Well, here we are in the new year 2022. It’s cold outside. I need a shower.
And, I’m trying to write this post about crown moulding. (That’s how I learned to spell it in design school) But, I’m fine if you spell it Crown Molding.
Of course, it isn’t like we’ve never discussed crown moulding before. We certainly have discussed crown and all different kinds of mouldings– dozens of posts. However, the topic has always been a part of another post on mouldings.
One of those posts that I strongly advise you to look at and maybe bookmark is this post which goes over proportions of most applied wall mouldings.
The reality is there are thousands of crown moulding and other moulding designs.
I could write an entire book devoted to all of the crown moulding possibilities. So, please know right now, that I’m barely going to scratch the surface. However, I’m hoping you’ll learn at least one thing you don’t currently know.
However, I have a confession to make.
obsessed super interested in crown mouldings. I mean, I’ve always loved them, but recently, I’ve spent a crazy amount of time looking at them. Of course, it has to do with my impending renovation.
But, Laurel, you have those super-high ceilings, and I have 8-foot ceilings.
Yes, I know and understand. I’ve lived in homes with an 8-foot ceiling for at least 2/3 of my life.
So, two things. I’m not changing the mouldings in the two rooms with the super-high ceilings.
I’m changing or adding in the spaces with 10-foot and 9-foot ceilings.
But here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a crown moulding, or any moulding for that matter.
The actual moulding size doesn’t usually change all that much between an 8-foot ceiling and a 12-foot ceiling.
It is always better for mouldings to go smaller than too big.
I’m not the only one who has had these thoughts. Please read this superb blog post by This is Carpentry about the magical entablature.
Entablature via Stephens College
Above, you can see that the frieze is just under the cornice. I said no cornice; however, cornice and crown are sometimes interchangeable. However, there can be a secondary element under the crown, like you see in a Georgian-style crown moulding, but it needs to be scaled down.
Photos can be quite misleading when it comes to crown mouldings.
The angles the camera sees can change things dramatically. Plus, there’s a big difference in how a moulding will look from the front and the side. So, unless you’ve had experience with a particular moulding, always make a lifesize sample of it. Most companies will sell you a sample size for this purpose. If possible, have someone hold up the model in the exact place(s) it is going.
However, you don’t have to worry as much about the side view if you’re not seeing it from the side.
You will see the crown moulding from the side if there’s:
- A corner going to another room or hall.
- Or, an architectural element comes out into the room, such as a chimney breast or a square range hood, clad in cabinetry.
Another important point to know about crown mouldings is how they are measured.
via easy crown moulding – crown moulding dimensions.
Two and 1/8th inch is the projection. (how far the crown moulding sticks out from the wall.
3 and 1/2″ is the height and 4″ in the face. I guess that’s because that’s what you see as you face it head-on.
Let’s look at a few things I don’t recommend that you do.
A lot of builders enjoy building up their crown moulding. That’s fine, but more isn’t more. There need to be some rest areas. And this holds true even in a room with a very high ceiling.
There are waaaay too many bumps on this overly large moulding.
It’s like a bad 60s hairdo.
This post primarily sticks to crown mouldings applied where the wall meets the ceiling, not cabinetry. However…
The above example is the so-called Shaker crown moulding. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cabinet makers who are selling this abomination.
While I do understand their reasoning, it’s misguided. The builders think Shaker cabinetry is clean-lined and should have a matching crown with no artifice or bending parts.
But, the upside-down pyramid is an entirely made-up shape in terms of crown moulding.
What should be there, instead? Well, if the cabinets are up to the ceiling, then nothing. However, if the cabinets don’t come up to the ceiling, a small crown with the normal curves looks great.
Below are some gorgeous kitchens from DeVOL which demonstrate this beautifully, I think.
Ummm… No crown moulding at all, and one of my favorite galley kitchens. I don’t miss the crown. Do you?
The British do a thousand times better when designing architectural features than a lot of us Americans.
And one thing they do in abundance is plaster mouldings. (that links to an old but very beautiful post!)
While you can get plaster mouldings in the US, they are not nearly as common as wood and other materials which we’ll get to in a sec.
Plaster was the material of choice in the 19th-century. It could be molded into beautiful shapes and didn’t do crazy things like wood sometimes does.
In fact, my apartment built in 1879 still has the original plaster crown moulding in the living room.
In fact, I’m sure the rosettes were applied individually.
The den, however, while plaster, is not original. I think whoever did it did a great job!
There are some wonderful sources for plaster crown moulding in the UK. Here’s a partial list.
Undoubtedly, there are hundreds of other companies that make plaster crown mouldings.
Can you get plaster mouldings in the US? Yes, you can. One of my favorite sources, DecoCraft has a tacky-sounding name, but they have a gorgeous selection of sophisticated crown mouldings. Plus, they show how the moulding will look from three different angles. I love especially when they show the crown moulding in situ. It really helps to visualize how it will look, for real.
In fact, you know that gorgeous step crown moulding that Steven Gambrel did in his old beach house in the Hamptons? Well, DecoCraft carries those crown mouldings.
So, why even have a crown moulding in the first place?
Crown mouldings are not only decorative, they provide a solution for a sometimes messy line where the wall meets the ceiling.
A crown moulding lifts the eye upward and will always make a room seem taller.
In the US, most of us are used to crown mouldings made of wood like poplar, maple, or oak.
The problem with wood, especially in climates with various amounts of humidity and temperature is that it expands, contracts, and sometimes cracks.
I’m not saying don’t use it. But, maybe after this post, you will consider a synthetic crown moulding.
However, the moulding industry has been revolutionized in recent years by the ever-growing popular polyurethane and other synthetic materials used for crown and other mouldings.
The advantages are numerous.
- No cracking, shrinking, splitting
- Flexibility. Most can be bent around curves, easily
- Polyurethane mouldings can be made into an endless variety of shapes, both plain and integrate
- They are less expensive
- Synthetic mouldings are lightweight and easy to put up. In fact, many companies say they are easy to put up even if you have no experience. I don’t know. I don’t think anything that requires me to stand on a ladder with my arms over my head is easy to do. However, there are no nails. There is a special glue to hold them in place.
Of course, these mouldings can be painted and usually come already primed for paint.
One of my favorite companies is Orac Decor. They sell Orac Decor at all of these places:
However, another great source with thousands of mouldings is Ekena Millwork.
So, can you put up anything you like in any home?
No, I don’t think so.
For example, a 50s ranch would look strange, adorned with heavy Victorian coving.
However, not too long ago, we looked at several rooms with low ceilings. There are some great ideas for crown mouldings in that post.
Below, I’ll share some styles I think would give a sense of that without going overboard.
In addition, one element I love which I think might be catching on as a trend is continuing the crown down the wall in a flat frieze. And, a frieze, on the ceiling, too!
Some of the crown mouldings come with a short frieze as part of the moulding.
You can also add a simple door casing or baseboard underneath the crown to create a frieze.
I was going to show you what I’m thinking of doing for my kitchen and entry, but the post is already getting long.
However, I’m sharing one inspirational image from DeVOL.
I love the cove but want the ceiling not to be quite so contemporary.
Or, this one. So beautiful!
Well, I could keep on going, as I said in the beginning. The subject of crown mouldings is a HUGE topic!