We have a few posts at this point about elements of window top treatments, most of them involving how they are built and technical aspects that make them safer and stronger. That is all well and good, and incredibly important but this post is mostly for you designers out there. Now we need to talk about how they look and what design aspects you can include with your top treatments.

As we know there are 2 main types of top treatments; cornices & valances. For those of you that think those two words mean the same thing check out “Is it a Cornice? Is it a Valance? Are those words Interchangeable?”. The most simplistic answer to those three questions is “No, those words are not interchangeable. Cornices are constructed of wood on all sides while valances have a wood top board with fabric front and sides.”

In light of that we are going to speak today specifically about Cornice Styles and then follow up with a second post specifically on Valance Styles.

Cornices as we have defined above are constructed of wood on all sides and come in two varieties; fabric wrapped & millwork (which is stained or painted wood). For more information on millwork cornices check out our blog post “Millwork Cornices – Another Option.”

Breaking down fabric wrapped cornice styles there are four main types with further variations.

Straight Cornice Drawing

Straight Cornice – As it sounds this is basically a rectangular box without bottom or back. The front edge is a perfectly straight piece of plywood or MDF and fabric is wrapped around the frame. A face fabric must be specified and the inside is lined with a coated blackout.

Diamond Cornice Drawing

Diamond Cornice – This type is similar to a straight cornice but with added frills to the face. The face is usually completed with two complementary fabrics cut in triangular shapes and separated by a welt.

Scalloped Cornice Drawing

Scalloped Cornice – Named after the similar looking scalloped shell, the front edge of this cornice is finished with radial curves rather than a straight edge or stepped or arched cutouts. The scalloped cornice must be specified with the number of ‘points’ and the ‘depth’ to which these curves should run into the cornice.

Cutout Cornices – While the above cornices all stand on their own, cutout cornices are all versions of the same yet with differing additions. There are two main elements that change these cornices; arches/curves & steps. The way that these two elements are used in combination makeup a myriad of different options. With these cornices it is incredibly important to specify every single detail such as how many steps, where the steps start, apex of the curves, etc. We’ve listed the most common versions of these cornices below with pictures for your reference but know that you as the designer are not limited to these and can mix and match the variations of curves and steps as we said previously.


Step Straight

Curve Step Straight Cornice Drawing

Curve Step Straight

Arched Cornice Drawing


Curve Step Arched Cornice Drawing

Step Arched

Curve Step Arched Cornice Drawing
Inset Arched Cornice Drawing

Curve Step Arch

Inset Arched

Always remember in specifying custom cornices, with everything but possibly the straight option, the more details you give the better. We custom make these cornices and are always striving to make them exactly as you the designer envision them!

Further important tips to know include…

  • All Quiltcraft Cornices are made with a full 3/4” dustcap unless otherwise specified or agreed upon with a project manager.

  • All Cornices are made with returns (the legs on either end of the cornice that return to the wall, unless otherwise specified or agreed upon with a project manager and usually only in the context of wall to wall cornices.

  • Elements such as welts & buttons can be added to the face of any fabric wrapped cornice and will need to specified in detail.

We hope that seeing different cornice styles has helped you dream bigger and better for your next project. Don’t continue to use that same ‘straight’ cornice style just because you don’t know anything different. Throw and arch in there, get bold and incorporate a step, do whatever fits your design and your vision for the room. While your at it download our cornice style resource card so you have easy and quick access to all of these options at any time.


Check Out Our Cornice and Valance Gallery!

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