valance wrapped around the sides, giving it a nice, cornice-like effect when viewed from the side.
Single swags and jabots can also be layered with other types of window treatments. You’ve seen them combined with draperies, which is a common design choice. In this example, a pleated swag and jabot valance was layered with a pair of draperies and silk balloon valance. All three window treatments followed a somewhat similar color palette in light gold, making them appear as one coherent window treatment rather than separate custom-made pieces. The ensemble was installed on French doors in a formal dining room.
In the previous example, the French doors obviously weren’t in use, but what if you’d like a valance and still want to be able to use your French doors? In this example, a single swag was created wide enough to cover a double patio door and their sidelights. The swags were installed well above the windows and doors. In fact, they cover the wall above, but it works to keep the doors functional.
It’s clear by now that single swags work on French doors and patio doors. Here, a victory swag valance was custom-made as an inside mount on a patio door of a contemporary townhome. Since this window valance was installed on the door directly, it isn’t a board mount. If you have a steel door, there are magnetic curtain rods available so you won’t have to drill through the door.
In case you’d like to modernize this style, you may consider a valance scarf. Scarves by nature are a bit like swags. You’d lose the benefit of hand-formed pleats that a custom workroom would create, but this also gives the valance a more casual look. Here, a red scarf was combined with striped draperies in a master bedroom. It was installed almost at the ceiling to allow as much natural sunlight into the room as possible.
Like a single swag, but don’t like the jabots? Here’s what a single swag would look like by itself. Here, the valance was secured above the window using a hook and look attachment. By the way, swags like these are called relaxed Roman valances. I’ve shown you quite a few ideas of using single custom swags in a room. Have you used this timeless valance in your own room?