Keeping Trim In Proportion
I’m not sure how this all got started, but a trend in newer production homes built here in Florida is to include VOLUMINOUS high ceilings in the main living areas. As much as 25′ high! In living rooms of opulent homes with panoramic views of the water, this makes sense; but I have seen it in average homes costing in the mid $200,000 range with views of their neighbor’s back yard. I have even seen 16′ ceilings in 4’x8′ powder rooms. Go figure!
So when an average bookcase or entertainment center is rarely larger than 7′ tall, what can you do with the rest of that space?
One solution is to lower the roof, visually that is. If you look up and all you see way up there is flat white paint, it probably feels (and sounds) like you are living in a big cave. Breaking that space up with ceiling details, such as medallions around the hanging lights or fans, drop soffit grids (tic-tac-toe boxes), beams (either real or faux), mouldings, and paint, will help tremendously.
At these heights, whatever you do, THINK BIG! I have seen basic 5-1/4″ crown molding installed on 20″ tall ceilings that looked nothing more than 2 pencil lines. And of course it was painted white on a white background. This was a total waste of the owner’s money.
When you think about crownmoulding, it must be in proportion to your room size.
There is no “one size fits all” here. However, there is a general rule of thumb, which is:
- For rooms with ceiling heights below 8′–Use no larger than 4″ crown
- For rooms with ceiling heights betwee 8′-10″–Use no larger than 5-1/4″ crown
- For rooms with ceiling heights >10′–Use 6″-8″ crown
- For rooms with ceiling heights >14′ tall–Use built-up crown assemblies (3 or more moldings)
Built-up crown can be as simple as the “teeth” on dentil moulding that is added separately from the milling of the crown; to something as detailed as multi-piece crown that can measure 12′ deep or more. Truely the options are endless, and with some creativity, you can make your home unique, and even increase its market value. The point is, you want a larger, bulkier crown detail to help bring the room to scale.
Another option is to detail your walls.
Large pictures, mirrors or other items fit the bill. Don’t overlook millwork here as well. Simple banding with a chair rail or wall crown (not installed at ceiling height) can break up the space, especially when accent wall colors are used. Wainescot panels are extremely beautiful would really make your home unique. The panel systems come in various sizes, styles, and finishes to fit your look.
Other trim items that help bring scale into a room are window treatments and baseboards. Framing your windows with casing can be visually appealing, and again, bigger is better. Use a minimum of 3.5″ casing here. Baseboards should increase as the ceiling height does. I have installed 9″ tall, 3-piece baseboard in a foyer that really gets your attention as your enter.