Top Navigation

Archive | Uncategorized

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.

Continue Reading →

Follow TJOM on Instagram


TJOM goes social.

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

See you there!

Merry Christmas!

miniture door surround

Christmas niche at the Red Dog Cafe.

Moldings are for the people inside the home, not for the home itself.

Last week I drove through the historic farming community of Yale, Michigan, and stopped into the Red Dog Cafe (Google Map) for a bite to eat. Inside the restaurant I found this charming Christmas display carefully tucked inside a righteously red wall niche.

The welcoming little door surround and its friendly snowman, brought to mind the reason dressing up your home with moldings is important — to show the people who live inside and visit your home — that they are valued and loved.

This sentiment was the genesis for my own introduction to installing moldings.

I was married when I bought my first home, but I could only just afford it as is; there was no money to hire a craftsman to upgrade the moldings. But I wanted to surround my family with the sense of place that I felt classical moldings gave a home. And so I slowly began to teach myself the craft of designing and installing historically inspired door and window surrounds, crown molding and large baseboards.

So as you approach your 2016 molding projects, don’t think about how your upgrades will increase the value of your home, think about how what you do increases the happiness of your family.

Merry Christmas to you, dear reader, and thank you for sharing your 2015 molding projects with me. Your work has brought me great joy!


Ken O’Brien

Oh Joy! No More Ads on TJOM!


For the last couple of months I’ve been removing, one by one, the Google ads I put on the pages on The Joy of Moldings. They served their purpose for a time, but that time is now over.

The ads have given me a respectable side income for the three-plus years I’ve been running them, so their absence will be duly noted in my bank account. But it’s the right thing to do.

I’m removing the ads because I want you to have an uncluttered reading experience while you learn about moldings. Now when you come to The Joy of Moldings you’ll find a place of quite study. A place to contemplate how you’ll decorate your home with moldings without the bark of ad men yelling at you from the pages.

It will take me awhile to get rid of them all, like swatting mosquitos that buzz in your tent when camping. But with a little diligence, I’ll get every last one.



Historic DOOR TRIM-117 in Almont, Michigan

historic front door molding

Traditional Style, c. 1850

I was driving to my sister’s house in a rural part of Michigan, when I spotted this Greek Revival door surround on the front of this abandoned farmhouse.

I’ve seen this house before, but today is the day I finally stopped to take a picture. And rather than wait to get home to write a post about it, I’m writing it right here on the side of the road using my iPad. This is a first for me.

Continue Reading →

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, 2014, 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 Cadillacs.

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. He was an all-around detail guy.

Me? Same same: 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

Howard’s Dining Room Moldings with Vaulted Ceiling

Pro Install of LED Lighting Behind Flying Crown Molding


Other Fun Crown Molding Posts

Bathroom Crown Molding. Here? Really?

Billie’s Big and Beautiful Crown Molding


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 →


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes