Valance window treatments come in a range of styles and shapes. Some window valances are made out of fabric, while others are a wooden board hung over the top portion of the window. A valance may be simply a strip of fabric that covers the top sixth of the window, or it can be a piece of fabric that is draped elegantly over a pole across the top of the window, known as a swag. Balloon valances are stuffed to make them puff out slightly.
The most basic valance window treatment is an unlined valance. The valance can be made of pretty much any type of fabric, from a lightweight cotton to a heavy velvet. It can hang across the window by itself or be paired with a longer pair of curtains. In some cases, the valance can be attached to the curtains and sold together.
More decorative valance window treatments include balloon valances. A balloon valance is a tube of fabric that a person stuffs with tissue paper or newspaper to make it stand out and have shape. The treatment can be used by itself or with a set of a cafe curtains. It works best on smaller sized windows.
Other decorative valance window treatments include scarf valances. A scarf valance is simply a pleated piece of fabric that is hung above the window so that it drapes down and covers the top portion of the window. The scarf is held in place by sconces or hooks on the upper corners of the window. It usually has two tails that fall down either side.
A swag treatment is similar to a scarf valance, but is draped along a pole across the top of the window. Swags are more formal-looking valance window treatments. They usually have jabots, long tails that fall down the sides of the window, on either side.
Cornices, pelmets, and lambrequins are styles of valance window treatments that are made out of a wood board. The board is usually covered in fabric, but doesn't have to be. Cornices and pelmets are usually box shaped and cover only the top portion of the window. The bottom of the box can be flat or have a decorative scalloped edge. Depending on the formality of the window treatment, it may be very cushioned or hard. A lambrequin extends down the sides of the window as well and is suitable for smaller sized windows.