Elements Architectural

Transform the ordinary into distinctive with beautiful moldings, decorative columns and pilasters

Moldings are esential for designer


Photo courtesy Keith Coleman
Coleman’s Hamilton Supply Co. in Hamilton Township is a major purveyor of moldings. Keith Coleman, co-owner, says the company supplies contractors and homeowners with literally hundreds of molding options, and he reports a great upsurge in interest in moldings in the last decade.

upon a time, they were part of grand temples in ancient Greece and Rome, adornments of the highest order. These
days, just plain folk can replicate these elegant touches in their own homes.

   Moldings have come a long way since they were also in vogue in colonial America when they
were crafted of wood, often to cover gaps at the floor and ceiling where plaster abutted wood.

   "Moldings in today’s world accomplish many things," suggested Tom Sommerville, who ought
to know.

   Mr. Sommerville, whose resume spills over several pages, studied fine arts at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later earned a master of fine arts degree at the Mason Gross School of
the Arts at Rutgers University where he served as a graduate assistant. He then became involved in teaching
art theory, history and computer graphics in the region, including at what was then Trenton State College,
now The College of New Jersey.


Photo courtesy

Coleman’s Hamilton Supply Co.

   These days, Tom Sommerville continues to teach, but has developed a specialty as a craftsman.
His own hands-on experience of rehabbing two houses, including his current one in Ewing Township, have given
this well-trained artist/artisan some literal hands-on experience.

   "The demand for moldings and cabinetry has definitely increased over the last several years,"
said Mr. Sommerville, who notes that today’s "McMansions," often large homes with volume space, are prime targets
for moldings.

   "People move into these new, large homes and somewhere down the line, they realize that they
want to create a look that’s more intimate and personal. Moldings can accomplish that nicely."

   Mr. Sommerville suggests that placing a crown molding at a height of about 8 feet can bring
the eye down, making vast space seem visually more enveloping.

   "It creates a space within a space."

   Mr. Sommerville also notes that today’s copies of Roman and Italianate themes — themselves
derived from the elevations of ancient Rome and Greece — can create a very grand look and feel in spaces
that are deemed to be formal and elegant.

   In less formal spaces, a chair molding which simply defines a room at about 36 to 42 inches
high, can add an attractive architectural detail.

   Homeowners today are also using architectural details like doorway moldings that can transform
an ordinary doorway into something far more distinctive; decorative columns and pilasters that add interest
to rooms; and even moldings around exterior spaces.


Photo courtesy Coleman’s Hamilton Supply Co.

   Moldings themselves can be interpreted in wood, which is Mr. Sommerville’s material of choice,
or in foam or "wood-like" moldings. Some builders and homeowners prefer the "faux" materials because they withstand
weather changes and help reduce costs.

   "The wonderful thing is the versatility factor of moldings, which can range from simple to
ornate, and from massive — as much as 6 inches high — to far smaller," said Mr. Sommerville.

   One major purveyor of moldings is Keith Coleman, co-owner of Coleman’s Hamilton Supply Co.
in Hamilton Township. Mr. Coleman’s lumber yard and millwork company supplies contractors and homeowners with
literally hundreds of molding options, and he reports a great upsurge in interest in moldings in the last decade.

   "People are using moldings in new and older homes, often with very dramatic results," said
Mr. Coleman. He is cautious, however, about do-it-yourselfers undertaking projects like crown moldings, which
require cutting on an angle.

   "But it’s like everything else — if you have the right tools and the right information,
you can do it!"

   For more information about Tom Sommervilles’s Tall Tree Woodwork, call (609) 406-0995. Coleman’s
Supply Co. can be reached by calling (609) 587-4020.


are essential for designer

   WHEN designer Debra Barresse visits a client’s home, the first thing she looks for are the architectural aesthetics.

   "If all the furnishings were pulled out of the room, would it still be interesting to look at?" ponders Ms. Barresse, interior designer/project manager in the Office of Physical Planning at Princeton University.

   Ms. Barresse, who is also the owner of her own design firm, DLB Interior Design in Hopewell, asks another key question: "Are there details to let you know that the exterior was planned at the same time as the interior? This can be the point at which old or revival style falls apart."

   Ms. Barresse recognizes the importance of architectural moldings to enhance, define and design space, once common practice in many of the older homes in the area, but not necessarily a modern building feature.

   "While the exteriors of many homes are designed to mimic the style of these grand old mansions, when you walk through the front door sometimes, all resemblance ends. Blank sheetrock walls, sometimes two or three stories high, are left untouched and door trims are often out of proportion," notes the designer.

   Thus begins Ms. Barresse’s work. "Before a stitch of furniture goes into the space, I must create backgrounds that themselves create interest, texture and detail. This sets the stage for the rest of the room."

   Moldings are an essential ingredient for this designer, especially in huge vaulted great rooms, which she feels are difficult to make intimate or cozy.

   "I like to create a false ceiling line by using crown moldings and pilastered columns at the 9-foot line, and I also implement panel moldings and/or wainscoting below a chair rail to frame out spaces."

   And budget? "I’m insistent that clients put budget monies into the room backgrounds first. That’s where it all begins!"