+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    2

    Default Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    I've been noticing that whenever crown molding is discussed on forums or in articles, a lot of people seem interested only in installing LARGE crown molding. However, from witnessing countless older homes and buildings in my area, the Hudson Valley in New York, it appears smaller crown molding (smaller than 2" in height) was pretty much the norm, not the exception. I've witnessed smaller size crown molding even in late 1800s victorians but pretty much standard in historic tudors, capes and craftsman style homes. In fact, the only times I've seen ORIGINAL crown molding larger than about 2" in homes newer than the 1920s was when it was installed in MODERN times. My question is, if people are interested in installing crown molding to "restore" their homes, why the trend toward HUGE crown molding that seems historically inaccurate? Even retro mill shops seem to promote only oversized molding. Is this just being overlooked or are we sacrificing historical accuracy for mill shops to be able to sell bigger costlier crown molding?

    Would love to hear opinions or facts on this. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,195

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    There is no one, simple answer. Truth is, most people are copying whatever the latest fad is that's being promoted by the plethora of home "improvement" and decorator shows. They don't care about period accuracy, or even what is aesthetically pleasing, which is a crown that is properly sized to the room and ceiling height. Let's face it, it's their house and their money, they can do what they like.

    Now, if someone is trying to do a vintage restoration, then they're going to pay closer attention to what was used at the time the house was built.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    I think it had to do with technology. Wide crown was used but was generally plaster. Early molding machines were made to make crown for furniture making and was adapted for people that couldn't afford the more expensive plaster work. Just my opinion.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,203

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    Prior to the mid-to-late 1800's, moldings were generally made by carpenters or jointers with special hand planes. With the effort required being contingent on the blade width and limited by the human arm's strength, the moldings were generally small. Once machinery took over the process larger widths became easily possible. Often in really old houses the selection of moldings was limited to what planes the local woodworker had on hand, and with fewer choices the simpler and smaller moldings prevailed. With todays mass-production and materials like MDF wide moldings are easy but it wasn't always like this- something a lot of people forget.

    Phil

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,203

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    Prior to the mid-to-late 1800's, moldings were generally made by carpenters or jointers with special hand planes. With the effort required being contingent on the blade width and limited by the human arm's strength, the moldings were generally small. Once machinery took over the process larger widths became easily possible. Often in really old houses the selection of moldings was limited to what planes the local woodworker had on hand, and with fewer choices the simpler and smaller moldings prevailed. With todays mass-production and materials like MDF wide moldings are easy but it wasn't always like this- something a lot of people forget.

    Phil
    If you look at the large complex molding planes, you'll notice that above a given size, say 2" wide blades, they have pegs where a rope was attached so the apprentice pulled, while the master pushed and guided! LOL
    We have a fine (and I do mean fine, National Historic Landmark) 1750's Georgian in our county with interior woodwork by Arris (same man who did Mount Vernon woodwork) and the moldings are very robust. It was a function of what one was willing to pay. In antiquity, the relative sizes of all moldings and beams, columns, etc. was strictly governed by various formulae/ratios, so things would have the look of whichever classical "order" was called for. (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, etc.) So heavier and lighter details were baked in.
    I agree that today the rules have been thrown out and its an unfortunate free-for-all.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    Thank you everyone for your feedback!

    I suppose I am just surprised that nearly no attention is paid toward historically accurate crown molding while so much attention to detail is paid toward most other original features. Although a lot of great points were made in terms of the limitation of technology, does anyone have any arguments to support that smaller crown molding was also an aesthetic decision? As if meant to accent the transition from wall to ceiling, rather than call attention to it? I would argue this is the case especially for craftsman style homes which specifically rejected architectural embellishments for simplicity. Most original craftsman style homes feature relatively large features like case molding and baseboards, yet still feature small crown molding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Why is small crown molding being overlooked?

    Quote Originally Posted by CapeCody View Post
    Thank you everyone for your feedback!

    I suppose I am just surprised that nearly no attention is paid toward historically accurate crown molding while so much attention to detail is paid toward most other original features. Although a lot of great points were made in terms of the limitation of technology, does anyone have any arguments to support that smaller crown molding was also an aesthetic decision? As if meant to accent the transition from wall to ceiling, rather than call attention to it? I would argue this is the case especially for craftsman style homes which specifically rejected architectural embellishments for simplicity. Most original craftsman style homes feature relatively large features like case molding and baseboards, yet still feature small crown molding.
    Actually Craftsman style had a lot of architectural embellishments, what the rejected was machine made embellishments.


    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •