Bay windows can be used for a myriad of purposes - from seats to storage units, daybeds to reading nooks. But they can be difficult to get right. In this article, interior designer and blogger, Leoma Harper of @Styletheclutter shares her 3 top tips for how to create the perfect bay window, with examples from her own beautiful home!
Be it round, square or octagonal, bay windows are notoriously difficult spaces to dress.
With limited depth, embellishing these elegant alcoves can run the risk of obscuring views through the window, and furniture or ornamentation which is too tall, heavy or chunky can totally dominate the space.
The key is to find the right balance: adding interest with accessories and establishing a designated nook within the room, whilst using flattering shapes, and being careful not to over-clutter.
So, here’s my top 3 style tips for how to create the perfect bay! I’ll start with my most recent discovery, and by far the most flattering shape for a square or octagonal bay: curved-frame armchairs.
Dating back to sometime between the late 15th and early 17th centuries, bay windows were typically found in grand houses, usually situated at the end of a hallway for hosts to welcome guests. This was very different from their function today: providing an abundance of natural light and utilised as storage units, reading nooks, benches, daybeds, built-in shelving and even kitchen/dining banquettes.
I’ve always loved bay window seating as somewhere to relax and watch the world go by. I usually choose a chaise long or armchair for these spaces, but the octagonal bay in our living room never felt quite right until I discovered the Isaac armchairs, from Love Your Home. We already had one Isaac chair in our dining room and I liked how this design rounded off the space’s sharp edges. I had previously used them in clients homes too, so was familiar with the way their soft statement shape blends seamlessly into any interior - be it the corner or centre piece of the room. On working with Love your home to style this bay, I was confident they’d be ideal for creating a simple, stylish reading nook.
So my first formula for styling a bay window is using two Isaac chairs, a side table, standing lamp and ,of course, the Issac footstool to match. The gentle curve of the foot rest and armchairs instantly softens the space. But, perhaps more importantly, they don't overpower or obstruct the window - who could have asked for a better height!
Isaac armchairs in Artisan Weave
I would recommend styling with cushions, to soften and add a touch of comfort; a side table and tall standing plant or lamp to add height variation; a rug to provide texture and create a cosy nook feel; and a magazine stand and some books to indicate what the space is to be used for. Rugs really help section off an area within a room and bring the furniture together whilst drawing you into the space and adding texture too.
Choosing the fabric for the chairs couldn’t have been easier - Love Your Home has an amazing selection. However, I had my heart set on the stunning textured Artisan Weave (boucle style) fabric, paired with a Whisper velvet trim on the cushions, to blend in with the natural tone on our existing sofas.
Isaac armchairs in Artisan Weave
My next formula would have to be a window seat. Providing much-needed seating and storage, all in one, they work brilliantly in smaller spaces. Made to measure, you won’t need to worry about fitting it inside the space. Window seats are a great solution to bay windows which can only contain limited sizes and shapes of free-standing furniture due to their measurements. If you want to be even more space-savvy, you can add drawers below the seat, or have lift-up panels under the cushion. Curtains are a little tricky here, as they’d have to go straight across the whole bay. I would recommend shutters or blinds.
Try styling with cushions and adding a throw. It can be nice to add a bit of pattern too - either on the main seat pad or cushions.
If you don’t want the commitment of a window seat, a small free-standing bench or sofa is a stylish alternative. Love Your Home’s Isaac bench would work a treat. Elegant, petite and timeless, this modernist design is low enough to avoid obscuring views through the window or blocking light, and will add a chic look to your bay.
Isaac Bench, in Studio Rich Stain Resistant Velvet, Dijon
Formula three is a small low-armed sofa or chaise longue. These work best in larger bays, but you can create a similar look using an upholstered-style bench.
To style, add further levels with a tall plant or standing lamp to one side. A rug, paired with cushions and a throw, will cosy up the space. Curtains work well with this look, adding a touch of luxury and softening up the space.
And that's it, my three favourite bay window formulas! I’m delighted to have found a winning look for the octagonal bay. The combination of all the items I mentioned here have really helped to create an elegant and inviting space.
Happy window dressing!
Photo from @styletheclutter
Paid Collaboration with Love Your Home