Medallions, knobs, holdbacks – no matter what you call them, they sure know how to make a valance look more special. But how exactly do you go about decorating your home using a valance that’s hung on medallions?

Follow these designer tips below. They’re key rules to help you strike the right design balance in your room with this kind of window treatment.


A red toile valance in a black and white kitchen. Read rule #5 below to learn about the one mistake that was made when hanging this valance.


RULE #1:

Keep One Thing Simple to Avoid Overdesigning

As beautiful as this valance style can get, it’s also prone to being overdesigned. You can’t have ornate medallions, busy face fabric, striped contrast fabric and long tassel fringe in a room that’s cluttered and busy. If you’re deliberately going for a Victorian-era look, then it may work out. But for the rest of the rooms, something will have to give.

Simplify something. It may be picking a solid color for the contrast fabric instead of a pattern. It may be choosing medallions that are made of clear acrylic instead of carved cast iron. If you prefer to have a vibrant face fabric, choose a large-scale pattern that can be centered on each swag instead of a smaller, busy print.

If your valance will be installed above a kitchen sink, declutter the countertops under the valance. Get rid of some decorations around the room and open the space up. Once you’ve done this, you’ll realize how the focus instantaneously shifts to the valance without distracting you.


RULE #2:

The Swags Must Be Wide Enough

A valance hanging on medallions is not a one-size-fits-all kind of valance. If you wish for the fabric in between the swags to fall deeply, you can’t just keep gathering the valance if the swags aren’t wide enough.

I can’t possibly know how your valance was constructed, but as a rule of thumb, if we’re talking about a classic swag valance here, you want there to be a minimum of 17 inches in between the swags after the valance has been hung on the window in its final form.


The swags on this valance are more than capable of hanging deeply on the window without losing their shape because they were sewn wide enough.


Our workroom likes to make each swag on our medallion swag valances about 18 to 24 inches wide, as shown here on a 54-inch window. This is the ideal range of width for each swag to maintain the correct shape and form of the valance.


RULE #3:

Don’t Get Too Far From the Sides of the Window Frame

There’s no rule on how high the knobs need to be installed. You can install them near the ceiling to create the illusion of a tall ceiling, but you can also install lower and expose the top of the window frame. But as far as the width is concerned, you have to be very thoughtful where you install the medallions.

This is for two reasons.

First, a lot of these valances have bells and jabots on the sides. These tend to flare out at the bottom, so the valance will be wider at the bottom as well. Second, since the medallions project so far out from the window, the valance will appear much wider than the actual window. That’s because the valance is much closer to you and the window is further away.


A beautiful valance, but unfortunately a bit too wide for this sliding glass door.


The side jabots on this French country valance make it flare out at the bottom. That’s why the gold medallions were hung closer to the wooden window frame.


Notice how the medallions line up with the window frame in this cuff top valance. Yet, the valance is still wide enough because the mini jabots on the sides flare out.


RULE #4:

Think About Raising the Knobs In the Middle

Knobs aren’t restricting like rigid curtain rods in. Feel free to design a valance that follows the natural arch of a shaped window, or create this shape on an otherwise boring, rectangular window.

Usually, this requires that the knobs in the middle be raised a few inches higher than the knobs on the sides of the valance.


A raised country-style valance in black and red.


A raised custom valance made in a tropical-themed fabric.


RULE #5:

Don’t Allow Gaps Around the Tabs

Most valances are hung on the medallions from their tabs. When sewing this kind of valance, it’s human nature to make the tabs just a bit wider to make sure they can fit on the medallions. Unfortunately, what happens in most cases is that the tabs end up being too big. The valance hangs poorly from the medallions and a clear gap is visible around the tabs. So don’t be shy to make the tabs a bit smaller.

It’s better to have a tight fit around the knobs than to have a valance that hangs poorly. Tab measurements follow the same rules as rod pockets. The tab will fit a medallion that has a diameter of about half the size of the tab.

So, if a tab is 3 inches, the knob extender must ideally be about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches thick. The extender is just the matching piece that goes behind the decorative part of the medallion and is screwed directly into the wall. If you buy an extender that’s too thin, just know that you may have to cut and hand sew the tabs to make them fit properly before hanging the valance on the wall.


RULE #6:

Be Thoughtful About How Large the Projection Needs to Be

Typically, the larger the decorative part of the medallion, the longer and thicker the extender that goes with it is. Sometimes you’ll be able to mix and match these pieces to make it work for your room. Ideally, you want the valance to be as close to the wall as possible. The more it projects from the wall, the larger it will appear than it really is.

This sounds great until you realize that the medallion is also looking awkwardly large and that there’s a big gap between the valance and wall when you look at it from the side. If you’ll install the valance alone or with Roman shades under it, my recommendation is to not let the valance extend out more than 4 inches from the wall.

On the other hand, if your valance will be layered over a pair of draperies, you have to think differently. Draperies take up a lot of space. In this case, it’s best for the valance to project at least 6 inches from the wall in order to be able to fit the draperies underneath.

Next, get inspired with our ideas for living room valances.

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