diy moldings

[This is part of my How to Install Crown Molding Series.]

Thank you so much for your response to my comment on your blog.  I just have to say, I read your wife’s blog (Jennifer’s Nest) on choosing paint colors and found it to be the best I’ve read so far.  I am in the middle of trying to decide on paint color for our living room with the very high ceiling and having a really hard time.  Still can’t decide what to do!!!

I will send you a few pictures of our place so you can get an idea.

I’m thinking possibly doing chair rail going up the stairs and then you can meet into that with the level molding around the room.  Not sure though.  There’s a few complications to consider as you’ll see, like the when the chair rail meets the open wall on the other side.

Thanks so much for your input.  My husband and I just love the pictures you have on your blog.  Joel has done some trim work — he put up crown molding in our living room and chair rail in our daughter’s room.  We have plans for so much more and your pictures and tips were an inspiration.

Thanks again,


Ken’s Answer

Thanks so much for the pictures, Marijke, they help so much.  I love the soft yellow wall color in your great room, it’s one of my favorites!

What a great open floor plan you have.  Your layout gives you so many elevations to work with.  It’s also seems very friendly for starting and stopping moldings in logical places.  I also like the rounded corners on your archways, though they make it more difficult to add moldings.

In a perfect world — where I get to trim your beautiful great room — this is what I’d do and in what order:

1.  Install an 8′ Flying Crown or Architrave Molding

Judging by your pictures, it looks like the wall height with the picture window is about 8′?  If so, then it also looks like you could run a three-piece flying crown molding around the room at that height and have two logical places to terminate.

Below  Installing molding at this height allows you to divide the great room into an intimate living space below the molding while retaining the lofty space above.

This division also gives you more paint colors to work with. I like to paint the space above the flying crown a lighter color than what’s below, but there’s no reason you can’t reverse that order.

great room molding ideas

You would want to install a flying crown molding with a flat-stock cornice so that it looks clean and finished when looking down on it from the upstairs landing.

great room crown molding ideas

Above  The rounded corner on this arch is not an obstacle to your flying crown.  Simply dissolve through it and continue the crown into the foyer.  Or, if you’re feeling sassy, install an entirely different crown design in the foyer.

great room molding ideas

A finial return would be even better here. I’ll have to find a picture of a finial return for you.

Below  This is a simple, one-piece molding that I installed around this great room.  You could also install two pieces of molding with about a 4″ frieze between them.  This whole molding treatment could then be painted your molding color.

moldings for great rooms

The molding I used here had a little detail, but you could even use flat-stock, either would look great.

2.  Door Trim/Chair Rail

You didn’t mention door trim, but that would be the next molding you’d want to install because chair rail or wainscoting need to terminated into the door trim.

I like your idea of running the chair rail around the room and then up the stairs onto the landing.  You can use pilasters to help you transition your chair rail and to terminate it at that open wall you mentioned.  If you use the pilaster method, remember that the baseboard wraps around your pilaster to become its base, so plan accordingly.

diy moldings for great rooms

Pilasters give you the flexibility to start and stop moldings in homes with open floor plans.

Above   See how I integrated this pilaster into the baseboard and picture rail molding?  If you use a pilaster to help you with transitioning your chair rail between rooms, it does not have to be as elaborate as this one — a simple flat-stock pilaster would do fine.

3.  Baseboards

A large baseboard buildup would look great in your home.  It provides a solid visual foundation for the rooms to stand on.  There’s something comforting about big baseboards that is difficult to explain, and great rooms without them feel top-heavy to me.  So if baseboards are on your list of moldings to install, then they go in after the door trim.

Below  A large three-piece crown would look really nice on your landing, but it would need to be terminated where the ceiling slopes down with either a corbel or finial return.  Painting the staircase wall an accent color could help draw your attention away from a lack of crown upstairs.

diy molding ideas for great rooms

Above  I love the layout of your foyer!  It’s simple layout will allow you to treat your guests to a really warm welcome with some grand molding designs.

4. Paneled Ceiling in Foyer

Below  Your foyer ceiling is perfect for a simple, flat-stock paneled ceiling treatment like the one I installed in this foyer.  All you’d need is a sheet of 1/2″ mdf board, some panel moldings to trim the inside of the frames and some sort of small crown to finish it off.

diy mdf coffered ceiling

A paneled ceiling with rectangular rosettes. This grainy photo is a scan from an old pre-digital-age photo.

You can come up with any panel layout you want.  I based this one on an Manhattan historic home I saw in Architectural digest years ago.  Don’t forget to plan for some fun ornate appliques!

5. Window Valance Box

You’ve plenty of room for a nice valance box over the picture window.  You could build it so your sheers hang from inside the box.

molding ideas for great room

This is Marijke and Joel’s great room. They want to install lots of moldings in it.

So there you have it, my molding ideas for your great room.  Do any of these ideas help you at all?

Marijke, your great room has a whole lot of molding potential.  Promise you and Joel will keep us posted on your progress!  And feel free to ask more questions any time, I’m here to help.

Good luck installing your moldings!

[This is part of my How to Install Crown Molding Series.]