How to Make a Cornice Headboard

A cornice headboard can add a luxe factor to any bedroom, even when it is made on a small budget.

I get many questions in my inbox every week about my bedroom decorating projects and posts, but one of the most frequently asked questions is – How did I make the cornice style headboard for my bed?  I touched on it a little in a post I did about my bedroom makeover, but not in any detail.

A Cornice Headboard on the wall n a white and blue bedroomHow to Make a Cornice Headboard

My bed seemed lost against the long wall and I wanted to do something besides add art to the wall to add interest.   I made this cornice a long time ago using my easy and fake out display tricks to make the bed the focal point of the room.  I do not have any step-by-step photos to show you, but I have broken the construction down to make it a bit easier to understand how it is made.

Here is a close-up.  It is painted a light sage green that matches the headboard and desk in the room.  It is basically a box mounted on the wall and ceiling.  Crown and trim molding are added after the box is mounted.

How to make a Cornice Headboard
How to make a cornice headboard

Breakdown of the Cornice Parts:

1. Crown Molding from Ornamental Moldings – sold at Lowes and Home Depot, cut to fit around the box. The closest I could find to the one I used was this decorative piece called Cornisa 1/2” x 4 1/2”.  You can use any crown molding and beef it up by adding other trim molding to the top and bottom of it.


2. The box is made from wood boards cut to the size needed.  It is three sided with no back. Miter corners when constructing.   There are also two 1 x 2’s  mounted to the wall and ceiling inside the box that are needed to securely attach the box to the wall. (You could make the box of 4 equal sides and use the back to mount on the wall. This will work, but you will see the back of the box when viewing  the cornice when standing in the room. It also will make the pleated fabric not flush with the wall – that is why I chose to use a 3 sided box. )

My box(Cornice) spans a king size bed and measures:

Width: 7’ – 3”
Depth: 10”
Height:  5”

If you are not going to add pleated fabric along the front, I would make the box at least 10 –15” high to keep in proportion to your bed and ceiling height.

How to Attach Cornice Box to the Wall

  1. Cut  two – 1 x 2’s to the dimension of the inside width of the box.   Center and mount one along the back of the wall against the ceiling with screws into the wall joists.   Mount the second one to the ceiling into the ceiling joists so it will fit right against the inside front of the box when the box is mounted. Screw the sides of the box to the 1 x 4’s, then add screws along the outside front of the box to secure the front.  The screws will be hidden when you add the crown and trim molding.

2. Add the crown and trim molding to the box using finishing nails.  Countersink nails, fill, and sand holes.  Caulk if needed. Paint.

How to Add Fabric to a Bed Cornice Headboard

How to make a Cornice-style-headboard

The white hangings are the third change of fabric this cornice has seen over the years. It is also my thriftiest.  I used a set of white sheets for the back and valance pleating and two Matelasee twin bedspreads for the side panels.

Close-up of the wall fabric pleating. The ceiling fabric was left over from the past fabric I used on the bed hangings. It is not necessary, but if you want to add fabric to the inside top ceiling of the cornice  – it is just stapled on before the wall fabric and pleating.

Hand pleat the fabric with your hands – it is as easy as  making a 2 inch fold along the edge of the fabric and then stapling the fold to the wall. Keep repeating until the wall is covered.  To figure out the amount of fabric needed – measure the width of the wall and double it for subtle pleating.  Triple the width for a heavier pleated look.


Wall Pleated Fabric:  For the pleated fabric on the wall, I simply hand pleated 2 king sized sheets and stapled them to the 1 x 2  along the top of the wall as I worked.   Once the top was stapled on,  I pulled the bottom of the sheet taut and pleated and stapled directly to the wall making sure to keep the pleats straight.  It falls just short of the floor.  Once the fabric was stapled on, I covered the staples by hot gluing ribbon over them.

Side Panels: I sewed ribbon loops evenly along the short end of each bedspread and hung them from screws/nails I added at even increments along the inside the cornice.


Valance:  I folded what I had left of my sheets and pleated and stapled it to the inside front of the cornice.  I would have liked to have beefier pleats, but I made-do with what I had.    I do not have a photo of the bed with the previous fabric – it was box pleated and much fuller looking than my thrifty sheet valance.

The pleated sheets fall behind the standard headboard and the side panels skim the sides.  Ed tucks the panel on his side of the bed behind the headboard because he says it blocks the light when he reads at night.  I like my side to hang freely.


I hope this post helps all of you that have asked me how I made my cornice headboard. Once you make and mount the box– adding the rest can be done in many different ways to fit your style using molding and the way you pleat, gather, or ruffle the fabric hanging from it.

UPDATE: Since I posted this, I have made another headboard for this bed.  You can see it here:

How to Make a Bed Headboard Using Thrift Store Doors

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  1. Linda L Weeks says:

    How have I missed seeing this post?? Well maybe it was from before I joined the mailing list. In any case, I really like this project! Since my room is so small, I think I may scale back on fabric and moldings, but still create the same effect. I know your room is WAy bigger than mine!

  2. Hi Diane,
    I am in the middle of re decorating my little girl’s room and want to make a cornice over her twin bed. The tricky part is I am setting her bed in a corner. Head board up against one wall and one long side of bed against the other. I want the cornice to span the corner and hang pretty drapes while tying them to one side. Do you have any suggestions on doing this?

    Thanks! I love the one you did. Very pretty!


  3. Sheree Fojut says:

    Thanks so much ! Love this idea for a head board !

  4. Hi, Diane

    It looks lovely. You make it seem so easy, I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks,


  5. Alex @ Revedecor says:

    It seems a thing that will take a few hours for me, but when I see how you finish all and how good it looks, I cheer up

  6. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    If I could have gotten my hubby to help me with this cornice box, Diane, I would have gone this route instead of with my bed crown. I have admired your bed cornice for some time and thought it might be an option, but with my hubby hating when I nail things into the wall, I’m afraid the ceiling would have given him a stroke.

    1. Hi Kathy – Your bed crown looks beautiful and probably was much easier to mount. I had to laugh that your hubby would have a stroke if he had to put holes on the ceiling :) Very funny.