Designing drapes for arched windows

Arch windows can be attractive, and drapes for arched windows can enhance them. Others might not look so good, and in this case you'll want to use the treatment to hide the unattractive parts.

Whatever your arch window may look like, there are many ways of designing great drapery treatments for it.

Make a list of practical requirements

As with most windows, you should decide on any practical features you want to keep or conceal. For example:

  • Is it vital the window is kept uncovered to let in daylight? If so, this will influence your design.
  • What sort of treatment are you looking to design, simple or elaborate?
  • Do you want to leave an attractive frame uncovered?
  • Do you want to emphasize the shape of the arch, or disguise it?

Once you have a clear idea of what you're trying to achieve, it's easy to dismiss the more unsuitable solutions. From what's left, work towards the ideal design for your window.

Drapes for arched windows

Here are some ideas for you to consider.

An Arched Window

arch window

Arch windows come in many shapes and sizes.

We'll use this illustration to show how you can use a number of design options. These ideas can then be adapted for your situation.

Marking Spaces

arch spaces

Whatever type of window you're dealing with, it's always a good idea to sketch it out to scale. You can then mark out the space available for the drapes and fitting.

The rectangles on either side of the window show the estimated stackback space (the space which will be taken up by the drapes when they are pulled back to either side).

Once you know the stackback space, you can work out the length of the support for the drapes.

Here I've shown the position for a pole or track. If you decide to use a cornice, valance or swags you can determine the position in which to fit the mounting board by sketching out your designs.

Use a Pole

pole over arch

Once you've worked out the position for your track it can be fitted. You'll then be able to take the exact measurements for your drapery.

Here I've shown a pole fixed in position. Whenever I've had a pole, track or mounting board fitted for clients, they'll often comment on the length.

"Isn't it too big?" they ask. "Do you need all that space on either side?"

By sketching out your designs first, you won't make the mistake of allowing too little space when making drapes for arched windows.

Pole with Drapes

pole with drapes

Now you can see the result with the drapes in position. They are able to hang naturally, without being squeezed into position to clear the window.


cornice over arch

When using a cornice as part of your drapes for arched windows design, try to follow the curve of the arch.

In this illustration the curve follows the arch quite closely. In some situations you may not be able to do this as accurately, but as long as the overall look is in keeping with the general shape it will look good.

The upper sections of arched windows are often very attractive, and this method allows you to have a nice treatment without hiding the window.

However, if you don't like the upper section, you can always use the cornice to conceal it.


valance arch

Everything in the previous section on cornices applies to valances when used with drapes for arched windows.

Because valances have a much softer look than cornices they can provide a more gentle effect, while still allowing you to show the arch.

Tied Back Drapes

tied back drapes arch

Another option is to have the drapes fixed in position, with the heading made to fit the line of the arch.

This is a more theatrical effect, and is great for windows where you want a design which is a bit different.

If you want the drapes to close, then you can just remove the tie backs. But remember that depending on the fabric used you'll get creases where the tied backs have held back the drapes.


Once you have decided on the design for your drapes for arched windows, the making up methods are exactly the same as for standard drapes.

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