DIY Cornices

{Pssst…find the full reveal of the finished nursery here!}

I didn’t know what those upholstered boxes at the top of windows were called, but I knew I wanted them for the nursery.  So, after some researching, I realized these things are called cornices…and I made some…

These were actually easier to create than I thought (using this tutorial) but I still managed to make a few mistakes (I’m really bad at math, what can I say?).  Regardless they are complete and I can show you generally how I did it.

With Chris’ help, I cut some 6-foot pieces of 1×10 pine wood down to the correct size for my window.  My window width (from each edge of the trim) was 39.75 inches.  My brackets added 3/4″ on both sides.  So, I cut my front piece to 42.25″.  My side pieces were 4.5″ wide. (If you are actually considering making these, please see my little warning about measuring below.)

Once my boards were cut for the front and sides, I wrapped them with batting and fabric, stapling as I went.  (Frankie the dog was super disturbed by my loud stapling at 9:30 p.m. while he was trying to sleep on his chair.  He was so upset that he eventually retreated upstairs to hide.)

You can see on the photo below how I attached the side pieces to the front panel using L-brackets…

Here is where that aforementioned warning comes into play.  Do you see how my side pieces rest even with the front of the front panel (they are both flat against the floor in the picture below)?  Well, ideally the side pieces would rest on the back of the front panel so that the “seam” isn’t visible from the front.  But, I did not account for the depth of the side pieces (which are about 3/4″), so if they had been attached to the back of the front panel, there wouldn’t have been room for my brackets between the trim and the cornice.  My long and drawn-out point is that if you want your seams on the side and not the front, then add enough length on either end of your front panel to cover the depth of your sides.  Got it?


I’m summarizing a lot of measuring, leveling and sweating in front of sunny windows when I say that next I simply used another set of L-brackets to attach the whole piece to the wall.

And then they were done, and I was super happy with the finished result.  Our sophisticated gray room is starting to look a bit more like a whimsical nursery.

And the two windows paired together look pretty sharp, if I do say so myself…

To finish off the window treatments, I’ll be installing some white roman shades that will hide up behind the cornices when we want natural light and then provide darkness and insulation when we need it.  After spending some time standing in front of those windows on a sunny afternoon, it is fair to say that shades will come in very handy for keeping the room cooler in the summer months.

Because anyone having a baby is on a budget, especially anyone who just constructed two new rooms, I’ll break down our total cost for this custom window treatment:

  • Elephant fabric – $8.37 (1.5 yards, on sale!)
  • Batting – $2.49
  • Pine boards – $13.44 (for 3 1x10x6 boards, and we have some leftover)
  • L-brackets – $7.56

Total: $31.86

So, what do you think about this style of window treatment?  Had you ever heard of a cornice before?

You should visit these parties that I’ve linked to!


    • Erin says:

      Hi Chris,

      I think they can be called valances, too. But I think valances are generally just a fabric panel that is hung at the top vs. having a frame.

      I think….

      – e

    • Erin says:

      Hi Jen,

      Thanks! Yes, we are planning on having roman shades that will be installed inside the window frame up behind the cornice. We definitely need the shades with the afternoon sun that beams in!

      – e

    • Erin says:

      Thanks, Laura! Yes, I did see the boxes called pelmets in the Domino design book! I just checked out the Little Green Notebook pelmets and they are amazing (and also looked much easier than mine!).

      – e

  1. Janis from Scotland says:

    Hi Erin and Chris ……………your “pelmet” looks really gorgeous. I am calling it a pelmet because that’s what it is called certainly in Scotland and, I presume, England. A cornice in the UK is the part where the ceiling meets the wall. Isn’t it strange that we have different names and meanings across the water!!!

  2. Judy says:

    Looks beautiful – nice job. I found you through your link today at between naps on the porch. I have some diy cornice boards on my blog you might want to check out.

  3. Terrell says:

    I just looove this fabric you used!!! Darling! I’m happy to be your newest follower of you delightful blog! I’d love to have you as a friend at Frou Frou Decor! Be sure to show off your sweet creations every Friday at my party – Fabulous Friday Finds! Hope to see you there!
    ~Terrell @ Frou Frou Decor~

  4. those are REALLY REALLY cute!! LOVE the fabric. I’m about to make a cornice for my daughter’s window…but am going to mount it really high to help out the puny window. I haven’t decided what do do about the chunk of wall that will be between though. Thanks for the encouragement to tackle this project!!


  5. Brooke says:

    I love this! I tried making a cornice following another tutorial using foam core and the entire thing warps in the middle and keeps falling off the wall! So I am going to have to undo it and redo it, andI was actually thinking of this method as well. I am glad I can learn from your mistakes, althought the seam is not that bad, I thought it added some detail!

    • Erin says:

      Hi Laura,

      I got the fabric at There is a link to it in the post (down near the bottom). It comes in many colors!

      – e

  6. Casey says:

    so cute. I love your cornice! Great job keeping the pattern straight and the same through both pieces! Love it!
    I’ll be bookmarking this.

  7. Ashley says:

    I love the look this gives! Adorable!

    I’m sure your not looking for unsolicited advice but as a mother of twins I’m gonna throw the idea out there and you can do with it as you choose. I noticed that your just going to add white roman shades however I HIGHLY recommend adding something that will help keep the light out a little more, the darker the room in the middle of the day the better a baby naps. My children would NOT sleep during nap time when we moved into our new home cause the afternoon sun was just shining in their window (though the blinds we had). We hung some black out curtains and its amazing, they are taking 3 hours naps and are a lot less fussy now. Like I said, its just something you might want to consider :)

    • Erin says:

      Thanks for the advice, Ashley! So far the roman shades do a decent job of darkening the room, but we definitely are open to adding more darkening mechanisms in the future if needed. We shall see how it goes!

      – e

  8. Simone says:

    I made cornices like these in 1988, love them so much I haven’t swapped them out. I was just writing about this room on my blog, here’s my photo of my project:

    The one thing I did differently is wrap the fabric from the front around the sides, so it didn’t matter about lining up the side board vs. the front, etc.

    I’ve also seen some big decorators using this same technique–love it because it covers up the traverse rod. Decorative rods can be so costly, and I like the clean lines of this look.

    Great website, love your tips!

  9. katie o. says:

    These valences are ridiculously adorable! I know I’m a little too old for elephants on my window coverings, but man oh man,I would love to have them in my room. :)

    You did a great job. And you’ve just given me the inspiration to attempt my own cornices.

  10. Hana says:

    Hi, I stumbled across your post while trying to look for a step-by-step guide with pictures. This was really, really helpful. I had a hard time imagining the whole process but your post made it very easy to understand. Thanks so much. And that elephant print is perfectly whimsical!

  11. Katie says:

    Where did you purchase your Roman shades? I am doing a Elephant theme for our son too.
    Using Ivory and Brown as our main colors. You did a fabulous job!!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Hi Erin,

    Your nursery turned out so sweet! I am trying to make these cornices for my son’s room and am new at all this. Could you tell me how many inches tall your cornice is? Yours just look so cute so I’m trying to copy – hope you don’t mind : )

    • Erin says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I used wood that was 1×10″ pine boards for mine (so they are about 10″ high). The fabric and batting does add a tiny bit more height, but not a lot.

      Good luck on your cornices and let me know if you have other questions. Oh, and send me pictures when you are done; I love to see reader projects!!

      – e

  13. I will be attempting these this week. They are exactly what I had pictured for my son’s nursery, but then we found out we were moving so I did not finish his room. Now I’m doing the new room and these cornices are going to add a really pop of color and pattern. I’m using a big dot pattern…I am not good at picking fabric so I hope I like it when it arrives!! Yikes.

    Check my blog for pictures soon!

  14. I did it! The first cornice is up! And it. looks. PERFECT! I can’t believe I actually picked good fabric. I have to say, it feels good. I’ll be doing the other window this weekend and then will post pictures on my blog Please come check out my site! And thank you for the inspiration and confidence to get this project done…successfully!

  15. Lindsay says:

    I had wanted to do cornices & found a couple of places that would make them for me and they were so expensive! So I waited & pouted and then saw your cornices on pinterest! I bought the fabric & batting, sent the hubs your link so he could do the manly parts and the 2 of us made our family room cornices, without problems, last week! They turned out GREAT! Thanks so much for your inpsiration! And happy (almost?) 1 year birthday to your little one :)

  16. Nikki Kelly says:

    These turned out beautifully. I am visiting from your feature on curbly, but I’ll snoop around a little.

    Btw, I don’t know if you control this or not, but your mobile version of your site doesn’t load the pictures.

  17. Margie says:

    These look great! I’ve been meaning to make one for my bedroom for years, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks for the inspiration! Time I got around to building mine!

  18. Mic says:

    I love these! And the room looks so cute too. Love it…

    Thanks for the great instructions- I will attempt to do my nursery window this weekend.

    • Erin says:

      Hi Alex,

      It is the Eden Pendant Lamp by CB2. It is meant to plug into the wall, but it is easily converted into a hard-wired light!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – e

  19. ODIE says:

    The elephants are VERY cute. I’ve looked online at these DIY articles before and this is BY FAR the simplest explanation of how to set up a cornice I’ve seen. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. They turned out great! I found your blog via pinterest, and I am happy to have found it.
    I am considering making something just like this for my baby’s nursery. I actually pinned that same fabric in bright green a few weeks ago. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  21. Elethia says:

    Dumb question but what kind of batting did you use? I’m on and there are about a million to choose from! lol

  22. Candice Harris says:

    hey, you did a great job but i have a few pieces of advice so that you can save more money and time in the future…. me and my mom have made over 30 cornice boards so we have learned a trick or two.

    ~ do not use pine, its more expenisve than osb board which cost 7.86 at lowes.. you can get a couple windows out of 1 piece of wood.

    ~ don’t use brackets to put together.. we just use nails and nail it together it only takes a few minutes to put a box together.

    ~ we use 3-4 inch nails/ screwa to hang them on… usually 3 along the top and there are no worries about them falling. the nails were around 2-3 bucks for 20.

    dont get me wrong you did a great job as a first timer but its all about cost to and if you can do it cheaper then it makes it more affordable to make more!! we make our sides 4 inches wide by 18 long and the tops are 4 inches wide by 18 and the front is 18 inches so you have the more elegant look and we hang them an inch or 2 from the ceiling to give a bigger look to the windows.

    Hope this helps in the long run!!!

  23. Deena says:

    I have made these but used the foam board instead of wood. We also hot glued a shelf just below the top so it was hidden but coud display light weight things on top. The house we had at the time had curtain rods, so we just set the valances on it but my friend has used the command hooks to hold hers.

  24. CJ says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for! I did not know what they were called either but knew I wanted to do it myself! We’ll see if mine turn out as good as yours :)

  25. Pat Carroll says:

    These are called cornices. They can be wood (fancy with trim or unadorned) or covered with fabric as you did. Thanks for the instructions!

  26. Shannon says:

    These are beautiful. And I love the elephants, so adorable. This is so helpful, as I’m going to be helping my mom make these for her living room.

  27. Jamye says:

    I love this!!! I love your page/blog, just happened to be googling and found this and its something even I can do! I am now gonna be all over your page. :) I am doing a nursery right now for our lil girl due end of June. But I also think this is a great idea for my lil guys toddler room! *Happy Squeal!*

  28. Kathleen Reynolds says:

    I was wondering about the side pieces being covered first, hubby and I are making what we call covered valances for our new grandson’s room. I am planning on covering the piece after we build the box, that would eliminate the problem of the seams regardless of where how you attach the sides (outside or inside). Just a thought for those of you attempting this project. Good Luck, and great project!!!!

  29. Natasha says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I stumbled across this and followed your instructions and ours came out great! We also used the same pattern – in red! Thanks again!

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