While decorative moldings are used throughout a home for aesthetic purposes, they also protect walls from kicks and bumps. Crown moldings are used to soften transitions between wall and ceiling, while baseboards topped with quarter round do the same thing for the transition between wall and floor. Molding also creates a framed focal point around doors and windows, and in the case of windows can provide a solid structure to hold blind and curtain hardware without plugs. Batten moldings are thin strips of wood used to cover seams between interior or exterior panels (the boards of “board and batten”).
Here are a few ways you can use decorative wood trim throughout your home.
Chair and picture rails
Chair rails and picture rails can be both serviceable and attractive uses of decorative wood trim. Not only do they add character, but they also create two distinct wall areas and provide a focal point within a room.
In the case of chair rails, they’re visible predominantly at eye level when guests are seated at a dining table. Install one and then try a simple experiment: wallpaper the top portion of your walls with paintable textured wallpaper and paint it the same color as the below chair-rail portion of the room. Paint the chair rail white to match your baseboards or in a bright lacquer to establish a new accent color in the room. As your guest’s eyes are drawn to the chair rail, they’ll also make eye contact with each other until conversation flows freely.
Try installing a chair rail in your entryway and add some hooks. You may find you can do without a hallway table and still have a place for keys, gloves, hats, and scarves.
Picture rails make it possible to hang multiple pieces without messing up your walls. Because it’s so easy to hang photos and pictures from hooks nailed or screwed into a picture rail, you can create a gallery feel in a room by changing the artwork whenever you feel like it. Perfect for displaying children’s artwork in a playroom, a picture rail can transform your fridge by providing a less transitional home for the latest masterpiece. In an adult room, they’re a great way to showcase a series of same-size prints or photos.
Crown your kitchen cabinets
Let’s face it: kitchen cabinets are primarily functional rather than decorative, and even if you’ve chosen something out of the ordinary, they’re a lot of a single color, single texture and single design in a busy, high usage and heavily trafficked room. If your kitchen cupboards don’t reach to the ceiling and you can’t justify a complete kitchen makeover, consider giving tired kitchen cupboards a whole new look by replacing or painting the doors and adding crown molding above the cabinets. It will lead eyes upward and give your kitchen a fresh clean look with a shot of white in an area not likely to collect grease.
Create “picture frames of color” with wall trimmed panels
Rather than have a single “feature wall” in a different color or texture, using trim to create painted panels on the wall is a very affordable way to give a long plain wall some visual appeal. Paint the wall panel trim the same shade as your baseboards and then decide whether to leave the panels the same color as the room or paint them a shade lighter or darker than its base color. Alternately, you can paint the wood trim for the wall picture frame to match the room’s base color and paint the “panel” in a contrasting color. Use your imagination. The picture frames you create can be big or small, square or rectangular. You can create vertical or horizontal panels. Experiment with some of the options at the planning stage. They can be particularly useful if you realize you’ve chosen too dark a shade for a room but don’t have the time or energy to fix your mistake. A shot of white trim around a panel will contrast nicely and brighten things up considerably.
Removable crown molding wire management system
While not made of wood, there’s a fabulous new option for crown molding you can use to make your room look better and while providing far greater functionality without rewiring, an expensive and messy job.
Removable crown moldings made of hollow PVC can hide cable, audio and communication wires. This can be really useful in older homes with repurposed rooms (that “front room” that now serves as your home office, for example).
Investing in a little decorative wood trim is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to achieve a subtle space transformation with very little effort. Let your imagination run wild and spend a weekend “renovating.” Chances are, you’ll be disproportionately pleased with the results.