Bay, Bow and Box Windows Oh My!!

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Specialty shaped windows are an interior designer’s dream and an architectural beauty in any home.

Bay, bow and boxed windows fit in the category of specialty windows while adding a lot of interest in any room no matter if they are full length from ceiling to floor or they are shorter and have a lovely seating area or a reading niche at the bottom of the glass. 

Bay Windows vs. Bow Windows – What’s the Difference?

Bay windows, bow windows and box windows are all lovely architectural additions to make any space appear much larger in size and in some cases; they actually do give you more useable square footage as well. These types of windows may be in a living room, a breakfast nook, a dinning room or a bedroom as the most common areas to find them. Read on to learn about the differences between these specialty windows and many different approaches to dressing them. 

Differentiating a Bay Window From a Bow Window

For starters, a box window is similar to a bay and bow window. A box window is a single window that is set back from the room with a wall on each side perpendicular to it, which may or may not have windows in them. 

At first glance, a bay and a bow window may actually look like the same thing, although they do have some differences. Both will open up a room and let it breathe to appear to give you more space and to let in more light than flat windows. They both add a wonderful splash of glamour to any room in your home too. 

A bay window has three sets of glass, while a bow window usually has four or five windows. A bay window consists of a picture window in the middle that is larger and two smaller windows on each side of it. A bow window has a curved structure that creates a round appearance that you can see from the outside of the house as it projects out farther than the flat walls on your home. You will usually see a contemporary bay window in more modern homes with its flat planes and angular lines, while the bow window with its semi-circular outer structure is ideal for Victorian or any other style home.

Bay windows protrude farther from the wall to the exterior space, which adds more floor space on the interior of the room. Bow windows naturally let more light into your home because of the additional windows in them. Bay windows are usually narrower from side to side than bow windows. Bow windows can have a fascinating effect when they wrap around a corner of a house to create a turret effect that is reminiscent of a castle. This will also create a nice nook on the inside of your home and it allows you to see a view on two sides of your home at the same time.

Window Treatments for Bay and Bow Windows

At first glance a homeowner may scratch their head when deciding how to dress their bay or bow windows. It may seem like a daunting task to make it look professional on their own. An experienced interior designer is delighted to help you with this as they see the best architectural designs as a manner to make your entire area shine with beauty, while still being functional and addressing all of your needs at the same time. Most window treatments work very well for both bay and bow windows. The most important thing to remember however is that if you dress the bank of windows as one window instead of separately, when the window treatments are closed, you will be cutting off the extra depth and losing the interest of your architectural feature. Some homeowners do want one large treatment and that’s okay too if it’s what you like best. 

Horizontal Window Treatments

The use of horizontal window treatments will accentuate your bay windows when they are dressed individually. The most preferable mounting is to mount your shades to the top  of the windows to outfit each window individually. Alternatively, you can dress the center bay window that is larger with one window treatment and then use a matching or coordinating treatment on the two that flank it on each side. Using a upper inside frame mount gives you a sleek and clean inside mount that doesn’t cut off the window itself to make your room instantly seem larger and brighter.

Horizontal Window Shades

You have many choices of fantastic fabric window shades from which to choose. When you choose designer fabrics, your window shades will stand out and no one will have the same custom appearance as yours. You can add fabrics that make a statement, blend in with the surroundings or even make the bay window your exquisite focal point in any room. Roller shades are quite often used in bay windows for their clean and crisp appearance. They look fabulous when they are down and when they are raised entirely they wrap around a roller mechanism at the top of the window in a neat and tidy roll. Roman shades are available in several different styles to suit your tastes and match your decor. You can choose a flat Roman shade or a hobbled or soft fold Roman shade that shows your fabric choice in graceful soft folds both when the shades or down or up. 

Vertical Window Treatments

You have another option in dressing your bay or bow windows with drapery or other vertical window treatments that move from side to side. There are modern choices to use side-to-side window treatments with the installation of drapery panels or vertical blinds. 

Drapery panels are the most dramatic of any other window treatments for any bank of windows you may have–especially if your windows are full length from ceiling to floor. Take note though, you will want enough room on the sides of your banks of windows to move the drapery panels entirely out of the way so that it doesn’t make your windows appear narrower and smaller while blocking your view. 

Vertical blinds are becoming popular again, but not just the hard and cold appearance of aluminum or vinyl. You can start with either of these types of vertical blinds and have any fabric of your choosing added to them so that each vertical vane is displayed in all its glory. This idea works best in full-length bay or bow windows when they end at the floor level for the bottom. The added flexibility of tilting your vertical blinds is often loved by homeowners to filter light that comes streaming in through those beautiful and bodacious windows. 

How to Choose Between Different Types of Window Treatments for Bay and Bow Windows

Of course your top priority is to create an elegant appearance with your specialty windows, but there are a few things to consider in doing so. Your large bay and bow windows are quite elaborate as is and are often trimmed in ornate and stunning colors on the woodwork. A feature like this needs to be able to be seen when you add your window treatments. So draperies for each individual window may or may not be a good choice unless you have ample room on the wall space between each individual pane of glass for draperies to stack and not cover up your woodwork. In this case, you would probably want to choose a horizontal window treatment that mounts inside the window frame at the top.

Going Bold for a Statement Piece

If you do have room between the window panes, you may consider drapery panels with a bright and bold print to dress up a room that is in basically neutral colors. You can enlist the help of a specialty angled drapery rod in a beautiful gold tone with tab top panels that will showcase the rod even when the drapery panels are closed. This works exceptionally well if your windows are almost or are full length and your drapery panels just barely kiss the floor in grand glory.

Breakfast Nook Bay and Bow Window Treatments

Homes quite often may have a bay or bow window with a built in seating area that mimics the beautiful angles of the windows and a table to form a dainty and beautiful breakfast nook. If you have windows such as this and they don’t get a ton of sunlight in them, you may decide to dress only the bottom halves of each seperate window. This can be achieved with an angled drapery rod placed about the center of the window height and drapery panels. If you have black trim or a pendant light in the area that is black, a simple black drapery rod will pick up the same color or coordinate with it. For a less elegant style that is soft and pretty you can choose a nice floral fabric that hangs from ring clips. This gives you some light control at the bottom half of the window when people are seated there and privacy is not an issue.

Partial Length Bay and Boy Window Treatments

Bay and bow windows are not always from the ceiling to the floor. Often they begin a few feet from the ceiling and the glass ends at the bottom windowsill, which is several feet from the floor. If you have this type of orientation, a layered effect can really make it stand out. Often the partial length banks of windows are a bit smaller in width than full length. The combination of a roller or Roman shade in each pane of glass with a pattern looks fantastic when paired with drapery panels in a solid coordinating color for each pane of glass. This gives you more functionality in your heat and light control and can give you total privacy at the same time when the shades and draperies are all closed. The best manner to do this with partial length windows is to hang the draperies high on the wall next to the ceiling and have them full length to the floor. This makes your beautiful windows appear even larger than they are.

Dressing Window Seats and Reading Nooks 

You may have bay or bow windows with a built in window seat or reading nook in a bedroom or in a family room. This is a soft and sweet area that looks best with simple window treatments in the form of drapery panels. Drapery panels that flank the individual windows on each side allow one or all to be opened or closed as need be. The length of the drapery panels should end at the seating area so they barely skim the seat and are not in the way of people resting, reading or studying in the area. If your window seat is in a bedroom, you may consider using a heavier fabric to block light out for daytime naps or adding a backing to the panels to control lighting.

Uniting Window Treatments

An alternate manner to dress banks of windows such as bay and bow windows is to unite them. This is accomplished with using individual window treatments that connect to each other and actually look like one long horizontal treatment. A lovely geometric printed Roman shades looks amazing when each shade is sized to fit each window but they are mounted outside the molding so they fit snugly together. This unites the winnows and it works well with any type of shades. Using the same mounting method you may choose to use valances or cafe curtains in the same manner.

This guide should give you many different ideas to dress your beautiful bay and bow windows in a style that you desire and in a fabric that you truly love. These banks of windows are one of the best places to showcase your unique style that is all your own in your home.

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