If you are confused about the different types of top treatments used on windows, you aren’t alone. While there are numerous styles of top treatments, they can be grouped into two main types: Valances and Cornices. Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the two window treatments are made differently.
A Valance is a relatively short window treatment (as compared to a curtain or drapery panel), hung at the top of the window. It is either installed with a curtain or a drapery rod, or stapled to a wood board and installed to the wall with brackets. The bottom of a Valance hangs loose from the board or rod, giving it a soft appearance. Valances can be pleated, shirred, flat, ruffled or trimmed with beads; there are hundreds of options.
A Cornice, on the other hand, is a hard top treatment, often created by upholstering a shaped board. The fabric on a cornice is pulled taut, and not allowed to hang loose at the bottom of the treatment. Cornices can be made in any shape and size; many are created with two or more fabrics and some have a contrasting welt trim. Some cornices are not upholstered; instead, they are made completely of wood. Wood cornices generally feature various applied trims, crown molding and other decorative details.
Now you know!