Why do Paris apartments always look so great? It's all those beautiful moldings. (Well, the gorgeous floors and french windows don't hurt either, but this post is about moldings.) Fortunately, even if you live in the boringest of boring American houses, you can add a little bit of that goodness to your own space. Here's a little inspiration.
You can also choose to trim the entire wall, as in this room from Christine Dovey. The chair rail stays at about waist height, which makes the top 'panel' taller and gives the room a pleasing proportion.
In this London townhouse, spotted on This is Glamorous, a row of delicate molding inside the first panel takes things to the next level.
In this room, by A + B Kasha, the panels are further dressed up by adding tiny medallions to the corners.
Here's a little inspiration from Nordic Design for an especially dramatic look: taller panels with a shallow shelf functioning as the cap.
This paneling, from House and Hold, turns to continue up a staircase. (Click through to see more photos of the trim detailing around the staircase.)
The panels seen in this photo from Kim Jeffery are extra dramatic, thanks to the deep profiles of the molding used to create them.
You're probably familiar with crown molding, the profile that runs along the top of a wall right at the ceiling. Since in recent years people have come to associate crown moldings with luxury, builders have started to abuse them a bit, piling up layers upon layers of crown molding even in spaces that aren't tall enough to sustain really thick profiles.
But there's a way to create a dramatic crown and still be tasteful. This French apartment, spotted on Desire to Inspire, has a sort of composite crown molding composed of layers of molding with a cove in between. Right at the point where the walls and ceiling touch, there's a cove mold. Right below that is another molding in an egg and dart pattern, and at the point where the cove touches the ceiling, there's another row of what looks like two different moldings.
This room from DWR has something similar going on — a cove molding flanked by layers of other moldings that trace the top of the wall and the edge of the ceiling. This Old House has a tutorial, complete with video, on installing crown molding.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that you want your crown molding (or moldings) to fit the scale of the room. A super-thick profile that looks great in a space with really tall ceilings can overwhelm a smaller room.
Don't neglect your ceiling! In this room from Bo Bedre, the ceiling is enhanced by a ceiling medallion, and then a larger circle of delicate carvings that go around that, and then a second row of carvings that run along the edge of the ceiling about a foot from the crown mold. The rest of the detailing in the room, you'll notice, is pretty simple, which lets the ceiling carvings take center stage.
The architects of this room, on the other hand, chose to go full throttle, creating panels on the ceiling as well as the walls. And that's a rather impressive crown molding. From Luis Laplace.
The moldings at the bottom of your wall can be exciting, too. This space from Houzz layers two skirting boards, in different colors, on top of each other for dramatic effect.
Now let's look at a few spaces that bring together different elements. In this room from Domino, fairly thin profiles define panels on the wall. The panels stop about a foot short of the ceiling, and the transition between the walls and the ceiling is defined by what looks like a cove molding, or a very simple crown. Notice how the chair rail is at the same height as the windowsill, and the top of the panels is level with the top of the window.
This space from Marie Claire Maison has a lot going on: wainscoting, multiple profiles running along the edge of the ceiling, and a ceiling medallion to boot.
From Home Stories, here's another example of a tall paneling that ends in a shelf. It gives a dignified, traditional look, a nice contrast with the modern furnishings in this space.
In this space from House to Home, a thin profile defines panels that run almost to the ceiling. The detailing here is fairly simple, but together with a little color the moldings create a dramatic effect.