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Oct 20 / Erin

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?

Whew….

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!

78 Comments

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  1. Christopher White / Oct 20 2010

    I thought they were valencies

    • Erin / Oct 20 2010

      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

  2. Jen @ homeinthecountry / Oct 20 2010

    So cute, Erin! I adore those elephants… Will you hang curtains/blinds to cover the windows, too?

    • Erin / Oct 20 2010

      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

  3. Laura@JourneyChic / Oct 20 2010

    I love the fabric! Little Green Notebook had a blog party about these things a while back – she called them pelmet boxes I believe. Whatever the name, yours sure do look cute!

  4. Laura@JourneyChic / Oct 20 2010

    Oh, and Erin – you’re right about the valances.

    • Erin / Oct 20 2010

      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

  5. Janna / Oct 20 2010

    Love the elephant fabric – they turned out perfect!!!

  6. Janis from Scotland / Oct 20 2010

    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!!!

  7. julie / Oct 20 2010

    i just came over from blue cricket designs. i’m loving the elephant fabric. planning our nursery was so much fun. i hope you enjoy every second of it! we did our baby boy’s nursery with elephants in blue, grey, white, and a little splash of yellow. i would love for you to take a look: http://julieyaryan.blogspot.com/2010/03/judes-crib.html

  8. Michelle @ Ten June / Oct 21 2010

    Hi there! Stopping by from Blue Cricket Design. These are adorable! Great job. I love the pattern!! You’ve got an adorable blog!! :)

  9. Kim@NewlyWoodwards / Oct 21 2010

    The fabric is perfect, Erin. I love the yellow with the grey walls.

  10. Jenny@Anything Pretty / Oct 24 2010

    How cute! Love the elephants…..and how they perfectly line up. Go Erin!

  11. Country / Oct 24 2010

    I think your valances are great! I love your material.

  12. katy / Oct 24 2010

    Those are super cute!!! Awesome job. I can’t wait to see more of the nursery!!

  13. Michelle@thereallifemom / Oct 24 2010

    Very nice! I’m excited to see your finished product with the nursery! I really like the colors you are using!

  14. I love the bright yellow with gray color combination. And the fabric is so great!!

  15. Gwen @ Gwenny Penny / Oct 25 2010

    Absolutely amazing fabric choice. I don’t think you could have done any better. It looks perfect with the wall color. And don’t get me started on that light fixture:) Nice work.

  16. These are beautiful!! I love the fabric – too cute! Sharing on my FB page!! :)

  17. Trisha / Oct 25 2010

    I came over from DIY showoff and I absolutly LOVE these valences! The elephant fabric is to die for!

  18. Judy / Oct 25 2010

    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.

  19. Moms Crafty / Oct 25 2010

    These look fantastic! Well done! I may have to give these a try in our nursery!

  20. the cape on the corner / Oct 25 2010

    love this, and such cute fabric. it looks fantastic with that paint color, too, for the perfect pop of color! well done!

  21. It's A Priceless Life / Oct 25 2010

    These are really nice! I’m thinking about doing them in our bedroom. I love your elephant fabric for a nursery!

  22. Oh goodness, that turned out AMAZING! I love the fabric you used too. What a great color and I love how clean and modern it looks. Great job!

  23. Terrell / Oct 26 2010

    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!
    Hugs,
    ~Terrell @ Frou Frou Decor~

  24. cassie {Hi Sugarplum!} / Oct 27 2010

    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!!

    xo

  25. Brooke / Oct 27 2010

    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!

  26. claire rose / Oct 27 2010

    Love the elephants-how cute for a nursery-great job on the construction!

  27. Serious cuteness going on here. Great tutorial too! You’ll be getting a feature :)

    So glad you could Mi4M!

  28. laura @ ms smartie pants / Oct 31 2010

    I love it! Where did you get that fabric? I love elephants and would love to have some of that.

    • Erin / Nov 1 2010

      Hi Laura,

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

      xo,
      – e

  29. moms crafty / Nov 2 2010

    I’m so in love with these AND the fabulous fabric! feel free to link up to our fall party and show them off!

  30. Casey / Nov 7 2010

    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.

  31. Ashley / Nov 9 2010

    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 / Nov 10 2010

      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!

      xo,
      – e

  32. Simone / Nov 13 2010

    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:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OdiewMjFrpQ/TNDj2EtgcnI/AAAAAAAAAw4/32hXVvLfGnI/s1600/guestroom.jpg

    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!

  33. katie o. / Feb 26 2011

    Erin,
    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.

  34. Hana / Mar 15 2011

    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!

  35. Christina / May 27 2011

    This looks terrific. Such a wonderful splash of color against the grey walls. And perfect for a nursery!
    Great work!

  36. Katie / May 30 2011

    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!!

  37. Jennifer / Jun 15 2011

    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 / Jun 15 2011

      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!!

      xo,
      – e

  38. Becky Voboril / Aug 29 2011

    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! http://www.preparingforpeanut.com

  39. Becky Voboril / Aug 31 2011

    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 http://www.preparingforpeanut.com Please come check out my site! And thank you for the inspiration and confidence to get this project done…successfully!

  40. Lindsay / Sep 12 2011

    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 :)

  41. Helby / Sep 28 2011

    Oh my, now you’ve gone ahead and inspired me. My boyfriend won’t be happy about this when I drag him around to get boards cut with me :)

  42. Nikki Kelly / Sep 29 2011

    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.

  43. Margie / Sep 30 2011

    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!

  44. jessica@nucheysmommy / Oct 12 2011

    GREAT job! I love cornice boards! Visiting from tipjunkie

  45. Karissa Dolce / Oct 29 2011

    Well done, I read it two times

  46. Half Pint Interiors / Nov 28 2011

    I love the look, perfect for a contemporary space! We call them box/padded valances, funny how everybody has their own term.

  47. Mic / Mar 15 2012

    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.

  48. Alex / Apr 1 2012

    Love it! Where did you get your drum pendant lamp?! I love how basic it is… Do hard to find these days ;-)

    • Erin / Apr 1 2012

      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!

      xo,
      – e

  49. Monika / May 5 2012

    This is incredible! Where did you find this fabric, I’m looking for something similar.

  50. ODIE / May 16 2012

    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!

  51. Kelly @ Corner of Main / May 26 2012

    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!!

  52. Elethia / Jul 29 2012

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

  53. Candice Harris / Aug 18 2012

    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!!!

  54. Deena / Aug 27 2012

    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.

  55. CJ / Sep 6 2012

    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 :)

  56. Nan / Oct 30 2012

    How did you get a screwdriver in place to attach to the wall?

    • Erin / Oct 30 2012

      Hi Nan,

      I think I used a screw gun to attach it to the wall. It was a tight squeeze, but it worked!

      Hope that helps,
      Erin

  57. Pat Carroll / Jan 18 2013

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

  58. Shannon / Feb 24 2013

    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.

  59. Jamye / Mar 20 2013

    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!*

    • Erin / Mar 20 2013

      Thanks, Jamye! So glad you found my blog. Enjoy, and congrats on your pregnancy!

  60. Kathleen Reynolds / May 12 2013

    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!!!!

  61. Natasha / Jul 31 2013

    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!

  62. Emily Maldonado / Feb 2 2014

    Love them! I’m considering building a cornice of my own. Yours turned out great! Can’t wait to go check out the full nursery next!
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