Recycled Cardboard Window Cornice Valance

How to make a window cornice using cardboard instead of wood. It is a very easy home decorating window treatment to make that requires no power tools. It can be made in under an hour and will last for years!


I thoroughly enjoy finding new uses for things that would normally end up in the trash.

Re-cycle, Re-Use, Re-Purpose is how is a very budget friendly way to decorate a home.

When I think of all the window treatments I have made for my home, this is by far… the thriftiest.

How to Make a Window Cornice Using Cardboard

This window cornice or valance uses cardboard from large appliance boxes that is cut to size, scored and folded and then covered with fabric and then stapled to the window molding. It will not work on a window that does not have wood molding or trim around it.

The cardboard cornice is lightweight and a very inexpensive way of adding color to a window when you don’t want a cleaner more minimal look.

Making the cornice is inexpensive because it only requires the purchase of a 1-2 yards of fabric and quilt batting. It is so easy to make and install, gathering the supplies will probably take longer.

Easy to make window valance using a cardboard box.

My cornice in this photo is 8” high.

I added decorative brass tacks to attach the cornice instead of staples and used a quilted fabric that adds texture to the monochromatic color scheme of the room.

DIY Red corduroy cardboard window cornice with Dalmatian blinds.

This photo is from my book, Instant Decorating.  It is no longer in print, but I like to post a project from the book on my blog once in awhile. I made this cornice 15” high.

I covered the cardboard in fire-engine-red corduroy.  To hide the staples when the cornice was mounted, I painted the top of a row of staples red and let them dry, before loading them into the staple gun.

To learn how I added the Dalmatian spots to the mini blinds head over to this post: How to Make Dalmatian Spotted Window Blinds for Kid’s rooms.

Step-by-step Instructions:  Cardboard Cornice Valance

supplies needed:

  • Fabric
  • Cardboard from large appliance boxes or foam board bought at a craft or art supply store
  • Utility knife
  • Yardstick or T-square
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Wide Masking Tape or duct tape
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Optional:  Paint to paint staples same color as fabric, decorative tacks instead of staples, and fabric batting if you want a padded look for your cornice.

Time needed: 45 minutes

How to Make a Window Cornice Using Cardboard
Instructions are for a single window cornice.

  1. Determine Fabric Yardage

    Measure window width from outside edge of trim to outside edge of trim. Measure depth of projection from wall and multiply by 2; add to window width measurement and use this width for cornice.  Use 15 inches for height or whatever you would like the height of your cornice to be. Add 4 inches to both width and height measurements so you will be able to wrap fabric around the back of the cornice. ( If there are blinds or curtains, allow enough projection or clearance from wall to clear the existing rod, hardware, or curtains; 4 to 5 inches is usually sufficient).

  2. Cut Cardboard

    Cut cardboard with utility knife using these measurements.

  3. Score Cardboard

    With yardstick or t-square, mark the projection measurement on the back of the cardboard cornice on each side. Draw a line from the top to the bottom with pencil. Using the point of a closed pair of scissors, score lines using edge of yardstick as a straight edge guide.  Bend cardboard back at each scored line.

  4. Cover with Fabric

    Lay fabric right side down. Center cardboard scored side up on fabric. Raw edges of fabric will be covered with masking or duct tape. Wrap the fabric taut around top and bottom. Use masking tape to secure fabric to cardboard. Fold side sections over, making sure fabric on front and side sections are smooth.

  5. Attach to Window

    Paint a row of staples the color of your fabric and let dry. Nail polish will work also. :-) Load staple gun with staples. Hold covered cornice up to window with one edge against outer edge of window molding. Put two staples into cardboard and molding, one at the top and one at the bottom. Repeat on other side, making sure cornice is level and straight across window.

To see another way to make a similar cornice or rigid valance using Styrofoam instead of cardboard, check out this post: How to Make a Window Valance Using Styrofoam

Window cornices made using cardboard and fabric. Budget home decor.

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  1. Dawn nancy says:

    Positively ingenious!! I LOVE creating things using simple materials or redesigning things vs discarding. I’m currently trying to figure out how to make a shade for a bedroom window using one long curtain. I’ll have to check out the Internet for suggestions. Congrats on the job so well done!

  2. Peggy McDonald says:

    Hi Diane, I have another idea on how to use those herb ice cube trays. I use them to make giant ice cubes and in the hot summer they last much longer in my glass of lemonade. I freeze them, toss them in a zip-lock bag and make more. The do work well for the fresh herbs too, of course. Stay safe. /regards, Peggy

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Peggy – Thanks for the idea. I have one large silicon ice cube tray. I have been using it to freeze tomato sauce and then like you, throw the frozen cubes into a Ziplock. They come in very handy and I get to use all the sauce instead of it going bad in the fridge if I can’t use it in a few days. :-)

  3. Darwin Painter says:

    Thank you for sharing

  4. Hi! Where did you find the quilted fabric?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Robin – The quilted fabric is upholstery fabric that I bought at a fabric discount warehouse near me many years ago. If you have a JoAnn Fabrics near you, sometimes in their clearance section I have seen fabric like it. You may want to check there to find something similar.

      1. Any idea if the window does’nt have mount trim, how to attach?

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Barb – You can attach angle “L” brackets on each side of the wall and then attach the valance to the brackets using brass fasteners. You would need to punch the brass fastener through the hole in the L bracket and then through the fabric and cardboard. You can then use nail polish or craft paint to touch up the top of the brass fastener that will be on the outside so it matches your fabric.

  5. I would LOVE to do this but I have a double window and no idea where to get the cardboard…any ideas?
    Please leave reply, if one, on my blog…
    as I may not be this way again. :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bj- Head to your local appliance store and ask them to save the boxes from big appliances like refrigerator boxes. They are big enough to cut to fit any window to make the valance.

    2. Any hardware store dumps long boxes away after stocking. Sturdy and already formed!

  6. After you screw the L bracKet to wall attach a piece of Velcro to top of bracket the the other piece to cornice then put cornice on L bracket connecting the two pieces of velcro

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi JoAnn- I am not sure what your question is?

  7. fortheloveoftrend says:

    Re-cycle, Re-Use, Re-Purpose = Re-Decorate is my favorite equation, too! Love the post!

    1. Deb Margerum says:

      I use styrofoam or insulation panels and put them together with toothpicks. I got glued the fabric on

  8. missteree says:

    Not washable??? They get full of dust & dust mites :/

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      If you want to wash the valance, it is quite easy to take it down to clean. It is only up with staples or small nails. Once you clean it, just pop it back up. No harder then removing drapes from a rod, washing them, and having to press them before hanging. :)

      1. suzie dunson says:

        I always love your ideas…I am going to make these tomorrow..i change my fabrics often… this is perfect for me… rather than buying new curtains… when I’m board I just change my Cornish boards to something trendy… make a few pillows for the sofa and done… instant remodle..

      2. Love your blog! I know this is years later but also regular dusting, vacuum, and steam. You don’t even have to take them down. ;)

        1. Good answer! I was thinking same! Reg vaccum and so in expensive make again in one afternoon

  9. Love this idea. I have a couple questions. If I use foam board, can it be bent like the cardboard? Will this work on a double window that is about 70″ wide?

  10. I have 2 sets of triple windows in my sun room that I would love to add valances like this. Any ideas on what to use to span 108 inches? Absolutely love the look.

    1. Try making two cornices , tack against each other with same material! Would look great

  11. Heh… I HAD THAT BUNKBED. :)

    And now my sons sleep in it. Built like a rock.

  12. Margaret Blair says:

    Just realised the email address was wrong in my last reply ,sorry about that !

  13. Margaret Blair says:

    What a great idea ! . I have just discovered your page. For a long time I have been looking for a simple way to attach a pelmet above my curtains to keep out the cold. Thankyou ,you have solved my problem.

  14. Hi, What do you think about using 3m command products for attaching to the wall? I wonder if they work with fabric so that you can press them onto the wall and put the tabs on the inside of the cornice. They would have to be short ones.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – They would work fine. Depending on the depth of the molding around your window, you may need to cut the 3M Command Strip vertically to the same width. When I first made this window treatment -it was a project in my book, Instant Decorating back in the early 90’s. 3M Command Strips were not around then :) They are a wonderful invention and good for so many things. It is funny that you brought them up as I will be working with 3M over the next few months creating projects for them. I will be posting one a month. Happy New Year.

  15. hi diane , what fantastic ideas you have amazing, i am not very good at sewing, and you have so many no sew ideas FANTASTIC ,you are also very real, the things you think off are for a beautiful home and not a palace , things the ordinary person can do . keep up the brilliat work. i live in england so i dont know your currancy but it all seems so affordable thank you once again x lin

  16. looks so chic and so deceptive the way it is made. Glad I got here somehow.

  17. hair feathers says:

    I wish my room is the same as this..

  18. Love it, and did it yesterday! My living room looks so much better now. This is an awesome (I repeat with enthusiasm: AWESOME!) solution for horribly-crumbly-repeatedly-patched-absolutely-will-not-allow-another-nail-or-screw-to-be-mounted plaster walls in our rented house. Thanks SO much for the idea!

  19. Betty Tyler says:

    I made valance like this out of lots of comments on it, loved it

    1. Betty Tyler says:

      got the styrofoam cheap at hardware store…a sheet for about $5.00 made several from one sheet.

    2. Hi Betty – I am a firm believer of what you can’t see can easily be faked. Kudos on using the foam insulation. Makes the DIY part of decorating much easier :)

  20. I really love the brass tacks you added as well. Its amazing to see what can be done with recycled cardboard! :) You are very talented.

  21. Denise Keesee says:

    Thank you so much for all of your fabulous and inexpensive ideals! I can’t wait to give my house a facelift!

    God Bless,

    Denise Keesee

  22. Hi there,
    Just cut the cardboard box my sink arrived in and went to cut, only to find the cardboard with ‘wings’ on end is just the right size!
    Off now to get the fabric – yay!
    Thanks for great and easy idea.

  23. What a wonderful idea..I have been wanting to make something to accent my room and this is just what I’m going to do…This is my first time on your site and am so impressed. Bookmarked for sure.

  24. Alas…I have no window moldings to staple these to…at least not on the windows that I would WANT to make them for…I guess I would have to attach a block of wood on each side of the window …

    1. Hi Suze-

      You could attach the valance using metal angle irons that they sell at hardware stores. One on each side. You would screw the angle iron into the wall and hot glue the valance on. I have done this for a client and it works, although I like your idea of using two strips of wood the height of your valance and nailed them to the wall around the window you would have equal success.

  25. love this idea, going to download that pdf, this just might be what we need for our livingroom. btw I love the spots on the blinds, too cute!!!!

    1. Hi L2L-

      That photo of the spotted blinds was from my book, Instant Decorating. I needed a boys room and my friend Pam let me decorate her son Jacks room for the book back in 1994. He is graduating from college this May. It is a pretty timeless decorating idea and very easy and inexpensive to execute.

  26. Amy @ Positively Splendid says:

    What a smart, thrifty decorating solution! I’ll be sharing this in my Saturday Seven lineup this weekend!

    1. Hi Amy-

      Thanks so much. It is a very thrifty project, but doesn’t look it at all.

  27. OK, this is a fantastic idea!!! I’m gonna try this in our home office…thanks so much for the inspiration!!!

    1. Hi Maggie-

      The cardboard valance is one of those projects that is so easy to do and timeless as well. I currently have the one you see in the post andanother in a bathroom. I recently took the wood blinds off the windows in my studioffice and I love the way the valance looks even more against the bare window.

  28. I want to make these but I don’t have framed windows like that and I’m not sure how to attach them. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Jenny-

      Thanks for leaving me the nice comment. Yes, there is a way to attach the valance without having trim around your windows.
      The first way would be to add 2 angle brackets to each side of the window – they look like the letter “L”. You can buy them at any hardware store for a few dollars.
      1. Figure out the height of your valance. Then place the angle irons (open side ot the “L” facing the window) along the edge of the window one on top and the other on the bottom of the height measurement. You can place the bottom one up a bit so that when the valance is hung you won’t see the angle iron.

      2. Once these are in place – measure the width of the window from the outer edge of each bracket. That would be your window width now. To attach the valance: angle irons have two holes in them, you can put a flat head screw thru the valance going from the outside in and thru the angle iron. One screw thru each angle iron would do the trick. Secure with a wing nut on the inside of the valance. Paint the screw heads the color of the fabric to hide.

      Or, if the valance is not large you can simply hot glue the valance to the angle brackets. Hold in place until the hot glue is cold.

      Another way to attach would be to add about 4 inches to your total window width. 2″ for each side. Make the valance in the same way but you will add one more step. Where you normally would just staple the end of the valance to the window trim you will now make another score line two inches from each end. Turn these “Flaps” to the inside of the valance. To attach to the wall – Butt the flap on one side to the edge of the window opening and staple it right to the wall. You will need longer staples. Repeat on the other side -which will be a bit trickier as you will have to get up underneath the valance with your hand and staple gun. You may need an extra set of hands to help you. Just keep in mind to make sure it is level before you staple in onto the wall.

      Hope this helps – Good Luck
      My best – Diane

  29. Diana @ The Girl Creative says:

    So creative. I’m way jealous! :)

  30. That is a great use of something that would otherwise be going in the dump. Way to go, recycling.

    And you can’t even tell. It was very tastefully done. The tacks were a nice touch too.

    thanks for showing it

  31. Beach Vintage says:

    Wow, I would never have noticed it was cardboard backing. It look amazing. I like the way you think! Thanks for dropping by Beach Vintage.

  32. Tiffany H says:

    Thanks for linking and for sharing my button, I love this! I am sharing with my readers this fantastic idea tomorrow!
    Come see! :)

  33. Condo Blues says:

    I used cardboard to make the valances in my office and master bedroom. You can’t tell that they are made out of cardboard. Better yet, they hide my not so attractive but functional curtain rods.

  34. Diane at InMyOwnStyle says:

    I fixed the link, so you can download the instructions now.

  35. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality says:

    That’s a cute project, Diane!!

  36. I tried the link for the pdf, it doesn’t work. Would love to have a copy. Thanks for the great pictures and idea.