DIY Kitchen Upgrade: Simple Sew-Easy Valance

April 13, 2009

You know how you look at some design element in your home over and over, and it just doesn’t look right, and you just can’t put your finger on why? (Enter blogger helpers…) That’s the story behind my kitchen window valance. It’s a large picture window that looks out into my garden in the backyard, so I didn’t want to obstruct the view, I only wanted to add some soft fabric detail. The wall paint is a dijon color, the wall cabinets are white, and the center island cabinets are this complimentary butternut color:


The original fabric I chose to create the first valance last year was a Waverly rooster toile. The problem with the original valance was that the fabric’s yellow background was the color of American mustard, while the wall color was more Dijon mustard, and with the clashing of these two yellows, the walls finally exclaimed, “Excusez-moi”.

Here’s my before:

ssv before_thumb[4]

I was aiming for an imitation of this look from one of House Beautiful’s Kitchens of the Month from last year:

Brunschwig & Fils toile


I LOVE the look of this kitchen. It’s so elegant, and has that French Country look I adore without having too much country influence. I really wanted to copy the toile fabric. So I tried to recreate it with Waverly’s rooster toile, but the yellows just would not jive. I stared at it for months in frustration, until I settled on another Waverly fabric called “Pretty Paisley” which toned down the jarring yellows, while still softening the large kitchen window.

Here’s my helpful brother Nate removing the old valance, and hamming it up for the camera. Isn’t he darling? Ladies, he’s single!

brother ham

How to Make an Easy Simple Sew Valance:


  1. Fabric of choice
  2. Liner fabric
  3. 1” x 2” birch wood trimmed to width of window
  4. Set of three 1.5 inch “L” Brackets
  5. Staple gun and staples
  6. Sewing machine and thread

Step One: Cut your fabric to size, allowing for at least an extra inch all around for your simple hem. Cut your liner fabric to the same size. Sew a simple hem all around on four sides, while attaching the liner to your fabric. Your final length should be the width of the window, plus the extra 2 inches on both sides to wrap around the wood. In my case, I wanted a 103” wide valance, but I hemmed the fabric to a width of 107” to allow for the 2” wrap around.

ssv hem

Step Two: Align your hemmed fabric on top of your birch wood, and staple gun it to the top. Allow for the 2” wrap around on both sides. Iron the fabric to create a crisp crease for the wraparound corner. Staple your fabric to the side of the wood to finish the sides of the valance. Trim excess fabric on the back so that the wood will be flush with the wall when attached.

ssv wood

 ssv staple text

Step Three: Attach your “L” brackets to the valance. Check for the placement of studs in your wall, and line up the brackets on your valance so that they will be mounted into studs.

ssv L bracket

Step Four (optional): Hem two fabric ties with your extra fabric in order to swag the valance.

ssv tie

ssv tie final

Step Five: Attach valance to wall studs above window.

Here’s the new valance:

valance final_thumb[3]

ssv final crop

Here’s the before and after comparison:

valance before and after

Now this window valance is a bit softer, and much more balanced with the colors in my kitchen.  What say you?

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15 Responses to “DIY Kitchen Upgrade: Simple Sew-Easy Valance”

  1. Jen says:

    I say thank you for posting such clear directions on all these projects :-) it will make it so much easier when I go back and actually ‘do’ all of them! The new valance looks terrific, and just wonderful with your wall color. Show me the rest of your kitchen!

  2. Anna Lindsey Sailer O'Reilly says:

    Much better. Love the look, you go girl!

  3. Elise says:

    I loved it before and NOW I REALLY LOVE IT!!!! Great tutorial and your brother is FUN-NEE!!! (I’m wondering about a lovely lawyer friend we know ~not you, silly! Single… nice family!) I’m just saying… Tee Hee BEAUTIFUL valance! Nice work… Would it be terrible to ask if you could show more of your gorgeous kitchen!?! I think yours is even MORE amazing than your inspiration piece!

  4. Laurel @ Ducks in a Row says:

    I absolutely love it – love the fabric you chose – love that it softens it, but doesn’t make it country – love that you posted a tutorial so I can copy – see mine coming soon!

  5. G+D says:

    Love it! An upgrade for certain!

  6. Emily says:

    It looks fabulous!

  7. Danielle says:

    Simply lovely! I can’t believe I came across your post! Just last night, as I was washing up the dinner dishes, I looked at my kitchen valance and thought “I really ought to make some nice new ones”- so thanks for your informative and inspiring tutorial!

  8. aahcoffee says:

    I like the valance…and your brother is cute. :)

  9. h2oh says:

    Absolutely awesome!! And Please tell me your brother lives in Kansas City… pretty please!

  10. Tracy says:

    Thanks for reposting this Kate! I cannot wait to try this for the three pane window in our new kitchen! Promise to send pictures along if it turns out well. Wish me luck!

  11. […] I recycled the 1” x 2” birch strip from the old valance I made last year.  2) I clipped two strips of fabric for the swags.  3) Then I used […]

  12. Cynthia says:

    Hi, I just read this today, I have the same butternut cabinets in my kitchen top and bottom with formica corian-type countertops in a very dark brown. Hardware is the bronzy stuff. Walls are BM dark beige. (very gold mustard looking) I am tired of how “yellow” my kitchen is. I want to update. I am thinking of painting cupboards (creamy white) at some point but in the meantime thought it would be easier to paint walls. I keep looking at grays. Ideally the new gray would go great later with the creamy white cupboards. (Decorating in stages.) What gray to choose. Also, my foyer has a wallpaper that is very red/brown, with BM Salmon Stream the closest red. The wallpaper has both black and gold willow trees etched into it– sounds awful maybe but it is very cool and gets lot sof compliments. You can see into the kitchen from the foyer. Floor is tile and variations of whites and yellow-y).

    How can I cut some of the yellow? any suggestions? Hope this is not too much to ask.

  13. Yvonne says:

    First off I love your blog and congrats on doing this for 3 years! We just moved into our new house a month ago and so far the only thing I have done is paint over the brass on our fireplace surround so the next thing I really want to do is make a valance for our kitchen window. By any chance can you re-post the pictures of your valance tutorial? Unfortunately they seem to all be missing. It would help me tremendously.

  14. CentsationalGirl says:

    Sure Yvonne, I’ll work on that – I ended up losing pictures from two dozen posts from 2009 and I’m having to slowly rebuild them, thanks for the reminder

  15. kristen says:

    I’ll second Yvonne’s request. Thank you!

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