Tutorial: How to Make a Fab Window Valance
Hey all! So many of you asked for the DIY tutorial for the valances I created for Teddy’s Big Girl Room, that I’ve finally put one together. Ok, so it took me like six months to get around to it, but a new baby will really steal time like that, you know? This was such a fun and fairly simple project that made a HUGE impact on the room. My suggestion: read the whole tutorial first, before you start. I probably made it sound more complicated than it is, but I didn’t want to leave anyone hanging. I’d say the first valance took me about an hour, and the third one took me about 20 minutes. You do not have to be super crafty to pull this together. Hope the pictures help, and don’t hesitate to shoot me a note with any questions. Good luck!
4’ x 8’ sheet of ¾” insulation Styrofoam (at Lowe’s it is blue...I made all three valances out of one sheet)
Fabric (I used about a yard per valance*)
Batting (same amount as your fabric)
Pack of 2 ½” x 5/8” corner braces brackets (4 per valance; typically sold in a pack of 4)
Medium screws (4 per valance)
Washers (4 per valance)
Long wall screws (appropriate to your wall type; 2 per valance)
Wood (thin but sturdy piece like a 1” x 2”, cut to length)
Wood (thicker like a 2” x 4”, cut to length)
Saw (or ask the hardware store to make cuts for you!)
*When choosing your fabric for this project, make sure you consider the width of your valance (see step 1 below). You’ll want to make sure the width of your fabric is enough to cover the front + 2 sides of your valance, with a little leftover to tuck behind.
Step 1: Measure the width of your window casing. On your insulation foam board, draw the desired shape of your valance with a marker. The width of your shape should be 2” wider than the casing (to account for the sides you’re eventually going to add to this piece). Regarding height, make sure that even the shortest section is big enough to cover the header of your roman shade (or curtains, blinds, etc.**). Presumably, you’ll want your valance to add some height to the room as well – as such, I would suggest coming up to just a few inches below your molding/ceiling. If you’re not confident in size/shape, you may want to play with this step on paper or cardboard (before cutting your foam board), and hold it up to your window. Below is what I drew out for my 42" window (that's measuring outside trim to outside trim).
**Be sure to have any underlying window treatments installed before you create your valance so that you get the depth accurate. I used roman shades with an outside mount, but you could put this over any kind of window treatment, including curtains.
Step 2: On your foam, draw out the two side pieces for your valance. These should be the same height as the edges of your front piece (mine are 16.5”), and the width should allow you enough depth to operate your roman shade (or any kind of underlying window treatment) without any space issues. My side pieces are 4” wide.
Step 3: Place the foam on a safe surface for cutting (I actually put it on the floor and moved my kitchen cutting board around underneath as needed) and cut out your shapes with a razor.
Step 4: Using a screwdriver, attach the sides to the front piece with four corner braces. When placing the brace, make sure it is a few inches down from the top edge (see picture) so that you have room to eventually add another supporting piece across the top. Do this step slowly, and be SUPER careful not to push in the screw as you turn it; the foam is delicate and you risk punching in a useless hole that your screw won’t stay in. Do not over-tighten either.
Step 5: Cut a light but sturdy piece of wood (I used scrap 1” x 2”) the length of the valance between the two side pieces (see picture as reference). In theory, this should be the same length as your front piece, but measure to be sure, as any variations in your cutting, etc. may have altered this slightly.
Step 6: Pre-drill two holes in each end of your newly cut wood crossbar. (Do NOT drill into the foam board). With your foam board lying face down, place the wood in between the two side pieces, lining it up with the top back so that if you were to stand the valance up, the wood would be flush against the wall with the broad side down (see picture). You may want to grab something to help you hold it in place – I used a little play pot from my daughter’s kitchen set which happened to be exactly the right height, and I’d probably tripped on it one minute earlier.
Step 7: Using either screws + washers or screws with large, flat, heads, gently secure the wood piece to the foam, again making sure it is completely flush against the top back edge of the valance, with the broad side down. Be sure to do this by hand with your screwdriver as a drill is too rough for the foam board. The large head/washer is to keep the screw from popping straight through the foam.
Step 8: (Optional) If the fabric you plan to use is relatively thin (mine was), you may want to paint the foam board at this point to avoid any possibility of blue shining through. I’ll be honest, I did not have great luck getting paint to stick to this stuff. That being said, I didn’t put a lot of time into this step as I felt like even just a little white paint was good enough to block the blue (keep in mind you’ll also have a layer of batting between this and the valance).
Step 9: Once your paint is dry, lay your valance face down on top of your batting. Once you’re sure that the front is nice and flat, start wrapping it around the edges and stapling it in the back, being sure not to cover that wooden crossbar. If there’s any level of intricacy to your valance shape, this is going to require a little creative cutting to ensure all of your edges are completely covered with batting. The good news: batting stretches pretty well, so you have some room for error. The bad news: you’re eventually going to have to do this exact move with your fabric, which does not have room for error, so use this step as your practice round to make sure you know how you want to cut. Use the spray adhesive to secure down any loose flaps. Note: I would not suggest using spray adhesive on top of your kitchen counters (like I did), it took me some time to scrub up all the random tacky patches I accidentally created. ;)
Step 10: Lay out your fabric, face down. If you’re fabric has a pattern, put some thought into what image you want where. For example, with my bunnies, I wanted some good faces right in the middle. I also wanted each valance to look slightly different, so I varied which bunnies were prominent. You may conversely want all of your valances to look the same, so consider this placement before you do any cutting. Now place your valance on top of the fabric, face down, and triple check that you like the placement (is it level?). Start wrapping and stapling just like you did with your batting. As you go along, make sure your fabric is taut across the front, but not so tight that it looks strained or distorted.
If you are doing a stair-step design like mine (or have any kind of “inside” corner), this is my suggestion: take a little piece of scrap fabric, and spray adhesive it onto that edge profile (see picture). Then, cut the fabric you are wrapping at a diagonal into the corner, but not quite all the way. When you lift the pieces to wrap them (tucking any raw edges underneath), that little extra piece you added should cover the tiny gap between your two folds. This may look sketchy up close, but once these are up on the wall, you’ll never see this.
On the backside, you want your fabric to cover up at least a few inches, so that on the odd chance someone stood literally underneath your valance, they wouldn’t see blue foam. Had I had extra fabric, I might have completely wrapped them just for kicks, but really, no one is going to see this.
Step 11: wAt this point, when you flip your valance over (carefully, remember this foam is fairly delicate), your valance should look complete. Now onto install. For this step I used some scrap 2 x 4 wood. There’s no real precision here in terms of length, I used what I had on hand, which were about 12” long pieces. If you have drywall, I would make sure your piece is long enough to allow you to place your screws into studs. This piece of wood is basically going to create a “shelf” on which you’re going to place that wooden crossbar of your valance, so where you place this piece on the wall will depend on where you want the final piece to rest. Practice holding your valance up to get the height right, and then, after making sure your wood is level, mark the placement on the wall with a pencil. Pre-drill two holes into the broad side of your wood, and then using screws appropriate for your wall type, secure the wood to your wall.
Step 12: Place Velcro tape across the top of the piece you just screwed to the wall, and across the bottom of your valance’s crossbar. I like the Velcro approach because in the future your valances will be relatively easy to take down and/or even switch out the fabric. Now, ensuring it is centered, place the valance on top of the wood wall piece, and voila! Your fabulous new window treatment is hung!
How did yours turn out? Anyone do theirs over curtains? Such a fabulous look, and what I would have done if not for that radiator in the way! We'd love to see this tutorial in action. Tag an insta post of your valance with @kobelandco and #kobelmakes - I'd love to check it out!