Why you should know about Decorative Moulding

Do you know your cyma reversa from your cyma recta? Do you know the difference between a cornice, frieze or architrave? No, I haven’t swallowed a dictionary I’m talking about decorative moulding. It might be something you haven’t given much thought to. But any interior designer worth their salt will have poured over the catalogues of architectural moulding and millwork, studied them, have a view on them and ultimately have a few favourites. You only have to google “ways to increase the value of your home”, and I guarantee decorative moulding will be on the list in some shape or form. It’s a good reason to learn more.

I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘over the top’ decorative ceilings that you find in important buildings in the UK and the grand panelled rooms of stately homes. The French and Italians have wonderful ceilings too, although they tend to be gilded and frescoed. But let’s be honest, most homes in the UK are not going to do something like this below. You might, in fact, curl your lip at the very thought of something so ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘ornate’. For those of you interested this is Stoke Rochford Hall in Lincolnshire.  There are elements here that you do see in lots of homes and plenty of tricks to deceive the eye too. These elements are made in plaster, some in timber, some of stone and nowadays made from man-made and composite materials. The choice of material depends on your budget, the architectural detailing, whether it needs to be load bearing and if its part on an interior or exterior scheme. Decorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, designhounds, metrie, KBISInstead of introducing a touch of Italianate style into your home the watchword on attractive interior detailing is Georgian. They had a lot of puritanical style, and with an extremely careful and measured approach, they created refined spaces using symmetry and proportion.  It’s still very relevant for our homes today, and generally, when people are looking to introduce panelling, architrave and architectural detailing, it’s a Georgian reference that they have in mind. Like this room below by Ben Pentreath completed in 2015, full of serene calmness made possible by the historically appropriate use of decorative moulding.Decorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, Ben Pentreath,

If you want to see the startling difference moulding can make in a room, you should take a look at Bianca from French for Pineapple‘s teenage daughter bedroom makeover. It’s the coolest teenager bedroom I have ever seen, way cooler than anything I ever had when I was a teen (cue lots of black ash furniture and wallpaper with clouds on it – well it was the 1980’s). The difference is this room is made possible with the introduction of the decorative architrave (ok, yes the wallpaper is the absolute bee’s knees too). However, it’s the definition created with the architrave, or millwork if you’re in the US, that focuses your gaze.Decorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, french for pineappleWhen I was at KBIS in January, one of the exhibitors that wowed me wasn’t a kitchen or bathroom brand, but one of the largest manufacturers of interior finishings in North America. Since 1926, Metrie has been leading the way in architectural trim and helping interior designers transform homes.  What impressed me was how they wanted to make it easy for designers to select the right products, this was especially true of the Then & Now Finishing Collections. It’s a collection of coordinated trim and interior doors that are inspired by different architectural styles with five coordinated wainscot mouldings. It means it’s easy to create a traditional or contemporary style and takes some of the research legwork out too. One of the reasons I focused was the below sign they had in the exhibition booth;

“A homeowners investment that can pay off in the future. Crown moulding delivers 174.1% ROI. Crown moulding is a cost-effective way to dress up a home and create a finished space.”

Just so we are all on the same page, crown moulding is a cornice here in the UK. Now obviously this is referring to the US real estate market, but I imagine there might be similar numbers for the UK if I hunted around on google. If that wasn’t a good enough reason to take another look at decorative moulding I really don’t know what is!Decorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, Metrie, KBIS 2018, Designhounds, Add value to your homeDecorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, Metrie, KBIS 2018, Designhounds, Add value to your homeDecorative Moulding, Architectural architrave, Metrie, KBIS 2018, Designhounds, Add value to your homeThe photos above from Metrie’s French Curves and Fashion Forward collections were taken at KBIS in January.  Now that I’ve shared an overview on decorative moulding who wants to know about the nitty-gritty details? Would you like to know the differences between cornice, frieze or architrave?

If you want to see more of my posts from KBIS visit here or see the ceiling of Castle Howard here.

This is not a sponsored post.  Thank you to Modenus and KBIS for inviting me on this free press trip.  While I did not get paid for my time at KBIS, my hotel, airfare and some meals were covered.  All words, opinions and images my own.

















  1. March 21, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    How beautiful are these rooms?! Some really inspirational ideas here, thanks for sharing!

  2. March 21, 2018 / 12:43 pm

    Nothing better than some original (or sympathetically re-created) decorative moulding. And yes, the Georgians definitely did did it best!

  3. March 21, 2018 / 1:43 pm

    Love a bit of decorative moulding – such inspiring examples of it done oh so well!

  4. March 21, 2018 / 7:29 pm

    Oh my i do love moulding of any kind x i dream of a home with higher ceilings so i can go to town with decorating it x

  5. March 21, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    Following up on Pati’s comment, i am pretty sure that she could do miracles in a home with high ceilings (Pati I wish you get one real soon). Fantastic insight about the ROI because at the end of the day, we love our homes but we do want their value go up and this seems like an easy trick to pull!

  6. March 21, 2018 / 10:41 pm

    Ah, seeing this and I have flashbacks to our nights on the patio! I feel like I was hearing your voice in my head when I read this. I LOVE that wallpaper in that teen’s bedroom (my 80’s bedroom had brown wood paneling, so I am extremely jealous of kids these days). Also, I will be say architrave here in NJ from now on so I sound super fancy! Miss you!

  7. March 21, 2018 / 10:59 pm

    I do love these kinds of architectural details and dream of living in a place with high ceilings and lots of panelling.

  8. Donna Ford
    March 22, 2018 / 10:07 am

    Wow! I am such a fan of mouldings and agree with Pati and Jenny, I am dreaming of a period home with high ceiling one day! Love this images too, serious swooning. I’m going back up to have another look!

  9. March 22, 2018 / 11:05 am

    I absolutely love decorative mouldings, they add instant glam and opulence feel. I hope to use it more in my next personal project. Great examples here, love your choice of images with such impactful details.

  10. March 23, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    Thanks that is really informative. I’m just looking at adding some mouldings to the ceilings in my very square white lounge.

  11. March 26, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    I am such a sucker for a bit (/a lot) of decorative moulding!! I studied classical art & architecture at uni so I’ve always been fairly obsessed with classical / renaissance architectural details and can only dream of living somewhere with a touch of Georgian neoclassical panache… *sighs*. Though reading about the story of the gorgeous ceiling rose that Maxine from We Love Home Blog picked up for nothing has given me some hope… (https://welovehomeblog.com/2017/01/i-filled-home-free-can/) Can you believe she found it in a skip?!? x

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