When manufacturers of ready-made valances mention the term “cornice-like,” I admit that it may sound confusing.

So what exactly does the term “cornice style valance” mean? In most cases, this actually means that the valance isn’t a cornice at all. Instead, it’s a rod pocket valance that is hung in a particular way in order to imitate the look of a cornice valance. This is achieved by using a continental rod for hardware.

Let’s go into more detail and explain the differences between these kinds of valances so you can decipher which one is which.


What a Real Cornice Is

A real cornice valance is constructed by usually piecing together three heavy pieces of lumber into what is known as a valance box. The box is then upholstered similar to how a headboard would be to create a cornice valance. There has to be a generous layer of batting in between the wood box and main fabric to create that “upholstered” look.

All those details are required to truly call this kind of valance a cornice. I’m sure you’ve seen cornices in magazines – they look similar to this:


Gold Stripe Window Cornice Cornices are dramatic because the box projects generously from the wall. It isn’t uncommon for cornices to project 4 inches away from the wall. Some can even project 6 or 8 inches from the wall. This makes the cornice look beautiful, even when viewed from the side.


Custom Window Cornice


Custom Window Cornice If this is the kind of valance you were looking for, you can find out more about cornices in this post. Otherwise, let’s proceed to the cornice-style valance.


The Problem with Cornices

Cornices are typically found in high-end custom homes and can seem out of reach for average homes. Not only do cornices require some serious skill to construct, but they also can get very heavy. This adds to the cost of transport or shipping. So, how can you get close to the look of a cornice without breaking the budget?

Well, this is where you might have seen cornice-style valances being advertised by popular retailers like Wayfair, JC Penney, and others as an alternative (our workroom is also included).


The Cornice-Style Valance as an Alternative to a Cornice

You may have come across valances that are described as cornice-like. They’re often sewn as shaped valances or M-shaped valances. They commonly look like this:


Shaped Cornice Style Valance with Rod Pocket If you were to lay this valance flat, you’d realize that the sides are left wider. The valance wraps around the curtain rod to create that boxed, finished off look when it’s viewed from the side.

Illustration of Window Valance Projection on Side This projection is achieved by hanging the valance on a continental rod.Valance Curtain Hung on Continental Rod There are a few things to know here:

  • The brackets on continental rods are usually adjustable. The depth that the brackets are set to becomes the projection of the valance.
  • Continental rods are flat rods that are about 2-1/2 inches wide and the valances are typically made with a 3-inch rod pocket to accommodate this.
  • Home decor fabrics are typically 54 inches wide, so by the time the valances are sewn, they usually are about 50 inches wide. This is ideal for standard windows that are about 34 to 40 inches wide. By the time the bracket on the continental rod is adjusted, the valance becomes a perfect fit on these standard windows.
  • If you plan on hanging draperies under the valance, the bracket on the valance must project at least 5-1/2 inches from the wall in order for draperies to fit underneath.

To recap: What a cornice-like valance is:

    • A window valance that’s hung on a continental rod.
    • A rod pocket valance.
    • A valance that wraps around the curtain rod to create a box-like projection.
    • A valance where the projection can be just as large as the projection you’d typically see on a cornice.
    • A valance that uses the same home decor fabrics that would typically be used for a cornice.
    • Usually a flat valance without any extra fabric sections. It’s often shaped and made of a single piece of fabric.

What a cornice-like valance is NOT:

  • A cornice. There is no wood box and no batting used.

If you like the look of the cornice-style valance, you can check out more that our workroom offers here.

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