Stained-glass valence adds color, texture to any room | Drapery Connection

By Diane Reynolds, Times Staff Writer  Friday, September 22, 2006
The simple valances in Janet Hollinger's Pour House Cafe draw the eye with their brilliant colors.

They're made of shimmering vertical strips of stained glass decorated with colored glass jewels.

Customers will enter the Pour House for a latte, Hollinger said, and often will emerge wanting stained glass valances for their homes.

The valances in the Pour House were created for Hollinger by Hee Sun Stained Glass of Finksburg, which no longer exists, based on a rendering from Hollinger.

The demand for the valances has inspired Hollinger, an artist, to start creating her own in a studio behind her Westminster home.

"I had no idea they'd be such a hit," said Hollinger.

She does not hang her own valances in the cafe because, for a business, she likes the more industrial, but very similar look of what she purchased from Hee Sun.

One customer, Mark Greenberg, noticed his wife admiring the Pour House valances.

He surprised her with a set of Hollinger's for her kitchen for Christmas.

"She was ecstatic," he said.

Valances are stylish, simple

Custom window treatment designer Julie Goge of Westminster finds the popularity of stained glass valances easy to understand.

"I think stained glass is beautiful," she said.

Stained glass is just one of many textures - from leather to beading and painted wood - people have expressed an interest in, she said.

Valances fit with a trend toward plainer window treatments, replacing the poufy, complicated, balloon designs of years past, she said.

Sometimes a valance alone is simply the perfect choice for a window, Goge said.

If people have a beautiful window or a beautiful view, they often won't want to obscure that with curtains or shades.

Valances, sometimes paired with blinds or shears if privacy is an issue, make sense when heavy window treatments might compete with other objects in a room.

Or when draperies on a row of windows would create a wall of cloth.

"Less is more," Goge said.

Goge, who said she is not accepting new customers at this time, visits a client's home to help them choose the window treatments, then makes and hangs cloth treatments.

About half the time clients have some idea what they want, or have a color in mind, she said.

Goge helps evaluate what will work with the room and what is possible given the placement of the windows.

For those who can't afford custom treatments, ready-mades have come a long way, she said.

Custom valances, she said, cost, on average, about three times ready-mades.

In ready-mades, look for lined valances, she said, because the lining helps them hang well.

"Even a readymade that is lined will look better than unlined," she said.

It's best if you can find a valance that's interlined, she said, which means a layer of cloth, such as flannel, is sewn between the lining and the more decorative material of the valance that faces the room.

A creative passion

In the studio behind her 1930s Gothic Revival cottage in Westminster, Hollinger has stained glass strips laid out.

She works about 20 hours a week on her stained glass valances, and said she is booked six months out.

She charges $100 a linear foot for a valance. Customers provide their own rods for hanging.

The valances go with all types of architecture and styles of décor, she said, from delicate Victorian farmhouse looks to bold contemporaries.

"It's like jewelry for your home," Hollinger said. It's easier to justify beautiful valances than a piece of jewelry, she said, because the valances are functional.

Hollinger visit her clients' homes when she can to match colors.

In Greenberg's case, since he is color blind, he brought Hollinger a tiffany lamp from his kitchen, and she matched the colors.

Her creativity bubbles over, from the stained glass valances all over her home, including the upstairs bath, to her ideas for future projects.

She plans to move on to make valances of raggedy felted wool or juxtapose hard, shiny glass and wood.

"This is just a very joyful time of my life," she said. "I think all that energy goes into my work."

Reach staff writer Diane Reynolds at 410-857-7873 or [email protected]

Adding beads, decorative trim, tassels or other embellishments. This can be expensive, adding up to $50 a foot to the cost of custom valances.

While cloth valances are perennial favorites, valances in other materials have become popular. People seek out painted wood, leather, suede, stained glass and metal.

Custom valances are popular but ready-mades can be a good choice for those on a budget. Look for ready-mades that are lined because they will hang better.

Earth colors have become popular: browns, blue, sage greens.

Cornices, similar to valances, are also making a comeback.

Cornices are created from wooden boards that are then padded and covered in cloth.

Source: Julie Goge, Westminster window treatment designer

Valances work best in informal areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms or family rooms.

They're often best used in combination with a blind or shade for light control.

A sleek, simple look is in fashion, but as designs simplify, people are asking for more texture, color or richness in their fabrics. Silk and damask are popular.

Earth colors are in vogue.

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