Interior Classical Moulding
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