Architectural Details Add Verve and Value

DIY-Friendly Molding

Molding made from hard polyurethane foam is lightweight yet tough enough to stand up to the bumps of everyday life. It can be cut and sanded like real wood, and it installs easily with nails and glue, making it a good DIY material. You can buy matched sets that include chair rails, crown moldings, door surrounds, and baseboards. Depending on size and the detailing, polyurethane crown molding runs $1 to $20 per foot.

Things Are Looking Up

Pressed tin ceiling tiles are classics once common in 19th-century homes. They come in copper, bronze, brushed nickel, and pre-finished and unfinished steel, with hundreds of pattern options. A 2-foot-by-2-foot tile runs $5 to $30; install them in a suspended grid, or nail and glue them to the ceiling. This homeowner salvaged these tiles from an old warehouse.

Top It Off

Turn your staircase from humdrum to handsome by topping off a plain newel post with a cool finial. A pineapple-style finial is a classic, timeless touch that goes with lots of styles. You can find them in unpainted and finished wood, polyurethane, and metal with prices ranging from $25 to $250. For a unique touch, check out salvage yards for one-of-a-kind finials.

The Art of the Arch

Classy arched passageways might look like an extravagant remodeling project, but made-to-order molding kits can be installed in a day. The curved portion is a one-piece system that needs no additional framing behind it — just cut out the drywall to match the curve. The arch is supported by elegant jambs and door casings. Kits cost from $250 to $1,500.

The Snookie Treatment

Builder-grade birch cabinets weren’t making the grade with this homeowner, but new cabs weren’t in the budget. Makeover to the rescue! She painted the cabinet a crisp white, then gave it the “Snookie treatment” — bumping up the height with a 1-inch-by-6-inch pine board installed vertically and topped with some decorative crown molding ($1 to $2 per linear foot).

Rack ‘Em Up

Got some decorative plates or maybe Grandma’s antiques? Show off your cool dinnerware on plate rail molding. Plate rail molding is made with a groove on top that secures the edge of each plate. The molding can be installed freestanding or on top of wainscot. It’s a good idea to install plate rails about 6 feet from the floor — the better to show off your collection and prevent accidental bumps. About $3 per linear foot.

DIY Baseboards

Tall baseboards (6 inches or more) are impressive but can start to get expensive. Cut costs by making your own. Use paint-grade 1-inch-by-6-inch (or larger) pine boards, and top with a decorative molding. Be sure the lumber you buy is kiln-dried; that way, it won’t shrink and open up unsightly gaps in your handiwork.


Stair bracket molding turns any staircase into a showpiece. You can find premade brackets in wood or lightweight urethane for $10 to $25 each. Measure to make sure the bracket isn’t thicker than the scotia molding — the small piece of trim that goes under the stair tread (in this picture, it’s the same color as the tread).

A-Door-Able Hinge Pins

These tiny toppers come in pewter, bronze, and brass and attach to a door hinge pin with magnets. Lots of designs, including animals, figures, and decorative touches such as hearts. Prices run from $10 to $16.


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