All about cornice boards, and how to make your own DIY cornice board…
I’ve got a fun DIY today that you may not even know you needed yet. But, once you read this post…you’ll see why you’ve got to make a DIY cornice board. If you’re saying to yourself, “well, how can I want to make a DIY cornice board if I don’t even know what the heck one IS yet?”, don’t worry. We’ll get there.
Let’s be real. On their own, windows are very plain and ordinary. I mean, yes, we ALL love the natural light that a window can bring. Some of you may even be lucky enough to have stunning views like a mountain or an ocean out your window.
If you do, skip this post. I mean it….just enjoy what you have outside your window.
For the rest of us though, a window in itself is probably pretty boring to look at, and just another thing on your list to clean.
However, you can easily turn your boring windows into a beautiful design feature in any room of your home by adding a custom window treatment.
Oh, and before moving on, if you’re the type who loves decorating your home BIG time, but on a small-time budget? Then you’ll want to grab a free copy of “Builder-Grade To Beautiful: 10 Totally Transformative Home Decorating Solutions, All Under $100!” Click here or on the image below. Your copy will be sent right away!
The words “custom window treatment” can sound expensive and complicated, but they don’t need to be! In fact, adding a cornice to your window can not only be beautiful, but it can also be really cheap – because you can easily make it.
What is a Cornice?
If you’re here for some brand new, out of the box, creative innovation today…I’m sorry to disappoint. Actually it just doesn’t get more “in the box” than cornices. In fact, a cornice board pretty much IS a box, affixed above your windows. BUT I LOVE ‘EM.
Let me back up though, and explain a bit more about this whole cornice board thing.
Below are the DIY cornice boards we made for our son’s bedroom.
Cornice Board vs Valance
If you have ever felt confused about window treatment terminology, you are not alone! Today I am focusing on a cornice window treatment, which can sometimes be mistaken for a valence. It’s easy to see why they can be confused, as they are both decorative touches used to top off your window.
However, there’s a distinct difference between the two. A valence looks like a really short drapery. It’s a freely flowing fabric that only covers the top part of the window. Valences move with the breeze and can create visual interest through their movement. Also, they kind of seem fussy to me.
On the other hand, a cornice is a hard treatment. There is no hanging fabric; instead, a cornice is an upholstered board that is attached to the wall above your window.
In this way, cornices provide a more structured window treatment option than valences do, while also creating interest through the fabric that you use. Also, because cornices are covered boards, you will also often hear them called “cornice boards”.
Cornices are not a new idea. In fact, they are a very, very old idea. As far as I can tell from my 10-second, we’ll call it exhaustive, “just google it” research, they date back to 16th century Italy.
So there you go. A great way to add a touch of Italian charm and pretend you are in Italy.
Benefits of a Cornice Board
A cornice board may not sound exciting, but it provides many benefits as a window treatment. Here are a few:
- Cornices help to create an interesting layering effect when used to top off other curtains and window coverings.
- They do a great job of stylishly hiding other hardware on your window.
- Cornices add a beautiful finishing touch to your windows without blocking your view.
- They are highly customizable in shape and patterns to fit any decor
Now that we’ve covered what a cornice and cleared up any remaining confusion between a cornice and a valence, it’s time to dig into just how simple they are to make.
Plus, I’ve got 3 more great reasons why you will love cornices too after reading this post.
Even More Reasons to Love Cornice Window Treatments
There are plenty of reasons to use cornices, as I just showed you. However, here are the reasons I really LOVE using cornice window treatments.
1. Cornice Boards Make an EASY DIY Window Treatment
If you have ever checked out Pinterest or Googled cornices, you’ve probably run across at least one fabric cornice tutorial.
There are lots of ways to skin this window treatment cat, so rather than bore you with ANOTHER tutorial that’s been done by everyone and their distant relative, I’m just going to direct you to some good ones I’ve found.
Pssst…remember! Don’t leave here empty handed! Grab a copy of “10 Totally Transformational Home Decorating Solutions – All Under $100” now. Click here or on the image below to grab yours now⤵️
The example below by blog.blinds.com is made in a very similar way to how we made ours. As you can see, it’s made of three pieces of lumber, and connected with a couple of inexpensive L-brackets (also called corner braces).
See how simple they are to make? Because they are so simple, they are easy to really customize by trying different variations.
Variations of DIY Cornice Board Window Treatments
In order to save you some searching time, I wanted to share some more cool riffs on this window treatment style if you want some other options without searching too far.
- Use Different Woods: We used some scrap OSB (Oriented Strand Board), but you could also use pine, particleboard, plywood, or pretty much any other variety of lumber you have lying around the house. Once assembled, the frame is then covered with batting and fabric. Staple the batting and fabric around the frame then fasten that puppy on the wall with a couple of L-brackets.
- Picture Hangers For Wall Attachments: This one from Shine Your Light Blog has a different method to attach the cornice to the wall. It causes less damage to the wall than the method we chose.
- Use Foam Board Instead of Wood: I found this one on my buddy Megan’s fantastic blog, Rappsody in Rooms. In fact, she doesn’t even use wood- she uses a foam board. Genius – and really inexpensive!
Here’s a similar foam idea:
With our cornices, I used a brown herringbone wool suiting fabric (similar to these) which happened to be on close-out (virtual fist pump!).
See how easy this whole window treatment is? Three little pieces of wood, a couple of brackets, and staple some fabric!
Your five-year-old could do it…no five-year-old available? Eh, get your three-year-old to do it, then. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Here’s a quick video overview of the DIY cornice assembly process:
**this is a simple overview rather than a detailed tutorial**
DIY Cornice Board Video Tutorial
2. Cornice Boards are Cheap to Make
There are lots of variables thrown into this calculation, so your exact cost may vary quite a bit from mine depending on your materials (how expensive the fabric you choose is, and what type of wood you use, etc).
*Ours cost a GRAND TOTAL of $6 each*
Cheap, right? Honestly, it helped that we had the OSB on hand, and the fabric I bought was less than $2/yard at the time.
I’m going to use a relative scale here of $-$$$$ to denote approximate cost for the supplies required:
Cornices Supply List
- Lumber/frame material
- OSB $$
- Pine $$$
- Foam board $
- Fabric $ – $$$$
- Batting(this can vary too…go for the cheap stuff) $ – $$$
- Heavy-Duty Staples– $
- Adhesive Spray (not required, but many recommend…we didn’t use it) – $
- L-Brackets– $
- Power Screwdriver/Screws (you may have these on hand)
- Curtain rod (it can be a very inexpensive one)
For reference, our rod cost approximately $3-5.
3. A Cornice Board Makes a Big Visual Impact
Yes, this one is definitely subjective, but here’s a couple of examples for you. If you don’t think these babies give some serious bang for the buck, well, you would be like the 37th in line to disagree with me (and that’s just today) 😉
There you go, three great reasons to love cornices and add a DIY fabric cornice to your own interior design.
Bonus Cornice Tip:
Another great thing about using cornices is that you can buy the cheapest possible curtain rod to hang your draperies when you’re using them in conjunction with your cornice board. No one will be able to see it, so why spend more?
And check out this post about the pillows, and DIY bolster pillows that we’ve used here, there and everywhere.
P.S. Before you go…if you’re wondering how high to hang your new cornice…or how wide to make it or a curtain rod, then you’ll have to grab this free guide ⤵️
Pin this post for later! And if you make one, leave a comment (or better yet, a photo) on the pin! That helps others know whether they want to try this project, too!
Pssst…before you go, I sure would love to hang out with you again really soon!! Sign up now and gain instant access to our DIY resource library full of DIY guides, tips, tricks & cheat sheets. And it’s all FREE. Click the image below to get started…
I love your Custom Cornice ideas you make it look simple, I am new at this…
In your sons room the steam engine on the wall is that a customs photo or wallpaper? My son is obsessed with steam engines and would love this in his room. Please advise.
Thank you so much!
Hi Karrie!! Yes, I had it made by a vendor on Etsy! Here’s more info on the process and the Etsy vendor I used (but this was years ago at this point!): https://heatherednest.com/install-a-diy-wall-mural/