CHALLENGE: I am
making an upholstered cornice for a client of mine. Of course, I
want it to look as professional as possible, but I am having trouble—for
example, around the curve of the cornice. Also, I’m not sure
how the back should be finished in order to appear neat, clean and
professional. Would you be able to offer some tips or suggest a
book about making cornices?
cornice boxes can be a challenge if not designed and manufactured
properly. Professional drapery workrooms should be able to design
and manufacture a cornice in no time, but if tackling this project
on your own is the requirement, then I will give you some pointers
and direct you to a Web site that will be able to inform you and
offer some training.
• Size and scale: A cornice treatment will
require special attention pertaining to scale and proportion. A
window that is in proportion to its surrounding is the best choice
for this type of treatment. Even small windows can look very pleasing
when the cornice size is in proportion to the window size.
Be sure not to design the treatment to be too deep (height from
top to bottom).
When the window and the wall are large in scale, the cornice will
need to be designed large in scale to fit the size and shape of
• Surrounding elements: Pay special attention
to the structural and decorative elements that are located on either
side of the window. Structural elements such as moldings can pose
a design challenge or cause visual interference that will affect
the look of the finished cornice.
• Wood choice: Cornices can be fabricated
out of many materials. A wood cornice is usually made of plywood,
which comes in various sizes. The standard size is 3/8-inch plywood.
• Fabric choice: In working with fabric,
remember to choose an appropriate fabric that will cover the plywood
smoothly. Do not use fabrics that have a stiff hand, as they are
difficult to wrap around the corners of the wood. Medium weight
fabrics often work best.
Also, steer away from fabrics that are lightweight and opaque, as
your design will not stand out as much. Attention to detail in sewing
is of the utmost importance when covering cornices.
A great Web site I have found that includes illustrations, directions
and an instructional videotape offered for purchase is www.fabric
workshop.com. On this site, you will find illustrated directions
from start to finish for designing a cornice made from plywood.
The site then offers directions on applying the fabric.
How-to videotapes titled “Upholstered Cornices” and
“Slipcover Basics” are offered for sale. These are designed
for the do-it-yourselfer and offer excellent illustrations.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles
written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many
questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well
as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you
have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
Fax: (847) 356-9013
L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and
commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member
at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in
numerous books and publications.