The Personality of Moldings – Why Clamshell Moldings Suck

Hello, my name is Brent Hull, and I’m a molding geek… I admit it and confess that I think moldings are beautiful. I believe they speak to us and demonstrate characteristics that communicate personality, charm, sophistication and grace. Moldings, like other key ingredients in a Timeless House communicate a story. Aligning moldings with the story of your home is a key to success.


The moldings to the left tell are an example. They communicate not only their stylings but also their age and origin. They are all door casings (or architraves for you classicist) and thus are strong supporting moldings.

The top molding is Georgian, it is from a house built in 1776. The middle moldings is Federal, and dates from 1806. The bottom molding is French and dates from the middle of the 18th century.

These are all distinctive. They reflect light differently and thus influence the personality of the room in unique ways.

The importance of moldings is demonstrated in this picture below. The same room, the same cased-opening, at the same height, yet this space is transformed by the presence and power of moldings. The only that that has changed are the moldings yet the space is more impactful and beautiful than before.


The reason moldings have the power to change a space can be seen in this comparison of 2 classical moldings to a modern molding.


Moldings work and communicate by the way they reflect light. The bolder shapes and projections cast heavier and darker lines. Small shapes and thin beads like on the Federal molding casts softer lines and are more subtle shadows. What shadows does the clam shell molding, (popular in the 50’s and 60’s), cast? No shadows. The soft plan line is designed to go away, to disappear. It is the reason the moldings in the before and after picture above is transformed so dramatically when good moldings are introduced.

Moldings are important and communicate a strong narrative. Don’t gloss over this decision. It is character defining and crucial to the story of your home.


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