Friday, August 12, 2011

No-Sew Cornice

A cornice, aka pelmet or valance board, is defined as "any of various ornamental horizontal moldings or bands, as for concealing hooks or rods from which curtains are hung or for supporting picture hooks."  Uh, okay.  In lay terms, a cornice is a fabric-covered box hung at the top of a window; curtain rods can be concealed behind it.

DIY cornice kits can be pricey.  For example, this one at Jo-Ann is $60 plus the cost of fabric.  Using cardboard, you can build your own cornice for 10 or 20 bucks, depending on how expensive your fabric is.

Cost: $10-25
Materials needed:
  • large piece of cardboard
  • duct tape
  • curtain rod with 3.5" projection
  • extenders for brackets
  • long straightedge
  • scissors
  • utility knife
  • small marker or pencil
  • measuring tape
  • fabric (about 1-1.5 yards, depending on the size of your cornice)
  • batting/padding fabric (optional)

Determine what size your cornice should be.  Pick the width and height that work best for you; the depth should be no more than 8".  The one shown in this project is 63" wide, 10" high and 8" deep.  Measure and mark a rectangle with a width equal to your cornice's width and a height equal to your cornice's height plus depth.  In this project, the rectangle was 63" wide and 18" high.   Measure and mark two pieces cornice height x cornice depth.  These will be the sides of your cornice.  For the example shown, the pieces were 10" x 8".  Cut the three pieces from the cardboard with a utility knife.

To form the top and front of your cornice, you will fold the cardboard lengthwise.  Measure and mark the fold line.  Score along the line with a utility knife.  Don't cut all the way through. 

Fold along the fold line.  I used a square to make sure my fold was... well, square.

Using duct tape, attach the side pieces to the top/front piece.

If desired, wrap the sides, front and top with batting/padding fabric (I used white fleece) and secure with tape.  The padding gives the cornice a softer look, and in this case, kept the brown cardboard from showing through the white stripes.  Shown below is the cornice from the back and from the front.
back of cornice
front of cornice
Wrap the sides, front and top with fabric and secure with tape.  Again, back and front are shown.
back of cornice
front of cornice

Install the brackets, bracket extenders and curtain rod.  The rod should project far enough from the wall to support the cornice.  In this case, I used three extenders for a total projection of 6.5" for an 8" deep cornice.

If you plan to hang curtains with the cornice, install a rod for those.

Place the cornice on top of the rod.  If your cornice is not too deep for the rod and is (relatively) square, it should sit securely on the rod.  Below is the view from underneath the cornice.

Ta-da!  Your cornice is complete!  This one is very basic.  You can, of course, make yours more elaborate.

Where is the window, you ask?  I made this cornice to hang behind the headboard of a queen size bed, something like this elegant room from HGTV:


  1. That's so awesome. I've been looking for ways to change up my bedroom and this totally helps. =D You've got a great blog going, I love it. =]

  2. T. Jade, Thank you! I am glad it helps. My goal is to provide information that is useful. :)

  3. I love all your ideas. I have just made this for the tops of my curtains, and it's fab! Thank you xxx

  4. Where do you get the cardboard. I need 126"and 90". Can I just overlap the pieces a bit and use duct tape? Thanks so much!

    1. I used cardboard from the box that my new garage door came in. I would think overlapping would work as long as your cardboard is sturdy enough. Good luck!