Top Navigation

Archive | Uncategorized

Architectural Ornaments Teaser

compo appliques

I thought you might enjoy this teaser photo of some compo appliqué projects that I’m working on.

Most of these designs I’ll be using to create models of ornate corner blocks, while others will be used to create ornate center blocks, like this simple one I made years ago.

Only my new designs will be even nicer!



Why Moldings? I Am My Father’s Son

Update: My dad, Herb O’Brien, passed away in late January, peacefully and at home, right where he wanted to go. He was a wonderful dad, and I’ve missed him every day since.

His last year was quite difficult, and so helps explain my lack of publishing new posts since July. But now with life settling down to a new normal, I’ll resume creating new molding patterns for you to enjoy.

moldings historic architecture

A model of the HMS Beagle my dad built for me, and one of my most used architectural books. Both sit just above my computer as I write DIY molding post for you.

Everywhere my dad lived he would eventually upgrade some of the moldings.  Usually just the baseboards, but sometimes the door trim too.

This came to mind as I stood in the great room of my newly purchased home, the one that started my love of moldings.  “I’m a homeowner now,” I thought to myself, “I can do anything I want to this house.  So what should I do first?  Paint the walls, of course, but what else?  Dad always upgrades the moldings where he lives, maybe I should look into changing the moldings.”

moldings and detail

My dad building one of his sailing ships.

Dad has no particular love for historic architecture, and his upgraded moldings were never more than slightly larger than the old ones, but he loved tinkering with the house on the weekends — a vastly different activity from his day job as an automotive draftsman, sitting at a drafting table all day designing functional parts for Cadillac interiors.

But as his mobility declined and with it his ability to take on big home diy projects, he focused more on tending his flower gardens and building model sailing ships, some from kits, and later, as his skills improved, from scratch.

Mention that you served on a particular ship during WWII and next thing you know dad would take a year off from whatever sailing ship he was building at the time and build you a replica of your old ship — configured exactly how it was during the years you served on it.

That’s my dad: Cadillacs, gardens, home improvement and ship builder; an all-around detail guy.


Jet engines, wildlife biology and architectural details.  I am my father’s son.


How to Install Crown Molding Series

crown molding designs

Click image to see all numbered crown molding patterns.

CROWN MOLDING PATTERN INDEX |  CROWN MOLDING-100  | 101 |  102 DIY  | 103 DIY  |  104 DIY  | 105 DIY  |  106 DIY  |  107  |  108 DIY  |  CEILING MOLDING-100  |


Crown Molding Basics

Why I Don’t install One-Piece Crown Moldings

An Example of Expensive Crown Molding Separating at Scarf Joints

Three-Piece Crown Molding: Three Common Mistakes

Four Ways to Terminate a Crown Molding

How to Return a Crown Molding to the Wall

Crown Molding Hanging Return in Historic Home

How to Make a Crown Molding Finial Return

Crown Molding & Corner Blocks: Do This Not That

How to Install a Three-Piece Crown Molding Series

Before & After: Another CROWN MOLDING-103 Installation

How Do I Blend a Crown Molding Scarf Joint?

Great Room Crown Molding Ideas for Marijke & Joel

Dave’s Kitchen Crown Molding Challenge


Flying Crown Molding Posts

No Crown Molding on Vaulted Ceilings: Making My Case for Flying Crown Moldings

How to Make a Flying Crown Molding Finial Return

What Molding Do I Use for Flying Crown Molding Lower Detail?

How to Terminate Flying Crown with a Finial Return

Another Flying Crown Molding Idea For Your Great Room


Other Fun Crown Molding Posts

Bathroom Crown Molding. Here? Really?


What’s Next?

If you haven’t read through the posts in my How to Install Moldings series, then I suggest you take some time do so.

I have about twenty years of accumulated molding design and installation knowledge buried in there, so I’d say it’s worth a look.

Good luck with your molding project!



Greek Revival Historic Home: Birmingham, Michigan

historic greek revival home

I don’t usually publish anything on Fridays because this is the only full day off I have from my day job .

But today I finally had a chance to tour the historic home I wrote about back in early summer, the Hunter House, and so I wanted to give you a heads-up that interior pictures are on their way.

Have a great Friday!


Historic Home: The Sibley House

Greek Revival/Traditional, 1848

greek revival

On Jefferson Avenue, a stone’s throw from downtown Detroit and just across the street from Albert Kahn’s famous, The Palms, historic apartments, sits the prettiest little example of Greek Revival architecture you could ever hope to see.

Continue Reading →


TJOM Changes During the Holidays

door trimOver the next week I have to turn my attention to the regrettable task of changing The Joy of Moldings WordPress theme from Standard, which is no longer supported, to Canvas, a theme that is supported.

The site might look strange for a while as I make all the necessary changes, so don’t fret if you visit and find things all ahoo.

I’ll set them to rights as soon as I can.


Ken O’Brien


Wow, that was pretty easy. I loaded the new theme, made the necessary adjustments to make everything fit and then even had the time and energy to play with the new colors up at the top. Do you like the blue?

I would have never suspected it would be so easy.

Now I can get back to writing more molding design and installation posts!


The Moldings of Independence Hall’s Assembly Room

independence hall assembly room

How to install moldings in a room with vaulted ceilings.

Georgian/American Colonial Style, 1753

Photos courtesy of Greg Roth.

Rather than me blathering on about the beautiful wall panels, pilasters with ionic capitals, pediments over the doors and Windsor chairs (I really love Windsor chairs!) in the Assembly Room, I thought I’d share an interesting tidbit I learned while reading up on the construction of Independence Hall.

This tidbit perfectly reflects one of my Eight Design & Installation Principals.

Continue Reading →


WINDOW TRIM-102 Part 2: Molding & Millwork Inventory

window trim

[This is part of my WINDOW TRIM-102 series.]

Costs About $183.18 to Make

With the exception of the resin corbels, you can buy all the moldings and mdf board to make a window surround like this at your local lumber yard this weekend.

Here’s the full list.

Continue Reading →


How to Install CROWN MOLDING-102 Part 6: Wrapping the Crowns

easy crown molding

[This is part of my CROWN MOLDING-102 series.]

In this post I’ll show you how I installed the last three moldings that complete this large crown molding buildup.

Continue Reading →


How to Install CROWN MOLDING-102 Part 5: Building Up the Soffit

orante crown molding

[This is part of my CROWN MOLDING-102 series.]

The next layer applied to this crown molding buildup is the frames I made from MDF-200.

These frames are designed to house the ornaments — scrolls on the long runs and the round rosettes in the corners.

Continue Reading →


How to Build CROWN MOLDING-102 Part 4: Installing the Soffit

crown molding

[This is part of my CROWN MOLDING-102 series.]

Installing these large, flat-stock pieces of mdf so that they match nicely is an exercise in patience, for sure. But I know you can do it.

In this installation I mistakenly did not account for having to cope the inside corners, but found an easy work-around to fit them together nice and tight.

Continue Reading →


How to Install CROWN MOLDING-102 Part 3: Fascia & Soffit

crown molding

[This is part of my CROWN MOLDING-102 series.]

As with most things in life, you have to lay a solid foundation if you want a thing to last.

This crown molding installation is no different.

In this post I show you how I laid the foundation and assembled the soffit and fascia pieces.

Continue Reading →


How to Install CROWN MOLDING-102 Part 2: Molding & Millwork Inventory

crown molding buildup

[This is part of my CROWN MOLDING-102 series.]

Apart from the compo rosette in the corners, I created this grand soffit crown molding with materials from…you guessed it, my local lumber yard’s regularly stocked molding inventory.

At a minimum, the materials to make this crown should cost about $7.50 per foot.

Here’s the full list:

Continue Reading →


CA-008 Ornate Casing

focal point foam moldingTraditional Style

Focal Point, the company that makes this foam molding, gives it the name Versailles Frieze.

And while you could certainly use it as a frieze on a crown molding or an entablature, I opted to use it as an ornate soffit in this crown molding buildup.

This foam molding is easy to work with. It’s not too hard to blend at the joints, its resolution is good, takes primer very well and is extremely light weight.

Continue Reading →


Molding Painting Tip: Use Primer to Help You Choose Colors

painted mantel

[This is part of my FIREPLACE MANTEL-103 and How to Paint Moldings series.]

The homeowner on this project wasn’t sure what color her new fireplace moldings should be — white like the large crown molding above or something more subtle.

But she just couldn’t visualize the final outcome.

That’s when I offered to prime them in two different colors.

Continue Reading →


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes