Pelmets fit above the window, they cover the curtain fittings and may or may not also fold the fittings. They are always made to the window, and generally in either decorative wood that is stained, painted or gilded, in metal, or some sort of fabric covered wooden board.
Any pelmet design must be sympathetic to the style of the furnishings, the proportion of the windows’ architecture and, by default, that of the room. On the whole, the simplest designs last the longest, but only when, or because, they are right and fit for purpose.
1. The fabric dressing above the window that covers the track and fittings while adding stylistic depth and finesse. Pelmet is a big ‘catch all’ term, covering a simple, gathered frill to a plain upholstered form, to very formal and elaborately draped swags and tails. A very simple pelmet, with a frill, or pleated ‘skirt’, is often called a valance; the most elaborate pelmets are more likely to be called draperies.
Soft pelmets do change with fashion, perhaps more often than they should, but as they are only fabric, they can easily be changed, even be re-made.
And then people divide into camps – either loving them or hating both the look and also the notion of fabric sitting above gathering dust. It is quite a simple thing to vacuum and shake out pelmets, but really the architecture and the furnishing style should be the deciding factors.
2. A shaped board, often gilded or painted that works by itself or with a fabric pelmet (valance). The French, as with so many things, have got this right, with their neat shaped top boards that are less fussy than a fabric pelmet and more pleasing at the top of a window than many pole/curtain heading combinations.