Architectural Moldings: Are Your Clients Ethically Disposed to Making Budget Available?


“But as I say, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water, and among the essential architectural moldings which have all but vanished with the picture moldings are cornices and proper basedboard……For some reason, clients are ethically disposed to resist the making budget available for essential architectural moldings; shortsighted of them.”                  – M. Greer, Inside Design, 1962. Chapter 3

Decorative molding is that classic touch that’s been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Molding is one of the most dramatic ways to add panache and value to your client’s home. Investment costs can range dramatically depending on the project size and the molding types chosen.  From simple to ornate, material options range from solid wood species to MDF to flexible options made out of foam to any creative material imaginable (read further).

The Pantheon was built between 118-128 AD, and is the largest and most accessible complete classical temple front known to the Italian Renaissance. Because of its exemplary classicist design, it has been copied many times by modern architects.


screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-5-13-12-pmPeruse any interior design magazine or furnishings catalog, and you will see interior spaces graced with architectural moldings. Hands down, these images stand the test of time! Take for example, West Elm, a Brooklyn-based furniture company touting themselves as the intersection of modern design, affordability and community.  Take it in! January’s front cover captures a beautiful and timeless space,  and yes- you’ve guessed right, it’s adorned with ornamental molding staged with modern flair.

According to a recent report by National Association of Home Builders, “What Home Buyers Really Want.”, potential buyers consistently rank  crown molding and chair railing in their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home (#3 and #7 respectively).

Have a client on a tight budget? Begin with a small improvement trimming the space with simple molding giving it a finished and expensive look.

Use crown molding to make a room seem bigger and taller. Careful considerations about proportion is paramount, and could make or break your client’s investment.  For ceiling heights of 9 feet or less,  a simpler style is recommended to avoid that out of balance proportioned space which can be overwhelming.

Moldings have a variety of profiles that add architectural interest while supporting your design intent. Want a more dramatic and lasting impression? Add indirect LED lighting that casts a soft, ambient glow and leads the eye upward above cornices, cove molding, chair rails and even baseboards.

Calabasas Molding for Indirect Lighting

Other ideas may include:

  • Using crown molding along doors and window frame.
This Old House. Photo Credit: Ken Gunmaker
  •  Using crown molding to accent a coffered ceiling. Available collections include various geometric shapes ranging from square, rectangle, octagon, hexagon, pentagon, triangle, etc.
Tilton Coffered Ceiling System
  • Using chair rails.  Chair railing, like art work, when placed incorrectly, can make a room seem out of proportion. This is a good solution in smaller spaces. Chair rails are generally placed at 32″ A.F.F. (above finished floor) and adds a dramatic accent to a space. Use different paint colors above and below the rail or use paint and wall covering for a special effect.

Not a Traditionalist?  Do not fret. There are an unlimited amount of creative options out there for all of your client’s style be it gothic, urban, contemporary, mid-century modern, industrial, nautical, bohemian, shabby chic, etc. Think outside the box. Take for example, 21C Hotel’s lobby in Oklahoma City. I absolutely admire the use of the perforated steel as a respectful nod taking it back to its origin as a Ford Motor Assembly Plant.

Former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant now 21C Hotel, Oklahoma

Architectural detailings give us the opportunity to help our clients creatively express their unique style. It also increases their home’s value. It’s certainly in our best interest to help our clients understand the value in setting aside budget for their remodel projects. Let’s get them ethically disposed to finding the budget for this design detail. After all…..



What does the Queen Anne Style and Pansy Yokum Have in Common?


Al Capp’s Cartoon Character, Pansy “Mammy”  Yokum
Illustration, Queen Anne Style



Inside Design by Michael Greer. Chapter 2- Queen Anne 

Miniaturization and Reflection about Greer and Interior Design.

A Current Perspective.

According to Michael Greer, “Queen Anne, a girl about as diffident toward decorating as Pansy Yoku, had very little if not absolutely nothing to do with Queen Anne.” Arguably  with some careful analysis and a little soul-searching, I would have to disagree with Greer. But first….Have you even heard of Pansy Yokum? Me neither. Apparently, she was one of the famous Dogpatch cartoon characters of Al Capp’s long-running syndicated newspaper strip  which ran from 1934-1977.  She was the pint-sized, highly principled, corncob pipe-smoking leader of her family, aka the Yokum clan and the town of Dogwatch. She certainly looks tough, doesn’t she?   My first-generation Italian grandmother was a little like her.  We could surmise that Greer, a NY native, was one of Capp’s admirers since Capps’ total readership exceeded 60,000,000 in the 40’s. Capp was born in New Haven, CT. So, while Cap entertained millions daily, Greer was busy designing posh Manhattan spaces while impressing his affluent clients.


Contemporary wing back chair painted in high gloss paint and upholstered in velvet fabric. Martha Stewart. 
The Pink House
The Pink House, Edinburgh
Schumacher, Arches Print in Bamboo. Geometric, bold, dramatic and colorful indoor/outdoor fabric ideal for upholstery, drapery and pillows.
Van Den Akker’s Pedrino Club Chair. Also available as a Settee. Shown in Maple with brass hardware. Other wood species and finishes available. Hardware can be specified in brass, nickel, chrome or studio bronze (which is currently on trend).
De gournay’s Japanese and Korean Wall Covering, Kiso Mountains Design on Statue India Tea Paper. Photo Credit: Natalie Didham.
Schumacher, Sonriza Print in Orange. Dynamic circular/spiraling pattern ideal for pillows, or upholstery. Available in Java and Pool.

Greer would not see the likes of the Yokum clan nor would they be traveling in the same circles.  Originating in England, the peak period of the Queen Anne style in America,  was in the late nineteenth century, and had several personalities: some homes were ornamental and fanciful while others showed more restraint, and yet some were asymmetrical in design. Since this style was during the Industrial age,  factory-made, pre-cut architectural parts were brimming at the seams.  Chinese-inspired early Georgian furniture with cabriolet legs terminating in a pad or drake foot (yum!) manufactured from walnut with flowing graceful lines were becoming exuberantly popular. Overdone, a space in this style could be perceived as being dark, heavy, cluttered and out of scale.


Today, there are so many directions a designer could take this style. Is it challenging? Definitely!  Let me warn you, it is not for the faint at heart.  Oh, the places you’ll go! Here’s where experience and yes, even some of Pansy’s brazen fearlessness comes into play. Boldly and with confidence, in today’s contemporary space, this is a designer’s dream. This would NOT be the time to hold back nor show hesitation. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX, introducing PLAYFUL color and/or pattern (INTRICATE, ARCHITECTURAL, GEOMETRIC) done in BOLD ways is indeed the way to go.  Why not wallpaper a ceiling or use whimsical over scaled wall covering in the powder room? Got a thing and the budget for hand painted silk wallpaper? The real finesse is knowing how to BALANCE without over doing- something outside of Pansy Yokum’s realm.

So here it is, with some deep soul-searching, some characteristics of which the Queen Ann style and Pansy Yokum might share: BRAZEN, BOLD, UNCONVENTIONAL and ECLECTIC. I think I may have been able to change Greer’s opinion over a cup of coffee. Bold as brass,  eh?

Metal plate w/ magnetic mounting system found at