Choosing Treatments for a Bow or Bay Window

Selecting the correct treatments for a bow or bay window is a thoughtful matter. Obviously, the beauty of these windows lies in the increased light and perceived space they offer a room. However, there are times when you’ll desire that the amount of light coming into the room is controlled.

This can be accomplished by either utilizing blinds or draperies; or, for the ultimate in layering, both.

First, the choice must be made to either dress the windows as a “single window” or to dress the individual panes.

If you’ve chosen blinds, then dressing each individuablinds for bow windowsl pane is a given, but there are many more exciting selections listed below.

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that you have your design sketch built right in!

  • Look at the framing and structure of the windows; what do you see?
  • Remember the curved nature of a bay window means different hardware than a bow window
  • If you’re choosing blinds, a custom curved track will allow greater choice in types of blinds
  • Adding a double runner, for example, will allow you to play with layering drapery over your blind
  • Choosing lighter or neutral colors for the base blind won’t overwhelm the room

Any type of blind can be used for privacy and light blocking purposes in a bow or bay window. But don’t limit yourself to the traditional slat blinds when there are so many wonderful, more modern choices today.

Typical (and a few Unconventional) Types of Treatments

Shades and shutters can also be used for the first layer of the treatment to great effect. Consider some of these choices:

  • Woven Wood Shades – provide the ultimate in texturing and are made from renewable materials
  • Cellular/Honeycomb Shades – They insulate, are energy efficient and offer many different light & lift options
  • Wood & Faux Wood Blinds – Provide a timeless look that are durable and built to last; Choose the faux wood option if you are in a humid climate and cost is a factor
  • Traditional Roller Shades – Don’t count this minimalist design out; Choices for colors and patterns and materials are limited only to your imagination
  • Pleated Shades – There is nothing more stylish than sharp pleating and solid material; and, the price is more affordable than you’d think
  • Panel Track Blinds – These are the choice for large windows and will give a uniform appearance with clean lines
  • Mini-Blinds – Material choices have improved over the years, but these can still be the most economical choice and are the most durable.
  • Vertical Blinds – The lowest maintenance with the highest level of light control in either fabric or vinyl vanes.
  • Sheer Shades – Offer soft, filtered light when vanes are made with gauzy or airy fabric
  • Solar Screens – Best to retain an outside view and to keep harmful UV rays out
  • Roman Shades – Shades made of fabric that mimic drapery; huge options for choice and usually used without another layer on the window
  • Plantation Shutters/Traditional Shutters – Yes, shutters! Can be made of wood or easy-to-care for vinyl and will add instant architectural appeal both inside and out
  • Outdoor Shades – Perfect for a three-season room or any area in which rust, mold or weather are a factor
  • Vertical Blind Alternatives – Super choice for big windows needing a specific visual appeal; Custom and, likely, the most expensive
  • Sidelights – These “halved” shades or blinds are for narrow windows framing the larger center bay

In the case of a flat Bow Window, another simple and high-impact selection is a “window-width” custom shade or blind. Made specifically for the window, this option will be costly – but the material, pattern and design selection are uniquely yours.

When making your selection, keep in mind the style of home you live in as well as the style of the room.

Think from the premise that both Bow Windows and Bay Windows were designed to be “show” windows. Whether they show off the view outside or your interior décor, they will generally tend to be the focal point of the space.

Installation, Care and Maintenance


If you’re an expebow-bay-window-treatmentsrienced interior designer or decorator, or even just a DIY weekend-warrior, installing blinds or shades for a bow or bay window doesn’t have to be complicated. All the hardware you need will come with your order; and, likely, specific instructions or even directions to installation videos on the manufacturer’s website, will help you get it done quickly and correctly.

An important point to remember is that the cost of installation will likely be included in a final price for bow or bay window coverings if the treatments are a custom design and a representative has come to your home to measure your windows.

If you are going to do the installation yourself, be sure to ask the seller whether there is an unremoved installation charge on the final bill.

Care and Maintenance

Many of the products you’ll find today are treated to repel dust and dirt. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your treatments, however, will ensure they stay as beautiful as they day you installed them. Some of the recommended methods for caring for either blinds or shades are listed below.

  1. Dusting – A light dusting every other day is sometimes all that is required to keep your installation looking day-done new
  2. Vacuuming – If a more thorough cleaning is required, you can vacuum with a brush attachment using gentle vertical strokes. NOTE: It is not advised to vacuum sheer fabrics as the lowest setting is enough to damage and tear them.
  3. Compressed Air – A can of compressed air that is used to clean electronics can also work wonders on hard to reach spots in the hardware or corners of window treatment! A hair dryer on the lowest setting can also achieve this effect.
  4. Spot-Cleaning – Lukewarm water, a sponge or cloth that won’t fray and a mild detergent may be used to blot light stains and spots away. Never rub as that may damage textures or patterns; and, be aware that spot cleaning may result in one area of your treatment being visibly cleaner than the rest!
  5. Ultra-Sonic Cleaning – This is done by a professional in your home and can be the best choice for large-scale or unified treatments.

Some types of blinds and shades are made to be easily removed for a soaking in a warm bathtub of a mild detergent and water. Please always refer to the care section in the documentation provided to you by your manufacturer or retail dealer.

So, what’s next? Well, if you feel as though your bow or bay window isn’t complete with just a shade or blinds, then please read Draperies for a Bow or Bay Window.