Just a bit of wood with fabric on it?

If that's your idea of what this treament is about, then I'm glad you've arrived at this page! There's a lot of mystique surrounding it. Such as "It's much too difficult to make", or "That's for grand windows in hotels, isn't it?"

There's so much you can do using this method to enhance your window treatments. I've used cornices for all sizes of windows.

Here are some insights into what's possible.


Practical features

cornice box attached to mounting board

View of mounting board with cornice box attached

Secure support

The best way to support your cornice is to use a mounting board. This will provide support not only for the cornice, but also for the track.

Hides all the hardware

This is a major advantage. Because the depth needs to be at least one fifth the length of the drapes, all the supporting components are hidden from view.

Use it to enhance your window

Make the most of the space above the window

If you have 'dead space' above your window, this is a great way to make the most of the treatment. You can add height by using the cornice box to cover the space above the window.

This can also be useful if you have unsightly pipework running up the wall to the ceiling. Sometimes it isn't practical to 'box' the pipes in, and taking the cornice up helps to disguise the pipework.

Show off the fabric

If your fabric is plain, it's surprising how good a cornice can look when the fabric is upholstered on and seen flat. Remember that the fabric will always be gathered when made into drapes.

The effect when using patterned fabric is more pronounced. Again, you'll never see the full pattern in the drapes because the fabric is gathered. The upholstered cornice shows off the pattern to full advantage.

Shaped or not?

geometric pattern on cornice

Straight cornice can be ideal for patterned fabrics

There are occasions when a simple, straight cornice box is all you need. If you're using a fabric with a geometric pattern, it may look best applied to a cornice which is the same depth all along its length.

But if you want to break up all the straight horizontal and vertical lines in your room, a shaped effect can work wonders. There's more details about this on the design page.

Simple or elaborate?

There's something for everyone. Do you like simple effects? Then keep your designs simple. Perhaps just finish off the top and bottom of the cornice box with cording (cord covered with fabric), also known as 'piping'.

Something more elaborate? There's no end to the effects you can have. You can apply rope and/or fringe or borders to the top and base. A contrast or padded border could be set on the bottom or a few inches up. If you're accomplished with appliqué then you could apply that. Tassel fringes look great when set along the base edge.

But it doesn't stop there!

swags on cornice

Swags placed on a straight cornice

Using hardboard as a base for your cornice box opens up new possibilities. Here's one example.

Suppose you want to use swags for your window treatment, but you don't have enough space above the window for them. Make a straight cornice, upholstered in the drape fabric. Then make separate swags the depth of the cornice, and attach them onto the front.

If the swags were used on their own they would be too shallow, and there would be gaps between them. But placing them onto the cornice gives you the best of both worlds.

cascades and swags on cornice

Cascades added either side

You could take this a stage further. It works if you place cascades (tails) on either side as well. And if you had a patterned fabric you could upholster the cornice in a plain cloth either to contrast or to act as a background for the main fabric.

You'll find a range of cornice box ideas on the design page.


Decide early on in the design process how simple or elaborate you want your scheme to be. This will influence what sort of cornice box you have.

Do remember that you don't necessarily need lots of additions to the cornice to make it a success. A simply shaped, well constructed cornice of the right proportions may be all that's needed to give the finishing touch to a great window treatment.

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