archwayTraditional Style

If your home has an open floor plan, then you’re sure to have at least one large walk-through opening like this one.

Why not bring attention to it by wrapping it in a beautiful surround of moldings and enhanced with architectural ornaments?

In the Before picture below, notice how much space there is to build something big and beautiful here.

The trick is to create a design that is significant but not overwhelming.

before & after moldings

archway moldings

Large and Detailed

When someone builds a large surround like this, the design mistake I most often see is when they make it big but not detailed.

They will often use large, bland casing moldings around the opening, then plop a way too tall piece of flat-stock on top for the frieze, and then finish with a crown that, more often than not, is way too small for the whole thing. I see it all the time.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not much more difficult to build a surround like the one above than it is to build something big, simple and totally out of proportion.

great room moldings

Naming the Parts

The structure that is built on top of the casing moldings or architrave, is called an entablature.

And an entablature is made up of the following three components:

1  Cornice

This is the crown molding portion at the top.

When an entablature’s cornice includes a soffit, like this one does, then I call it a hooded entablature. Perhaps that’s not the most glamorous name, but at least it’s descriptive.

2  Frieze

This is the flat portion between the architrave and the cornice, or hood.

Sometimes you can make a frieze with no detail at all; no inset panels or ornaments. But when you are making a frieze this large it really needs some level of detail to break up all that space.

3  Architrave

You may be more familiar with the term casing moldings, but architrave is more specific and historically accurate.

The style of architrave I built here is called an eared architrave. I have very detailed instructions on how to build one here: How to Build DOOR TRIM-103, though I use different molding profiles.


Let’s Talk About Ornaments

It’s a beautiful design, this surround, but now it needs life-giving ornaments.

And not just any ornaments, finely detailed ornaments and not the clunky, vague pressboard things from the big box home improvement stores.

archway moldings

These are the finest compo ornaments (or, appliques) money can buy.

They are, however, surprisingly affordable.

The problem is that no one sells them in small quantities to homeowners who are doing small projects — a single fireplace mantel or door surround on the weekend.

To solve this little problem, I’m working on a plan to sell them here on The Joy of Moldings. But more on that at a later date.

Below  I primed the ornaments before installing them on the frieze. I used a thick, strong glue and a few 23 gauge pin nails to hold them in place.

compo scrolls

compo appqliques


You’ll find tablets of various designs on archway, door and window surround entablatures, on fireplace mantels and valance boxes too.

It’s one of my favorite places to decorate with ornaments. In fact, quite often I’ll start the entire design process by choosing the ornament that I want on the tablet first, and then design the molding treatment around it.

tablet ornament

I hope this archway pattern has inspired you to design one for your home.

And just think of how much fun you’ll have choosing the ornaments that will breathe life into your creation!

great room moldings