An American Beaux Arts Masterpiece, 1927

interior archway

Friday morning I spent a few peaceful hours wandering the galleries of one of my favorite public buildings, the Detroit Institute of Arts. My parents took me here as a child, and I’m sure it influenced my decorating sensibilities.

It’s art collection is world-class. Rembrandt, Monet, Whistler, Van Gogh, we got them.  And better yet, most of this art is framed in rich architectural detail. The newer, contemporary art wing is just what you would expect — architecturally insipid.

But the original foyer greets you with soaring vaults and powerful ionic columns. And it’s a joy to stand under these familiar vaults again.

Scale it Down

This entrance of the DIA is so grand that you might even call it imposing. But every architectural element in this beautiful room can be scaled down to fit inside your home. Well, maybe not the vaults, but everything else for sure.

interior archway

Scale the whole thing down in your mind. Then remove some of the detailed ornaments, and what you are left with are simple classical molding profiles that you can create using moldings from your local lumber yard.

Translation Exercise

I snapped a few more pictures of architectural details while enjoying the art, and I’ll post them over the next week or so.

As you look at each pattern I post, take note of the individual molding profiles that make up the whole. This is an exercise I do every time I see some grand historic building.

Breaking it down in your mind’s eye will help you design when you get home.

Give it a shot. It’s fun!