Bay windows: a guide to choosing the right poles or tracks

Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in Curtains, Tips & Techniques | No Comments

Dressing bay windows represents one of the most demanding challenges for designers and their customers alike – the ultimate “exam question” of window treatments, if you like.

There are so many options to consider, but only some of these will be practical and of those, just a few might be to your taste. The skill is in assessing the unique characteristics of each bay window, and coming up with a solution that is both beautiful and practical. Here are a few tips to help you make the right decision:

Poles undeniably provide the most attractive way of supporting your curtains but in a bay window the pole will need several brackets to support it around the bay – which is a real problem as far as curtain rings are concerned. Admittedly you can get passing rings that are made with a gap that allow them to pass over each bracket. However most poles with passing rings are metal (the wooden ones have passing rings that look a bit cumbersome), and in any event, for medium to heavy weight curtains, even with the best passing ring system, you are going to have to put quite a lot of effort into “hoiking” your curtains around the bay. In short, they’re a bit of a compromise solution.

So what are the alternatives? Tracks within a pole, most notably Silent Gliss’s Metropole are a good alternative. You lose the aesthetic of having rings, as the pole has a track built into the underside with gliders sliding along it that the curtains hang from, but you can pay a little extra for ball finials which do much to restore the traditional look. These systems can be silky smooth to operate and come in hand drawn or corded configurations.

Uncovered tracks are another option for your bay window. Tracks tend to be functional rather than decorative and are typically concealed behind a pelmet or fascia, but there are circumstances where they work admirably on their own. We’ve had customers opt for this solution either where there isn’t sufficient space to conceal the track or where it simply doesn’t matter that the track isn’t covered – because, being the same colour as the wall it blends in seamlessly, and the curtains in any event cover the track when closed.

bay window curtain tracks made to measure
The Evans CCS Contract Corded System track with its metal brackets is a perfect bay window system for medium to heavy weight curtains

Covered tracks. You can hide your track behind a lath and fascia. As demonstrated below, the lath is a piece of timber or mdf (typically around 18mm thick) fitted at right angles to the wall, with a thin piece of plywood fixed to its front just deep enough to obscure the front face of the track (which is fitted to the underside of the lath). Lath and fascias come into their own for bay windows. They can be curved around the bay. They can be fixed at multiple points which makes them strong enough to cope with the heaviest of curtains. They can be either painted the colour of the walls, or covered in fabric (typically the same fabric as the curtains). The curtain is attached to the gliders that slide along the underside of the track, and can be adjusted so that it either covers the fascia, or simply hangs underneath it.

Linen fabric wrapped lath and fascia for bay window
A lath and fascia covered in a Moghul linen fabric to match the curtains and pre-made to angle perfectly around the bay