From the newly renovated Ritz Paris to the latest campaigns for Chloe, Chanel, Carl Hansen, B & B Italia and Maxalto, decorative wall mouldings are a key trend, and evidence of design’s new grown-up mood.

December 11, 2017

They’ve been part of the decorating toolbox since ancient times but we are now taking the light-and-shadow effects of mouldings to new heights. Even if you live in a shoebox, rhythmic interior panelling and trims will give the space the dimensions it doesn’t actually have. And add extra architectural weight.

The new approach to mouldings is not about nostalgia or romanticism; it’s about freshness and keeping it modern. Panelling is transforming rooms everywhere, popping up in some of the snazziest modern spaces such as Thomas Pheasant’s New York pad and Jean-Louis Denoit’s Paris digs. They’re glamorous, provide instant pizzazz and we love them.

Joseph Dirand Architecture

B & B Italia and Maxalto are setting the trend with their latest ad campaigns which feature knockout backdrops of decorative wall panelling that define the architectural style spaces. (The brands did the same 10 years ago with their ad campaigns featuring huge spans of glass with metal frames in warehouse-style spaces which are now having a major moment in houses everywhere).

Balmain, Paris by Joseph Dirand Architecture

Carl Hansen, Fritz Hansen and Lightyears, have been going all out for rhythmic statement wall panels, mouldings and trims in their ads for 2016, to showcase their products.

Brit brand Bestlite has made it cool for us to use wall panels, and mix old with new, cool with warm. Even high-end fabric house De Le Cuona gives us a glimpse at the future of our living spaces with the release of its new 2016 textile collection set in a series of beautifully-panelled rooms.

Balmain, Paris by Joseph Dirand Architecture

Originally made from marble or plaster, they’ve been part of the classical-decorating toolbox since ancient times. But although everyone from the Germans to the Greeks had the know-how to wield the crowns and ogees of their day, it took the much-copied French to elevate the light-and-shadow effects of mouldings to new heights with its boiserie (carved woold panelling) in the 14th century.

Joseph Dirand Architecture

According to Michael Simon, a New York-based interior designer and expert in French architecture, the French carved mouldings achieved subtleties and nuances unseen before. This mastery continued through the 17th century, by which point the craft had “trickled down to the nobles and the bourgeoisie.” Five tips on using moulding effectively:

Experiment with layering

It’s possible to create a “subtle complexity” with mouldings, says New York-based Classical-style architect Gil Schafer. He advises combining different types—from streamlined to ornate.

Decide how much you want your mouldings to pop

To visually heighten the ceiling, paint mouldings the same hue as the wall they’re embellishing (white-on-white is classic and nuanced). In his own pad, architect Jean-Louis Deniot played with three or four different tones to highlight the mouldings and decorative plaster motifs. “The colour layering provides a better sense of rhythm and volume,” says Denoit.

Mouldings can also be practical

Skirting boards, for instance, protect walls from damage caused by cleaning equipment. Dado rails, placed at the point where chair backs bang into the wall, can create barriers for plaster.

Go vintage

To avoid the McMansion effect that can result from using stock, injection or plastic moulding, comb estate sales, auction houses and shops that specialise in antique variations.

Scale it up

If you have a trad home with unusually high ceilings, installing additional mouldings will help add warmth and character and make it feel less “warehouse-y”.

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