When it comes to window valances, it’s easy to pick the wrong kind of trim. Not every type of trim will work as you may envision it, so here are few tips from the workroom to help guide you.
What Color Should You Choose?
When talking about how to choose the color for your trim, there are four ways to go about it:
- (almost) matching the base color of the fabric;
- choosing the accent colors found in the fabric, while trying to create a contrast to its base color;
- bringing the design together by trying to match as many colors with multi-toned trims;
- choosing unexpected, contrasting colors.
Let’s go into more detail.
(Almost) Matching the Trim to the Base Fabric Color
Every fabric will have a base color. This is the color that’s best not to pick for your trim. There are better solutions out there than trying to match an ivory fabric to the exact shade of ivory trim.
Most people make this mistake because they think it’s the “safe thing to do.”
Even if your aim is to match the colors, it’s best to go a shade lighter or darker. This will create some depth, while creating a subtle contrast.
So even if your base fabric is an ivory, consider a trim that’s a light tan. It’s a subtle difference that makes all the difference!
Notice how this mini tassel trim is brought into focus, all because it’s a shade darker than the orange fabric of the valance.
Matching the Trim to an Accent Color (While Creating a Contrast to the Base Color)
A popular designer trick is to focus on the accent color found in the fabric, then continuing it with the trim. The key here is to create a visible contrast to the base color of the main fabric.
The amber and green in the florals was continued in the trim. Usually, brush fringe like this is mostly used for pillows, but when it has a decorative lip like this, it can work just fine on a valance.
This red and ivory London valance was finished off with red onion ball trim with acrylic beads. Notice how the trim was just a bit darker than the stripes on the fabric to make it pop a bit more.
This beautiful 3-inch tassel trim (also has acrylic beads) picked up on the orange and red in the fabric, then continued it. This created a much-needed contrast from the black base of the main fabric and green of the contrast lining.
Not every trim is a tassel fringe. Grosgrain ribbons are a popular way nowadays to decorate faux shades. The bigger the contrast, the better (at least in my humble opinion).
Matching the Fabric Colors Overall with Multi-Toned Trim
The third option is to try to incorporate as many of the colors found in the fabrics, while still trying to create a pronounced contrast.
The best way to go about it is to pick a multi-toned trim that picks up on as many colors as possible. For example, many tassel trims are manufactured where two or three tassels alternate in color.
Multi-toned fringe in various colors of white and gold.
Here’s what the trim above looks like on a faux shade valance in a spa blue cotton:
The alternating blue, off-white and gold tassels in this tassel trim incorporate pretty much all the colors of the striped fabric.
This beaded trim continued the purple (although, it was a bit darker since beads are see-through once a valance is up against a window), then picked up on some of the yellows found elsewhere in the toile fabric.
The tassel fringe on this scalloped valance picked up on the ash gold and burgundy. Valances with pointed tips like this are also often trimmed with a single key tassel like the gold one seen here. Key tassels are usually a bit longer than the tassel fringe used on the entire valance.
A similar idea as the one from above, also using burgundy and gold. The tabs on this valance were finished off with chair ties that match the colors of the tassel trim at the bottom hem. Chair ties are typically a pair of tassels that’s connected by a braid.
Up close detail of how red and gold tassel trim can bring together the colors of face fabric and accent fabric.
Choosing Unexpected, Contrasting Colors for the Trim
At first glance, it may seem like the trim selection for these valances was a random shot in the dark.
But it isn’t. In fact, even if the trim color is nowhere to be found in the fabric on the valance, it should be found elsewhere in the room.
It may match a porcelain vase or throw pillow from across the other side of the room, but it still needs to be a thought out, deliberate choice.
The black tassels on this trim make sense since they match the accent fabric of the valance. But to understand why a gold was also part of the tassel fringe, you’ll have to take a closer look at the wall color.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to break up a monochromatic black and white color palette. A subtle way to do this is to add a dash of ash gold to tassel trim.
Or, you could just not be subtle at all and celebrate a black, white, and red color scheme in a room.
You could use the same concept in children’s rooms. The choices here were all deliberate. The grosgrain ribbon on the tabs were a polka dot pattern, just like the black and white accent fabric. The eyelash trim at the bottom hem was a way to make the valance youthful, but it was still a perfect match to the grosgrain trim.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
Now that I’ve shown you some ideas, I’ll share with you some of the “technicalities” of selecting trim.
Avoid Stiff Valances
The thicker the lip (the part that’s actually overlapping on the valance), the harder it will be to manage. This is obviously important if you plan on sewing your own valance. But even if you commission a workroom for the job, make sure the lip on the trim is pliable, or else it may be returned to you. The more intricate the shape of the valance, the more important this becomes.
Play it safe and go with a simple lip that isn’t more than one inch across. Also avoid stiff, wired-in pieces, and go with a soft trim made of rayon.
Piping and braided cords can often pose this problem. Just remember – less is more. Don’t do thick piping if you want your valance to flow and drape nicely.
How Long Trim Should Be
Some smaller trims are there to just create a subtle accent, like 1- to 2-inch long beaded or scalloped fringes. Tassel trims are typically 2-1/2 to 4 inches long.
Balloon valances are known for their generous use of fabrics. Because of this heaviness, it means that the folds on a balloon valance tend to be tucked away towards the back. It also means that some of the trim will be covered by the fabric in front of it. For balloon valances, pick trims that are at least 3 inches long. 3-1/2- to 4-1/2 inch trims are best.
Any trims 4 inches and longer should typically be reserved for opulent, traditional window treatments that are hung high. It’s best to use those if the window treatment will be installed 9 feet from the floor or above.