Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
................... Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

KOR niss


1. Any crowning projection

2. In classical architecture, the third or uppermost division of an entablature, resting on the frieze. (Includes dentil molding where present)

A wide, molding with beveled edges that is used at the junction of an interior wall and ceiling. General term for any molding at the top or "crowning" an architectural element.

Raking cornice: A cornice following the slope (the angled sides) of a gable, pediment or roof

Modillion cornice: A cornice supported by a series of modillions, often found in Composite and Corinthian orders.

Bracketed cornice: term used especially when the brackets are not modillions

Egyptian cornice AKA: Egyptian gorge / Cavetto cornice / Gorge-and-roll cornice / Gorge cornice

Cornice return:  A continuation of a cornice that is wrapped around the gable end of a structure.

Dentils may be present as part of the cornice

See also: entablature which includes the cornice above the frieze

Found in classical Greek and Roman architecture and derivatives, including Beaux Arts Classicism, Classical Revival, Federal, Georgian Revival, Greek Revival, Neoclassicism, Renaissance Revival, Second Empire; also Italianate

What is a Cornice?

A cornice is decorative trim located at the meeting point between walls and a roof or ceiling. Cornices are used on building exteriors and interiors. On the outside of structures, a cornice is located where the wall meets the roof. When you look up, it's the horizontal area that sticks out at the top of the wall, right below the roofline. Think of it like a crown.

In room interiors, the cornice is the decorative wood or plaster molding, a surface with raised designs (sometimes made of plaster, hence the name molding) that circles a room right below the ceiling.


The idea of a cornice has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman architecture. In Classical Greek architecture, the cornice was the top element of the
entablature, the horizontal section of a building exterior immediately above a series of columns and below the roof.

Cornices had a basic utilitarian purpose, because they directed rainwater away from the sides of a building, but they quickly became a decorative element as well.
-  (online march 2019)


The projecting member, usually molded and/or shaped, at the top of a bookcase, cabinet or tallboy, or above the tester of a bed.

Examples from Buffalo area architecture:

Examples from Buffalo area FURNITURE:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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