Molding, or moulding is a strip of material with various profiles used to cover transitions between surfaces or for decoration. It is traditionally made from solid milled wood, plaster, plastic or reformed wood.
“When commencing study of the classical elements, it is logical to begin with moldings. Moldings are the smallest physical units — the atoms, as it were — of classical architecture, and so are easier to understand at first than the larger, more complex members formed from their combination. Starting with moldings is also convenient because they crystallize in minute form nearly all the ideas that define classicism itself.” Donald M. Rattner is a practicing architect and Director of The Institute for the Study of Classical Architecture (ISCA) at the Real Estate Institute of New York University.
The first lesson to be drawn from moldings is that those who work in the classical manner inherit a pre-established vocabulary and grammar. With moldings, that standard alphabet is generally considered to consist of 14 varieties.
Analysis of shape is one way to classify moldings. On the most elemental level, we first distinguish between STRAIGHT and CURVED moldings.
Classical moldings, with few exceptions, are additive; that is, they usually project out from a given plane. The origins of moldings are subject to debate. Like all elements of classicism, however, it is clear that moldings perform both pragmatic and aesthetic functions.
A base molding, for example, does more than just conceal a joint; first, it serves as a visual foot to the weight of the wall that rises above it; second, it modulates the transition between the vertical and horizontal planes of wall and floor; third, it punctuates the bottom of a wall to signal it has come to an end.
The baseboard, together with the chair rail and cornice, serves the additional purpose of creating architecturally significant DIVISIONS OF SURFACE. In turn, the size and scale of these and other moldings indicate SCALE, which can be loosely defined as the relationship between the human and architectural dimension.
Moldings can help establish HIERARCHY by calling attention to prominent elements in a room, such as doors, windows, fireplace openings, and other apertures.
The impulse in classical design is to frame things, to break down a surface into regularized compartments, as reflected in paneling. There, moldings help mediate the shift from one plane to another by lining the edges of the panel. And, of course, moldings furnish surfaces for ornamental embellishment.
Let’s look at some of the issues that can guide the design of moldings for interiors.
TYPE & SPECIMEN: First, we must distinguish between a general TYPE of molding and the potentially infinite number of individual SPECIMENS of a molding type that can be created by the designer.
White River Molding has a wonderful selection of moldings and a gallery of inspiring installations using compound molding designs.
ALTERNATION & CONTRAST: Moldings are rarely used singly; most often they are combined in a series. When using them in combination, there are several strategies available to enhance visual effect, resolve architectural problems, and avoid poor design. For instance, one way to decide which moldings to use in a sequence is to seek out profiles that produce ALTERNATION and CONTRAST. The contrast may be between straight and curved. Or, the alternation could be between convex and concave profiles, e.g., a TORUS, followed by a SCOTIA, followed by another TORUS — curve and counter-curve (center). We might even get contrast from the play of large and small: large CYMA RECTA, small CYMA REVERSA, etc.
Crown Molding Combinations
Door and Header Molding Combinations
Another dream destination to add to your list of great historic houses to visit. Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. It is at the top of my list for a number of reasons.
1. Every penny of visitor admission goes directly to the Chatsworth House Trust, which is dedicated to the long-term preservation of Chatsworth House, the art collection, garden, woodlands and park for the long term benefit of the public. The charity promotes the study and appreciation of Chatsworth as a place of historic, architectural and artistic interest and of natural beauty, and encourages the use and enjoyment of Chatsworth by visitors for education and recreation. I recently watched the BBC Series Monarch of the Glen loosely taken from the book of the same name by Compton Mackenzie. There are 7 series which were recorded from 2000-2005. It depicts life in the fictional Scottish castle of Glenbogle and one story line is the challenge of maintaining a historic home today. So congratulations to Chatsworth.
2. The Estate offers charming cottages and hotels all set in beautiful locations across the 35,000 acre estate in Derbyshire and the Peak District. From converted stone barns to the Hunting Tower, the buildings have their own unique history and atmosphere.
3. The best reason is the Estate. The house is renowned for the quality of its art, landscape and hospitality, and it has evolved through the centuries to reflect the tastes, passions and interests of succeeding generations. Today Chatsworth contains works of art that span 4000 years, from ancient Roman and Egyptian sculpture, and masterpieces by Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese, to work by outstanding modern artists, including Lucian Freud, Edmund de Waal and David Nash. Chatsworth has 126 rooms, with nearly 30 of them pen to the public. The house is well-adapted to allow the family to live privately in their apartments. The 30 rooms open to the public include Painted Hall, regal State Rooms, restored Sketch Galleries and beautiful Sculpture Gallery.
Enjoy some of the grand images of the interior and exterior.