Decorating Ideas for Bay Windows

Bay windows add architectural interest to your rooms, let in a great deal of natural light, and allow for terrific outside views.

However, one question that many homeowners struggle with is what to do with the area.

Empty bay windows mean wasted floor space and a lost design opportunity.

Make the most of your bay windows with window treatments and an appropriate use of the space.

Consider these home decorating ideas for the bay windows in your home.

Roman style shades with contrasting but subtle dark stripes give this bay window treatment a simple and elegant designer look.Bay Window Treatments

Because of the design and shape of a bay window, there are some considerations that are unique to designing a window treatment that is both functional and complements their beauty, including the bay seat often incorporated into the constructions of bay windows.

If your bays overlook a secluded area and light control isn’t a problem, window treatments may not be absolutely essential.

But bay window treatments can make your windows into a design focal point.

You can use any type of window treatment in a bay if you have the right hardware.

Curtain rods, for example, are available in versions especially designed for bay windows.

Other window coverings made to fit the special requirements of bay windows can include

You can certainly cobble together three separate rods if you have sufficient space to hang them (it may be a problem to fit them end-to-end in a smaller bay), but make sure to consider the issue and measure carefully to insure that you don’t accidentally purchase something that won’t fit.

The following are some ideas for bay window treatments:

  • Bay Window Curtains – Long panels or café-style window curtains particularly suit bays. Accentuate your windows by hanging panels between them. The closer you hang the panels to the ceiling, the more dramatic the result. Café curtains topped with one long valance are another attractive option that also provides privacy if your bay overlooks a public area.
  • Window Shades – If your bay has decorative molding that you don’t want to hide, consider using a shade. Shades come in many shapes to suit your rooms. You could select a roller shade, which rolls straight up and down from the top; a Roman shade, which pulls up into loose pleats; or a ribbon shade, which manually rolls up from the bottom and ties underneath.
  • Valances – Consider accentuating your bay with a valance and leaving the windows otherwise uncovered if privacy and light control aren’t problems for you. The valance-only approach can be one of the most attractive and allows you to take a creative approach. You can purchase a valance or create your own using fabric or scarves.
  • Window Blinds – Mini blinds are certainly a possibility, but in general it’s best to avoid them in bays. The long series of unbroken horizontal lines is busy and doesn’t make the most of the bay. Unless you have no other choice, it’s best to avoid them.

Wood shutters open flat to take advantage of the natural light and full view afforded by this bay window.Using Your Bay Window Space

There’s a fine line between using the space in a bay window area and overwhelming it.

Consider the level of detail in your window treatment and the surrounding furniture to determine how much you need to add to complete the space.

An elaborate window treatment or closely-adjacent seating area would require minimal accessories to complete the look.

A secluded spot with little furniture nearby and a more streamlined window treatment will probably need a little extra oomph to make it truly shine.

Another important consideration when decorating bay windows is to design your window treatment to take complete advantage of the view outside.

For bay window areas that need finishing, consider these home decorating ideas:

Add seating – A window seat, complete with pretty cushions and a small side table, is a wonderful idea. If you don’t have the construction skills to pull off a custom job, you can hire a professional or use prefab wall cabinets. Put them in a row and finish them off with cushions. Or use a chair.

Add plants – One of the major advantages of the bay window is the light. Bring in an attractive plant stand and make use of the natural light while completing the space.

Add an accessory or two – If the space is too small to add furnishings but still looks empty, put an accessory or two on the floor. Try a large decorative vase, an oversized typographical letter, or a stack of vintage suitcases. Or lean a painting against the wall to one side.

Again, the goal is to make the most of your bay windows, so the key is to select an option that will draw the eye to the area and that enhances the functional and aesthetic qualities of your window area.

Find more great ideas for decorating bay windows at

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