Window Valance Ideas for Sliding Glass Doors


A sliding glass door presents a unique window treatment challenge because curtains or draperies must preserve the door’s functionality. Valances, or window toppers, are very short versions of nearly any style of drape, meaning they offer simple to formal finish options without hindering a door’s movement. Because they’re mounted on the outside of the door frame, valances allow enough space to hang privacy-providing curtains or blinds underneath.

Flat Valances

  • Because flat valances are the most simple in terms of style and construction, they can be finished to fit nearly any decor. A basic flat valance is characterized by a narrow panel of fabric pulled taut across the top of the width of a window or door frame. The resulting look is that of a simple rectangle. Because the fabric isn’t elaborately gathered, large prints and plaids tend to work well. Fabric choice and the shape of the valance’s bottom edge will change the character of the style. A flat valance with a straight bottom edge gains some visual interest with an inset ribbon border or pompom fringe sewn along the hem. Scalloped edges fit into more formal decor, especially if the fabric choice is dramatic--like vertical stripes of rich, contrasting colors. A zigzagged edge of shallow points is a less formal, more “fun” look. Because they’re mounted outside the door frame on a bracket rather than a rod, flat valances completely cover hardware for blinds or long drapes underneath.

Box Pleat Valances

  • A box pleat valance maintains some of the same simplicity as a flat valance in that its edges hang straight and crisp from a bracket mount and it's pulled taut. The biggest difference is that a box pleat valance has at least one inverted pleat sewn along its top hem. The result is one or a series of vertical openings that run down the face of the drape and break up the valance's overall flatness. Because pleats are inverted toward the back of the drape, the inside of the pleat, face-side, is flat. The resulting look is more sophisticated than that of flat valances, but equally as adaptable to various decorating styles. Box pleat valances work just as well with bold prints, subtle stripes or solid fabrics. Changing the pleat brings visual interest to the valance’s bottom edge; for example, longer fabric inside a pleat can be cut into a “handkerchief point” to accentuate the edge line. Cutting the flat panels of fabric into long, swooping scallops between each pleat softens the overall look.

Gathered Valances

  • Gathered valances tend to be the most whimsical or casual of all the styles. They’re made by sewing a pocket the size of the curtain rod into the top of the valance. Pockets can be sewn into the topmost edge or an inch or more down from the edge. The farther down the pocket, the taller the “heading,” or length of fabric standing above the rod. Because they’re gathered, these valances require a lot of fabric to be successful. Gathers should be uniform and tight, rather than widely spaced. The fabric falls from tight gathers into wider, soft ripples, which makes lightweight and sheer fabric natural choices for the look. Like flat and box pleat valances, the bottom edge of gathered valances can also be shaped. For a sliding glass door, gathered valances are mounted on the outside of the door frame using a curtain rod and rod mounts, rather than a bracket.

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  • “Complete Book of Window Treatments and Curtains”; Carol Parks; 1994
  • “Big Book of Window Treatments”; Carol Spier and the Editors of Sunset Books; 2006
  • Photo Credit ある日 image by sakabayasi from
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