Design Dilemma: What to do with Molding | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: What to do with Molding

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So many of us with plain white modernist boxes yearn for the panache and distinction that molding can bring.  But the funny thing is, many of us who are lucky enough to have existing molding in our older homes find ourselves stumped when it comes to decorating. It seems that molding on walls dictates where we can hang pictures and place furniture. While molding can make any space feel more interesting, it can in some ways detract. Here are some questions and answers to the most common molding questions:

1.) Do I have to hang art centered between moldings?

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While the placement of the molding should serve as a guide as to where and how you will hang paintings, don’t be afraid to break the rules, depending on the demands of your space. We have seen paintings hung OVER moldings, as well as paintings hung off-center within a panel and it can work well, too. (Notice the large painting in the picture on the left hangs over molding. Smaller pieces overhang the window frame molding.) The trick: always hang paintings in relation to the furniture rather than in relation to the molding.

2) Can I paint molding in a modern space?

It’s true that most modern spaces, even with molding, opt to keep the molding the same color as the walls. Usually, we don’t want to call more attention to architectural detail that speaks volumes without added color. However, just because it’s usually done that way doesn’t mean that molding can’t be painted a contrasting color to great effect. Take a look at this example below of painted molding combined with modern pieces from a Ligne Roset catalog:

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3) How do I handle what would otherwise be called a very high chair rail?molding6 300x225 how to tips advice

In the picture on the right, a long strip of molding crosses the length of the room. It’s too high to call it a chair rail and too low to call it a picture rail, but whatever it is, it makes it difficult to gracefully hang art work. Solution? Paint the molding the same color as the wall, and hang one large painting or wall hanging in the space. A beautiful abstract painting or textile wall hanging would provide an arresting splash of color that will instantly allow the molding to recede in importance. Problem solved!
4) Can I add moldings in an apartment with a modern aesthetic if I don’t already have moldings?

Short answer: Yes, and it can look really good. Take a look at the apartment below of Jon Crawford-Phillips who added molding throughout his apartment to add texture and interest. What adds to the molding is the use of light to highlight artwork and the molding itself.

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Images:, Lignet Roset,, Jon Crawford-Phillips.

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