HOW TO BUILD A WOOD CORNICE BOX

My top five list of things I most abhor when it comes to home decor would have to include vertical blinds. Was there ever actually a time when these things were considered attractive? They have no personality, they fall apart like crazy, get slammed in the door and crack, and they just look cheap.  (My apologies to any vertical blind fans out there). I get that they are functional for sliding glass doors, but this cornice box I have for you today is just as functional as my vertical blinds were, and cost me about $20.00–cheaper than ANY vertical blinds I’ve ever found–by far!  Added bonus: if you’re a renter and your landlord doesn’t mind a few patchable holes, this will hide the holes for the vertical blinds and you can hang those ugly things right back up when you move! Who doesn’t love a renter-friendly project?

Once we finished our renovation, those ugly vertical blinds just weren’t welcome anymore–I felt like they totally detracted from all of the hard work we’d put in to make this space pretty. And…I was NOT going to put one of those stupid blind pieces back in for the 1,567,000th time after being pulled out by a dog or child, so to the trash can they went and off to Lowe’s I went.  It was like the DIY version of a bra burning–so liberating!

Here’s how to build your own perfect alternative to vertical blinds:

DIY WOOD CORNICE BOX:
For this project, you’ll need:
A piece of pine in your desired width, and long enough to extend past your window + the two side pieces (I bought an 8 ft length of 1×10). The more rustic, the better in my world, so I just bought the cheap stuff, but just make sure you don’t buy a piece that’s really crooked. If that’s confusing, I give a little more in depth explanation here.
Wood stain
L brackets (4 small (1″ W x 2.5 ” L) 2 wide (2″ W x 2.5″ L)–see picture below)
Screws (if your brackets don’t come with them), I believe mine are 1/2 inch screws
Extendable curtain rod (also see the pictures below)

Measure the length of your window, and also how far you want the box to come out from the wall. Since I was hanging mine in a bay window, I measured to just inside the corners of the wall, instead of just the length of the window.  Cut one piece for the length of the widow, and two pieces for the ends coming out of the wall. Mine were 69″ and 4″.  If you don’t own a saw, you can measure before you buy your wood and then have them cut it for you at the store. Also, remember that when you’re measuring out from the wall, the longer your piece, the more screws and brackets you’ll need to stabilize it. Four inches required only two, two inch L brackets. You can see where the holes were for the vertical blinds. You can hang yours lower to cover the holes (my curtains are long and I didn’t want to bother with sewing, so I hung mine a little higher) or you can just patch and paint the holes.

After the wood is cut, round off the corners and edges with the sander and stain it (I used Minwax Early American and you can find my staining 101 tutorial here). Yes, those are my hands, not a man’s–let’s just say that hand-modeling was never an option in my life.

Now to put it together. Take your 4 small L brackets and attach your pieces together (the ones with the green arrows).  
Next, the curtain rod. You really just need to attach the brackets, but I hung the whole thing just to get an idea of where the rod would go, but let’s talk about the curtain rod options for a minute, because you can do it a couple of different ways:
1. (The way I did it) You can buy one of the cheap “U” shaped curtain rods and attach the rod BACKWARDS to the inside of the cornice box. Attach the brackets for the rods to the inside, front of the box (like you see in the inset below), and the “U” part of the rod should point away from the front of the box (notice the white arrows at the top of the picture). This would also be the best option if you’re a renter, because it means less holes in the wall. Oh, and do you notice something wrong with this picture (besides my messy house)? Hang your rod “backwards,” but don’t hang the curtains backwards like I did. I had to take it all back off and turn it around.
2. You could use this same curtain rod and attach it to the wall like they’re supposed be hung and just hang the cornice box over it. The reason I decided not to do it that was was because A. it would hang fairly far from the front of the box, and B. I didn’t want mine hanging that close to the window. Hopefully the picture makes that make a little more sense.
Option 3 would be to just use a tension rod inside of the box and hang it wherever you want. The problem with that for me was that the only tension rod I could find that was long enough, was a shower curtain rod, which was $10-$15 vs. the $5 I spent on the one that I used.
After you’ve figured out the curtain rod, let’s mount this baby to the wall. And let’s also talk about avoiding some of the same fun mistakes I made along the way.
1. This is where you may want help, because let’s just, hypothetically, say that you decide to hang this almost 6 foot long thing by yourself while your husband is at work. And let’s just also, hypothetically of course, say that you decide to stand on a chair and balance it on your head while you screw it into the wall and the chair is precariously close to a heat register missing its cover. It may just end up with the chair in a hole and you going down in an epic cloud of wood, white curtains, and flailing arms trying to keep the whole thing from hitting you on the head. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is: safety first.
And lesson 2: Go ahead and screw the brackets for hanging to the wall first. It probably should have occurred to me that this was common sense logistics, but I screwed my brackets to the cornice box first, and realized I had a problem when you try to fit a big fat drill, into an opening that’s only four inches from the wall.  It works much better when you have to use the drill going parallel to the wall, rather that perpendicular. Make sense? Maybe not. Here it is in black and white. Literally.
Hang your curtain rod inside and done. My curtain panels are from IKEA ($10 for two) and I LOVE them. They’re sheer enough to let lots of light in, but still give us privacy from our super close neighbors–not that we don’t love them seeing what we’re having for breakfast.  The difference from those fugly vertical blinds is truly worth the $20 this project cost (including curtains).

Comments

  1. says

    Looks great — and you are NUT trying to hang that thing on your own. Need to show the hubs and see what he thinks… since I recruit his help, I kinda like to get his opinion.

  2. says

    Beautiful! I am inspired to give this a shot in our rental home. The vertical blinds are useful and serve their purpose, but as a design element…umm, that’s another thing.

  3. says

    my boyfriend of 15 yrs refuises to take down the blinds grr but could i take outter wite piece off that hides the inside track n build my box on top of the door blinds altogether so it wouldnt come out to far n would it look ok because it would still be hiding the track of ugly blinds

    • says

      I think you could just build one big enough to go right over the top of it! I think it needs that white piece, because the track for the blinds is in there, but if you built one a little longer and deeper than the white thing, I think you could just put it right over the top and hide it!

  4. says

    Wonderful idea AND directions. I couldn’t figure out how to mount to the wall and the brackets make it so easy. Appreciate your time and effort.

  5. Emma says

    I’m loving this idea for my new house. As soon as I saw the vertical blinds in my house, I knew they had to go! Which curtains did you go with from Ikea? I’m making a trip there on Friday.

    • says

      Thank you! I can’t remember what the curtains are called, but they’re the basic white ones from Ikea that are like $10 a pair. I actually just recently switched them out for some sheer, linen looking ones from Hobby Lobby though, which have also been great.

  6. Kristine Mucci says

    Love the cornices! What stain did you use? We are thinking of doing this but wants a dark drift wood stain look, any suggestions?

  7. Teal says

    Hi! I came across this on pinterest and love it! I will be doing this for sure since I have been trying in vain to figure out a way to replace the vertical blinds I removed like 5 years ago ;). But I also love your little story about putting it up. I laughed way too hard as I have done all of these things way to many times in my effort to complete something NOW because I just could not wait until my husband came home! lol So thanks for the laugh and the great idea!

  8. Julie says

    In the photo with the brackets on the inside, the color of the wood looks gray. Did you stain that yourself and if so, what color?

    • says

      I did stain it myself, but it’s definitely more of a traditional wood look than gray. I used Minwax Early American, but if you’re looking for a more gray tone, I love Minwax Driftwood.

  9. Chris says

    What wood did you use? I want to surprise my wife with making these. Thank you so much for sharing this great project.
    Chris

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