Window toppers are window coverings that cover only the top of the window. They leave space for light to pass unimpeded through the window, while at the same time adding a stylistic element to your room. They are often used in combination with other window coverings, but they can add a sense of whimsy, a contrasting color or a beautiful pattern all on their own.
Valences run lengthwise across the top of a window frame to conceal the drapery rods and hardware. It covers less than one-third of a window's surface, and it is often hung to contrast or complement a curtain or blind. They are also used with sheer curtains to allow a lot of sunlight to enter a room while still maintaining some privacy. Popular styles include paneled, tapered, crescent, tabbed and scalloped.
Lambrequins frame a window equally on the top and sides, like an extension of a valance. They are usually made from thin plywood and cut into detailed patterns like fleur-de-lis, scallops or lattices. Although lambrequins were more popular in home decor of eras past, they're undergoing a renaissance of sorts as more homeowners seek elaborate antique or vintage decor. If supported well, the structure of the lambrequin can bear light curtains, blinds or shears, eliminating the need to add more hardware to permanent walls or trim.
A cornice effectively conceals other window hardware. It resembles a fireplace mantel, but it caps the top of a window instead of a fireplace. It is constructed of three sides running the length of the window, and is mounted with the open side facing down. The cornice can be stained to look like an ornate extension of the window trim, or it can be padded and covered in fabric to add a colorful topper to your other window coverings.
A swag is a fabric window treatment that is cut to drape across the top of the window, and swoops down gently in the center from two fixed corners. The swoop can reveal a decorative rod or conceal an ordinary one. Swags are often used in combination with jabots, which are fabric panels that fall down either side of a window in pleats that are often angled, scalloped or puddled on the bottom for a dramatic effect. The swag acts like a bridge, connecting the two jabots.