Crown moldings are one of the architectural features that can really add value to your home. They add a visual presence that can make a home feel more upscale. Done well, they instantly say this home is well-crafted and solid. Unless you are lucky enough to live in an older home beautifully appointed with lovely crown moldings, you may find yourself feeling like your home is lacking in architectural details that give it distinction.
Have you been wondering if crown molding could work in your house? Are you worried that your ceilings are too low to use it? Concerned that you can't afford the wide moldings you'd love? Not sure what style or size to get? And what if you want a contemporary look — can you still use crown molding?
Have I got some tips for you!
Neuhaus Design Architecture, P.C.
This may be the look you dream of when you think of crown molding. Super wide, heavily ornate moldings just knock my socks off. But are they right for your house?
Consider the home style and ceiling height.
This molding works because of the large scale of the room, the high ceilings and the size and detail in the other moldings around the fireplace and the baseboards. The overall style of the architecture is very traditional. If you have a very contemporary house or a mid-century modern California ranch-style home, crown molding of any kind may look completely out of place.
If you love ornate crown molding in a traditional home, but also like contemporary style, consider keeping your furnishings simple with clean lines and very little pattern. The architecture will stand out while still giving you a space that feels serene.
High ceiling tip: For ceilings 10 feet tall or higher, consider a rule of thumb allowing 1" of width for each foot of ceiling height. This isn't a hard and fast rule, and it doesn't work for lower ceilings. You wouldn't use an 8" wide molding in a room with 8' tall ceilings, for example.
Consider the furnishing style and other decor elements.
This room also has high ceilings, but unlike those in the previous photo, the furnishings are brightly colored and traditional in style.
The floor lamp is very large, and the wall covering has a large-scale pattern. The size of the crown molding allows it to hold its own against these furnishings. Anything smaller would have been too wimpy for this room. It is also not as heavily ornate as the previous molding, which is good because the pattern doesn't fight agains the pattern in the wall covering.
dSPACE Studio Ltd, AIA
This beautiful home is more contemporary in architecture than the previous two examples. The furnishings are clean-lined, and the neutral color palette feels calming and serene. The ceiling is still pretty high at 10' 6", according to the architect. They chose crown molding in a very simple profile, free of any pattern or ornamentation to fit the space. But before you pass on by thinking this would be easy to duplicate, the next photo shows a detail that makes a difference in the richness of the look without calling overt attention to itself.
dSPACE Studio Ltd, AIA
Quoting the architect: "We designed a minimal 1/2" drywall reveal joint that runs below the crown molding. This subtle detail creates a shadow line between the drywall and crown molding. The same 1/2" reveal occurs at the top of the baseboard to separate the 1-1/2" wood trim band that flows from the base and around the doorways and portals."
In my opinion details like this take architectural elements beyond just being very nice and make them truly superb!
Tip: There are ways to give the look of very wide crown molding that are less costly than buying very large-profile moldings. In this detail shot, notice the two layers of drywall creating ceiling detail. These two extra pieces give the illusion of an exceptionally wide crown molding — and they do it without having to come so far down the wall.
dSPACE Studio Ltd, AIA
In the powder room, this same two-layer drywall ceiling detail gives the illusion that there is crown molding without actually using any at all. If you have an 8-foot ceiling, but would like the look of crown molding, this would be a great option that wouldn't make the ceiling look lower.
Create a very wide look by combining more than one type of molding.
This application uses a wide, flat band of patterned trim below the crown molding to extend the overall width. Even though the architecture is traditional, the look of the room is pretty contemporary, owing to the light fixtures and furnishings.
Tip: One way to get the look of wide crown molding without the hefty price tag is to use a narrower crown molding and also buy another narrow trim.
Put the crown molding up, and then put the narrow trim up so that the top of it is 2" below the bottom of the crown molding. Paint both moldings and the strip of bare wall between them the same color. It will look like it is all one very wide piece of crown molding.
This detail shot shows the flat, decorative trim beneath the crown molding with a strip of narrow trim below that to finish it off.
Do you have to use the same molding throughout your home?
The short answer is no.
Here is the slightly longer answer: If you have a uniform ceiling height throughout the home and your rooms are similar in proportion, then using the same molding can create a nice flow. In this living room they have continued the same molding from the entryway. Not only that, but they have used the molding as the cornices for the window treatments, giving them a seamless look.
If your home has 14-foot-high ceilings in the entryway and living room, but then changes to 9 feet in the bedrooms, vary the size of the moldings to be in correct proportion with the scale of the rooms.
Can you have crown moldings if you don't have high ceilings?
Most of us live with much lower ceilings than in the last several examples, but that doesn't mean we can't have crown molding. One just needs to continue to consider the scale of the room and the style of the home and furnishings.
My guess is that this room has 8- to 9-foot ceilings. The moldings are proportioned well to the height of the room — they look to be around 5" wide — and the profile of the molding is quite simple which works with the transitional style of the furnishings and art.
The moldings create a nice framework around the metallic painted ceiling and crystal chandelier.
Willman Interiors / Gina Willman, ASID
Deeply stained wood moldings are often found in traditional homes. But if you have a contemporary home and want the warmth of stained wood crown moldings, using a very sleek, flat profile makes the wood look very modern.
Solomon & Wu
Using flat or simple profile moldings for contemporary interiors is not your only option. This new line of crown moldings and window and door trims is a fresh look for architecturally modern homes. This profile width is very nice for the height of the ceilings in this room. It is wide enough and has an interesting pattern to fit the style of the space without overpowering it.
This room's ceiling is just a shade over 8 feet tall, and then lower than standard height as it slopes down at the sides. Technically, crown molding is used at the junction of the wall and ceiling, but in this room that would have been very low and at an odd angle. By continuing the wall color up the walls onto the ceiling and placing the molding in from the edge of the ceiling, it gives the illusion of taller walls, thereby making the room appear taller. The molding is also not very wide — my guess is 3 to 4 inches — so it isn't too heavy for the scale of the room.
J. Hirsch Interior Design, LLC
Does the crown molding have to match the baseboards?
Not exactly, but it needs to have a similar visual weight. It looks funny to have large crown molding with tiny baseboards and vice versa. If you are going to upgrade to add crown molding and you have little 3-inch baseboards, you'll want to replace those also with deeper ones.
This room shows an almost perfectly matched width for crown moldings and baseboards. Unfortunately, I don't know the ceiling height, but again, this looks to be no more than 9 feet tall, and might be just a little lower.
How about you? Do you see yourself adding crown molding?
About the Author:
Houzz Contributor. Pangaea Interior Design is an award winning design firm specializing in residential projects including new construction, remodeling and kitchen & bath design. Pangaea's style is characterized by clean lines and uncluttered interiors that are warm, comfortable, inviting and reflect the personal taste and interests of her clients. Call to schedule your initial consultation and you'll be well on the way to the home of your dreams. 503-.816.4394
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