How to make an easy DIY window cornice


Last week when I shared my Ikea farmhouse sink tutorial, I mentioned that I was working on cornice boards for my kitchen windows as part of our DIY kitchen remodel.
There are so many fabulous cornice board tutorials out there! Rhoda at Southern Hospitality has one of the best using foam core board.  In fact my original intention was to copy her tutorial exactly, but then as is often the case, I ran into the usual complications one finds when DIYing a project.  I needed such a long cornice for my window that I had to make it out of two pieces and no matter what I did it buckled in the middle.  Also, I struggled attaching the picture hooks to the board.  It was completely user error as I know many others have had much success.  I on the other hand needed to find another solution for the foundation of my board.
I headed off to Lowe’s…ha! again. They don’t even bother asking if they can help me now.  They know by now that I’m not looking to use anything they have the “normal” way, and at this point I have that crazed never ending DIY project look in my eye.  I think they are given special training on how to deal with people like me.  You know, official “Crazy DIYer Training” that all Lowe’s employees are secretly schooled in.
So off I went to find something that was a little more substantial to make my cornices out of but still light weight and most importantly C.H.E.A.P!  Enter
cheap foam wall panels.  You know, the kind that you put behind you drywall.
Here’s a closer picture so you can see what kind I used.  This pack of 5 or was it 6?! panels cost under $7.00.  I knew I could make them work!
Now, finding the perfect fabric to use in my kitchen and eating area was nerve wracking for me. I knew what colors I wanted to use but I was working with yellow walls that needed to be taken into consideration.  I finally stumbled upon this lovely pattern by Waverly. Paddock Shawl in Mineral.
paddock shawl mineral
but yikes! We’re on a budget here people and I needed lots of this fabric.  I just couldn’t justify $23 a yard. I was sad…until I saw this!
amazon tablecloth
Um hello  60 X 120 inches for $26.00!! That’s $2.60 a yard with free shipping and it’s even wider than decorator fabric! I’ll take it…and I did!
Now, I know you’re probably thinking but it’s a tablecloth NOT decorator fabric. But, remember I’m covering window cornices here not covering a sofa. I wasn’t expecting much as far as the weight of the fabric but  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the fabric was a really nice!  Leave it to Waverly for quality!   
Following the directions of the foam core board tutorials I built my cornices from my foam panels.
First you need to measure the width of your window and decide how deep you need to make your cornice board and how tall you want it.  For my kitchen window I needed a 46”width. I made the depth of my cornice 3” to accommodate the header of my bamboo shade and I liked the height of the panels as they were, so I did not need to cut off any excess for the height.  I measured off 3” for each side.
Next using an X-Acto knife I then followed that line and gently cut through the foam.
I repeated the same step for the header of my cornice board out of an additional piece of foam, making sure to include in it’s length the 1/4” or so on each side for the addition of length the side panels add to the overall length of the cornice. Next, using your hot glue gun quickly attach the side panels to the edge of the front piece holding in place until glue has dried.
2011 08 18-1
I attached the side panels to the outer edge of the front piece for additional stability as well as running the header along the top edge of the front panel instead of inside.
Here is my completed cornice for my kitchen window.  Now, it’s time to cover it.  First, cut your batting to wrap around the entire board, with enough extra fabric to be able to pin your fabric in place.
I found that pining the fabric in place worked best for me.  I tried my staple gun but the staples popped out. I decided that pinning the fabric would be my best option and would also allow me to recover the cornices if I ever decided to change out my fabric down the road.  Here’s the type of pin I used. You can find them at Jo-Ann’s or Hobby Lobby and I’m sure any other sewing supply store.  You will need almost one box for each board depending on the size of your cornice.
I highly suggest ironing your fabric first if there are any creases in it.  Then starting in the top and middle of your board, wrap your batting and fabric around the header and pin into place.  Pulling your fabric tight, pin the bottom edge of the fabric across from the top pin next. Move to each side and repeat this step.  Continue pinning your fabric around your board pulling your fabric tight as you go.  You may need to occasionally re-pin as you work around your board to get your fabric as tight as you desire.  When you get to the corners you may need to cut off excess batting and fabric to wrap the fabric neatly around the corners.
To install the cornices I used two 3 inch brackets for my cornice boards since they were 3 inches deep. 
um…seriously. ignore the dimple in my elbow. dimples on face cute..dimples anywhere else. not.

I installed them so that my cornice would fit tightly up to the ceiling when I slid the header over the brackets.  This makes them easy to remove. You just slip them off!
Here is my finished cornice board for my kitchen window! LOVE! I installed three more over my bay windows.  This involved a few different steps.
I wanted this cornice to look like one big cornice.  To do this I created the middle cornice just like above.  But, for the side pieces I added only one “side panel” to the outside edge of the board.  Then, I held up the cornices and measured off the length to be an exact fit to butt up against the middle panel.  I added the headers and finished off the panels with the above instructions still minus the inside side panel.
Because of measuring exactly, once installed the panels appear to connect to each other. Due to the panels being so light weight they are perfectly stable without the inside side panel.
Here’s the completed bay window cornice.  I apologize for the brightness.  It was definitely a nice sunny day! I am so pleased with my cornice boards! I love my fabric and it’s fun to finally have my window treatments up. I estimate that each cornice cost approximately $5.00-$6.00 to make including cost of fabric. I’d call that a frugal window treatment!

This week we are completing the installation of the backsplash in the kitchen, I’ll be sharing that with you soon as well as my drop cloth cushion for my window seat! Until then…
thank you for joining me at the picket fence!


  1. says

    So love it! You are terrific! and love the Idea of the table cloth. I did that years ago with a cloth found on sell for under $5. Wish I had pics cause that was bb (before blogging!)

  2. says

    Oh my goodness!! Heather I know folks must think we are nuts when we comment on each other’s posts but those look GORGEOUS!! Seriously beautiful! I’m so proud of you and wish I could come over and see them in person! :-)
    Love you!

  3. says

    Great job! I have been going to (famous last words “I’m going to”) remake the top treatment in my living room, but it is such a big job, I just keep putting it off.

  4. says

    Heather~ You did a GREAT job and it does look like one cornice board now that you are done with it. Great find on the fabric too. I once recovered a whole couch using bedspreads-it wore like iron.

    Your colors are beautiful in there- xo Diana

  5. says

    I am absolutely in love with the fabric you chose. That is so awesome that you were able to find it in a tablecloth version. I have made many cornice boards using foam…but I love what you used from Lowes. What a great deal. The finished look is stunning. Awesome job!

  6. says

    love, love, love.. I am so doing this for baby boy’s room… what kind of brackets did you use? did they stick out three inches? I am pretty clear on everything but that part :)

  7. says

    I love this! I am going to copy….do you think I really need the batting? What would happen if I just did the fabric? I am going for the white look…to make it look maybe like wood…..Hmmmm….any ideas? I LOVE THIS! I think even I can handle it! Love, Me

  8. says

    It looks wonderful. I love Waverly fabric/patterns in any application.
    (And now I have yet another good idea as to where to look for fabric.)

    I did something similar in my husband’s office believe it or not.

  9. says

    The cornice board turned out so nicely, both on the bay window and your smaller one. These along with your “custom” waincotting are fabulous!

    Thanks for linking to Potpourri Friday and helping to make it a success! I appreciate you!

  10. says

    If there’s one thing I love in each home, it’s the window. I am amazed on how you did your window blinds. The patterns of the panels are so impressive. It’s a gorgeous concept!

  11. says

    These are amazing! I am just getting ready to do the windows in my lower level family room….needed a tutorial to show the hubby…he gives me that glazed “you are crazy” look when I want to do something like this! So now I will do it! Thanks so much!

  12. says

    Very nice, I have always liked the look of valences and you sure have done a wonderful job. I sent your blog over to my daughter who has recently purchased her first home. I wanted her to see these and she loves window seats….maybe some day she will get a window seat. Thank you for sharing these ideas.

  13. Margie O says

    I am helping my daughter to make the cornice boards for the children’s rooms at church. I can imagine using L brackets to hold them. As we are not going to the ceiling I am not sure how to attaché the boards to the brackets. What type of bracket did you use? Thank you for your photos and tips. Margie

  14. Maria C says

    Love, love, love! This is just what I’ve been looking for to help my son out with decorating his apartment very inexpensively. Can’t wait to get this project started.

  15. karen says

    Wow, I see this thread is a few years old but it is EXACTLY what I need for my 2 bay windows. I have been trying to figure out how to build one big pelmet instead of 3 little ones….Thank you!

  16. Sabrina says

    Hi I’ve been researching a lot about how to make cornices boards, and this is a great idea at a very economical price.
    I was just wondering about the brackets being that it’s a Styrofoam board how well did the brackets secure to and into the Styrofoam. Did the Styrofoam board break up or crack as you the drilling into it. Any info will help I’m looking to do this with in this next week, thanks for posting. S. Gby

    • says

      Hi Sabrina, actually the lip of the styrofoam topper part rests on the brackets so you never have to actually “attach” the brackets to the cornice. It just rests on them. Hope that made sense!


  17. April says

    I used your tutorial and had pretty nice results, well I’m happy with them anyway. I will say finding a way to fix the fabric and batting to the foam was a nightmare. I could not find the exact pins you suggested at our local JoAnn, but what I had very close and they would not stay in. I ended up dipping sequin pins (1/4 long) in foam specific glue, called Foam Fusion and pushing them through the layers, then leaving it to dry. I also used this product instead of hot glue to build the cornices.

    Thank you for warning your readers that the staple gun wouldn’t work. That was no lie!

    A big thanks for the tutorial, my bedroom windows look fab 😀

  18. Caitlin says

    My aunt made a cornice for my big bedroom window using the long side/corner of a refrigerator box which happened to be just the right length. We bought a sheet that matched the bedding too. We used one of the cheap white metal curtain rods and just set it on top over the curtains. It worked great!

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