A cornice (from the Italian cornice meaning “ledge”) is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns a building or furniture element— the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the top edge of a pedestal or along the top of an interior wall. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.
The function of the projecting cornice of a building is to throw rainwater free of the building’s walls. In residential building practice, this function is handled by projecting gable ends, roof eaves, and gutters. However, house eaves may also be called “cornices” if they are finished with decorative molding. In this sense, while most cornices are also eaves (in that they overhang the sides of the building), not all eaves are usually considered cornices.