How to make the most of a bay window

Are you lucky enough to have a bay window in your house but not sure how to go about choosing the best blinds or window dressings for it? Each bay window has its own characteristics, so what might be best for your bay window may be quite different to what would work next door and you want to make the most of your beautiful light space. But don’t worry, we’re here to take you through the essentials and leave you hopefully knowledgeable and confident in what to do next!

What type of bay window and mullions do you have?

Let’s get technical. There are 4 main types of British bay windows and 2 types of mullions, and it’s important to know which you have as some blinds may fit one better than another due to the inner angles and space between your windows. The different types of bay windows are:

  • Angled / Canted: these will have a flat front and angled sides, and can range from 3 to 5 sections wide
  • Bow: made up of curved windows, or numerous sections (more than 5) to appear curved
  • Square: also known as ‘box’ bay windows, they have 3 sections with the centre section usually (but not always) being wider than the others
  • Oriel: where the bay window doesn’t run down to the floor but stops around normal windowsill height
  • Triangular: less common, also don’t run down to the floor but are made up of just 2 windows set at 90 degrees to one another to form a triangle-shape

Each type of bay window will have different corner angles – for example the internal angles between windows in a triangular or square bay window will be 90 degrees, whereas an angled bay window should have a shallower measurement. The sharper/more acute the corner angle between windows, the more you’ll need to pay attention to the fit or function of certain blinds to make sure there’s enough room where they meet, like at the top with the headrail and mechanism.

Now look at your mullions. These are the vertical lengths of wood/uPVC between the window frame and the glass that holds the glass into the frame, and they vary in width considerably so you’ll have either wide or narrow mullions. Which do you have?

  • Wide mullion and shallow angle – you can choose from any blind type for your bay window
  • Wide mullion and acute angle – you’re in luck as this has given you more space so you’re back to a wider range of options on blind types
  • Narrow mullions and an acute angle OR narrow mullions and a shallow angle – limited space at the top for the blind headrail and mechanism so this narrows down which blinds fit best, but don’t worry there are still plenty that will!

Mind the Gap!

Which blinds are best for your bay window to achieve the smallest gaps?

If your bay window has either generous mullions, shallow angles between the sections or both, and no window handles, it’s highly likely that any blind will be fine in avoiding gaps between the window and the blind. So the good news is you can skip onto the next question of what you want from your blinds!

Now if you have narrow mullions, window handles that are sticking out or some acute corner angles and you don’t want gaps, some blinds will be better suited for you than others.

Aluminium Venetian blinds are the most versatile bay window blinds producing the smallest of gaps or none at all even in windows with acute corner angles or narrow mullions. Pleated Blinds or Roman blinds are next best, and the real wood and faux-wood 25mm Venetian Blinds are another option though these may have slight gaps as they are a thicker material.

Now you know which blinds you can consider, let’s have a think about what you want them to do for you and what style you’d like your bay window to have.

What do you want from your blinds?

  • I want them to soften the light or give us some privacy

Bay windows not only give you extra views of the outside that you wouldn’t get with an ordinary window, but also increase the flow of natural light into your home. However, on sunny days the sunlight can be too bright or because of where your bay window is you crave some privacy from your neighbours or street.

You can emphasise the natural light whilst softening its glare and creating some privacy using lightweight roller blinds or sheer pleated blinds. These still allow the sunlight to gently filter into your room even when your blinds are down, creating a lovely ambience and space just for you. Vertical blinds are also an option as they give you full control over light and privacy.

  • My bay window always feels cold, how do I keep the warmth in?

As bay windows use more glass than a normal window it’s easy to think or feel that there’s more heat escaping from them, or chilly air coming in. Roman Blinds help insulate the room by keeping as much heat in as possible and give you the option to use luxurious fabrics. You could even layer curtains with thermal linings over your Roman blinds for a feature cosy look. Pleated blinds also provide thermal insulating through their honeycomb fabrics which trap air, and help create a light spacious look.

What type of blinds could I have in my bay window?

There’s a wide range of blinds for bay windows, even for ones with acute angles or narrow mullions (now you know what those mean!). Have a think about what you’d like the overall style to be; whether it’s cosy luxury, sleek modern or understated minimalist there’s a blind to suit all tastes!

  • Wooden Blinds or Faux-wood Blinds

Love the trendy wooden shutter look but not keen on the cost? Real wood and faux wood blinds are a clever way to achieve this look but far friendlier on your pocket! Using white wood/faux-wood blinds creates a sleek and stylish modern look that is very popular in bay windows but very expensive to achieve with actual wooden shutters. Choose the smaller slat sizes (25mm and 35mm) for a fit without gaps in most bay windows, wider slat sizes are best for windows with wide mullions and shallow angles.

  • Roman Blinds

A popular blind choice for bay windows thanks to their varied range of fabrics, patterns and colours and their suitability for pretty much all bay window types and angles with their thin profile. If you have large bay windows these are excellent insulators so will help make your room feel snug and cosy, and are great in bedrooms using blackout fabric.

  • Roller Blinds

If you have a bay window with narrow mullions or acute corner angles these unfortunately aren’t the best option for you, but in any other bay window they can make a very stylish display. Their flexibility in colour, pattern and fabric along with being one of the most affordable blinds makes them a very popular choice for bay windows where you aways need more than one blind!

  • Venetian Blinds

As we’ve mentioned earlier, aluminium Venetian Blinds are the most versatile bay window blind giving a close fit in all corners of bay windows making them a great choice where wider slatted blinds would be difficult. They are also very easy to look after as they’re water resistant. Being compact you get more room on your windowsill as they take up less depth when down, and when pulled up fit tightly together at the top so don’t cut out the light or view. If your controls need to be on a specific side, don’t worry as you can choose which side of the blind you’d like them to be to avoid stretching to a hard to reach area.

  • Pleated Blinds

Another blind with a slim profile, pleated blinds are also great for any unusually shaped bay windows bringing a neat, co-ordinated look wherever they are placed. They’re very lightweight and can also be cordless so the safest option if you have children or small pets who may be tempted by dangling cords.

Finally – don’t forget your window handles!

If you have a handle on any of your bay windows, remember to make sure you measure and hang your blind at a far enough depth from the window frame to allow for the blind to pass over the handle without hitting it when the blind is used. Easily forgotten when you’re focused on putting your blind up!

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