The word “cornice” comes from the Latin term ledge. Originally, you would have only found a cornice on the outside of a building. A cornice was used as an architectural element that diverted rainwater away from the sides of the building.
Cornices started out to be very functional and then expanded to become very decorative elements as well. Greeks of the 14th century brought the decorative element inside and created trimmings and moldings around ceilings, doorways, and windows.
What is a cornice board? A Window Cornice Board is a decorative frame made of wood or some composite material. Cornice boards are used to attach window curtains using rods of hooks. Most cornice boards are fashionable and elaborate in design, however, cornice boards are not nearly as elaborate today as they were in the past.
Today, a cornice is used to enhance the overall appearance of the area in which it is placed. A cornice board more specifically, is used as a decorative crown for a window. The cornice can stand alone as the decorative element or be placed over curtains. Sometimes the cornice is placed to conceal hardware.
A window cornice can be made of wood or plaster. It can be painted, stenciled, wallpapered or upholstered. The shape can vary also. They can be very boxy, or very curved – scalloped, as we call it, also arched, squared, pointed, or even asymmetrical.
The cornice board itself tends to have a tailored and formal appearance when compared to a fabric valance, which is often used in the same capacity. Depending on the fabric used the overall appearance of the cornice board can be anywhere from sophisticated to whimsical and all points in between. With a bit of creativity and the use of trim, buttons, cording, contrasting fabric or beads, even a boxy wood cornice can become a very decorative element with loads of character.
We have several examples illustrating a variety of shapes, styles and added decoration:
First, we have bead trim, accent fabric, and cording . . .
More examples of trim, contrasting fabric accents and buttons . . .
Cornice boards with curtains. . .
Large shapes and then back to a rectangle . . .
Small detailed cornice board shaping . . .
Cornice board with jabot . . .
Detailed Scallops on your cornice . . .
You can see more samples of cornice boards in our Top Treatments photo gallery.