The Kingston valance is often confused with the Empire valance. While both valances are similar, there are a few subtle differences. First, let’s consider what both valances have in common:

  • Both are traditional valances that are made with alternating pleated swags and horns.
  • Both are typically mounted on a board.
  • Both are typically made in the same size and measurements. It’s common for the swags to be about 18 to 20 inches deep. The board of the valances also commonly projects from the wall about 4 inches or so, although a 6- to 8-inch projection is common if draperies are to be hung under the valance.

So, what is the difference between these valances then? And what is a Kingston valance by definition? With a Kingston valance, the pleats on the swags are created behind each horn (bell), while with the Empire valance the swags are pleated at the top of the valance. The Kingston valance, at least from the perspective of its construction, is somewhere between an Empire swag and Austrian valance. So, an Empire valance appears to have spaced out pleats on its swags like this…


A Kingston swag with long cascades.


When the folds are still across the entire valance, yet more spaced out, the Kingston valance becomes an Oxford valance.


A Kingston valance on a bay window.


On the other hang, the pleats on the swags on the Empire valance replicate a waterfall effect since they come up from behind the dust board, like this:



Also, with the Empire valance, it’s usually assumed that the jabots are at least somewhat longer than the swags. With the Kingston valance, it’s possible to keep the jabots short, but they can also be sewn as long cascades.

Next, read about the different styles of valances that you may wish to use for your own home.

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