Have you ever noticed that homes built in the 60’s and earlier, seemed to sport more detail in their architecture? Wider moldings, archways, niches, built in cabinets and book cases. Details such as columns and corbels were used along with interesting room dividers and detailed doors.
Builders of the 70’s found that by doing away with unnecessary detailing, they could cut costs and build more houses which increased profit margins. Certainly, that was a good “business” move, but left all of us with plain, unattractive rooms. Therefore, post 1970 houses lost that attractive “architectural interest” we now crave.
With a new move toward focusing on indoor living spaces across the country, a trip to your local home outlet now yields a wide selection of ornate moldings, wood details for cabinetry and “do it yourself” doorway kits to bring that architecture right back in to our homes.
Architectural detail is the “bones” of interior design and is usually the first consideration when contemplating a room make over. Typically, rooms are stripped of all furnishing and window coverings to reveal just what the room truly has to offer.
With little of that detail added by builders, it’s up to us as homeowners to put it back.
Cast plaster is one way of adding architectural interest to a plain room as are moldings, corbels, columns, fireplace mantles and further detailing created by attaching permanent fixtures to walls and ceilings.
As our country has taken on a new attitude of conservation over the past decades, we are seeing more and more “faux” (fake) items being introduced to the world of interior decorating. One instance being new, highly ornate moldings made of resin. These detailed moldings appear to be carved and painted wood. Yet they are a plastic and wood material that holds up well to abuse, rot and insects, and is more durable and long lasting than common wood moldings. Similar material is being used to create exterior decking products.
So how do you go about adding architectural interest to your room? Here are some ideas:
Use 1 x 6 boards around the inside edge of your ceiling to create a “frame”. Fill any cracks between wood pieces with paintable calking or joint compound and smooth. Paint the ceiling very pale blue then paint the new frame the same color as your walls. This creates an instant “tray ceiling” that is so popular with new home builders and is an inexpensive, yet great way to add instant detail to the ceiling. Furthering the project by adding crown molding against the new frame at the wall level will add a more finished look.
Create your own easy columns:
Create two square, open end boxes of pre-sanded wood that measures 6×6” (You will later add a 6×6” top to each of the boxes). One will be used as the column top, and one as the bottom. Before adding the tops to each of the boxes, attach a sanded 4×4 post in between them with heavy duty bolts. Add the tops to the boxes then stand upright and tap in place between ceiling and floor with a rubber mallet. Finish the top and bottom with crown molding then paint to match the wall color. Measurements of your 4×4” post will depend on your ceiling height. Don’t forget to include the length of your combined column top and bottom to your final measurement. The entire column can now be further embellished with cast plaster ornamentation or Raised Plaster Stenciling for more detail. Shorter columns can be created in the same manner to be used as plant stands.
Corbels are a fabulous architectural addition and becoming increasingly popular. These can now be purchase at your local home chain store or specialty websites (just do a search for corbels on the internet) or find super bargains on auction websites. Corbels come in many different varieties and sizes, and can be used under your fireplace mantle, under your kitchen cabinet ends, on the inside of wide doorways or to create unique door elements by placing them on the outside edge of a doorway or window, then adding a glass or wood shelf to the top to use to display collectibles.
Even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of replacing your existing moldings, do look at the exciting accessories to moldings now found at your home store. These are wooden, corner accessories that add such interest to the corners of rooms and can be incorporated right in with your existing moldings. Straight versions of the same designs are available as well. I prefer to use them at the upper corners of door frames for an old “Victorian” look.
There are many ways to increase the interest of your rooms. Enlist the aid of your local hardware store owner for more ideas.