The term ‘bay window’ covers any type of protruding window, regardless of its shape or whether it appears on one or more floor of a building. The earliest bay windows date back to the Renaissance and were typical of palaces and great houses of the period. Invariably, these bay window were rounded, extended over a series of floors and often topped with domes.
Bay windows became particularly popular in the Victorian era with canted or angled bays the most common form in the mid-19th century. Flatter, squarer bays became popular at the turn of the century. They were introduced to terraces and rows of urban houses to increase the amount of light in a confined area without taking up too much additional space. They also greatly improved the aesthetic of a row of houses with otherwise flat facades.
Those of us who live in homes with bay windows will no doubt appreciate the style and interest they lend to a room. But they are amongst the most difficult windows to dress and you may be struggling to find the right solution. Here’s our advice on the options available.
An individual Roman or roller blind on each window in a bay will provide a fresh, uncluttered look. This is a particularly effective option when the bay is relatively small and avoids the window looking like it’s swamped in fabric. Although blinds are unlikely to provide complete blackout, they do allow the architecture of the window to shine and maximise the sense of space by allowing lots of light into a room. They also provide flexibility as each blind can be lowered or raised independently.
Choose roller blinds for a really pared-back aesthetic and use our Sheer linen when privacy during the day is required. For a softer feel, choose from our range of Roman blinds fabrics, opting for a bonded lining to provide a more opulent look where desired.
Blinds are a great solution where radiators sit under the windows. When pulled down, they will sit on the sill and not block heat into the room. Care must be taken when hanging blinds in bay windows however; if they’re not hung straight and parallel to each other, it will be very obvious and a source of much frustration!
A single pair of curtains suits a smaller bay window as it allows the curtains to be drawn back off the windows and more light to enter the room. As with blinds, a single pair of curtains with draw attention to the window without overshadowing it.
A continuous track is often used to hang curtains in a bay window. It allows the fabric to glide easily around each corner without catching and because the curtains are attached to the track with hooks at regular intervals, the fabric will stay uniform as it is pulled back and forth. A pencil, goblet, double or triple pleat heading is best suited to a track.
The alternative to a track is a curtain pole and specially designed poles to fit bay windows have become increasingly available in recent years. Curtain poles often make a statement in their own right. Where space either side of the bay window is limited, an eyelet or wave heading is the best option. An eyelet heading, where the pole is threaded through metal eyelets at the top of the curtains, creates a contemporary look. They’re very easy to operate so a good choice for children’s bedrooms. A wave heading is another cool, modern choice, perfect if you want to create a simple but elegant look. Wave curtains have no gathering across the top, just a continuous curve. The curtains stack back neatly and the heading suits fabrics that drape well such as our sheers, silks and cottons.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large bay with plenty of space between windows, you can hang a pair of curtains at each window. This makes a real statement and draws attention to the fabric as much as the window itself. A particularly good option if the view outside is less than attractive.
Intermediate curtains work with individual poles for each window which removes the necessity of fitting a pole around the bay. A pencil, goblet or pleat heading will provide a very opulent look while eyelet or wave headings will create an elegant, luxurious feel.
For maximum impact and flexibility, opt for a combination of blinds and curtains. Not only will this create the ultimate statement but this option provides a number of practical benefits too.
If you have radiators under the windows, you can choose ‘dress’ curtains to increase the sense of height in the room but that don’t pull across, blocking out heat. Instead, the blinds - Roman or roller - can provide the necessary privacy as well as control the amount of natural light coming into the room during the day. If there’s no concern about radiators, blinds in a lighter weight fabric teamed with curtains in a velvet or wool can look particularly effective.
A combination of blinds and curtains provides the perfect opportunity to create impact and interest through your choice of fabric. Should you opt for colours that harmonise or be bold and daring with a complementary pairing?
Start planning the perfect look for your bay windows by taking a look at our range of fabrics and ordering some free samples.