What is a Cornice?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A cornice is a decorative framework or molding that is located along the top of some sort of design element. Typically, both indoor and outdoor cornices help to enhance the overall appearance of the area where they are placed. Different types of cornices are available, with some interior designs utilizing the device as part of window treatments, and some outdoor applications using the device as ornamentation on a wall, arch, or the top of a building.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Inside the home, a window cornice is sometimes used to conceal the hardware that holds the draperies in place. Also known as a cornice board, this application calls for the creation of what often resembles an open-ended box that covers the top of the drapery panels, hiding the curtain rod from view. Boards of this type are usually made from wood and covered with batting and fabric to match the draperies. However, there are lightweight cornices constructed from foam panels that can be covered with fabric or even with leftover wallpaper.

Interior cornice boards can also be found in the kitchen. The application is basically the same as in other rooms of the house. What is different is that boards used in the kitchen are often painted rather than wallpapered or covered with fabric. This makes it possible to clean the boards using the same cleansers as those used to keep the kitchen counters spotless.

Creating cornice window treatments is a simple task. All that is required is one long board and two shorter boards that are secured at each end. This simple frame is painted or covered to match the general décor of the room. Hardware is added to the short boards, as well as one set of hardware in the middle of the longer board, making it possible to attach the framework over the window. The board is hung so that it obscures the view of the drapery hardware, as well as the top of the panels.

Ceiling cornices are also common design elements in some homes. One application involves the strategic placement of elongated cornices to hide recessed lighting fixtures. This creates a look where the light seems to softly project from the device, making it an ideal approach to creating light in various points of the room without the need to use glaring overhead lights or even table lamps to set the mood.

Outside, the cornice can be used to dress up a wall with relative ease. The design element works well when placed atop a dividing wall, or can be added somewhere along the upper portion of the wall to help create a framework for other elements, such as decorate metal fittings. While outdoor cornice boards are often plain, they can also be intricately detailed and add visual interest to an otherwise utilitarian wall.

Decorative frameworks of this type are relatively inexpensive to make, but can also be purchased at many home interior stores. Custom-made cornices are sometimes expensive, especially if the customer requires a great deal of detail added to the device. However, simple designs tend to work better in more room designs, especially contemporary settings.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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