DIY Cornice Board from Cardboard

colorful pattern-filled bedroom updates on a serious budget

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We have two guest rooms now. Previously, we had a guest room and a mess of a storage room (bunker?).

This had actually been our daughter’s nursery when we first moved into this house last year. Two months after we moved in, she outgrew her crib and was ready for a “big girl room”, so we transitioned her by decorating our fourth bedroom just for that purpose.

Since then, this nursery / 2nd guest room has just been ignored. Over time, it became a dumping ground for miscellaneous bedding and decor. Here’s what it looked like a week ago.

this room is a dumping ground

Embarrassingly, that photo was taken after I’d already devoted four full hours to cleaning up and sorting through the mess. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my stories with the true BEFORE depiction. Unfortunately I forgot to save those photos, so I guess you’ll never know if you didn’t see them there. Maybe you should be following me on Instagram to get the juice, eh?

After we returned from our vacation, I made a point to devote a few days to this room. We have family coming into town next week and this room will be necessary to house everyone. Also, it was just an eyesore and another one of those projects that made my anxious so I really needed to get it off my plate. I sat down at the kitchen table and made a plan; donate a ton of stuff to charity, figure out a nicer window treatment, add real artwork, figure out a way to make this room feel special despite its size, spend little to no money.

It’s a tiny room. A full size bed is necessary but a true bedside table is almost impossible. That makes storage of guest room essentials very challenging. I like to provide toiletries for our guests and some luxuries like water (ha!), but the limited space was really making that difficult.

Shopping online, I didn’t really see any small bedside tables that would fit in the space, so I decided to shop my house. I found an old Ikea barstool in the room (just hiding, as barstools do in hoarded out spaces). I’ve had it for years and don’t have a mate for it. It’s always functioned as an extra small table but it was painted black, as was the headboard.

I wanted to go full navy + color in this room, so black wouldn’t cut it. Three cans of spray paint later, I had this.

color and pattern set the stage for fun in this small bedroom

That worked out pretty perfectly. The headboard now looks completely revamped and the small barstool is exactly the right height to act as a holding zone for a bottle of water and essentials like a candle and decorative objects. Since the stool has an open bottom, it doesn’t take up a ton of visual space but it gives the room just enough necessary horizontal storage.

The decorative objects are treasures I already had on-hand; an oversized chess piece from my shop and a sweet vase from my friend Kim at Lulu & Olive Vintage on Etsy. The candle had been in my kitchen but I traded it out for a more autumnal scent earlier this month. Since the orange pop makes me smile, I added it here for extra soothing comfort (the scent is lemongrass which is pretty relaxing).

Those art prints I’d been trying out over the chair seemed more appropriate for the space above the headboard, so I grabbed from cheap frames from Michael’s for $10 each and installed them for some brighter, warmer hues over the bed.

navy and red make a gorgeous pairing in this fun chinoiserie style space

This chair is from our daughter’s original nursery, back in North Carolina. It’s plush and soft and genuinely my favorite spot to lounge. I remember nursing her at 3:00 am and thinking there couldn’t possibly be a more comfortable chair in the world AND IT’S FROM IKEA, you guys. It doesn’t necessarily match the style of our house, but I can’t part with it. It’s just too good.

Since we don’t have space for a dresser in this room, I figured this spot can serve as a comfortable place to lounge for our guests. The red stripe ties in pretty well with the pops of red in the bedskirt and artwork so I added two plush pillows with covers from Chloe & Olive to bring some blue into this corner.

This Lapis Chinoiserie pillow cover is made from Duralee fabric and ties in perfectly with the blue hues and my chinois-inspired artwork. I love the sophistication it adds to the space that might otherwise feel a little juvenile, so I’ve used it in both the chair and the bed. It pairs especially well with the Miramar Pillow Cover I’ve added in a lumbar version.

All those shades of blue play off one another and make the seating area of the room feel cohesive with the busy bedding. After all, it’s a very small space that requires a lot of repetition to feel pulled together.

Both pillow covers come in an array of sizes and shapes and, since they’re constructed from designer fabric and feature a classy golden zipper, they are perfectly suited in casual and upscale spaces.

So the pretty items were almost complete but I still needed to find a spot to place some toiletries. Once again, I took a little tour of my house to get some free-to-me options.

Wouldn’t you know it?! I had the perfect orange stool just sitting around, unused, in my office. I pilfered it and surveyed the room for a storage container for small travel shampoos and soaps. Delighted, I remembered a ceramic seashell pot my father gave me a few months ago that I hadn’t really found a good use for. This was it!

I also determined the room needed some mood lighting and my antique lamp, discovered while traveling back in April, pulled in some fantastic hues while also providing a secondary light source.

antique and modern home decor pairs well in this guest room

Lastly, I knew I wanted to add a secondary window treatment. As with our other guest room, the blinds are super functional, but they leave much to be desired aesthetically. My solution for that space was to hang drop cloths as curtains and it turned out lovely (you can get that DIY tutorial here).

But for this space, I wanted a different look. It’s really too small for curtain panels, but I really did want to add one more layer of upholstery fabric to the mix. I don’t love valances. They’re kind of cheap-looking to me and I really wanted something more tailored for this space.

The solution? An upholstered cornice board.

The problem? They’re custom and VERY EXPENSIVE.

Remember that I wanted to keep this little refresh as cheap as possible, right? So I brainstormed how to build a cornice box on my own.

I could always just build the box out of wood or MDF and then cover it in batting and fabric, but then I’d need to go buy the wood and batting. So I planned a trip to the hardware store but before I could get out the door, I needed to move past the five empty boxes sitting in my garage from my most recent deliveries.

That’s when madness/genius struck. USE THE CARDBOARD BOXES to construct the cornice board! Crazy? Maybe. Doable? Yep. Here’s how I built a cornice board for my guest bedroom window using a cardboard box:.

DIY window treatments - build a cornice box out of cardboard and scrap fabric

DIY CORNICE BOARD from cardboard box

cardboard box (at least as wide as your window + 6 inches)
scrap fabric (at least as wide as your window +8 inches / as long as 1/5 the height of your window)
Aleene’s Tacky Spray
fabric scissors
box cutter
measuring tape
straight ruler
hot glue gun/glue
adornments (trim, etc if desired)

Measure your window and trim your box down to the width of your window plus 6 inches and 1/5 the height of your window).

measuring for your DIY cardboard cornice board

Measure 3 inches on each side (width) and score the cardboard lengthwise. Be careful not to cut through the cardboard entirely. You want to cut just one layer so each side will easily bend but won’t be flimsy.

Determine the shape you want to achieve on the bottom portion of your cornice. Here’s a good guide for shapes, (currently linked at and originally from Window Treatments by Linda but no longer available on that site). Since this was my first time, I decided to keep it simple and went with an arch design. Looking back, I really wish I’d done a two step but I’m happy with the end result, nonetheless.


Measure and mark the halfway point (width-wise) of your cornice. You’ll be cutting only this first half free-hand, so it’s important that you follow this step. Use your straight ruler to measure the same distance down from the top across the cardboard. This is your 1/5 of the length of the window measurement. Mark at least five spots across the width. Now use your straight ruler to draw a straight line across these markings. This ensures your cornice will be even across the bottom.

Use a round object to trace two equipment-distant half circles on your cardboard where you would like your arch to appear, directly intersected by your line, as shown.

how to measure and outline for an arch - diy cornice board

Draw a straight line from the top of one half circle to the other, using your ruler. This is going to be your second cut, so make sure it’s even.

how to measure for an arch on your diy cornice board

Cut exactly one half of your arch, along the bottom and top lines. Remember your halfway mark and use this as a guide. Do not cut entirely across the cardboard, as you will use this as a guide for the second half to insure it is identical. And don’t worry – this is about to get a lot less complicated. Promise.

removing the arch portion from your DIY cardboard cornice board

Fold the cardboard in half and use the arch cutout as a guide to cut the bottom piece. Remember to use a cutting mat, as the box cutter may score your work surface.

how to cut identical arches in your DIY cardboard cornice board

Lay your fabric flat on your work surface and place your cardboard on top. Cut any excess, but leave at least an inch or two so the fabric can be folded over the back.

Aleene's Tacky Spray for adhering fabric to cardboard

Spray your cardboard with Aleene’s Tacky Spray and place directly on top of your flat fabric (fabric should be face down). Press. Then flip the cardboard and fabric over to smooth out any air bubbles.

glueing fabric to cardboard for your DIT window cornice

STEP ELEVEN – and I promise you’re almost done
Cut a slit in the fabric directly in the center of the scalloped edge curve. You will adhere this fabric first. See photo below.

diy window cornice tutorial

Spray the edges of the cardboard with Aleene’s Tacky Spray and then carefully fold the fabric back over the cardboard, smoothing as you go to insure adhesion.

Once fabric has been secured and cardboard is dry, you can flip over and use a hot glue gun to add any desired trim. I used pompom tape because I already had it and I liked the way the white tied into the other decor in the space.

DIY window treatment - cornice board from cardboard

Install. I secured this cornice to existing hardware on the wall, using picture hooks.

Other methods include stapling to a piece of wood that is screwed into the wall, using command hooks and picture hooks, etc. Whatever works for your space. Here’s my end result:

DIY cornice board using cardboard boxes

And a view of the entire room (sort of.. small spaces are harder to photograph).

chinoiserie style - this colorful bedroom with mixed textiles creates a fun space for guests to relax

Pink’s definitely enjoying the new space! Let’s look back at the details that helped bring it all together.

I promised you I could update this space for under $200, so let’s see how I did.
Three Picture Frames – $45
2 Colorful Prints – $0 (my own original artwork)
Orange + White Gingko Print Artwork – $0 (leftover fabric scrap originally from Premier Prints)
Furniture – $0 (repurposed existing pieces)
Decorative Accents / Storage – $0 (repurposed existing pieces)
DIY Cornice Board – $0 (used scrap fabric + trim and existing supplies)
12×24” Miramar Pillow Cover – $40
2) 16×16” Lapis Chinoiserie Pillow Covers – $90
3) cans spray paint – $21
TOTAL: $196


I’ll admit that I’ve actually surprised myself by how high-end this room looks for so little money! I actually didn’t add much, really. I just used the right fabric combinations and incredibly upscale-looking decor to make this room look like a million bucks. What do you think?

When you’re in the market for a fresh home update on the cheap, please go check out Chloe & Olive. They’re an American business with true standards of craftsmanship.

They’ve sponsored this post by providing the pillow covers for me to test for you and I can tell you – they are truly of value. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill discount home decor store covers. These are genuine quality covers that will stand the test of time. And they’re made with designer fabrics you just can’t get without a trade account, for about the same price as a polyester cover from a big box store! Plus, when you shop through them, you’re getting the same materials designers use without the designer mark-ups.

They’ve been featured in design magazines nationally, and for good reason! These are quality covers available directly to the consumer. Two blue hearts for that!



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