Sep 10, 2012

Living Room Update - DIY Cornice Box

The long-awaited cornice box is up in our living room!  This was a really fun project that I believe totally changed the look of the space.  We have lots of stark white walls with relatively high ceilings so we needed a little weight up top, so to speak...and for us, the cornice box was the answer.

Here are the step-by-step DIY instructions for those of you who may want to add a cornice to your window.  Or, simply keep this in your file for a future cornice box project.  Cornices are a very versatile window feature as you can always change the fabric on them for a new look!

- Measuring Tape
- Circular Saw
- One sheet of Plywood
- One 2"x4"
- One 1"x1" - we used a square poplar wood spindle like someone might use for a staircase
- Several 2" wood screws, and
- Electric Drill/Driver
- Two metal shelf brackets - ours looked like this...

- Batting to cover entire cornice
- Fabric to cover entire cornice, make sure to know your measurements when looking for fabric because you want one continuous piece of fabric
- Staple gun
- Staples

1. Measure out the width of your window in order to determine how wide you want the cornice to be.  Plan on it being at least several inches wider than the window frame, and if you plan on putting curtain panels under the cornice, make the cornice even wider so you don't block your window.

(Here are the dimensions of our cornice - prior to adding the batting and fabric, which puffs it up a bit.)

2. Trim your plywood to size using the measurements from above.  You'll cut a total of  3 pieces of plywood: one large piece the desired length and width of cornice for the "front", and two smaller pieces cut to the same width as the front and desired depth of the cornice for the "sides".  Make sure to allow enough depth for easy installation (and a potential curtain rod)...keep in mind, you have to get up under the cornice with a hand-held driver to attach it to the wall.

(My fine male model did the dirty work while I took pics...)

3. Trim your 2"x4" into two pieces to fit the depth of your short "sides" of plywood.   Attach to plywood with at least two screws, going through the plywood first.  (You will eventually screw the shelf brackets into the 2"x4" pieces when you attach the cornice to the wall.)  Repeat for other side.

4. Trim your 1"x1" into two pieces that will help serve as supports when the pieces of plywood are attached to create the cornice.  Ours were approx. 8" long.  Attach to short pieces of plywood with at least 2 screws - make sure to leave enough space between the 2"x4" and 1"x1" so it doesn't impeded your getting a driver between them when you install the cornice on the wall.  Repeat for other side, but make sure the 1"x1" is on the opposite edge (see below).

           (this will go on right interior side of cornice)          (this will go on left interior side of cornice)

5. Now attach the long front of the cornice to the short side pieces with several long screws.  Using a driver, screw from the outside face of plywood into the 2"x4" and 1"x1" on each side piece.

The photo below shows how the brackets will eventually attach to the cornice frame...but DO NOT attach them yet.

6. Now that your cornice frame is built, it's time to add the batting.  Wrap the batting evenly around the front of the frame, stapling it every few inches along the back side of the cornice.  It doesn't have to look pretty, just even. (Don't get any batting under the 2"x4" where the bracket will sit.)

7.  Now place the fabric where you want it, wrap it tightly around the frame, and staple along the back side every few inches.  Make sure to pull the fabric taut while you staple so the end result will look tight.  I recommend starting in the middle of the cornice along the top edge and working across to each side, then do the bottom edge.  Finish up with the side edges, pulling tightly so there is no bunching of fabric laterally across the front.

Take special care with the corners, folding them over neatly and stapling well.  This is especially important across the bottom edge, as it will be visible once the cornice is hung.  There shouldn't be any loose fabric hanging from the back, so staple it all down well or trim the excess fabric at the end.

8.  You made it through the cornice creation!  Now it's time to mount your two brackets on the wall.  Try to find a stud or use wall anchors.  Attach the brackets with your driver, using all the screws that came with the brackets.

9. Finally, place the cornice up on the brackets (2"x4"s of the cornice should be securely resting on the brackets) and attach the cornice to the mounted brackets with screws.

10. You're DONE!  Now step back and enjoy your masterpiece...

(Note: If you're placing curtains across your window under the cornice, make sure to install the curtain rod hardware before you hang the cornice.)

Here's the cornice by light of day, totally brightening up the room and inviting the eye up through the expanse of space.

What do you think of it?  Do you like the fabric I selected?  Do you think it makes a difference in the room (the "before" is {here})?  I'd love to hear your feedback and please don't hesitate to leave a comment with a question if you need help creating your own.  Happy cornice-boxing!


Mindy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I LOVE that fabric! It's so happy! The yellow pops all over the room are super fun. And that ottoman is AWESOME!

Makaila said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I actually had to come back and look at this again Kristen! I am considering doing it in our living room..

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Yes, LOVE it. I think it makes a huge different brightening up the room. Now thinking about this for my kitchen! - Katie @ Newcomb Home

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Makes a huge difference to your room. Thank you for the step by step guide!

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


I wonder if this "Amy" was me...I think it was...finally 5 months from when I commented we finally have it hung up! Very very easy. Thank you!!

Kristen @ Inspired Whims said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Amy, so glad to have you back! :o) I'm so happy to hear that you're happy with your cornice and that it was easy to make. I've made another one for a friend's house and I think it makes a huge difference in any space. Enjoy it!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

When you are sitting in your chairs and look up, can you see the back side of the cornice? That will bug me?? Looks awesome in the pics!!

Kristen @ Inspired Whims said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The chairs are pulled out enough from the window that you can't see behind the cornice when you look directly up. And, since the chairs are in front of the window, no one can get close enough to the window wall to look up into the back of the cornice. Another nice touch is to hang curtains behind the cornice so when they're gathered to either side you see even less up in the cornice.

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