If you're lucky enough to have a bay window in your home, then you know how much it can add to your space. Along with providing extra views of the outdoors and creating a cross-breeze when they're open, bay windows drench your space in dreamy natural light (which might even help you save on your electricity bill).
Another reason we love bay windows? They create the perfect backdrop for creative design, whether you add a cozy sitting area around them or use the space for decor and storage. With a bit of strategy, there are so many opportunities to maximize your bay window space.
How to Decorate a Bay Window
How you decorate a bay window ultimately depends on a few factors, like the size of the window and its location. In addition to decorating for aesthetic purposes, you can also add functionality to your bay window space. Ahead, 20 ideas for how to decorate a bay window, according to interior designers.
Create a Haven for Houseplants
If you're a plant person, interior designer Ana Maria Torres, owner of AT Architects, suggests using your bay window to create a haven for your houseplants. No built-in shelving? Try adding a console table in front of the window for smaller plants, or surround the window with large pots. Either way, your plant babies will appreciate the extra light.
Build a Reading Nook
Bay windows provide a great opportunity to enjoy the view, and with a little work, you can create your own cozy space. Kristin Patrician, owner and principal designer of Dwelling Envy Virtual Interior Design Firm, suggests adding a custom built-in bench with storage, then adding cushions and decorative pillows to create a cozy reading nook (or an excellent napping spot).
Make a Cozy Workspace
No dedicated home office? No problem. Interior designer Maggie Clarke, CEO of Maggie Clarke Interiors, recommends placing your desk and chair inside a bay window. "A Feng Shui specialist would tell you to be sure to face the inside of the room as you work," she says. "This creates a sense of security so you can see who is approaching you." Don't forget to add a window treatment to block harsh sun rays.
Create a Conversation Area
Upholstered chairs with a side table between them create an instant conversation space (or a comfortable nook for reading and relaxing). Patrician suggests adding overhead lighting, or you can plug a floor lamp in on one side for ambient lighting.
Install Wood Blinds
Whether you want a way to block out light in front of your bay window workspace or reading nook or just want to add a bit of extra interest to your window space, try out wood blinds for a high-end look. "Wood blinds come in very slim varieties, with slat sizes of 1”, 2”, and 2 1/2” and customized heights and widths," says Dana Bradshaw, design consultant for Stoneside Blinds & Shades. "You can customize them further by choosing from an assortment of beautiful stain finishes and paint colors to perfectly complement any decor."
Hang a Hammock
Want a more whimsical way to relax? If you're up for a DIY project, try installing a hammock in your bay window for an amazing view of the outdoors. You'll need a stud finder, drill, and hardware to mount hooks on the walls. A bay window nook is also the perfect space to hang a fabric swing from the ceiling.
Set Up a Window-Facing Sitting Area
If you'd rather enjoy the view than face inside your living room—and you have enough space around the bay window—create a sitting area that faces outside. Two upholstered or cushioned chairs should do the trick; then, add a side table between them or a small coffee table in front of them.
Buy a Settee
Bay windows are great sitting areas, but if you can't or don't want to invest in a custom built-in window seat, Clarke suggests adding a settee instead. To perfectly fit the contours of your bay windows, she recommends looking for a curved bench settee.
Add a Loveseat
Another option to create a sitting area in your bay window, according to Clarke: add a large, upholstered chair, a short sofa, or a loveseat in front of it. If your bay window doesn't have a sill, try placing the loveseat a foot or so in front of the window with a console behind it. You can also add a side table or two nearby so people have somewhere to put their drinks.
Install Roman Shades
Want to play up your bay window? Jenn Carter, principal and lead designer at Studio Envie, recommends individual roman shades, fabric window coverings that stack into folds when raised, for each window. "This draws the eye into the bay window, accentuating that space," she says. "Roman shades will also draw the eye up, giving it a taller, deeper feel."
Think of bay windows like the eyes of a room. "You'll want to dress them up
with beautiful curtains or window treatments the same way you would
eyeshadow or mascara," says interior designer Judy Pickett of Design Lines Signature. Choose a color that accentuates your color scheme, and for a touch of drama, choose patterned or textured curtains. And while any bay window can be dressed up with curtains, Clarke likes adding them to create extra coziness in a sitting area.
Add a Shelf
Many bay windows have large, built-in sills for storage and decor, but if yours doesn't, you're not out of options. Try installing a basic, floating shelf like this one at window-sill level to create space for your plants, a vase of flowers, or other decor. If you'd rather not install something permanent, consider adding a narrow console table instead.
Create a Breakfast Nook
Have a bay window in your kitchen? Kim Taylor of Two Hands Interiors, says a bay window is a perfect spot for a breakfast nook, whether you install a bench or simply place a dining table and chairs near the window. If you already have a formal dining room, then use it as a casual space for sipping coffee. "When selecting furniture, just make sure that the beauty of the window isn't blocked by too much," Taylor says.
Put Your Christmas Tree in Front of It
If you celebrate Christmas, your bay window is a great spot for a tree, says interior designer Pamela O'Brien of Pamela Hope Designs—there's plenty of space for a large tree, plus, you can put the lights on display for outsiders. In small areas, put a tiny tree on top of a console table. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then the bay window area is an ideal home for your larger houseplants.
Hang Sheer Curtains
If direct light is too much for your space but you don't want to close your curtains and shut out all the light, add a layer of sheer curtains behind your heavier ones instead of blinds. When it's super sunny, you can keep just the main curtains open; if you want even more light, then you always have the option to open the sheer ones, too.
Add Window Boxes
The outside of a window isn't the only place you can flaunt your flowers. If you have window sills, add a couple of window boxes with fresh or faux flowers inside them. You can also buy some soil and plant your favorite plants in boxes (they'll love the extra light). Foliage not your thing? Bay window sills are the perfect spot for long, narrow decorative storage boxes or baskets.
Set a Storage Bench in Front of It
Those of us short on both storage and seating know how much functional pieces, like storage benches, can add to a space. Consider adding a cushioned bench with built-in storage, or a bench with baskets beneath it, to make the most of your bay window. For an extra dose of coziness, add a blanket and throw pillows along with a side table for drinks or decor.
Add Cushions or a Pouf
For a more casual seating area, swap out chairs for a couple of floor cushions or a fabric pouf and place them in front of your window. If storage is more important to you, then choose a cozy ottoman that opens up for storing blankets (or any other clutter you don't want on full display).
Roll in a Bar Cart
If your bay window is in your kitchen, dining room, or living room, consider adding a bar cart in front of it for extra storage. You could use the cart for storing drinks and stemware in a common area, or add a few bins or baskets that match the rest of your design scheme for hidden storage.
Paint an Accent Wall
A feature wall is a simple but effective way to add some excitement to any space, so why not paint the area around your bay window? If your other walls are neutral, choose a color that compliments the rest of the space's color scheme. A fun patterned wallpaper in your bay window could also make the area pop!