Bay windows are an architectural flourish that gained popularity during the Victorian era, but sometimes they would benefit from being dressed up. These window spaces project out from the main walls and form a square of polygonal alcove. They can add the illusion of extra space to the room and provide plenty of natural light and outside views. However, their unusual shape and separation from the general flow of the room can present a decorating challenge. There are many decorating choices that will make the most use of the space and integrate the bay area into your room décor.
First, if there is not already a built-in element, decide what you want to do with the space under the window. This angled area offers opportunities for different decorative choices. You could leave the space open and place a prominent piece of furniture, like a chaise lounge, there. You could create a nook with a small table and two chairs underneath your kitchen bay window. A popular choice is to build in a window-seat, decorated with an upholstered cushion and plenty of throw pillows. The seat can lift to offer storage underneath. Or you can use the built-in surface as a display area, instead. Set out your favorite collection, like small figurines or framed photos. Or the bay window, with its abundance of natural light, is the perfect place to set up an array of house plants.
Keep in mind the location of the window when decorating it. There are different choices to be made if it’s in a bedroom, a kitchen or a living room. For a bedroom, you might want to emphasize privacy and blocking out light. For a kitchen, you may want ease of cleaning. And for a living room, you could want to prioritize the views. All of these decorating choices are embodied in the kind of window treatments you decide on.
The simplest decoration is a simple valance. A short decorative curtain, it is hung just across the top of the window. This is perfect for your kitchen bay window that opens onto your private backyard. It allows in plenty of light and is easy to maintain in the greasy kitchen environment. It can also be used to hide the hardware for a simple Venetian blind underneath, which can be lowered for privacy. Also consider an immobile café curtain, installed on fixed rods, to block out just the lower half of the window. This will offer some degree of privacy while always allowing in plenty of light.
Another tidy and elegant look for a bay window is to fit each segment with a roman shade. The simple lines of the shade help integrate the bay window into the rest of the room. Coordinate the fabric for the shades with the rest of your décor.
For a room with a more rustic feel, consider wooden shutters. These window treatments can block light and offer privacy or swing open to allow full access to the window. These are a good choice for a kitchen as they don’t even require any fabric which can easily get dirty in a cooking environment. Shutters look simple and clean all on their own. They are also durable and easy to clean. You can also install floor length shutters for the entire bay window area, to close it off from the rest of the room.
A more elegant look can be achieved with long curtain panels. Consider a layer of sheers on the interior to pull across for some privacy. Then an outer layer of rich heavy panels will add decorative flair. There are special curtain rods just for bay windows, since their shape is unusual. If you don’t need to worry about blocking out sunlight or inquiring eyes, then narrow panels can be hung on the wall segments between each window for a purely ornamental look. This is a good choice when you have an especially lovely view that you want to showcase.
If there is a window seat then hang the long curtain panels on the wall inside the main room. This way you can draw the curtain across the entire area. Another option for bay windows with seating or storage is to fit the individual windows with shades. Coordinate the upholstery of the seating cushion and throw pillows with the window treatment.
A large bay window is the perfect palette for a dramatic window treatment. Go all out with an abundance of curtain panels and swags. Choose a rich luxurious fabric, perhaps accented with tassels or a border, for an opulent look.
Consider the demands of the space, and the style of your furnishing. There are options to decorate bay windows that will work for everyone. From the elegant to the utilitarian, frame your window in the way that works best for your room.