magazine | Apr 25, 2023 |
2 designers debate the best way to dress a window

Two Houston designers duke it out over the ultimate window dressing—the valance.

2 designers debate the best way to dress a window
Johnston prefers to keep window treatments uncomplicatedBenjamin Johnston

Benjamin Johnston 

Benjamin Johnston Design

My instinct is always to question what valances might be hiding. I know they can cleverly conceal a multitude of sins, from poor window conditions to architectural mistakes. Or perhaps the designer chose to incorporate valances to infuse interest where it might be lacking. Whatever the application, valances can often look fussy and overdone, and they create a sense of formality that doesn’t resonate with most of my clients. My preference is to keep window treatments uncomplicated—in a recent maximalist dining room, we instituted simple solid-colored drapery with tape trim that serves as a supporting cast member in a star-studded room. The space would feel unfinished without that touch, and the window treatments create an opportunity to express creativity through minute yet impactful details. This more streamlined approach also allows you to celebrate the luxury of upscale finishings and add a touch of “jewelry” to the room. For an even more refined look, hidden tracks allow hardware to be mounted inside the ceiling, complementing the architecture of the space instead of working against it.

2 designers debate the best way to dress a window
For Elias, valances are a great place to flex her creative ideas with unusual shapes (which clients love) and unique trim applicationsJulie Soefer

Courtnay Tartt Elias 

Creative Tonic Design 

Anywhere I can use more fabric and trims makes me happy, and valances are no exception. Yes, decorative valances are handy when an architectural issue needs to be disguised. But more than that, valances are a great place to flex my creative ideas with unusual shapes (which clients love) and unique trim applications. For example, I once did a broad living room valance in a beautiful Kravet velvet striae with a vertical stripe and a Samuel & Sons Greek key tape trim around the perimeter. The finished product was rich in details with sumptuous fabrics used in traditional ways, but it felt unique when put together. In bedrooms, I love how they make the space feel cozy and cocoon-like. I also use valances when I want ceilings to feel higher, as they elevate the eye and create an elongating effect. I always feel that more is more—if you’re working with a great print, repeating it in a valance adds drama. It’s ultimately a place to have fun—and who doesn’t want that?

This article originally appeared in Spring 2023 issue of Business of Home. Subscribe or become a BOH Insider for more.

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