Curtain Ideas for Bay Windows (And Other Strange Arrangements)
Today is not the first time I’m chatting about curtains. In fact, curtains are something I usually dedicate (at least) one post to every time we move. Why? Because they are one of the few things that never (ever) translate from one home to the next. Not only do we typically encounter different window heights, widths and numbers from house to house, but we also deal with different styles and arrangements too. In our most current home, we have not one but two unique window situations we’ve never dealt with before: bay windows and arched windows! Today, I want to share some curtain ideas for bay windows, and chat about why we went the direction we did. Plus, you’ll (finally!) get a look at how our first floor is shaping up!
The Bay Windows | Before
The first floor of this house has three sets of bay windows: two on the front of the house (on either side of the front door) and one set off the back. When we first saw the MLS listing, I immediately noticed the…um…”lovely” window treatments. I prayed the owners would either take them down or take them with them. No such luck. When we moved in, we had three sets of custom, ornate bay window treatments to deal with.
Side Rant: Nothing drives me more crazy than owners who leave behind items in a rental, especially window treatments. It has happened to us over and over, and we always end up having to take them down and store them somewhere safe until we move back out. My hunch is that owners think they are being courteous to leave something on the windows rather than nothing. But (in my opinion), if there are some sort of blinds for privacy, then there is no need to leave anything else for renters to “live with,” maintain, store, or replace. Home Owners: please, please neutralize your windows in the same way you neutralize walls or flooring! Sorry…rant over!
Formal Living Room (that we use as a playroom)
Formal Dining Room (that we use as my office)
When we finally walked through the house in person, I had to chuckle when my Dad (knowing most of our house was decorated in blue) said: “You won’t need to get curtains for the family room because there are already blue curtains in here!”
“Um…sorry Dad…no way are these staying!”
Curtain Ideas for Bay Windows
In all of our homes, we’ve never had bay windows before, and I honestly didn’t know what kind of curtains to put on them. So…I did a bit of research before buying anything or pulling out the drill. I actually found two super helpful posts by Emily Henderson that guided my decisions. These two posts not only cover bay window options, but also ideas for a wide array of window setups. I highly recommend you read them if you have some windows you aren’t sure how to dress.
- How to Dress Awkward Windows by Emily Henderson Designs
- 3 Awkward Window Problems Solved by Emily Henderson Designs
After reading those two posts, as well as looking at a lot of ideas on Pinterest, I determined there were three primary ways to dress a bay window:
- Drapes/panels with a bay window curtain rod (below, Top Left) – In this arrangement, you instal a specialty rod into the bay window itself and hang drapes within the cased opening of the window.
- Custom shades for each section of the bay window (below, Top Right) – In this arrangement, you’d need to either find or custom order roman-style shades for each specific window.
- Frame out the bay window with standard rods and panels (below, center) – In this arrangement, you ignore the bump out entirely and hang curtains on the outside of the bay windows, essentially framing them as you would flat windows.
Curtains for Our Bay Windows
I absolutely adore the tailored look of the first two options. But as renters who will only live in this house for a few years, it made no sense for us to invest in custom/unique rods or shades that would most likely never work in another house. As such, I chose to go the third option which thankfully was the easiest and most budget-friendly as well!
Several houses ago, after I realized our curtain situation would need constant tweaking from home to home to home, I stopped buying unique panels and hardware for each room and switched to buying inexpensive black rods and solid, grommet-style curtain panels. Not only do I love that these elements are consistent across our entire home, but both are generic enough that we can buy more or replace elements as needed. Case in point, we needed 2 more really long black rods to span all the bay windows in this house. Thankfully, I had enough panels on hand!
- Black Rods – These are my favorite because they are super inexpensive, easy to hang, and come in really long lengths.
- Grommet Curtain Panels – These are my favorite panels since they are really long and thicker/sturdier than usual off-the-shelf panels. Unfortunately, the available colors change with each season so my navy ones have become harder to replace.
TIP! I find that off-the-shelf curtain panels are never wide enough or substantial enough to look quite right. To give simple panels more presence, I always put two panels together on each side. Here, I used a two-tone look for added interest, but you can always put two of the same color side-by-side for a unified look.
I usually like to hang my curtain panels as close to the ceiling as possible, but the hefty crown moulding meant we had to bring them down (nestled between the cased opening and the trim). I just recently got them all hemmed up using this tutorial…
…and now our front bay window is looking mighty fine!
The bay windows on the back of the house are directly across from the playroom bay windows (above) through a set of French doors. So it only made sense to mirror the window arrangement, making the entire space feel more cohesive.
Here, I was able to hang the curtains higher to the ceiling since there is no moulding. This is a really good example of why you should never hem your curtains until you hang them because lengths might vary from room to room!
I should point out that we can do this more decorative curtain installation because the windows themselves have blinds for privacy. So the curtains (in every room) stay in place, and we simply close the blinds as needed.
Learn More: Installing Your Own Blinds or Shades | It’s Easier Than You Think!
I really love how the curtains hung outside the window frame the couch and make the room feel tall and airy.
Striving for consistency, we hung more white panels in the dining room-turned-office, using the same rod arrangement.
Curtain Ideas for Arched Windows
Addressing the three sets of bay windows was one challenge. In the back of the house in our actual eating space, we had an entirely different, also new-to-us situation: arched windows! Here are the window treatments that were on the windows when we moved in:
Yikes, right? (Anyone else singing Surry with the Fringe on Top?!?) I didn’t hesitate to take those window treatments down either, but I was even more perplexed on how to deal with the center arched window. The same research I did for the bay windows also informed me that there were two primary directions to go:
- Curtain Rod Above the Windows But Below the Arch – below, top row
- Curtain Rod Above All the Windows, Including the Arch – below, bottom row
Top Left | Top Right | Bottom Left | Bottom Right
Curtains for Our Arched Windows
I really wanted to hang my favorite curtains I’ve ever made (from way back in our Kansas house). However, they weren’t nearly long enough to go all the way to the ceiling. Plus, the sloped ceiling prevented us from hanging the rod fully above the arch. Thankfully, what I preferred aesthetically and what we could feasibly pull off turned out to be the same solution: rod below the arch!
Like our other windows, these too have blinds that pull down for privacy, so my favorite floral panels are just decorative. Nonetheless, they bring a sense of balance, color, and pattern to this big and bright space.
In the end, I guess I didn’t really hang curtains any differently than I would have if they were normal, flat windows. But that’s a good thing! At first glance, I genuinely thought I was going to have to buy or make some really unique, custom window treatments just to get something more my style on these windows. And while I certainly could have gone that route, I am so excited I was able to get a clean, tailored, and stylish look using items we (mostly) already had on hand!
If you have unique windows in your home/rental and aren’t sure what to put on them, I hope this post not only gives you some ideas, but also serves as a reminder that (sometimes) solutions aren’t nearly as complicated as we make them out to be!
21 Comments on “Curtain Ideas for Bay Windows (And Other Strange Arrangements)”
Looks like removing their rods would expose the old holes and adding your own would create new ones. How do you deal with that?
Honestly, we ignore them. Yes, I’d love to fill all the holes for a clean, crisp look. But that’s not only more work on the front end but then it makes for MUCH more work when it comes time to hang everything back up. Just like a crooked seam on a pillow or a minuscule gap between wallpaper panels, you don’t really notice the holes during normal, daily living when you aren’t right up on them or looking for them. I’ll take the hardly noticeable holes over the horrible curtains any day 😜
Oh – and the new holes we make for our rods? We just fill them in the same way we’d fill holes from picture frames or furniture that’s attached to the wall.
Have a great weekend!Megan
Really enjoyed the curtain advice. Also loved getting a glimpse of your rooms. So pretty! I loved seeing how you used some of your furniture differently. The butterfly cabinet in your kitchen area and the two garden stools tying in your curtain colors in that room. Thank you
So glad you enjoyed the post, Jayne!
Yes…from home to home, we are constantly having to find new and different homes for things. Which is why (I’m learning that) everything needs to be able to mix-and-match since we have no idea where it will land in the next house!
Hope you have a great week!Megan
Love, love, love this. Thanks for researching and sharing.
You are most welcome! So glad you found it helpful!
Happy to hear from you…hope you’re doing well!
I just love how your tight color palette makes all of your rooms transfer so beautifully from one home to the next, while allowing the furniture to be used in various ways. You’re a magician!
Ha! Thank you so much!
I wish I had figured this concept out sooner. I fear I spent too many years trying to re-invent rooms with each new house. No, I understand if pretty much everything coordinates, the house not only flows so much better but then I can mix-and-match in future homes as needed, Duh!
Hope you have a great week!Megan
I love your style! Clean, classic lines are perfect. I have to laugh though, because my husband would have LOVED the curtains that came with your house. His style is very traditional/formal/stuffy. We had some similar layered and pleated concoctions in our current home when we moved in, and it took me years to convince him they were ugly. Sorry, not ugly…just not the look I was going for 🙂 Also, we ruled out a house because of arched windows in the master bedroom; how on earth do you put black out bedroom shades on an arch??
That’s so funny about your husband! Greg could really care less what I do (thankfully) but I think even those original treatments were a bit…um…stuffy for him!
I hear you on the arched windows thing…I think the only “real” solution would be custom blinds for the arched windows but those (I assume) cost a lot of $$$. Good call on paying attention to that as you were looking for houses!
Hope your week is off to a great start!Megan
Hi! I am so glad I found you! It’s good to know that I am not the only ‘blue’ girl out here. I really love your ideas! Think you’ve solved my upholstery problem. I really like the Sunbrella Luxe Indigo on your chairs. They are beautiful!
Thank you so much for stopping by…and yes…I’ve pretty much learned about myself that navy is not only safe but looks chic and stylish in pretty much every room, every time! Hope my readers don’t get sick of seeing it 😉
I can’t recommend Sunbrella fabric enough. It can be a bit of investment up front, but it pays for itself over time. Our chairs, that we upholstered YEARS ago, still look fantastic. My best tip for buying the fabric is to search eBay. I found fabric much cheaper there than from fabric retailers!
Have a great rest of your week!Megan
Love your ideas forties and curtains. Love all your posts. Thank you.
Great post! But I have a bay window WITH an arch window above the center. I’m torn between hanging a rod above or under the arch. AND if I hang it above the arch, then would I need to move all my rods in the same room closer to the ceiling to make it the same height? Wish I could load a pic. I’m sooooo torn and paralyzed by the choices.
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you – without seeing a picture, my gut would be to hang the rod below the arch, in line with everything else. I personally don’t like the look of the straight rod above the round arch (my eye prefers parallel lines for some reason), but it likely comes down to your personal preference.
I’ve had good luck using painter’s tape to temporarily put a rod up on the wall, just so I can visualize how it all looks. It might be worth the time so you can see how it would all look once installed!
Hope that helps!Megan
Nicely done! I liked the variety of ideas for unusual windows!
What would you do for a square bay window that doesnt have the wall above the window to put the curtains all the way across the top? Like our walls go in with the square bump out for the window. and our walls aren’t even, so I’d love to use the curtains to hide a bit of that! I don’t know what to do
I’m having a bit of a hard time envisioning your window situation. Feel free to shoot me a quick picture and I’ll try to send along some ideas!
I loved loved these ideas, where do you get you your floral panel fabric from?
I found something similar, very tropical at
Sorry for the late reply.
THis fabric was purchased years ago at Hancock Fabrics (not even sure those stores still exist!). Last time I checked, it was no longer available.
Sorry I don’t have more useful information here!
Why black curtain rods?