Cornice boards are essentially wooden boxes that hang above the moldings around a window. They have a long history and were a popular element of hanging curtains throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Although you would be hard pressed to find the elaborate wood sculpted and painted versions from hundreds of years ago, cornice boards are still popular today.
Fabric covered cornice boards are appropriate for both traditional and modern décor. They can be constructed from padded wood, foam, Styrofoam or molded plastic. The cost is largely based on the quality of construction materials and fabric covering chosen.
Fabric covered wood cornices are usually a custom made product. Because of this, it comes a higher price tag. A decorator would be involved. They are responsible for everything from style to measurements, and they see the window project through from idea, to fabric selection, to final installation. A workroom is employed to fabricate the cornice board to exact dimensions. They use an upholstery process similar to what you find in furniture manufacturing. It takes time and skill to construct, and as a result it can be quite costly.
Foam and plastic cornice boards are available on-line and range from semi-custom ordering to do-it yourself versions. Generally you have a contoured length of cornice and you apply the fabric to it. The cornice is rigid when made from Styrofoam or plastic, but some have a semi-soft firmness, like Deco Wrap for example. The Deco Wrap cornice is composed of a high density polyurethane foam which is what you find in seat cushioning. It is contour cut with slits so you can wrap and tuck the fabric to secure it on the form. The great advantage is it’s simplicity and ease of use. It only takes minutes to cover it with fabric and the nice thing is that you can change out the material at any time.
In conclusion, it is best to shop around, especially if you are on a tight budget. There are many alternatives to custom cornice boards and you can find do-it-yourself products that look the part without the great expense. Happy decorating!