One of the quickest ways to dress up a room is crown molding. Scale is the key to attractive crown molding--generally, the higher the ceiling, the wider the molding. You don't have to spend a fortune for wide molding. Trim carpenters build up elaborate crowns by piecing together thinner, less expensive, moldings. Easier yet are the new lightweight polyurethane foam crowns available in a variety of widths and pre-molded styles.
Originally installed to prevent chair backs from scuffing walls, chair rail is more often used today for decoration. It breaks up open wall spaces, trims above wainscot, or serves as a transition between wall colors. There's debate about how high above the floor to place decorative chair rail, the most popular heights are 28 inches and 36 inches.
Designer Stephen Saint-Onge created a handy ledge by attaching simple pine molding to the top of the wainscot. Use it to lean artwork or display collectibles.
The biggest mistake homeowners make is using trim that's too thin or using plain builder's trim that isn't bold enough to add visual punch. "Moldings have a lot to do with defining boundaries within a space," says writer and woodworker Jim Tolpin. "The more weight, the more definition." He recommends door and window casings be at least 3 1/2 inches wide. Wider molding frames windows and doors and creates a sense of enclosure. Creative casings add a hint of whimsy and craftsmanship to this cottage doorway.
Lose the notion that trim must always be gloss white. Interior designer Libby Cameron painted the dark oak paneling and trim in her library the same shade of rich cobalt blue. The grooved paneling provides enough architectural interest, and the monochromatic scheme lets the artwork and accessories get the attention.
Fluted door casings with rosette corners match the Colonial Revival style of this home. "True casework tells the story of your home," says Jim Tolpin, because moldings anchor a house to a specific era. "Sometimes trimwork actually defines the period of the home. If a home has many curves, then a more organic approach to casing may be appropriate," he says. "If you have a more rustic home, you may want to go for simple exposed casing, with no paint."
More than likely, the casework in your home is either stain-grade or paint-grade wood. Stain-grade is more expensive because of the higher quality of woods used, such as cherry and maple. Pine and poplar are examples of paint-grade wood that, just as the name implies, are designed to be primed and painted. Proportion, detailing, and the beauty of the wood elevate this stain-grade window casing above the average.