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Art Deco Lighthouse on Detroit’s Belle Isle

Molding Safari

I’m slow rolling my way around Detroit today on my bicycle, Pugslina. And out of all the historic architectural marvels I saw, this Art Deco lighthouse at the northern tip of Belle Isle–Detroit’s answer to Central Park–was the thing I wanted to share the most with you today.

During my short but scenic ride today, more than anything I was struck by the contrast between how we valued public buildings in the past by making them beutiful things to behold.

In contrast, any post-modern public building is not just an eyesore but a drain on the human spirit–it is bleak, industrial. Soulless. But that’s a topic for another day. Today is one of those perfect summer Michigan days, so I will revel in the good things.

That’s all I’ve got for now, just this architectural eye candy. I’m going to finish my beer here at Atwater Brewary and then roll back to Belle Isle along the Detroit River.


Historic building

Large Paint Swatches, a Big Help from Benjamin Moore

paint swatch

[This post is part of my How to Paint Moldings series.]

Step 1: Large Paint Swatch

These large paint swatches from Benjamin Moore Paint really helped me narrow down my paint choices. Not that I mind painting lots of test colors on the wall, but when I’m still in that vague, what-in-the-world color do I want?, phase, then these swatches can help.

This black swatch helped me decide that I don’t want the bookshelves in my built-in bed/reading nook to be this black. If I hadn’t found this nice, big swatch then I would have spent quite a bit of money buying test quarts.

I’m sure they are expensive for the paint store to hand out, so they save them for customers who are getting pretty serious about their final color choices.

So don’t forget to ask your paint store for a large swatch or two on your next painting project.

P.S. Thanks Scott at Teknicolors Paints in Birmingham for helping me choose the right paint products with my project.

paint swatch

Step 2: Buy a Sample of the Paint Color

benjamin moore paint sample

Not too many years ago, if you wanted to test a paint color you had to buy a quart of the actual paint, and that was expensive.

Now, however, most paint stores offer an affordable sample size that, while limited in the number of sheens you can buy, will nonetheless get you closer to your desired paint color for less money than buying a full quart. I paid $6.99 each for each of my quarts, a far cry better than shelling out $12.00 or more for a sample.

That’s why I bought two different Benjamin Moore’s Color Samples Base 2, Color #HC-115, and applied it to the back wall of my nook project.

I’m leaning towards the color on the right. What do you think? Post your answer on my Instagram account, #thejoyofmoldings.

green paint

Historic FIREPLACE MANTEL-104, Fort Mackinac

fireplace mantel

Traditional/Greek Revival Style, c. 1828

I discovered this simple fireplace mantel in the hospital and doctors’ quarters in old Fort Mackinac.

The other moldings in this room — the door trim and baseboard — are nice, but plain. Only the fireplace was dressed up special.

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Follow TJOM on Instagram


TJOM goes social.

At the urging of my buddy Greg, I signed up for an Instagram account.

And now that I’ve played around on Instagram for a few days, I think I see how it might be fun. And let’s face it, as a small business owner, something like this has got to be either neccesary or fun, or else it will sit forgotten in some dusty, digital corner of my office.

So here’s the link if you want to follow The Joy of Moldings on Instagram.

I’ll post fun things and small updates on Instagram, things that don’t warrant a full blog post here on The Joy of Moldings.

See you there!

Historic DOOR TRIM-118 in Lexington, Michigan

door trim

Greek Revival front door surround with transom.

Traditional/Greek Revival Style, c. 1870

The other day I was riding my bike down the gravel farm roads of Michigan’s thumb area, when I found this elegant front door surround in the charming town of Lexington.

Lexington sits on the shore of Lake Huron, and has been a popular summer vacation destination for a very long time, even as far back as when this home was built.

Note how this surround compares to the last one I posted, DOOR TRIM-117.

greek revival historic home

Greek Revival historic home in Lexington, Michigan.

Greek Revival moldings can be highly ornate or simple like this one. To build one like this would be a very easy thing to do, which makes me scratch my head and wonder why more people don’t replicate them.

In its understated simplicity, this door surround sends the powerful message that the visitors who enter by way of the front door are important.

2016 Molding Safaris

This year I want to take you inside a series of historic homes that I find on my travels, either by car or by bicycle, hence the molding safaris. I’ll cover the major period styles I highlight here on TJOM: Traditional, Victorian and Arts & Crafts.

But this being mid-winter in Michigan, I could not find a soul to take me inside any of the homes I found this weekend. But at least I was lucky enough to find one open pub in Lexington where I was served a tasty hot lunch. But not a single motel was open, so I had to zoom north to Port Sanilac to snag the one available motel room in the area.

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Wall Frame Moldings and Electrical Outlets

picture frame molding

[This is part of my How to Install Moldings series.]

I was digging around in my photo files and looking for something short and sweet to write about, when I found this MDF frame I built around this wall plug.

When laying out wall frame moldings in a room (I used PM-014 to make these wall frames), you will more than likely have to make the pattern take priority over what limiting factors the moldings are going to run into, like electrical outlets and air return vents. Which also means you’ll have to get creative solving problems like this one.

The frame, made from 1/2 MDF, acts as a kind of plinth that allowed me to dissolve the wall frame moldings into the plinth. I also installed an arch shield to maintain the fire safety of the electrical box.

wall moldings

The room turned out even nicer than I had imagined, and is still one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done.

chair rail molding

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