If you want to add just one thing to a room to fancy it up, to really take the space to the next level, you can't do better than crown molding. Crown molding draws the eye up and gives a room instant architectural character. And depending on the profile you choose, it can be a very inexpensive upgrade — and even one you can install yourself.
Choosing the right crown molding for your space depends not just on style, but on scale. Of course you want a molding that's appropriate for your space — a very ornate molding, for example, may look out of place in a very modern home. And size matters. A larger crown molding can make an impressive statement, but it can also overwhelm a smaller space. Speaking to This Old House, architect Richard Sammons recommends that, for a room with 8 foot ceilings, the crown molding be no more than 6 inches high.
Crown Molding Cost
How much your crown molding costs will depend a great deal on the look you're trying to achieve. You can get smaller profiles for as low as $1.50 per linear foot: larger and more intricate moldings, especially in plaster, can cost much more.
If you have a bit of experience with construction or woodworking, installing a crown molding is a doable DIY project. Popular Mechanics has a great step by step tutorial, with tips for getting the corners just right. This DIY from The Family Handyman goes into even more detail. If you're new to DIY, or you're working with plaster moldings, or a particularly complicated profile, this is probably a job best left to the pros.
Crown Molding Ideas
Crown moldings come in a huge variety of profiles, from the very simple to the very intricate. You can also combine multiple profiles together to create more intricate looks than you would get with a single molding on its own. Here's a little inspiration for your space.
A very minimal crown molding can still have a really nice look, especially it it's painted a contrasting color to the wall. This is a great option for a room with lower ceilings, like this one from Fantastic Frank.
The wider, inwardly-curved molding in this London home is actually a cove mold, which imparts a bit of a subtler effect. You install it in the same way you would a crown molding.
Of course this will vary depending on the kind of effect you want to achieve, but the general rule of thumb is that the higher the ceilings in your room, the thicker the profile. In this project from Addison's Wonderland, the effect of a thicker crown molding is created with a cove mold above and a base cap molding below. The space in between is painted white.
Of course a crown molding on its own is nice, but you often see crown moldings combined with other kinds of trim. The moldings applied to the wall in this room from Vanessa Francis create a paneled effect.
The molding in this room from Yellowtrace is what's called a dentil mold. It's a classic detail that often appears in older buildings. This is probably something that you want a little more height for, unless you're going for a very, very traditional look.
The molding in this room from Nuevo Estilo is either a compound molding built from a few different profiles, or a very, very large plaster molding. It works because this room has very tall ceilings, so instead of overwhelming the space, the oversized molding feels, proportionally, just right.
Crown Molding Options
Crown molding comes in a huge variety of materials: which one you choose will depend on what kind of profile you're looking for, how your plan to install the molding, and the requirements of your space.
Wood/MDF: Crown moldings in wood or MDF are the most budget-friendly, starting as low as $1.50/linear foot for some smaller profiles. Wood molding can be installed with finishing nails and, provided you have a bit of experience with woodworking, is a good candidate for a DIY.
Some sources for wood moldings:
Plaster: If you've seen photos of rooms with larger, more detailed moldings (like the ones you'd see in say, a Paris apartment or a historic home), there's a good chance these moldings are plaster. Plaster moldings are heavier than wood and need to be installed with screws and construction adhesive, so this is a good job for the pros.
Polystyrene/Polyurethane Foam: Moldings made from polystyrene or polyurethane foam combine the advantages of both plaster and wood: you can achieve more intricate, detailed profiles, but the molding is lightweight and easy to install. Some manufacturers make specially designed corner blocks to make installation simpler.
Some sources for polystyrene/polyurethane moldings:
Flexible Moldings: If you need a crown molding to go into a nice or around a curved wall, there are several companies that make flexible polyurethane moldings. These can be bent to fit a radius as small as 24 inches.