Elevate Your Interior Design with Architectural Details

Living room design

Wainscoting and paneling, moldings and coffered ceilings, door casings and fireplace mantles—the architectural details of your home can bring your interior design scheme to the next level. However, the key to successfully integrating architectural finishes comes from a mix of scale, balance and experience.

Buildings have styles. Just because you see a picture of another room that you like does not mean that exact look will make sense in your home. The design element choices you make for your space are not arbitrary—they are dictated by the building itself and the style direction you set. It is important to bring in architectural details that compliment your home, bringing a cohesive feel to the space. A mish mash of designs is not visually pleasing! Below we offer tips on how to include architectural details in a cohesive interior design plan.

Determine Your Style:

ceiling molding

Whether you are building from scratch or designing for an existing space, it is important to understand the style elements of your home. For the newly-built home pictured above and below, the homeowner and the builder, Leonard Watson with Artisan Homes, brought us in to help ensure that the French country style they wanted to create was supported in all of the design elements. We worked together during the building process, adding appropriate detailing throughout the house. For example, the intricate corner moldings on the living room ceiling and the carvings in the main staircase balusters added stunning architectural elements that made sense with the rest of the home.

carved balusters


Custom fireplace mantle

The exquisite carved wood and marble fireplace pictured above is another example of how understanding your style can help you make the right choices in your architectural detailing. The homeowners had chosen Leonard as their builder for his superb artisanship. His attention to detail within his portion of the project had to be reflected in our portion of the project too. Finding a wood carver these days who can support this required level of carving skills was a challenge! Fortunately we found one who could create this French country inspired mantle. We then applied two layers of marble surround that follows the flowing shape of the wood. The final product sits as a testament to craftsmanship, design and artistry in the main public area, setting the tone for the rest of the home.

Consider Scale:

wood panelled library design

Slapping up some crown molding that you found at the local big box store is not necessarily going to give you the finished look you were intending. The size of the molding will be determined by the height of your ceilings and the size of your room, windows, and doorways. The tall ceilings of today’s homes require heftier molding—not just for crown but for base moldings, and window and door casings too. The same is true for wainscoting and paneling. The size and repetition of your pattern will be determined by the length of your walls and the other architectural elements in the space such as windows and door openings. For the library pictured above, the design of the paneled walls was drawn out to ensure the style fit with windows, fireplace and doorway openings.

Keep in mind that every space is different. The moment you try a cookie-cutter approach you are undermining the point of adding architectural details! For example, say you are considering adding built-in cabinetry around a fireplace, just like you saw pictured on Houzz.com. Make the investment in hiring someone who can recreate that cabinetry in a way that is appropriate for your space, making it look natural to the scale and style of your home.

Plan Ahead:

custom staircase

Many times homeowners are not aware of the options within interior design, and even builders can get into a rut. By including an experienced interior designer at the beginning of the project design phase, you can tap his or her wealth of knowledge, bringing some unexpected choices into the mix while ensuring everything makes sense. For the project shown above, Leonard’s design of the three-story stairwell called for dozens of sconces. The style we chose complimented the French country look of the home, and inspired Leonard to redesign the paneling around their lovely lines and back plates. And, he was able to plan the needed electrical rough-ins before the woodwork went up! By working with Leonard early in the project, we were able to elevate the look of the stairwell and provide the functionality the homeowner needed.

Architectural detailing is a large part of what makes a home beautiful. All of the elements work together to tell a story about the house itself and the people who live in it. Even if you never see all of the details at the same time, the whole space needs to make sense together. Combining style, scale and good communication between an experienced interior designer and contractor will help ensure the structural finishes you bring in will elevate the overall design of your home.


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