SOLUTION: The success of a bay window treatment is in its proportion, scale, balance and aesthetic appeal, which includes the proper selection and use of color.
Usually, a bay window appears as a set of three individual windows. Often, the two on either side are casement or double-hung windows and can be opened. It is a good idea to know whether your client plans to open these windows and whether she needs a fully operational window covering.
In treating this type of window, there is no margin for error. A bay window usually is a focal point of a room and located in an area that cannot go unnoticed, so your decorating choices are crucial.
You have not mentioned how large or small this window is and in what room it is located. Depending on the room, or how it is used, a window seat sometimes can be included in your design plans for this window style.
Assuming this bay window is located in either a kitchen, living room, family room or bedroom, a few things to consider before making decisions on fabric and the style of the window treatment are:
1. Access to the window treatment.
2. Durability of the fabric.
3. Ease of operation.
4. Styles to consider that would blend with other furnishings and styles already existing in the room.
5. Existing wall treatments.
6. Should this treatment blend in with the room's other furnishings?
7. Is privacy a factor?
8. Energy efficiency.
9. Color preferences.
10. Budget considerations.
If the tab-top curtain treatment is to be mounted outside the casing of the window, you should measure from a point outside the casing where you would like the treatment to begin. If there are no obstructions on either side of the bay window, two to three inches would be a sufficient distance to start the width measurement.
You then would need to decide if the treatment is to appear as if it is one treatment across all three windows. If so, a few suppliers offer bendable rods that can be installed all the way across. Or your installer might choose to butt up three rods side-by-side to present the appearance of one rod. This decision, however, depends on the measurement between each window and whether there's enough room for all the mounting brackets needed.
Your next decision would be to decide the length of the tab portion of the window treatment. This length depends on the depth of the window itself and the sense of proportion provided by your choice of decorative rod to the total length of the window treatment.
Decoratively speaking, there are many creative ways to design a treatment for this type of window. For example, the tabs could be made using a solid fabric with a floral fabric used for the drapery panels. Another suggestion would be to find two similarly textured fabrics and alternate the colors of the tabs.
I recently came across photographs of tab-top draperies in which each individual tab was designed to tie onto the decorative rod. These tie tabs were sewn individually to the top portion of the drapery panel.
If your client approves the idea of a window seat, the seat portion of the bay window should coordinate with the fabric used in the treatment. Your design will pull the entire area together by repeating the fabric on the drapery panels for the seat cushion or by selecting a solid fabric that pulls a color from the window treatment. Either fabric selection also can be used to make accent pillows for the window seat.
Keep in mind scale, balance, proportion and color choices and you will have a successful tab-top treatment for your bay window.
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience as a professional interior designer in both commercial and residential design. She has taught at numerous colleges throughout California and currently is an educator at Moorpark college in southern California. She is a published author and frequent public speaker.