Interior Design Elements of American Homes

Jackie Schoelerman  |  June 15, 2023

Lifestyle

Interior Design Elements of American Homes

Now that you’ve talked your way inside, it’s time to learn about some of the trickier interior design elements that are common in American homes. While most of these elements will be found in historic homes, you will find them in newer homes as well.

Crown Molding
Crown molding is the decorative trim at the corner where the top of the wall meets the ceiling. Found in many historic homes, crown molding was originally made from plaster with molds and returned to the wall. Today, crown molding and other decorative elements traditionally made from plaster are made from wood, MDF (Medium-density fiberboard), or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The benefits of using wood or synthetic materials are that they are much easier to work with and require fewer skills to install.

Chair Rails
Chair rails are a type of molding that is attached to the wall at chair height in dining rooms or eat-in kitchens. The idea was to protect delicate plaster from being constantly bumped into by people pulling out chairs and hitting the wall. Chair rails are frequently installed along with wainscoting, and decorative panels are installed below the chair rails in order to protect the plaster wall.

Formerly used as a type of exterior siding in cold climates, shiplap is now a trendy feature for country chic homes. What makes shiplap unique from ordinary boards nailed to the wall is that shiplap boards interlock together creating a tight and weatherproof seal that made shiplap ideal for colder climates before the advent of modern weatherproof siding.

Picture Frame Molding
Another decorative wall element common in turn-of-the-century homes, picture frame molding is any molding used to create rectangular shapes that are reminiscent of picture frames on walls that already have crown and baseboard molding.


Baseboard molding is a molding that is installed on the bottom of the wall where it meets the floor. Baseboard molding can be decorative, or serve to protect delicate plaster from kicks, moving furniture, or anything else that might hit the lower part of the wall.


Wainscoting
Wainscoting is a decorative element often installed below chair rails that features large, rectangular panels made out of painted wood or plaster.

Often used to accent a chandelier or lighting fixture, ceiling medallions are either painted wood, MDF, PVC, or plaster decorative elements that are installed on the ceiling. They can be purely decorative or used to hide wiring or support systems for chandeliers.


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