Decorating Strategies for Arched Windows & Doors
While arched windows and doors are gorgeous architectural features that bring a lot of personality to a home, it takes some thought to make them look their best. Here are a few strategies to help you celebrate those curves!
When a room features any element that is unique, it can really stand out. This will either make that element spectacular or make it look totally out of place. If you have a room with a single arched door or window and nothing else that features a similar curve, it may make the arch feel out of harmony with the rest of the decor. Luckily, this can be rectified by simply adding some other soft curves to the space. Through furniture with curving lines, circular light fixtures or even a mirror with a curvy shape, you can easily bring everything together to elegant effect.
Remember, the curves do not have to be exactly the same. Just take into consideration whether the arch is a soft, wider circle, or a full semicircle, and incorporate some elements with a similar look and feel.
Another great tactic is to repeat the arch in the room’s other architectural elements, like cabinetry. For instance installing an open cabinet repeating the same arch of the window frame. You could also use a shaped valance on some of the windows in a room to create an arch similar to the one on the doorway.
Breaking architectural components down to the basics, such as the simple combination of a circle and a square, dates back to before Roman times. So, rather than adding more curves to a room, try going the other way and balancing your arches by bringing a more rectangular shape to them. Consider using molding to square off the space above an arch. A deep header with a linear top will give a door or window a grand look.
If your space already has a lot of molding, another idea to connect your arched doorways with rectangular elements is to use a square-shaped capital — the flared top part of a column — on each side of the door so that the arch appears to be sitting upon columns. Arrange the capitals at a height to make them line up with other elements in the room (such as the top of a nearby window frame) to create a heightened sense of repetition and harmony.
Wall molding can also be used to fill in empty corners above an arch to make a whole rectangle shape. Although elaborate moldings can be pricey, they create a stunning effect.
The previous tips have focused on making the arched window or door blend in with your decor. What if you want it to be a focal point? To turn your arch into a standout architectural feature, you have to make sure it looks intentional. Try adding a coat of paint in an interesting color, or a deep hue like charcoal or black for a very manor-like allure. This will dramatically frame the view beyond, like a black picture frame. Repeating the color element throughout the room helps keep your featured arches in harmony with the rest of the decor, as will the repetition of subtle curves.
It is also possible to feature a curved element (especially a single window) by bringing everything else in the room down to a more subtle level. For instance, in a space with a pale and breezy color palette, it leaves a lot of room for an arched window to stand out as an intentional focal point.
Dress It Up
How about dressing up an arched window with draperies? While it may seem tricky, it’s actually quite simple. One approach is to ignore the arched part of the window and dress the rectangular portion only, using a standard drapery rod.
While this results in a very nice looking window, it leaves an area of the window uncovered, which might be a problem in the morning hours if you prefer to not have light streaming in. Your own personal preference and the amount of light the window receives will determine whether this option works for your situation.
One solution is to cover the exposed arch portion of the window with a separate fixed drape or shade. This separate piece will most likely not be openable, so keep that in mind.
To completely avoid these issues and put together a look that is more streamlined, many designers drape an arched window just above the arch and straight across so that the entire window is covered when the drapes are drawn shut. While this does leave some of the wall covered, the effect is an even bigger and more impressive window.
The best part about this approach is that it can work on a single arched window or for an entire group of windows on one wall. In the latter case, it is typical to start the drapery at just below ceiling height instead of at the top of the arch so that you get a clean look when the drapes are pulled shut. Keep in mind that draperies will take up some space when pulled open, so you’ll need to be sure to have enough space for them to gather out of the way.
Shutters and shades can also be used on arched windows to good effect. Similar to draperies, they can begin above or below the curve, depending on your desired look. If you prefer to cover the entire window with a shade, building out a rectangular molding outside the curve is a great way to house the shade in a more polished way. But you can also simply use the shade itself for a more modern, streamlined effect.