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Cornice Board DIY

Cornice Board DIY

My favorite easy update for any space: a window cornice & they are SO easy to add to your own windows.

In my house, no window is complete with just blinds and curtain panels. I LOVE a well-dressed window …but I’m also usually too cheap to splurge on fancy drapery unless it’s just something I HAVE to have (like my new velvet drapes for the office, oops).

My favorite thing to do is find inexpensive panels in a nice but neutral heavy fabric and I add trim, tassels, pompoms, whatever I am in the mood for at the time but then I top it off with a custom cornice board in a fabulous coordinating fabric. One of the best things about using a cornice board? I get to use the cheapest curtain rod they make – I think it’s like $3 but I prefer it because it’s the thinnest/lightest and fits perfectly (and hidden!) under the cornice.

cornice  cor·nice   \  ˈkȯr-nəs ,  -nish \

1: the molded and projecting horizontal member that crowns an architectural composition; top course that crowns a wall
2decorative band of metal or wood used to conceal curtain fixtures 

My first step: my sketch with measurements

There are several different materials you can use to DIY a cornice. I’ve seen several blogs that use foam board, padding & fabric. I think that’s awesome but I’ve always preferred the structured look of a wooden cornice. I use the thinnest sheet of wood I can find at Lowes and usually have my husband cut it down for my measurements using our saw at home but in a pinch, I’ve also sweet talked the guys at Lowes into making all of my cuts for me. It ALWAYS helps for me to draw out what I’m doing with measurements so I don’t forget a piece. My drawings usually look something like this.

Things you’ll need:

  • Wood – I prefer the thinnest sheet I can find
  • Staple gun & staples (or glue; duct tape; etc)
  • L-brackets & hardware (I like to use 6 per cornice + 2 for mounting)
  • Batting – use whatever thickness you prefer. I like it thick enough to hold my staples
  • Fabric – I say 2 yards just to be safe but you can gauge this by your measurements, plan to add at least 1-2″ to each side so you can room to wrap it around & staple it over the batting. I like to use enough to make sure the back is covered (so you can see the fabric from the outside instead of bare wood)

the Assembly

  • First, measure your window. Measure twice. I always do my cornices at least 1″ longer on each side. (So 2″ extra, minimum – usually more for dramatic effect & I find it makes the window look much wider/taller so the curtains fall nicely on the curtain rod and the cornice mounts nicely on each side of the window frame).
  • For our large double windows downstairs in the new house, I used these measurements:  one 84″ x 12″ for the front panel. I wanted the cornice to be mounted 4″ off of the wall so I did two 4″x12″ pieces and then a top piece that was 84″ x 4″. Measurements will depend on how much wall/window you want to cover and how wide your windows are.
    • Once you’ve got your four pieces cut, I like to use L-brackets and a drill to put it together.  I’ve used large L-brackets and small. I prefer large just to keep it sturdy as these can get kind of heavy once put together. I usually use 4-6 brackets on each cornice.
    • On the longer ones for our downstairs double windows, I used 6 since they were so long, I wanted the cornice to be supported as much as it could. Four usually does the trick on single windows. I start with the small side pieces and mount them onto the large front piece using 2 L-brackets each – one closer to where the lid will go, and one closer to the base of the cornice. Once you have those 3 together, I stack the top “lid” piece onto all three and mount it onto the large front piece using 2 L-brackets.
Ignore the toddler toys & the selfie. I like to get on the floor and lay out all my pieces and drill from there. You can see where I had started the L-bracket process in this snap.
  • Once you have all 4 pieces together and sturdy, get your staple gun ready (or glue or duct tape, I’ve seen it done all of these ways… but I’m a staple gun girl). Lay out your batting and wrap it around each side tightly and staple it down, pulling it tightly as you go around so there aren’t any folds or wrinkles (this will show through the fabric, so keep it smooth!).
  • Lay your fabric down (face down) and center the batting-covered cornice on top of the fabric. Start pulling the fabric over the cornice tightly and staple as you go. I staple about every 2-4″ just to keep it smooth and tight. It’s a lot easier than the end result actually looks. I finish a cornice board from start to finish in about an hour, including trimming the wood.
  • Once you’re satisfied with the cornice, we use 2 large L-brackets and mount them to the wall on the side of the window frame (outside of the curtain rod). Then mount the ‘lid’ of the cornice onto the L-brackets & that’s it!  I LOVE how they really finish off a window. Here are a few of my favorites I’ve done.  I will be adding 2 cornices to my son’s room soon – I will update the post with actual photos of the process to make this post make more sense 🙂 

My Cornice Boards           

Here are some I did in our old house — same method on recovering but I got SO lucky with the pretty scalloped shape ones. We actually found them in our attic, someone had done them beautifully in the 70’s for all of the windows downstairs and apparently whoever redid the house in the early 90’s didn’t like them so they were collecting dust in the very back of my attic. I was so excited when my husband found them. I uncovered them, cleaned them really good then recovered with batting and fabric.
My favorite place to get fabric locally is Shelby Fabric, without a doubt. They just helped me re-upholster the most gorgeous dining room chairs and I can’t recommend them enough. If you aren’t local, here are some of my favorite other options: Ginger Jar Fabric, Gardenia Fabric (just did our guest room in this!), spots – just did our office in this, and greek key is always one of my favorites, too.
This is my favorite easy project and I still have lots more windows to finish off in the new house. Don’t the windows look so much more complete with a cornice board?
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