Design Details

Good design is in the details.

If you have a space that is beautifully decorated, but still feels “unfinished,” you may be missing an important detail — architectural features. Charming old homes are beautiful even with empty rooms. Through the use of paneled wall treatments, ornate casings and crown moldings, older architecture provided depth, detail and richness to a home. Unfortunately, not every home today was built with that same attention to detail. The good news is that you can add beauty to even the most basic, builder-grade home with the use of architectural details.

Crown molding and baseboards

When it comes to crown molding, the thicker the better. Skimpy crown molding does little to enhance a space. To achieve a dramatic difference in the depth and height of a room, add thick molding or layer pieces of simple molding for a more ornate look. One budget-friendly option is to use trim paint between pieces of molding to give the appearance that the molding is thicker.

Baseboards should also be substantial. Replacing short baseboards with taller ones transforms the look of a room.


There are many options and materials available for adding architectural detail to your walls. Paneled wall treatments such as beaded board, wainscoting, and board and batten add dimension and charm to plain drywall. Whether your aesthetic is elegant or casual, woodwork can help you achieve the look you desire.

The woodwork can be as simple as a chair rail with wood frames below it. Or, for a more dramatic look, run board and batten or wainscoting up 3/4ths of the wall. For an elegant dining room, consider raised paneling. For a rustic look, use barn wood or pallet wood on the walls. Board and batten works well for various styles from arts and crafts to coastal chic. Beaded board or car siding are good options for a country farmhouse look.

Use woodwork in foyers, dining areas, bathrooms, stairways or any room where you want to add character.


Let’s face it. Most ceilings are white, bland and boring. But, they don’t have to be that way. Why not jazz up the “fifth wall” in a room with the use of ceiling beams, wood panels, tin tiles or even an unexpected paint color.

Ceiling beams come in a variety of styles, from rustic worm-holed wooden beams to sleek and modern metal designs. Faux timber beams are light in weight and easy to install. The same treatments used on walls can also be added to the ceiling. Beaded board or tongue-and-groove wood panels can make your ceiling a standout.

Doors and windows

Once again, size matters when it comes to trim. Interior doors and windows have more personality with beefed-up trim. Check out online DIY sites to learn how to add thicker or more ornate casings.

Turn your doors from eye sores into eye candy. Simply adding panels to a plain door gives it more depth and interest. Painting doors a dark gray or black adds an element of sophistication. Don’t forget the hardware. Architectural salvage stores, Anthropologie and Rejuvenation are great sources for unique knobs. Switching out your doors with French doors or sliding barn doors is another way to amp up your home’s architectural impact. A vintage screen door in place of a pantry door is an unexpected element.

If you live in a home brimming with architectural details, consider yourself lucky. If your home is lacking such details, you’ll find that adding a few will give your space the finishing touch it needed.

For more great ideas, visit Carolyn’s blog at


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