Valance ideas for kitchens – 11 decorative looks that appeal to both modern and country spaces

Valance ideas for kitchens are back – we share our favorite ways to channel this relaxed vintage look

Valance ideas for kitchens
(Image credit: deVOL / Future / Salvesen Graham)

Valance ideas for kitchens are a wonderful way to bring color, pattern and personality into hardworking practical spaces. 

Kitchens are spaces where we spend huge amounts of time, so it's important that they reflect our personality and be spaces we love to spend time in – adding a fabric curtain is an easy and inexpensive way to inject unique style into your kitchen ideas, and with so many fabric designs to choose from there's something for all tastes.

This quest for individuality in our homes may in part explain why we're seeing this kitchen curtain idea making a real comeback. While they may not be for the minimalist, we're seeing them pop up more and more in our featured homes and interior design projects. While they are traditionally used over the tops of curtains to screen curtain fittings, today we're seeing them being increasingly used under kitchen cabinets and as a decorative trim for seating, too.

If you're considering embracing the frills in your kitchen then we've rounded up an array of valance ideas for kitchens to get you inspired.

Valance ideas for kitchens

Many valance ideas for kitchens bring to mind pretty country kitchen ideas and they are often a key feature of French country kitchen ideas. If you're looking to conjure this look then you can't go wrong with faded floral, ticking or gingham fabric, but they needn't be confined to this look.

As well as being a decorative kitchen idea to frame your windows, valances can have a practical purpose, too. If you have a large kitchen, valances can help bring softness and a welcoming feel, plus, introducing fabric elements into a kitchen can help to muffle sound and prevent the room from being echoey – perfect if you're looking for cozy kitchen ideas

When used under cabinets they are a great way to conceal electrical appliances like fridges, and dishwashers, plus, can help keep pans and crockery stored on open shelving dust-free.

1. Keep the space bright with floaty fabric

fabric blind in a white kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Kitchen windows can look stark and unfinished without some kind of window treatment, but hanging thick curtains or blinds can sometimes block out too much light. Adding kitchen valance in a thin cotton or voile fabric to the top half of the window is a great way to add softness and interest to the frame and screen harsh midday sun while maintaining a bright and airy feel throughout the space. 

2. Bring a decorative touch with a lace valance

deVOL's shaker kitchen in a showroom

(Image credit: deVOL)

For a playful vintage kitchen idea why not put a twist on the traditional net curtain and add a lace valance to the top of a simple window blind? Here a lace trim picked up from a flea market brings a touch of quirky pattern to deVOL's (opens in new tab) shaker kitchen design. Brass fittings and wall lights add to the vintage feel.

3. Create a relaxed country look with a cabinet valance

country kitchen ideas

(Image credit: British Standard)

For Lisa Mehydene, founder of edit58 (opens in new tab), combining country kitchen curtain ideas alongside her British Standard (opens in new tab) cabinetry was the perfect way to create a lived-in and laid-back look.  

'My style is traditional with an eclectic twist,' shares Mehydene. 'I like to add a ruffle or an interesting detail to spaces so they feel very much our own. 

'I love textiles and have used these to add a unique feel. I definitely had always longed for fabric skirts in my country kitchen, so I was thrilled when we found this property and knew they would work well in the overall design. 

'I just find they help achieve the “always been there” look I was keen to create.'

4. Create a playful atmosphere with a bold print

Molly Mahon kitchen with sink valance

(Image credit: Molly Mahon)

Instead of having closed cabinetry, fabric designer Molly Mahon opted for an open kitchen sink idea and added fabric valance on cords in a vibrant pink to create a joyful contrast to the blue frames. 

'I use fabrics throughout the home to make it feel cheerful and warm and the kitchen is no exception,' says Molly Mahon (opens in new tab). 'Our navy cabinets have my block-printed handmade skirts, why my blind fabric is in my 'Rose' fabric, a daily reminder of my visits to Jaipur and the fabric designs they have inspired.'

5. Bring personality to a small kitchen

Small kitchen with orange sink skirt by Vanessa Arbuthnott

(Image credit: Vanessa Arbuthnott)

Adding a fabric valance alongside kitchen cabinets can be a great way to inject color into small kitchens, as often there's little wall space to hang artwork, and painting the walls in a bold color can be too dominating. 

In this tiny galley kitchen, the walls have been kept white to maintain a light, airy feel while the zesty orange valance and Roman blinds from Vanessa Arbuthnott (opens in new tab) bring life to the otherwise neutral space.

6. Create a cozy corner with a window valance

deVOL dining area with kitchen window valance

(Image credit: deVOL)

Valance ideas don't have to be on the tops of windows or under countertops – they can also be used across the window to create a cozy cottage kitchen feel.

'A cottage always needs some extra special textiles too, so hanging some crisp white French linen up at the windows and throwing a vintage liberty tablecloth on the table for special occasions will set the scene perfectly,' says Helen Parker, deVOL's (opens in new tab) creative director.

Above, the French cafe-style curtain in floaty linen helps create a cozy, cocooning feel to this dining area but also brings privacy without sacrificing light which is important in cottages where daylight is often at a premium.

7. Create a smart look with monochrome

kitchen island with gingham fabric skirt

(Image credit: Future)

Valance ideas for kitchens are a characteristic feature of French country decor, but they can also look great in smarter, contemporary settings, as demonstrated in this stylish black and white kitchen. Here a fabric skirt in a monochrome check has been used along the entire kitchen island for a modern twist on the traditional country look. 

8. Bring a playful touch to a pantry

Yellow kitchen

(Image credit: Salvesen Graham)

If you love bold colors and fun decorating ideas but are cautious of using them in the main kitchen area then an adjoining pantry can make a great space to do so. As a transient space, a pantry is a perfect room for being a bit more experimental with decor. Here Salvesen Graham created a head-turning space by decorating with yellow on all surfaces and added a homespun charm with a handmade fabric skirt from vintage fabric.

'The skirt was fashioned from a repurposed bed hanging, sewn together with the house tea towel. A novel way to incorporate the history of the house into something new and decorative,' says Mary Graham and Nicole Salvesen, co-founders of Salvesen Graham (opens in new tab).

9. Conceal clutter in a utility room

Utility room with pulley dryer and sink curtains

(Image credit: Vanrenen GW Designs)

Laundry rooms can often feel cold and clinical with their hard, practical floors and surfaces. Instead of traditional fitted cabinets with doors, here, Vanrenen GW Designs have used a fabric skirt to give the room a softer, more relaxed feel.

'Utility rooms are often smaller rooms so it is fun to make a feature of them and celebrate them with contrasting woodwork and sometimes even wallpaper or a pretty curtain, to make these rooms that are otherwise ugly and full of messy clothes, into rooms that are lovely to work in,' says Sarah Vanrenen of Vanrenen GW Designs.

'This utility room doubled up as a flower room and we decided not to dress the window as we’d used the hessian curtains under the worktops and felt the blue window frame really stood out.' 

10. Use a valance to disguise appliances

Country-style laundry room with a sink skirt and wicker baskets

(Image credit: Jeremy Philips)

Adding a fabric curtain is an easy way to keep white goods out of site in a utility space and is often cheaper than having integrated utilities fitted. For a classic country feel you can't go wrong with a timeless stripe.

11. Use a fabric valance to soften bold cabinetry

Annie Sloan yellow kitchen with green cabinets and painted tile floor

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

While a valance idea for a kitchen is commonly used to bring color, it can also be used to do the reverse and dial-down color, too. Here a simple ticking fabric valance helps break up the large expanse of dark green cabinetry helping prevent the scheme from being too dominating yet it also compliments the retro feel of the space.

12. Double up

Small kitchen with blue and white striped curtains used on the windows and cupboard, blue painted ceiling trim, yellow painted paneled walls, woven baskets hanging from ceiling

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

If you're a fan of the retro look why not go for full-on chintz and use the same print over kitchen window curtains and cabinet curtain? You could even push the kitsch look one step further by adding a traditional pelmet or valance as done here by House of Hackney. 

Is a valance old fashioned?

Popular in the 1980s, valances used over the tops of windows fell out of favor for many years, however today we are beginning to see interior designers embrace them as a way to bring quirky vintage charm and a traditional country feel to design projects. While traditionally they were used to conceal messy curtain fittings, today these decorative strips of drapery are being revived and are increasingly being used under cabinets or as sink skirts to bring quirky color and pattern to everyday practical spaces like kitchens and even bathrooms.

'To give valance a contemporary feel avoid fusty florals and instead opt for timeless stripes or try a vibrant color for a modern twist,' suggests Jen Ebert, digital editor at Homes & Gardens.

Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.