How to make padded fabric cornice board box

Cornice boards are back in vogue. Originally designed to hide drapery hardware and keep the dust off, they have come back into favor with designers everywhere. They add depth to a window, a focal point to a room, still hide unsightly hardware or just add needed interest. Cornice boards are simple to make from plywood or veneer, but can be made extra lightweight by using foam or foam core board. You can make a plain rectangular 3-sided box and leave it open at the top or add the top (commonly called the dust board) and use it for display space if you want. If you're handy with a jigsaw, you can make your cornice with curves or cutouts. If you opt to use foam or foam board, you don't even have to have a jigsaw, a serrated knife and a candle will be your tools of choice. Covering the cornice in fabric is as simple as wrapping a gift. Using a staple gun and hot glue, you can upholster your masterpiece in your favorite fabric. Adding buttons, beads, braid trim or tassels is great way to make your own personal style statement.

The Basics

Measuring is important since you want the width of the cornice to extend only slightly past the window trim, just enough to mount it on the wall just outside of the trim. The cornice should be long enough to completely cover the existing window covering hardware, usually a minimum of 8 inches, up to 18 inches depending on your window and your preference. The depth of the cornice is determined by the size of the sides and should be deep enough to clear the existing window coverings while operating them. A good rule of thumb for depth is to measure from the wall to where the window coverings stick out and add 2 inches. The dust board will need to be as wide as the front board and as deep as the sides.

Once you have your measurements, cut out the wood and begin the assembly. Using wood glue or carpenter's glue, attach the dust board to the sides by setting it on top of the sides. Follow this with a few nails and you're now ready to attach the front. This should be glued to the front of the sidepieces and be flush with the edges. Again, nail the front in place as well as using the glue. You now have a "box" with an open bottom and back, which will be attached to the wall using L-brackets.

The Fun Part

Sheets make terrific fabric to use for covering your cornice since no piecing of fabric or sewing is needed. Sheets also offer an inexpensive alternative for fabric if you can find a pattern or color that works well in the room and gives the effects you are looking for.

You will need enough medium weight batting to cover the front and sides of the cornice, and of course, you can pad the top as well. Attach the batting all around the cornice, securing it with staples on the inside of the boards.

Now wrap your cornice with the fabric very similar to wrapping a package, again securing the fabric with staples on the inside of the cornice. Make sure the fabric is smooth and tight and that the corners are mitered like a gift box.

At this point you may be finished and ready to install your cornice or you may want to add some decorative touches like braid, tassels, ribbon or buttons. These can easily be attached as desired with a hot glue gun.


There are a couple of ways you can install your cornice with the preferred method using L-brackets. Attach the brackets to the wall just outside of the window trim and high enough to position the cornice where you want it. You should attach the brackets with drywall screws with one side of the bracket against the wall and one side of the bracket on top and parallel to the floor forming a ledge for the cornice to rest on. Place the cornice on top of the brackets and from the open bottom of the cornice; screw the top board to the bracket.

If you prefer, you can attach picture-hanging hooks to the sideboards and hang the cornice from nails at the sides of the windows. This installation works particularly well if you want to take the cornice down from time to time.

Alternative Materials

As stated earlier, you can make your cornice lightweight by using foam or foam core board. The measurements, construction and assembly are all the same except for how you cut it and how you keep it together.

If using foam or Styrofoam, a serrated knife that has been run through a candle makes a nice clean cut. You can use another extra piece of foam as sandpaper if you need to finish any rough edges. Rather than gluing and nailing a foam cornice together, you'll use floral picks (without the wire) and white glue. Simply put a dab of glue onto the end of the pick and push it into the foam about halfway. Place a dab of glue on the other end of the pick and push the adjoining piece of foam onto it until the two pieces meet. You'll want to use a pick about every 2 inches and on the ends, too. If you leave the fabric off of the back of the sidepieces installation is a snap. Just place nails outside of the window trim where you want the cornice to hang and press the foam onto the nail. Make sure you're using a nail with a good size head. You can add a dab of glue on the head of the nail for extra security. Because it is so lightweight, you can also hang these cornices with hook and eye (Velcro) tape, attaching one side to the wall beside the window and the other side to the side panels of the cornice.

Foam core board has a poster board type finish on the outside with a layer of Styrofoam on the inside. If you want to use this type of material, it cuts best with a utility knife or an X-Acto knife. Assembly is easy using regular white glue or hot glue. Again, once your cornice is completed, your can hang it directly from nails or use Velcro strips since it is so lightweight.

Covering Foam Cornices with Fabric

You will cover you foam cornices with the same batting material and fabric as before but without using a staple gun. Batting and fabric is best attached to foam and foam core board cornices using regular straight pins and a hot glue gun. Any embellishments you decide to add can be secured with hot glue as well.

Now all there is left to do is stand back and admire your handiwork and accept the compliments with grace.