Dormer windows and drapes

Of all the inset window situations you come across, dormer windows are often viewed as the most problematic.

Some of the solutions can be applied to any inset window, where there is a deep recess. There's one piece of advice I'd give to anyone making drapes for an inset or dormer window - Keep It Simple!


Drapes for inset windows

Although most drapes will benefit from having interlining, this is one instance where it's often better to just line the drapes.

Because the drapes have to take up as little space as possible when they are pulled back to the sides, every bit of unnecessary fabric should be removed. This also means that you should not use a fabric which is thick.

Use the least possible number of hooks in your heading. Too many hooks will prevent the drapes from pulling back to the sides as much as they might otherwise do.


The windows in these situations usually open outwards and have handles on them. These handles often project a few inches into the room, so make sure they don't interfere with the drapes when they are pulled together.

There's also precious little space, both for drapery to hang and for the fittings. So careful measurements are vital.

dormer window


Here's the simplest solution, a pair of drapes supported by a single track fitted as high as possible. In order to allow maximum light into the room the drapes are tied back.

tied back drapes inset


Another way to use a track is to bend it as shown. This can be done with a number of popular tracks, but sometimes needs a bit of skill to get the bends correct.

Make sure the bends are functional, and the drapes are able to easily glide round the bends so they hang against the sides when they are opened.

One option with tracks is to have them the same color as the frames so they don't stand out. Or you could cover them in the same fabric as the drapes. This gives a bit of individuality to the scheme.

rail inset


Here the drapes are shown hanging from the bent track. Notice that the drapery headings are made deep enough so as to cover the track.

drapes in dormer window


Dormer swing rods are another option, and are a very practical solution. The rods can be moved as shown. The drapery uses a slot heading into which the rods are inserted.

drapery rods


Here the drapes are shown in position.

If you don't want to see the lining when the rods are moved against the sides, you could use the drape fabric as a lining, or a colored lining to match.

Drapes on swing rods


Alternative treatments

If you're having problems coming up with suitable drapery designs for your dormer window, there are some very good alternatives.

  • Roman shades. These are a very practical and easy way to use a fabric to dress your window.
  • Roller shade. While not as attractive as Roman shades, they offer a good solution.
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