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A living room features flat roman shades and tailored pleat drapery made of linen sheers in oatmeal as bay window curtains
December 11, 2023

Bay Window Curtains: Solutions & Inspiration

Bay windows are beautiful architectural elements designed to let more natural light into a room and provide a more panoramic view to the outdoors. Some also feature a sitting area that can be made more comfortable with throw pillows and blankets. Yet, as attractive as these windows are, there likely comes a time when you need a bit of privacy and light control, you want to spruce up the look of your space, or both. Bay window curtains are a great solution, as they provide privacy, block light, and can elevate the look of your window.

Before diving into ideas and best practices for bay window curtains, it’s important to first make sure you understand what a bay window is, especially in comparison with a bow window.  

What Is the Difference Between a Bay & Bow Window?

Bay and bow windows both serve similar functions: They allow a panoramic view of the outdoors and let more natural light into a room. But they do have some key differences:

A dark room features flat roman shades made of holland and sherry wool used in place of bay window curtains

Bay Window

A bay window typically has three angled windows, a larger picture window in the center and two smaller windows angled towards it on either side.

Pictured: Flat Roman Shades, Holland & Sherry Saville Row Windsor in Tweed with Andes trim in Mediterranean, designed by Kelly Hohla at the 2020 San Francisco Decorator Showhouse

Flat roman shades made from Victoria Hagan's Oceana in Slate adorn a bow window in place of bow window curtains

Bow Window

A bow window is typically curved and has four or five windows, all of which are usually the same size.

Pictured: Flat Roman Shades, Victoria Hagan Oceana in Slate, designed by Victoria Hagan in 2019 in Southport, Connecticut

While the construction of these types of windows are different, luckily, the same window treatment options usually work for both. So bay window curtains will often work as bow window curtains and vice versa.

The Best Way to Hang Curtains in a Bay Window

A professional from The Shade Store measures a bay window in preparation for the installation of bay window curtains

Bay and bow window curtains can be hung in a couple different ways, and the “best” will depend on your individual situation and your preferences.

The two main ways for hanging bow and bay window curtains include:

  • Hanging bow and bay window curtains in the angles of the alcove
  • Hanging bow and bay window curtains on the wall in front of the alcove

Option 1: In the Angles of the Alcove

An illustration shows bay window curtains installed in between the angles of each window for a curated look

Hanging your bow or bay window curtains along the window panels gives you a more tailored, custom look. This approach will require a curtain rod or track system that’s either curved or angled to fit the shape of your bay or bow window. For your curtain panels, you can either have two larger panels at each end of your window to run all the way to the center, or you can have smaller individual panels between each window. Be sure that, with either approach, your panels can extend to cover the windows they’re supposed to without hitting brackets.

If your bay or bow window is also a sitting area, ideally, the curtains should hover just above the seat. This will keep family and friends from sitting on the curtains and tugging them, which can damage the curtains and the rod or track system. If you do not have a seating area, you can choose a curtain length that suits you best, whether you want them hovering just above the floor, puddling on the ground for a luxurious look, or somewhere in between.

OPtion 2: On the Wall in Front of the Alcove

An illustration shows bay window curtains installed on the wall outside of the bay window so they cover the whole alcove

If you’d prefer a simpler look and easier installation, you can hang your curtains on the wall outside of the alcove created by the bay or bow window. This approach will create a clean, chic aesthetic when your curtains are closed, but they will also completely block the window’s architectural elements. If you love the shape and details of your bay or bow window, this may not be the right approach for your application. Also keep in mind that if you do have a sitting area in the alcove of your bay or bow window, closing the curtains will hide the sitting area from the inside while making it exposed to the outdoors. This can make the area unusable at night when it’s easy to see inside.

If you’re considering your options for hanging curtains and still not sure if bow or bay window curtains are the right choice, there are other window treatment solutions that might be a better fit for your needs.

Other Bay Window Solutions Beyond Drapery

Beyond bay or bow window curtains, you have several other options for your unique windows. Shades and blinds come in multiple styles and many offer easy functionality.

Woven wood shades made of Bayshore in Parchment adorn a bay window in a sitting area in place of bay window curtains


From sleek, functional Roller Shades to stylish Roman Shades, natural Woven Wood Shades and more, you have a lot of options beyond just bay window curtains. Shades can be inside mounted for a perfect fit that gives you a highly tailored look.


Bay window blinds come in multiple materials including wood, faux wood and metal, as well as lots of finishes and colors so you can find the right look for your space. Plus, with their tiltable slats, they make it easy to control your light and privacy.  

Metal blinds made of a golden champagne color can be used on a window in place of bay window curtains or bow window curtains

Bay Window Inspiration: Ideas with Curtains & More

Now that you understand the best practices for hanging bow and bay window curtains, as well as alternative options beyond curtains, you’re ready for ideas to spark your inspiration. Discover real world scenarios of bay and bow windows that feature curtains, shades, and combinations of both.

Soft Drapery & Textured Woven Wood Shades

Bay window curtains made of Linen in Ecru hang between windows which feature woven wood shades made of Bayshore in parchment
Pictured: Waterfall Woven Wood Shades, Artisan Weaves Bayshore in Parchment (inside layer) and Tailored Pleat Drapery, Linen in Ecru (outside layer) with Steel Hardware in Oil Rubbed Bronze

Add visual complexity and greater dimension to your windows with the soft, lush look of bay window curtains combined with textured Woven Wood Shades. Made from natural fibers like bamboo, grasses and reeds, woven wood shades give you an organic, boho-inspired look. When paired with the soft, elevated look of luxurious drapery, Woven Wood Shades help balance the formality of the room by adding a more casual, inviting look and feel.

To further emphasize the warm, inviting aesthetic, choose Drapery in a creamy off-white color and pair it with a light Woven Wood Shade. Balance the bright tones with a black curtain rod or track system. The dark hardware will also help define the beautiful architectural shape of your bay or bow window.

Elegantly Curved Drapery

Tailored pleat drapery is used as bow window curtains that hang on a curved rod in a luxurious room with a chandelier
Pictured: Tailored Pleat Drapery, Lana in Ivory with Madison hardware in Stainless Steel, designed by Natasha Baradaran at the 2022 Kips Bay Dallas Showhouse

Emphasize the elegant shape of your window with bow or bay window curtains on a curved curtain rod. The curved rod also gives you greater functionality by allowing you to easily glide your curtains from the edge to the center without grappling with angles in your rod or track system. To make the curve the star of your drapery design, choose a more subtle drapery style like Tailored Pleat Drapery (pictured) or Ripple Fold Drapery. These drapery styles provide a smooth, streamlined look that doesn’t take away from the beautiful shape for your curtain rod or window.

Flat Roman Shades with Decorative Tape

Very tall windows feature flat roman shades made of linen in ivory with green trim in place of bow window curtains
Pictured: Relaxed Roman Shades, Linen Sheer in Ivory with Samuel & Sons Cambridge Strie Braid trim in Spring Green, designed by Alessandra Branca for the 2022 Kips Bay Dallas Showhouse

If you’re looking for an alternative to bay or bow window curtains but still want a touch of the elegance of drapery, try a Roman Shade style like Flat or Cascade Roman Shades. Roman Shades are available in many of the same luxurious fabrics as Drapery, but provide a more modern, understated aesthetic. For a bit more visual complexity and definition, consider adding decorative tape to your Roman Shade design. The tape will help accentuate the height of each window in your bow or bay window design while providing a touch of color and texture.

For a defined look, choose a neutral color for your Roman Shades and a pop of color or pattern for your tape. To make the window treatments feel cohesive with the rest of the room, choose a tape color that matches an accent color in your interior décor.

Relaxed Roman Shades

A coastal-style nook has relaxed roman shades made of Holland and Sherry Andes in Fountain instead of bay window curtains
Pictured: Relaxed Roman Shades, Holland & Sherry Andes in Fountain

Embrace a look that’s both luxurious and casual with Relaxed Roman Shades to replace your bay window curtains. Relaxed Roman Shades have a gentle curve where the fabric gathers when raised for a look that’s invitingly imperfect. The supple shape of these shades also helps soften the overall angular look of your bay window and complements the curve of your bow window. When mounted inside your window frames, these shades still allow the architectural details of your window to shine through.

Woven Wood Shades & Solar Shades

Woven wood shades and solar shades replace bow window curtains on windows in an inviting basement family room
Pictured: Solar Shades, 3% in Black (inside layer) and Waterfall Woven Wood Shades, Artisan Weaves Cove in Beige

For a multi-dimensional effect, layer inside-mounted Solar Shades with outside-mounted Woven Wood Shades. Solar Shades are an ideal window treatment for bay windows because they allow the natural light to shine through while also blocking harmful UV rays that cause glare, heat buildup and fading of your furnishings. For greater light control — and textural variety — layer Woven Wood Shades over your Solar Shades. While both Solar Shades and Woven Wood Shades are light-filtering, the combination will give you the privacy you need, while allowing a soft glow of light through. Or, if needed, you can create a room darkening effect with privacy or blackout lining for your Woven Wood Shades.

Get the Right Fit for Your Bay Window Curtains & More

With lots of inspiration featuring bay and bow window curtains — as well as other bay window treatments — you’ve likely zeroed in on the option, or combination, that will work best for your space. To get your project off on the right foot, request a free measurement from our team of professionals. We’ll help take the guesswork out of measuring, whether you’re committed to curved curtains, considering inside-mounted Roman Shades, or are leaning toward a combination. If you need more guidance, visit or call your local showroom to talk to our team of expert Design Consultations who can help answer any questions you have.


Ensure your window treatments fit perfectly when you schedule a free measurement with our expert professionals.

A professional window treatment installer measuring one window with a measuring tape for a bay window treatment application