A wood valance is a decorative element placed over the upper portion of curtains, draperies, unusually shaped windows, or wooden blinds for the purpose of hiding hardware and covering the top of the window itself. These window valances are a popular way to enhance window treatments and add to the beauty of a room. They can easily be made to coordinate with a room’s decorative style or add an unexpected and dramatic flair and contrast.
Wood valances have been popular since at least the 14th century. In the earliest period, they were frequently made of carved wood. In addition to wood, fabric hangings also were used to decorate beds. The material had painted or embroidered designs depending upon the fashion of the day. At that point, in time valances usually were used to hold bed draperies and give a bed a finished and beautiful look. An early wood window valance that has been found is French from the end of the 1800s. It was gilded as was typical of wooden furnishings in that period and much of the gilding still remains.
Modern wood valances for windows are made of different kinds of wood especially Ramin wood or Basswood. Ramin wood from Southeast Asia is frequently used for picture frames. It is very desirable because it has a very straight grain and accepts glue and finishes well. Basswood is a lightweight, somewhat soft American wood especially desired for carving objects and is a favorite of hobbyists. Both woods can be made into any style and painted or stained to achieve the desired look. Even though these are the preferred woods, a valance can be made of any wood available. Lesser quality wood should probably be painted instead of stained.
In the present day, a wood valance for windows can be found to match a wide variety of draperies or wood blinds. They are sometimes fabricated from crown molding that gives them an elegant look. Depending upon the decorations that are either glued on or carved into the wood they also can have the graceful lines of colonial. Hand carved ones are available in any style such as a dramatic imported Asian piece complete with designs you might find on an ancient vase. Some are built to be used for storage or display and even have plate grooves at the back. Gingerbread, scalloped and arched wood styles are also available. Needless to say, the list goes on and on. The finishes can be anything you like and will help set the mood of the room whether it is formal elegance or warm country cottage.
There are thousands of places where wood valances can be purchased. They range from small custom wooden blind makers to giant department stores. They are available in prices of under $20 to thousands of dollars. You can buy the most sleek modern designs or antique valances mellowed with age. Whatever choice you make, you can be assured you will add an extra element of quality and style to any room.