How to dress a bay window with handmade curtains or blinds

Bay windows come in all shapes and sizes. But in Scotland, the most common bay windows can be found in properties from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Often sporting windows of 2.70m height and more, it can be difficult to find the right curtains or blinds for them. So, let’s find out how to dress a bay window!

The challenge of dressing bay windows

While there are different types of bay windows, they all have one thing in common. They project outwards from the building, adding space and light to the room as well as opening up almost panoramic views.

Whether you have a square bay window, a splay bay window or a curved bay window, a modern or a period property, it’s all about the placement of your curtains and blinds. And that depends on the available space and features like shutters and radiators.

Curtians and blinds for bay windows

1. Available space

To decide where to best place your window treatments, you need to see how much free wall space you have beyond the edge or frame of your bay window.

As for curtains, you usually have three options. You can either place them inside the bay window which means losing some of the light when your curtains are open.

To avoid that, you can place them outside the recess. This, however, requires more fabric which adds to the cost. And you may have furniture or a radiator on the wall outside the recess, which makes this option impractical.

Both of these options have the curtains curve around the inside of the bay window. Alternatively, you can simply place the curtains outside the bay window, in line with the outside wall.

This means they block off the bay window from the rest of the room when drawn. So, you’ll lose less light during the day, but you will lose room space in the evening.

If you prefer blinds, the ideal placement is right above the window, so you need enough space above or within the frame. Roller blinds and Roman blinds are ideal for bay windows. Although due to their design, Roman blinds block more light during the day than roller blinds.

Blinds can also be combined with curtains or dress curtains. The latter, also called decorative or non-working curtains, are a great way to frame a bay window.

Another popular choice when combining blinds with curtains are semi-sheer blinds, offering additional protection from direct sunlight during the day without losing too much daylight.

2. Shutters & radiators

The good news. Dressing your bay window with curtains and/or blinds when you have working shutters is absolutely possible. The not-so-good news. It does make things a bit trickier and can limit your choices.

When using both window treatments and shutters, it’s important to place your curtains and blinds high enough. This way you make sure you have enough space for your shutters to open and close smoothly without catching on the curtains.

If you have a radiator in your bay window, you’ll likely lose heat when adding curtains to the mix. Blinds – on their own or in combination with dress curtains – might be a better choice in that case.

You can, of course, choose sill-length curtains to avoid any issues with radiators. But these can look awkward, especially with big windows, so I’d always recommend full-length curtains in that case.

Poles & tracks for bay windows

When it comes to poles and tracks for bay windows, the main thing is that they need to be bendable. Unless you choose a straight curtain on the outside of the recess, covering the whole of the bay window, the best material for poles and tracks is metal.

You can use wooden poles on the inside of your bay window as well, but the corners of the window mean sharp joints which, in turn, means you have to use passing rings to be able to draw the curtains.

The better options are tracks that are bent to suit your bay window or a clever solution that looks like a curtain pole but works like a track, combining the best of both worlds.

You also have the choice of using the pole or track as a feature of your home décor or hiding the way your curtains and/or blinds are hung.

Pelmets are the ideal way if you’d rather hide the poles or tracks, a very popular option being to combine pelmets with Roman blinds, for example.

Another tip. If you have an Edinburgh-sized bay window with over 2.70m high windows, make sure you choose a corded curtain track or pole. Otherwise, it can be quite difficult to draw and open your curtains, especially if you’ve selected a heavy fabric or interlining.