Design Inspo

How To Style Arched Windows: Examples and Photos

Arched windows are universally loved for good reason. Let’s look at a range of window treatments to find a look that’s right for you.

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Le Corbusier once said, “That I exist in life only on condition that I see,” about the importance of windows as functional ways of lighting our spaces and proffering views of the world around us. No one would disagree that arch windows, sometimes called radius windows, are a fantastic way to let in extra sunlight while adding curb appeal to your home.

Even so, homeowners, renters, and design enthusiasts aren’t always sure how to style arched windows to fit their living room home decor. Should you follow the modernist architects who shunned obvious adornment or take a cue from Victorian-era layering? There’s a perfect look for your arched windows that enhances their functionality while creating the focal point you’re dreaming of. We’re here to share it.

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Leave the Arch Top Uncovered Over Doorways

An obvious window covering solution for that transom window over your patio doors is to simply leave it uncovered. Such windows are set high enough to not interfere with your privacy and, in spots like an entryway, give more light while still having the solidity of a front door for seclusion. Win-win.

Covering your French door with custom top and bottom pocket rod drapes while leaving the arched window uncovered can give more natural light while providing a semi-sheer barrier in the gauzy fabric.

Install Cafe Curtains or Roman Shades for Privacy

You don’t always need to cover all of an interior window, even the ones that require some nod to privacy. A curtain or shade over just the areas that need shielding is all you need.

Set Cafe Curtains at the Height You Prefer

Cafe curtains are another option for covering parts of the window to provide some privacy or give the room a break from the harsh evening sunlight that streams in the kitchen.

Installing the rod beneath the bottom of the arch makes sense and follows the lines of your window, but you may want to hang your curtains even lower to let in even more light. In the same way, hanging them a bit above the arch due to necessity may feel counterintuitive but can give you the benefit of some of the arch’s transparency while concealing more of the room.

Add Texture With Balloon Shades

A balloon shade is a custom look that adds volume to your window treatment while not feeling as stuffy as full-length curtains. Balloon shades, with their curves and folds, can up texture and visual interest. Make it a simple, filmy white fabric for a pared-down modern take on a sometimes elaborate curtain design.

Custom Curved Curtain Rods

If you want to go custom with your window treatment, install curved curtain rods to the wall above the window frame, following the curves of the arched top of your window. Their special rings grip tight so that they won’t slide down the rod too easily. An elliptical-shaped arch is a better choice for this curtain style because the curves are not as extreme as the half circle.

The hardware and iron rod highlight the curved shape of the window, while the long lines of linen panels hanging from rings and puddling on the floor give your room a luxe voluptuousness.

Swag Curtains for a Hint of Custom Drapery

Don’t let the swag styles of the 80s turn you off from the idea of swag or valance curtains. (Unless you are embracing 80s revival, and then dive right in!) Swag-style curtains are an excellent way to give a hint of window dressing to a space.

Scarf Swag

A swag is a perfect opportunity to try vibrant patterns or colors because it will be in such a small, safe dose. Unleash your inner grand millennial with a blue and white toile patterned swag over the arch (suspended by tiebacks) or slightly beneath the arched pane on a ro.

Use a Valance

Feeling like swags may be a little too extra? A valance is a more structured window topper that can hang straight with little draping or folding. Even a lace valance can have strong lines and geometry with light shining through it. Try a Madras lace valance in your craftsman-era window casings for a soft touch with a linear appeal.

Shades That Fit Inside the Casement

Another way to partially cover a window is to invest in traditional window shades cut to fit your window casing in less-than-traditional fabrics and patterns. Try a Roman shade in a fresh pastel plaid fabric with contrasting fringe trim and pull or a linen roll-up shade for a simple neutral window covering that can take your windows from a traditional style to a minimalist look.

Keep in mind that your shades will be custom-cut to fit the curved top of your arches and can only be raised to the bottom of that arch (rather than rolling all the way up as with a rectangular window frame) so that it may not be the best choice for letting in as much light as possible.

Take Your Window Treatments Sky-High

Rather than hanging curtains over the lower part of your large arched window, consider hanging them well above it. Hanging your curtains high above the window, even up to the ceiling, to create a sense of height is a trick designers use all of the time.

Hanging your curtains to cover more space to the side of your arched window also helps your room look larger when they are open or closed. Let your panels at least kiss the floor or have them puddle for an air of romance.

If you're feeling hesitant about doing anything too dramatic with your windows, create a mock-up of your space with Spoak’s room visualization tool to gain some confidence before you source your drapes.

Leave Them Uncovered for a Modern Look

It’s common in new construction to have windows without any framing that lends itself to a very modern look. If your window view is out on a private piece of property (or maybe in the middle of nowhere like Le Corbusier’s builds), you can get away with no window treatments at all.

Showcase Classic-Style Architectural Details

Windows take on a certain extra grace with classic-style grilles or mullions. Decorating them further is unnecessary, as the light dancing through those sectioned panes is doing all of the work for you. If the window is stained glass, then you have even more incentive to leave it unadorned. Stained glass can belong in minimalist pads just as much as a quaint historical cottage — let it shine unthreatened by competing decor.

Fake the Traditional Look of Mullions

Why not follow a tutorial and create this architectural window design detail with DIY mullions for a nod to this traditional look? It’s a clever way to accentuate the curves and lines of your window without using any fabric at all.

Paint Your White Arched Window Grid Black

When you already have a grid over your window panes but want the industrial look of black metal, consider painting the window trim black for instant industrial or modern farmhouse vibes.

Install Custom Shutters

Believe it or not, shutters were the OG window treatment, dating back to thin marble louvers in ancient Greece, and are still a popular option today for adding structure to a window. Install custom bi-fold shutters that have the feeling of traditional permanence to frame the bottom portion of your window, and top them off with surprising sunburst shutters over the arched top.


Find the Right Arched Window Dressing for Your Home Design

After looking over these window coverings that allow you to mix traditional elements with modern fabrics or hardware, you are probably starting to see past the seeming limitations of the arch window. Go big, go bold, or anywhere in between — your home is your refuge and your personal design style living out loud all in one.

Photo Credit: (Left) Paper n Stitch Blog

Sources:

Design of Windows as an External Building Feature | Scientific and Academic Publishing

A Designer's Guide to Lace Curtains | Old House Journal

Shutters | Lewiston Sun Journal

10 Old Homes Where Stained-Glass Windows Steal the Show | Bob Vila

How to Add Mullions to a Glass Door to Create a French Door | SF Gate

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Date Posted
May 10, 2023
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