Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bay Bliss: Seven Design Compositions to Make the Most of Your Bay Window

By: Jay Harris

Decorating around windows and doors can be tricky, as these structural elements usually limit a room's layout, dictate the type and amount of lighting installed, and form a connection to the landscape beyond.
And when the feature itself makes a strong statement, such as a bold bay window, making the most of it becomes even more of a design challenge. However, with challenge comes possibility, and bay windows certainly provide plenty. 
image via Pinterest

  With a bit of smart dressing and careful arrangement, these architectural darlings can raise the sash on a space's personality through both form and function.
Below, I draw back the curtain on seven attractive bay window compositions that will capture the character you desire with the utility you need. I've included ideas on how to beautifully dress the window, along with inspirations for taking advantage of the intimate space they provide -- mix and match these suggestions to fit your own home.
image via

Space: Dining room 
Feel: Dramatic 
Treatment: Install a curtain rod made specifically for a bay window about six inches below the ceiling. These drapery systems, which usually include telescoping rods and flexible or hinged corner connectors, can be found at your local hardware store or ordered through a window treatment designer. Hang floor-to-ceiling silk drapes in a saturated color at the intersection of each window unit, as well as on either side of the bay. 
Design: Nestle a round dining table into the bay, if space allows, or situate a long rectangular table just beyond the window and include a focal point such as an elegant sculpture or tall plant within the bay. At night, the darkened windows will play against the deep hues of your drapes to form an impressive backdrop.

A wonderful custom built in bench with side bookcases and storage underneath the seat.  Recessed spot lights above, rectangular picture frame molding and lots of pillows give this bay window a sophisticated and inviting feel.  (image via

Flanking the bay window with swing arm lamps or  sconces on end gives the space a warm and inviting ambiance perfect for evening entertaining or a quiet night of reading. image via Houzz

Space: Living room 
Feel: Cozy 
Treatment: Built-in bookshelves on either side of the bay or an adjacent ceiling arch sets the space apart from the remainder of the room and creates an alcove for a hideaway feel. Opt for a straightforward treatment such as a box valance, or simply go naked. 
Design: Tuck a small sofa in the bay, or if floor space is at a premium, construct a built-in bench. Dress the seating area with loads of pillows and cushions, then situate an upholstered ottoman in front. This can serve as a place to kick up your feet, as well as a coffee table when outfitted with a tray.

S.F. Designer Jay Jeffers designed this gorgeous nursery with it's organic hues.   The box pleated valance and drapes in a fun abstract pattern frame the bay window and seating area beautifully without obstructing the light. (image via Jeffers Design Group)

Space: Child's bedroom/playroom 
Feel: Cheerful 
Treatment: Got a bright wall color? Play up the architectural details of your bay window by dressing the window with crisp white trim. Hang inside-mount flat Roman shades in a fun fabric for a whimsical look. 
Design: Kids love nooks, so install a built-in bench with lots of cushions. Bonus storage space can be gained with a hinged lid or cubbies below.

image via

Space: Office 
Feel: Masculine 
Treatment: Plantation shutters lend a sophisticated aesthetic to a traditional workspace, while also allowing flexibility in airflow and lighting by way of louvers. 
Design: Tuck a small desk into the bay with the chair facing the window. This permits you to get to work with the shutters closed to block any glares, or if your schedule allows for a bit of daydreaming behind the desk, to open the shutters and visually escape to the landscape beyond.

image via

Space: Master bedroom 
Feel: Romantic 
Dress: Light-filtering curtains that cover the entire window can be mounted on the aforementioned bay window drapery rod system for privacy. These sheers also allow sunlight to trickle in for a gentle morning wake-up. 
Install: Tuck the head of your mattress into the bay and the window becomes a stand-in for a headboard. A long, thin table nestled between the window and bed provides space for a table lamp, alarm clock, reading material, and other nighttime necessities.

image via

Space: Kitchen 
Feel: Relaxed 
Dress: Simple fabric roller shades are ideal for adding a pop of color to the room while also allowing in plenty of natural light to warm the space. They're available in a variety of waterproof and stain-resistant fabrics to hold up in the kitchen. 
Install: A cushioned banquette built into the wall below the window creates a welcoming dining nook that nicely hugs a curved table. Opt for an elliptical table to emphasize the shape of the bay window. Have a box bay? Select a rectangular table instead.

Space: Family room 
Feel: Organic 
Dress: If you're growing plans for an interior garden, you won't want to block the outside light from pouring in. But natural wood shades kept in the open position can offer visual interest and tie in with the exterior view. 
Install: Provided it isn't shaded by eves, a south-facing bay window boasts sunlight from the east, south, and west, making it a prime space for windowsill container garden. Try herbs or succulents for textural variety.

Do you have a bay window that you've designed the room around in your home?

Jay Harris is a Home Depot "on the floor" sales associate and a regular contributor to Home Depot's blog. His interests include providing household tips on exterior shutters and casement windows.

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