The (Totally Doable) European Secret to Beautiful Rooms

updated Feb 14, 2020
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(Image credit: Raji RM & Associates)

When you think about renovating, you think first about the big things: converting an attic, adding new floors, re-doing a kitchen or bathroom. But sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact. Molding details may not be a popular subject for Pinterest boards, but they can really make a room — and compared to, say, renovating your kitchen, they’re really quite a budget-friendly upgrade. Take a cue from something European houses in particular do so well.

(Image credit: House of Hawkes)

There’s nothing like a wainscot to add a little class to a room. Here’s a tall one, with a simple shelf, spotted on House of Hawkes . This appears to be a particularly common element in European homes. Note that the edge treatment of the shelf is slightly different at the door and window.

(Image credit: Nordic Design)

Here’s another tall wainscot. I particularly like this one from Nordic Design, which not only has a little extra presence due to its height, but also commands attention because of the ledge at the top. The corbels, which support the ledge and appear precisely between each wainscot panel, are a particularly nice touch.

(Image credit: Nordic Design)

In case you’re wondering what to do with a treatment like this when it runs into a door or window, here’s your answer: return the ledge back to the wall.

(Image credit: Home Stories)

In the case of this Copenhagen apartment from Home Stories, the ledge (a much deeper one in this case) is allowed to overlap the window trim a little bit.

(Image credit: Lotta Agaton)

Here’s another baseboard detail, from Lotta Agaton, which is really just a baseboard with what looks like a chair rail applied about eight inches above. You can experiment with variations of this, depending on the height of your space, and, if you like, paint both moldings, and the wall in between, a slightly darker color than the wall above, to give the whole thing a cohesive look.

(Image credit: Raji RM & Associates)

Even a cased opening (that’s architect speak for a doorway with no door in it) can become a special feature. This one from Raji RM & Associates gets trimmed, but with an unexpected detail at the top that tells everyone that this doorway is special.

(Image credit: A + B Kasha)

The tiny rosettes at the corners of the panels give this room from A + B Kasha a special flair.

(Image credit: Kim Jeffery)

This room shot by Kim Jeffery has panels created with a heavy crown mold instead of the typical panel mold, which gives the panels a particular depth and makes them stand out in the room.

(Image credit: Marianne Evennou)

From Marianne Evennou, here’s another striking baseboard detail, although this one is quite simple: it’s just an especially tall baseboard, painted in an almost-navy blue.

(Image credit: Ashe + Leandro)

The pic above. from Ashe + Leandro, was so beautiful that it inspired me to write this entire post to begin with. Here, a nice this base board meets a plinth block at the bottom of a door, for a lovely synthesis. Plinth blocks are a great way to give your doors just a little extra oomph, and take any room, no matter how humble, to the next level.