A window cornice can be elegant and practical

One of the most useful ways of implementing a top treatment for your window is to use a window cornice box. Not only do they look great, but they are not difficult to make. They can usually be adapted to suit any window style.

First, what types are there?

There are two basic types.

  1. A window cornice as part of the architecture. Here the cornice is an integral part of the room. It may be made of plaster or wood. In this instance you probably won't want to change it, apart from changing its color or texture to be in keeping with the decor.
  2. A cornice you install yourself. There are two main ways to make these.
    • Stiffened. These are made from a stiffened material such as buckram, shaped as desired, and covered with fabric. They can be attached to a board by velcro or pins.
    • Upholstered. These are made from plywood or hardboard, shaped as required, and upholstered with fabric. They are then fixed to a board by panel pins.

A stiffened window cornice is the easiest to make. You can use scissors to cut out the shape, and fabric, lining and interlining can be either machined or hand sewn to the stiffening.

My own preference is for upholstered cornices using hardboard. Although this means cutting the shape from wood, to my mind it gives a more professional look to the finished product. All the fabrics can be stuck onto the wood. It's important to have a board fixed securely to the wall which will support the cornice box. The board will also support the track.

What are the advantages of a window cornice?

There are two advantages.

window cornice shapes

Here are a few shapes I've used in the past for cornice boxes. You can have whatever shape you like! In most cases the cornices had trims added, especially along the bottom and top edges. The trims used were borders, braids, and fringes.

  1. The cornice conceals the curtain track, supporting board and the top of the window. When you need a good quality track from which to hang heavy drapes, the track isn't usually very attractive. So hiding it is a good idea.
  2. You can have virtually any shape for your cornice box. Not only that, you can add borders, trims, fringes and other accessories to make it more interesting.

There is a special sort of cornice box called a 'lambrequin'. This is simply a cornice where the sides are shaped so that they go right to the bottom of where the drapes finish. It's often used on windows where blinds or shades have been fitted, and where you want to give the whole effect a more tailored look.

What sort of fabrics are suitable?

You can make a cornice out of any fabric. Obviously thin sheers are not very practical, but any fabric which is not designed to be seen through is suitable.

Cornices are very useful when you're using a patterned fabric such as a print or a Toile de Jouy. The flat surface shows off the pattern very nicely, in contrast with the drape folds where you only see parts of the pattern.

Further decoration

You can make your cornice box as complex as you like. If you want to have swags but your window isn't suitable, you can use a straight cornice and apply smaller swags on the front. Or use rosettes, trims, fringes and tassels to your heart's content!

An easy treatment you can make at home

A window cornice is an easy way to make a great top treatment for your drapes. They are very versatile, and will give a professional finish to your drapery.

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