Bay windows are a beautiful feature in any room, but dressing them can be tricky business. While the architectural detail is an attractive addition to add interest for any room it presents an awkward shape for window treatments – but with the right know-how bay windows can be easy to dress with curtain ideas, blinds and shutters.
'If you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful bay window in your home, you’ll want to make the most of it by thinking carefully about the window dressing' advises Debbie Leigh, design manager at ILIV.co.uk.
'There are many different types of bay windows, so I always advise homeowners to opt for a bespoke window covering to give a professional look. Made to measure window dressings are precisely crafted to fit every nook and cranny, which is a must when it comes to bay windows.'
Bay window ideas
1. Add Roman blinds for perfect cover
Choose a Roman blind for each bay window dressing, and measure them to hang slightly over the frame of the window to ensure the entire glass pane is covered and there are no gaps at the edges of the window blind idea.
Go for a large scale pattern for the blinds to create impact and team with a plain curtain in a toning colour. Roll-up Roman blinds are a simple solution for bay windows, while the curtains can either add extra privacy and warmth, or can simply be a decorative addition, framing the window for a smart finish and without the need to be drawn.
2. Use cafe-style shutters at the bottom of the window
For an informal effect, hang shutters at the bottom half of the bay window, allowing light through the top half, but also creating privacy – especially important in a bedroom. Hem the panels of fabric and hang them on a flexible net curtain wire, so they can be gathered at the side if you need more light.
The overall look is laid back yet contemporary, and bring the look together with other natural elements around the room, like linen cushions and pale furniture.
Interior designer reveals what not to do when choosing curtains – from measuring to styling, for more inspiration.
3. Hang a curtain at each window
Curtain ideas for bay windows can be expensive and tricky to fit around curves and bends, so fitting a separate pole at each window is a good option. Hang a pair of curtains at the middle window and then frame each side with another curtain. This will create an extremely sophisticated look, bringing the focus to the bay.
Tie back hooks fitted high up will allow the curtains to be gathered in an attractive swag of fabric. Finish the look with a narrow pelmet around the top of the window in a dark fabric to draw the eye upwards and create a sense of space.
4. Hang curtains across the front of the bay
For a simply, fuss-free look, hang a thin wire rail across the front of the bay window and use a light muslin or linen curtain to create privacy without blocking out the light. For a savvy bedroom curtain ideas you could use a black out material, to ensure total darkness for a better night's sleep.
In a living room if you have a desk area or storage in the bay window space that you want to hide, then this curtain can act as the ideal screen, keeping the rest of the room clutter-free.
5. Combine panels with curtains
Lightly patterned fabric screens are a neat way of diffusing light and creating privacy at a bay window. Fit the screens on a sliding rail, which is designed to fit around the curves of the bay. Combine with a curtain at each side. These curtains only need to be drawn at the sides of the bay, and can be fitted onto a simply rail, fitted at the top of each side window.
Choose a bolder patterned fabric for the side curtains to create a striking surround around the bay.
6. Filter out the light with full shutters
Window shutter ideas are a highly effective way to entirely cover a window, with precision. And practical, providing light, privacy and reducing noise – as well as being low-maintenance, requiring nothing more than a frequent dusting to keep them looking their best.
When used to dress bay windows the frames are made to fit each panel of glass perfectly, meaning maximum light control.
7. Add panels of pattern
Use your statement window layout even more captivating by dressing the panes with bold pattern. Simple drop down blinds can add decorative pattern and an accent colour to enhance the decor.
Try to find a pattern that brings in the colours you want to use in the scheme to ensure you don't end up with a clash or a two-dimensional look. A good rich pattern can be used as the mediator, helping to define the palette, which can then be integrated into cushions or upholstery.
8. Opt for solid shutters for total privacy
Solid shutters are perfect for period properties, especially in bedrooms, creating a barrier against noise and the elements. Don't be afraid to go for a coloured option that will highlight any details on the shutter, especially if the rest of the scheme is pared back.
9. Incorporate a matching window seat
Make the most of a bay window layout by installing a window seat idea, using the otherwise unused space below the window to allow for extra seating. Matching the fabrics for the window treatment to the seat cushions helps to make the window feel well-dressed as a whole.
The accent colour and pattern draws attention to the window, making it a feature to behold. This idea is especially good in a small room, to draw the eye to the view beyond to welcome a sense of airiness.
10. Enhance wooden frames with Venetian blinds
To celebrate the shape of a bay window allow the frames to be the hero of you chosen window treatment. For these smart wooden framed windows the perfect pairing to blend seamlessly is slatted wooden Venetian blinds. A cheaper option but familiar to shutters, venetian blinds offer a substantial material for dressing windows.
The concertina design allows for freedom of movement. Meaning the blinds can be tilted, raised or lowered to adjust the level of light and privacy for any room.
What is the best way to dress a bay window?
What is considered the best way to dress a bay window? 'The decision on the window dressing itself can depend on a number of factors such as privacy and the overall look you wish to create' explains Debbie Leigh, design manager at ILIV.
'If, for example, you are wanting to let in as much light as possible it is worth considering sheer blinds which will allow a soft flow of natural light into your room – creating a lovely relaxing ambience. On the other hand, good quality, lined curtains are worth the investment – they are suitable all year-round , offering temperature control and privacy.'
'Perhaps the most popular bay window dressing is the combination of roman blinds with curtains' Debbie reveals. ' This not only provides the best of both worlds but also looks very luxurious. A roman blind in each window offers flexibility as each blind can be set at varying heights to create an interesting look as well as providing privacy when needed.'
'If you have the room either side of your bay window, then full-length curtains will create a cosy, comfortable and inviting feel. Not only do they provide complete privacy, choosing a quality thick fabric will provide an extra layer of insulation, as well as creating a sense of luxury.'
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Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
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