Bay windows are a gorgeous architectural detail that floods a room with light. Jutting out of a room’s perimeter, they consist of a large picture window flanked by two smaller angled windows, creating a small nook that can be turned into a cozy seating area, or minimally adorned to create a dramatic focal point that reminds you to take a brief moment to enjoy the view. Because of their unconventional shape, and because they practically beg you to pay attention to them, it’s important to choose window treatments that fit perfectly and play up their best attributes.
First and foremost, before you select your curtains, you need to see what kind of hardware your windows will support, or if there is pre existing hardware that’s already been installed. Depending on their size, you may be able to use a specialty curtain rod designed just for bay windows, but it’s important to remember they are not one-size-fits-all, so be sure to measure at least twice before ordering one.
Additionally, examine the surrounding walls and window frames to see how sturdy they are, and what kind of screws, hooks, and anchors you’ll need to support the weight of whatever curtains you pick.
Large bay windows let you enjoy the view outside, but as big of a plus as that is, there’s also a major minus: just as you can see out, other people can see in. If your bay windows are on the first floor and you don’t live miles away from your closest neighbor, consider pairing your curtains with blinds or shades, hang a privacy curtain that can be tucked behind your window treatments when you want to take in the view, or pick full-sized functional curtains that can be pulled open and shut.
Is your bay window in your bedroom? In that case, you’ll want to figure out how to control the amount of sunlight that comes into the room, and can block out bright outdoor lights at night.
Even if your bay window isn’t in the bedroom, you should make note of its sun exposure before shopping for curtains. If the window faces direct sunlight all day, furniture, carpeting and, yes, the curtains could end up fading over time. Direct sunlight exposure will also considerably heat up a room, which could be a welcome thing in the winter, but will raise your conditioning costs in the summer.
Choose Form Over Function
Is there a pattern, style, or design you’d already fallen in love with before you thought about hardware, privacy, or sunlight? Well you don’t need to give up on your window covering dreams — you’ll just need to adapt. Treat valances, cafe curtains, or light, decorative curtains as if they’re incomplete, matching them with functional window coverings like shades or blinds with complimentary colors and style details.
Frame the Area
Small bay windows create cozy spaces to hole up and relax; large ones can open up enough floor space to feel almost like a separate room. Think about how you’re using the area surrounding the bay window, and how the curtains need to relate to it. Cafe curtains are a cute addition to a quaint reading area, or in a cozy kitchen breakfast nook. In living rooms, the space around a bay window could be left empty so you can focus on the view outside, and curtains can be treated almost like a picture frame.