(This post is part of the Crown Molding 101 series)
Let’s go back to a time when moldings were made of plaster, trim was intricately carved by hand, and every layer of the wall was part of an elaborate orchestration rather than a crude smattering of builder-grade fixtures.
A man’s home was a place of distinction, not a holding area for large screen televisions.
There’s no reason why we can’t infuse life back into our home by following in the steps of our forefathers.
Come down the rabbit hole with me and see what style speaks to you. Pay particular attention to the crown molding and how it sets the tone for the rest of the room.
- 1. Tudor and Jacobean (1485-1625)
- 2. Baroque (1625-1714)
- 3. Georgian (1714-1811)
- 4. Colonial (1607-1780)
- 5. Regency (1811-1837)
- 6. Federal (1780-1850)
- 7. Greek Revival (1780-1850)
- 8. American Victorian (1840-1910)
- 9. Craftsman (1860-1825)
- 10. Art Nouveau (1888-1905)
- 11. Edwardian (1901-1914)
- 12. American Beaux Arts (1870-1920)
- 13. Modern meets Old World
1. Tudor and Jacobean (1485-1625)
Wainscoting! Arches! A window cornice with scallops! #I'm dead
Welcome to Chastleton House in Oxfordshire, England. Note the gorgeous swag above the marble fireplace. The crown molding is accentuated with dentil trim and vine carvings.
2. Baroque (1625-1714)
What's not to love about Baroque? This room is next level everything – from the 3D eagles and attenuated leaf forms to the cake fondant beading (clearly the official architectural term).
I'm ready for the ball...take my hand.
*Eh-hem* moving along...
3. Georgian (1714-1811)
This entryway is oozing with character thanks to its oversized dentil crown molding. Custom millwork also surrounds the arched interior doorway.
The overall effect is grand yet understated.
4. Colonial (1607-1780)
Here stands Drayton Hall, a historic home built in 1742. A lack of indoor plumbing and electricity didn't stop them from using egg-and-dart moldings, rosettes, and other crown molding details.
5. Regency (1811-1837)
Honey, I'm home! Enter Highclere Castle, made famous by the TV series Downton Abbey. Built in the 1600s and renovated in the 1840s, Highclere Castle showcases many Regency period touches such as fine crystal chandeliers and large sitting rooms.
A closeup shot indicates acanthus leaves and gilded touches in its crown molding.
6. Federal (1780-1850)
A parlor fit for a president. George Washington's home is described as "Neo-Classical" in The Elements of Style, an encyclopedia of architecture.
This period is known for its fluted pilasters and Greek temple doorway headers.
Here's another great use of dentil crown molding – possibly modeled after George's teeth?
Bonus Federal Home: The historic Gaillard-Bennett House in Charleston, SC.
7. Greek Revival (1780-1850)
Can we just talk about this gorgeous crown molding for a second? Be still my heart.
Anything less would A) be a disservice to the historical charm of this home and B) look pretty lackluster for a room with 13' ceilings.
When it comes to crown, bigger is better.
🏛️ Pro tip: Thanks to a visual effect known as “geometric illusion,” crown makes a room looks taller and wider by drawing our eyes in those directions.
Other architectural features specific to the Greek Revival style include key motifs, rectangular moldings, egg-and-dart moldings, and elaborate columns known as pilasters.
8. American Victorian (1840-1910)
This Victorian terrace home was given a major facelift in 2018, including the restoration of its precious period moldings.
I'm guessing this ceiling is somewhere between 13 to 15 feet high and uses no less than five layers of crown molding.
I love the egg-and-dart at the bottom and the use of black behind the leaf carvings for added contrast!
🏛️ Pro tip: as a general rule, add 1/2 an inch of width to your crown for every one foot of height in the room. Once your ceiling is 10-feet high you can go up to 6-8” for your molding.
9. Craftsman (1860-1825)
Ignore the fact that this estate is in need of repair; this Craftsman-style home located in Tuxedo Park, New York has all the charm and character you'll ever need.
10. Art Nouveau (1888-1905)
A complete 360-degree turn from the Arts and Crafts period. Here we have a home designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, iconic Scottish architect of the Art Nouveau period.
The Elements of Style encyclopedia describes this style as such:
"The Glasgow interior is characterized by...windows and doors unframed and recessed into the walls...cool pastel colours...repeating patterns...formalized rose shapes offset by occasional springing curves."
The room above features a shelf or "flying" crown molding punctuated by pillars with emerald orbs.
11. Edwardian (1901-1914)
This is quite possibly the most beautiful fireplace I've ever seen. Stamped plaster ceilings, layered crown, and clam shells across the frieze symbolize the decadence of a pre-war era.
12. American Beaux Arts (1870-1920)
One word: Renaissance.
This beautiful mansion epitomizes the beauty and opulence of the Beaux Arts period with its detailed inlays and custom millwork. Mrs. Mills' boudoir looks like a ballerina's music box come to life.
The American Beaux Arts period encompasses a revival of many different styles: Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival, Georgian Revival, and so on.
13. Modern meets Old World
The modern style I chose is an amalgamation of historic European influences. We see beautiful large moldings echoed in the baseboards and in the trim below the frieze.
I'm including a second photo just to prove the importance of large crown with respect to pattern and scale.
Crown molding enhances the layering of patterns of this space by echoing striped patterns in the upholstery.
Crown molding is more than just a piece of wood between the wall and the ceiling.
It's a bridge to our past.
The only limit to your design is your imagination. If you find a particular style that resonates with you, adopt it as your own and have fun with it!
If you liked this post I encourage you to check out The Elements of Style by Stephen Calloway and Roberts' Illustrated Millwork Catalog by E.L. Roberts & Co. Your local library may have a copy. In these books you'll find excellent references to period-appropriate moldings.
I hope you feel inspired and ready to take on a crown molding project of your own! Here are more posts in the Crown Molding 101 Series: