The Classic – A Fabric Covered Cornice Board


Squared off, a curved bottom edge, decorative corners, top crown moulding, any way you design it, a fabric covered cornice board is a classic window treatment perfect for any window.

Matt and I like to dabble in each others specialties because we each have talent in those areas, but mostly because it’s a diversion! So, there are times I work in the shop and times Matt creates window coverings! This particular window covering is more like a window accent. You should think of it as an accessory to your window coverings. It’s a fabric covered cornice board. Notice in the above photo that the cornice board is over the top of another window covering. The woven wood shade offers privacy and some light control and the cornice tops it off nicely. This one is very simple, but the bottom edge can be concave, convex, have an ogee curve to it, it just depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it! Here’s how a rather easy one goes together.

Materials List:

Project Tips:
Of course the amount of plywood and 1 x 4’s you’ll need will depend on the size and number of cornice boards you are making.

As for the quilt batting, use high or low loft depending on the finished look you would like. High loft will appear to be a more padded look and low loft will look less padded.

To help determine the depth of the frame of the cornice board, make sure to leave 2” between the front of the drapery and the back of the cornice board.


1. Determine the placement of the cornice. It needs to cover the drapery tops and all hardware, and still allow for movement of the drapery and blinds. Measure the width of the window or the current window treatment. Add 2 inches on either side. Add another 1 ½ inches to allow for the thickness of the 1 x 4 framing boards (3/4” on each side). If the window is 30” wide, you’ll end up with a measurement of 35 ½ inches.

Next determine the height of the cornice. Cornice boards are usually mounted 4 inches above the top of the window frame or window treatment. The height of the cornice is generally 1/5 the total height measurement of the window or the current treatment.


2. Begin by cutting the 1 x 4 board to the width measurement determined in step 1. Use a Circular saw to make your cuts. (Remember, most lumber yards will cut the lumber for you if you provide the measurements.) Then, cut two 1 x 4 boards to the desired height for the frame sides.


3. Once your three 1 x 4 pieces have been cut out, gather together some wood glue, sandpaper, finish nails and a hammer.


4. Sand down any rough edges along the cut ends of the 1 x 4’s. Add a bead of Wood glue to the top edge of the side frame piece.


5. Use finish nails to attach the frame top to the frame sides. Notice that some of the wood glue will seep out of the seam.


6. Just wipe it down with a damp paper towel and continue nailing.


7. Once the frame is made, measure its outside dimensions and cut the plywood to the correct size.


8. Square up the frame and attach the plywood front.


Use wood glue.


And finish nails.

9. Lay the finished cornice board on the quilt batting and cut enough to fold over into the inside of the cornice board frame and front. Ease in the corners, cut off any excess and staple the batting to the cornice frame and front. Do not pull on the batting or you will stretch it out and reduce the padded effect.


10. Matt decided not to use quilt batting because he chose a fabric that was thick enough for the look he was after.


11. Notice that he isn’t using too much extra fabric for overlapping, just enough to wrap neatly and cover all the wood that might show.


12. Staple the fabric inside the frame just as the batting would be. I like to cover the batting with fabric so even the inside of the cornice looks neat.


13. Cutting out the excess fabric and folding the corners in neatly will pay off in the end with the professional look of your finished cornice board. Keep your fabric’s pattern in mind as you staple it to the board so it stays straight and even.

Try stapling from the center of the frame and work out towards the ends. This makes it easier to keep the fabric straight and taut.

14. Use drywall screws to attach the “L” brackets to the wall. Place them at least 2 inches above the drapery rods to allow draperies to be opened and closed without hindrance. Place the cornice board in position on the “L” brackets and attach the top of the frame to the “L” brackets by screwing up through the “L” bracket into the frame on the inside. This can sometimes be a tight fit, but it is possible to reach your hand and your drill up and behind the cornice board, carefully balancing the screw in the bit of the drill. Have fun!!!

This last part of the project always causes tempers to fly as the screw falls off the bit and rolls into a floor heating vent for the fifth time. Just take a breath and know that the same thing has happened to all of those who have come before you!!!

Matt & Shari


  1. Patricia says

    I watches Shari and Matt for years and years on HGTV
    and loved every show produced. I was so happy to find you both here and still helping out us folks who want
    to be DIY’ers but are somewhat clueless. Thanks for all you have done over the years for me and the many millions I know who enjoyed your shows. I’m going to try the headboard now with the separated squares attached. I’ll change it a little and make the headboard just a little larger. Please keep up the great info. We do
    love you both.
    Trish Davenport ♥

  2. says

    Hi Matt and Shari,
    Thanks for such clear directions for fabric covered cornice. Better than the rest online. You have always given that extra step to put the finishing touch on a project. Miss your show in Dayton, Ohio

    • Shari Hiller says

      Hi Fran, thanks for the nice comments. We are currently working on a third season on public television….we’ll keep you posted!

  3. PATT says

    I did make this valance. It came out really nice. I did not remember that 10 inch boards, are really 9 inches, but it is still ok. I did not use nails. I bradnailed it togetherk,and I did use glue. I afixed it to the wall by leveling a 1 inch board above the window, and bradnailing that, to the wall first, then putting the valance over the board and bradnailing the valance to the board that I bradnailed to the wall. Very easy way.

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