What Is the Difference Between Cornice and Crown Moulding?

January 17, 2022

By: The Finished Space

Cornice and crown moulding are incredibly similar, so they are often confused. If you did a quick search online to figure out the difference, you might not come away with much clarity. Most places will tell you that cornice and crown moulding are essentially the same thing – but is that true?

Things shouldn’t have to be so complicated, which is why we’ve decided to create a comprehensive guide to all things cornice and crown moulding. Here’s everything you need to know to spot the differences between them.

What is Cornice?

For Blog Only - Building Cornice Exterior


Cornice originated as an ornamental structure added to buildings in Ancient Greece to divert rainwater. Like a gutter, they jutted out from the top of columns at the point where the columns connected to buildings. They enabled people to enter places during heavy rain without running through a bunch of water and getting drenched.

Today, there are more efficient ways to do this, but cornice is still used in many development projects. You’ll still find cornices used in architectural structures and residential buildings worldwide. This may be similar to crown moulding, but they still have their differences.

Using Cornice in Architecture

Over the centuries, cornice has changed and isn’t just the functional design element it used to be. Now, it’s used as a practical and decorative feature on buildings you’ll find on main streets across the country.

Next time you visit a courthouse, downtown square, old banks, and even some department stores, check out the ornamental elements installed above the windows, doors, columns, and lining the roof. That’s where you’re most likely to find cornice used in architecture. It’s dramatic and exciting, it catches the eye and adds sophistication to the overall design of the building.

Using Cornice in Residential Buildings

Cornices have also become popular in residential buildings. In Ancient Greece, they were typically only used outside of buildings. Now, you can find cornices both inside and outside of buildings.

Cornice is used inside residential buildings, like high-end apartments and large, luxurious homes. The goal with cornice is to create ornate and beautiful transitions between walls and ceilings. Crown moulding is used the same way, so it’s understandable why they are so often confused.

What is Crown Moulding?

For Blog Only - Built Up Crown Moulding View

Crown moulding is a structural element used in development projects that “crowns” or “caps” the top of any structure. Crown moulding ranges from intricately carved and super creative-looking to minimal and straightforward. It all depends on your design preferences and taste.

It might sound a lot like cornice, therein lies the first difference. Crown moulding is strictly an indoor feature, while cornice is often found outside buildings.

Where is Crown Moulding Used?


This is a vital question to answer, especially if you’re thinking about getting crown moulding for your home. You can install crown moulding almost anywhere in any room, including:

  • Dining Room Walls

  • Kitchen Walls

  • Living Room Walls

  • Bedroom Walls

  • Cabinets

  • Armoires

  • Bookshelves

  • Fireplaces

  • and more!

There are almost limitless options for where crown moulding can be used indoors.

Crown moulding is an elegant design feature that adds subtle drama to your aesthetic and creates cohesion in order to bring everything together. It’s an incredibly useful design accessory and can be used to add sophistication and flair to any design project.

The Primary Difference Between Cornice and Crown Moulding

Aside from the fact that crown moulding is an interior design element and cornice can be used inside and outside, are there any other differences between the two? The answer is yes, but it’s not easy to pinpoint their differences.

While cornice can be used inside and outside, it is typically installed outdoors. That’s because it has a functional purpose: to guide water away from buildings. When it is used inside, it’s typically intricate and only there for decorative purposes.

Additionally, cornices aren’t commonly used to cap or crown furniture, like bookshelves and cabinets. Aside from being more ornate than its counterpart, it also juts out a lot more than crown moulding.

As a result, crown moulding is more adaptive and diverse than cornice. Whereas cornice only fits a specific aesthetic, crown moulding can be used almost anywhere, regardless of your design sensibilities. It comes in various shapes and designs, which makes it a perfect addition to any home improvement project and interior design aesthetic.

Cornice can be designed in a variety of different ways, but there’s only one type of cornice. On the other hand, there are many types of crown moulding. If you find yourself torn between the two, you can always use them together!

Looking for Crown Moulding for Your Home?

If you’re looking for crown moulding for your home, then you’ve come to the right place. At Metrie, we offer a variety of different moulding and trim products, perfect for any development and design project.

If you aren’t sure which moulding style is right for you, check out Option {M} today. It’s a design tool that pairs popular design trends with moulding styles, so you never have to worry about choosing the wrong style.