Update Your Living Room with Molding

Off the shelf and onto your walls -- molding can liven up the room.

Molding styles vary, so adapt these ideas to your decor.

Stock moldings may not look like much on the lumberyard shelf, but applied to plain walls and cabinets, they pack lots of personality for relatively little cost and effort.

This project can be completed in a weekend by -- moderate woodworking skills will be helpful. Typical molding prices range from $.05 per foot to $2 per foot; a roll of wallpaper costs about $8 to $20 per roll.

Break up a long, tall wall with both vertical and horizontal strips. The spacing of these moldings will vary with the height of your ceilings, the length of your walls, and the positions of other architectural features. As a guide, our horizontal molding fell 20 inches from the ceiling; the vertical strips were 24 inches apart.

What You Need:
Combine molding and wallpaper in your design.
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • 7/16 x 1-1/4-inch custom molding (such as under-cap)
  • Drill with bit just smaller than the nails
  • #6 Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder (optional)
  • Wood glue
  • 7/16 x 1-3/8-inch door stop molding
  • Small nails
  • 1/4 x 3/4-inch screen molding

1. Draw. Start by drawing the horizontal line using a level and a hard lead pencil.

2. Differentiate. Apply wallpaper or a painted finish below this line and a different treatment above the line.

3. Drill and nail. Attach the horizontal 7/16 x 1-1/4-inch custom molding by first drilling pilot holes so the molding won't split and then using #6 finishing nails. Make sure to nail straight through to the wall's studs. (You locate studs by tapping along the wall with a hammer and listening for solid thuds, or by using a commercial stud-finding device. Once you've found the first stud, measure off 16-inch intervals and you should find subsequent studs for nailing.)

4. Attach moldings. Glue the 7/16 x 1-3/8-inch door stop molding to the flat top of the custom molding, holding it in place with a few small nails until the glue dries.

5. Create vertical stripes. Mark on the wall the places where your vertical strips are to run using a pencil and level to make sure they're perpendicular. Then attach the 1/4 x 3/4-inch screen molding to the wall with wood glue and nail brads.

Give your cabinets a facelift.

A little trim, wallpaper, and imagination give flat cabinets a facelift. Freshen cabinets with a new coat of paint, then measure in from the edge for the wallpaper placement. Your wallpaper pattern and door size will determine how wide the painted outer edge should be; but 2 inches is a good guideline. (Notice here, how the plaid is centered and ends evenly on the doors.)

With moderate woodworking skills, you can complete this project in a weekend. Typical molding prices range from $.05 per foot to $2 per foot; a roll of wallpaper costs about $8 to $20 per roll.

What You Need:
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Wallpaper
  • Flat screen molding
  • Miter box
  • Saw
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Wood glue
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Wood filler
  • Light sandpaper
  • New hinges (optional)
  • New wooden knobs (optional)
Place wallpaper with care.

1. Wallpaper placement. Measure in 2 inches from the edges of your cabinet and mark with a pencil where you'll place your wallpaper.

2. Prepare molding. Cut flat screen molding, mitering the ends, then paint it to match the wallpaper you've chosen. (Mitering Tip: To miter the corners, measure the outside dimensions of the moldings, then cut from the inside edge to the outside edge. This makes the cuts go with the grain instead of against the grain, leaving a smoother edge.)

3. Attach molding. Glue and nail it in place so the wood strips cover the edge of the wallpaper. The glue secures the molding to the door and keeps it flat; the nails hold the molding while the glue dries. (TIP: Hammer brads into either end of the molding before you glue; the brad points will keep the molding from slipping while you nail.)

4. Touch up. Fill the nail holes and any gaps in the miters with wood filler, sand lightly, and touch up with paint.

5. Detail. For finishing details, replace old hinges and add wooden knobs painted to match the trim.

Enlarge Image No built-ins in your house? Fake 'em!

Custom touches, such as built-in plate racks, are what distinguish character-filled old houses from their tract-home counterparts. Fake the built-ins with a plate rack made from moldings.

With moderate woodworking skills, you can complete this project in a weekend. (Experience with a tablesaw is also helpful.) Typical molding prices range from $.05 per foot to $2 per foot; a roll of wallpaper costs about $8 to $20 per roll.

For more information about other types of molding you might choose for this or a similar project, read the article, "Crafting a Plate Rail."

Crafting a Plate Rail

What You Need:
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Wallpaper
  • 1x6-inch poplar, ripped to 4 inches wide
  • Tablesaw
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Standard windowsill stock
  • Wood filler
  • Paint
  • Screws
  • Colonial casing
  • Quarter round
  • Screen molding
  • Chair rail

1. Outline. Determine the dimensions of your plate rack, then draw the outside dimensions on the wall; wallpaper inside these lines.

2. Build frame. Build the outer frame from 1x6-inch poplar ripped to 4 inches wide.

3. Make shelves. Cut standard windowsill stock for the shelves and nail these to the frame, allowing enough space between pieces for the plates you plan to display. Fill holes; paint.

4. Put up frame. Mount the frame by angling screws through the bottom of the windowsill stock and into the wall studs. The frame should be about 32 inches off the floor.

5. Add shelf facings. Paint the Colonial casing and quarter round then attach beneath the front of the windowsills to create shelf facings.

6. Create lip. Tack a strip of screen molding on each windowsill 2-1/2 inches from the back to make a lip for holding decorative plates in place.

7. Wallpaper. Draw a horizontal line around the room at the same height as the plate rack bottom. Wallpaper up to this line.

8. Cover edge. Add a chair rail at the rack base, covering the wallpaper edge.

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