5 Ways to Add Architectural Detail to Your Home

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What is it about the interior architecture detail in a home that we love so much? Why is it that ceiling beams, wall paneling, custom cabinetry, fireplace mantles, and arched doorways suddenly make a house feel more like a home?
Homes rich in architectural detail have a wonderful knack for feeling both grand and cozy at the same time. Architectural elements create an established sensibility that is not only interesting and beautiful to the eye, but also make you feel as if you are somewhere substantial, permanent, and full of purpose.

Instead of suggesting lengthy and very labor intensive DIY projects, we’re going to focus on how to achieve this established sensibility in your own home with 5 easy ideas that can be beautifully executed without a professional carpenter and painter.

1. Hang Drapery and Hang it High

High Drapery

Don’t crowd your windows by hanging the drapery rod right above the top of the window. Instead, hang the rod just 2” – 4” below the ceiling line. This will draw your eye up and make the room and your windows seem grander, while also creating coziness and visual interest in what would otherwise be empty wall space between the window and the ceiling.

2. Apply Window Casings (before you apply crown molding)

Window Casings

If you have a room that doesn’t have casings (molding around windows) or crown molding, always make the window casings a priority over the crown molding. Crown molding is great, but it’s not a cure all (even though it is most peoples “go to” architectural detail). If you don’t have casings around your windows or if you have small (1”) casings, it’s time for an upgrade. Windows fall in your eye line and are much more a part of your space than your ceiling line.

If you don’t want to tackle the sawing yourself (which I always try to avoid), Home Depot is great about helping you out if you bring in precise dimensions. Another alternative is to select your casing profile, but hire a professional. Molding and casing installers are probably a lot less expensive than you think.

3. Create a Faux Wainscot

Chair Rail

This is one you may have seen many times before, but that’s because it really works as a way to give your plain wall some visual interest. Take precise measurements and then select a primed white, flat, chair rail molding. Apply the molding about 1/3” up the wall from the floor. (The same Home Depot suggestion applies here.) Paint the chair rail molding the same color as the bottom (or top) portion of the wall, with a contrasting color on top.

To keep your faux wainscot from looking like amateur decorating gone wrong, remember these three words…keep it simple. Select a small room such as a dining room or hallway if you’re feeling a little unsure. Use a neutral for the bottom color (I recommend white, cream, tan, or gray) and select a muted tone for the top (or vice versa). The biggest mistake that people make when selecting paint is to pick something too bright. Select the color you want, and then pick a muddy version of that color. You’ll thank me when a 2” x 2” swatch is all over your wall.

4. Hang Groupings of Art

Art Wall

Frames around photos and artwork have the kind of detail and interest that we often want to apply to our doorways and windows. We can play this up by creating groupings of art on large empty walls. I love mixing different kinds of frames, depending on the style of the interior. Whether you use ornate, traditional frames or simple modern ones you will achieve the same beautiful result.

5. Faux Brick Panels and Paint

Painted Brick

Interior brick is a really fun architectural element that not all of us are fortunate enough to have in our homes or apartments. Lucky for us, Lowe’s sells a faux version, but like anything faux (hair, boobs, a happy marriage) it has to be convincing. Since the faux brick panels look a little too unauthentic for my taste, I recommend applying a coat of paint and no one will be the wiser. These faux brick panels have great reviews and are applied using liquid nails. One wall can be installed in about an hour + paint time.

A few tips…again, remember to keep it simple. Select a wall in your space that doesn’t have any windows that will require less cutting. The brick panels are pretty dark, so be sure to use a primer before painting on your actual color. When selecting a paint color, not only do I recommend choosing a “muddy” version of a color you love, but look at historical images of painted brick and see what colors were used. This will keep your aesthetic from being too trendy or something that you’ll get tired of in 6 months. We’re trying to achieve a sense of permanence and meaning…there is no better way to do this than to look to the past.

What other easy solutions have you tried to make up for a lack of architectural detail in your home? Comment below and let us know!

Image Sources- Featured Image: Lisa Sherry Interieurs; Photo 1: C2 Designs; Photo 2: Lisa Sherry Interieurs; Photo 3: (Left) The Little Mrs., (Right) Houzz; Photo 4: (Left) House Beautiful, (Right) Gloss White; Photo 5: Atlanta Homes.

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Brittany is an interior designer and stylist constantly searching for creativity and inspiration in the world around her. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she finds plenty of both. Her interior design studio services a variety of clients throughout California seeking her simple and collected aesthetic. Brittany believes that a house becomes a home when it is beautiful, comfortable and, most importantly, reflects the personality of the people who live inside.