The simple addition — or replacement — of moulding can instantly upgrade a room.

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Q: How can I upgrade the look and feel of my dining room this holiday season?

A: With the holidays approaching, many are thinking of ways to enhance their dining room for entertaining. Adding or replacing moulding can be a great way to go. There are a number of ways to bring moulding into your dining or living room — choose one or more of these popular options to quickly and easily dress things up.

Crown moulding

Crown moulding is applied where the top of the wall meets the ceiling. Large crown mouldings, in particular, are on-trend and give great visual impact. Installation is relatively easy — the corners are the toughest part — but online tutorials can really help out here.

Panel moulding

Traditionally, panel moulding is used on walls to create relief and interest. Frames made of moulding attach simply to walls and can be placed on the lower part of a wall (much like traditional wainscoting), upper area of a wall, or can extend nearly all the way from the baseboard to the ceiling.

You can also decide if you want to paint the rectangles to match the room or use a contrasting color to have them pop off the wall and add some pleasing contrast. It’s also worth considering adding a frame of panel moulding around a light fixture, too — it breaks up a flat ceiling without adding too much to the wall.

Chair rail

The horizontal moulding found partway up the wall is called chair rail — right about where a chair would hit if you backed up from the table and into the wall. A typical height for a chair rail is one-third up the wall — that’s 32 inches if you have a standard 8-foot ceiling. Consider painting different wall colors above and below the chair rail.

Wainscot cap

A wainscot cap is very similar in application to the chair rail. It runs horizontally in the same place as a chair rail, but generally has a smaller profile. You can use it alone or with wainscoting below the cap.


This is one you’re likely familiar with. Tongue-and-groove paneling can be installed partway up a wall and capped with a horizontal moulding, such as the wainscot cap mentioned above. You can also use shiplap boards for a slightly less traditional approach — the groove at the joint adds visual interest to the wall. There are other options you can use and you can always customize the look even more by installing them vertically, horizontally or on the bias.

There are many varieties of moulding that can be incorporated into a living or dining room. (Courtesy Dunn Lumber)
There are many varieties of moulding that can be incorporated into a living or dining room. (Courtesy Dunn Lumber)

Accent walls

Wood-panel accent walls are showing up more and more these days. In this type of accent wall, tongue-and-groove boards are glued or tacked in place and act as a focal point. These boards can be purchased pre-finished (think reclaimed wood, weathered wood, colored wood) or raw — meaning you can stain or paint it for a look that’s exactly yours.

Picture rail

This type of moulding was originally named after its purpose: to hang pictures on wires from it. Today, it’s used as a transition strip located midpoint up the wall. It can be used alone, about two-thirds of the way up, or used to frame paneling, wallpaper or fabric. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to elevate the look of a wall.


Baseboards are often overlooked, but replacing the 2 inch to 1 foot board around the perimeter of the room (where the wall meets the floor) can be an easy way to change a room visually. Styles range from simple boards (with or without grooves) to baseboards with concave and convex curves.

No matter the type of moulding, there are a variety of styles, wood species and colors. Whether you like a simple farmhouse look, a chic modern aesthetic or ornate patterns — and whether you’re doing a whole room or just accenting a wall — you can find a look that fits your taste and budget this holiday season.


Todd Dermody works at Dunn Lumber, which is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s nearly 3,000 members, write to