Architectural Details: 10 Easy Ways to Upgrade A Boring Room

Have a boring, boxy room that needs something to make it look better?  Try these 10 ways to add architectural details that will upgrade a boring room.

Add architectural interest to any room in your house

As most of you know by now, I live in a builder-grade home, and am on a mission to make it look more “designer” and less “builder”.

One of the things that is missing from a lot of builder grade homes (which most custom homes have) are architectural details, and my house is no different. The walls and ceilings are plain drywall with nothing to add any interest but some popcorn on the ceiling…another pet peeve! (Click here to see my post on 5 Ways to Hide Popcorn Ceilings if you want some ideas on how to deal with that issue.)

But I digress.  Back to the plain walls problem.

Fortunately, if you are willing to do a few DIY jobs, it isn’t that hard or expensive to fix this issue! And there’s an added bonus that a lot of these projects can actually add value to your home.

So that’s why I have been on a mission to add at least one type of architectural detail to every room in my house (including the stairway!)…and I’m almost there! The only rooms I have left are the guest bedroom and the laundry room. So I guess you now know where some of my upcoming room makeovers will be focused 🙂

Keep reading to see 10 ways to upgrade your home with architectural details.

Create the Look of Panels

Gold panel moldings on a gray wall. Photo by via mydomaine.com

Make rectangular panels using panel moldings via mydomaine.com

If you have been around here before, you know that I love using panel moldings to add interest to boring walls. They’re inexpensive and one of the easiest ways to add architectural details to a room…so what’s not to love?

In the picture above, the moldings are painted gold to make them stand out in the room, and I love it! I am definitely doing this in one of rooms one of these days.

Panel moldings around bed

Installing panel moldings is very versatile since you can make them any size to fit your room and your decor.

My master bedroom has a high, peaked ceiling, so I placed the moldings on the same angle to emphasize that feature.

Picture panel mouldings in the den

When I did my den makeover, I installed panel moldings to outline wallpaper panels, which also acts as sort of a picture frame.

Picture panel moldings

If you don’t want to cut all of those moldings to size, you can buy panel frames* of the right size and nail or glue them up…no cutting required!  Plus you can get them in different shapes and patterns which are a little complicated to DIY.

Install a Chair Rail

Chair rail in a bedroom

Contemporary Bedroom by Chicago Interior Designers & Decorators, Mary Cook

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com restrictions.

Installing a chair railing helps to break up a large expanse of wall. Because it divides the wall, it also gives you a natural place to change wall colors if you want to do a two-tone look.

Dining room with chair rail

Traditional Dining Room by Haymarket Interior Designers & Decorators, Olamar Interiors

Note: This image cannot be pinned due houzz.com restrictions.

In this case, the chair railing was installed with some panel frames underneath. Painting everything on the bottom half of the wall white except for the middle of the panels draws your attention to the chair rail.

If you want to install your own chair rail and need some DIY help, you can find step by step instructions on providenthomedesign.com.

How to install chair rail

If you want the look of a chair rail but not the effort of installing them (they can be a little tricky because of the angles), you can use panel molding to achieve a similar effect. Install 2 moldings parallel to each other at the same height as a chair rail would be. Then paint the whole area one color. (I told you I loved panel moldings!)

Install Wainscoting

Wainscoting in the bathroom

Wainscot is a traditional way to add some interest to the lower half of your walls. The original version of it was planks of wood that were grooved on the sides so that they fit together on the wall.

Now, you can buy panels that look like grooved wood, but are much easier to install! The wainscot panels that I used in my original master bathroom makeover weren’t even made of wood…they were some kind of fiberboard that was really light and easy to nail up.

You can finish off the traditional wainscot look by installing a baseboard at the bottom of it and a chair rail going around the top.

Board and batten wainscoting. Photo via lovegrowswild.com

Board and batten wainscoting via lovegrowswild.com

High board and batten wainscoting in this living room really adds some elegance to the room.

You can find the step by step instructions for how to install it at lovegrowswild.com.

Tile The Walls

Tile as architectural detail

In the bathroom, tiling part of the wall can add all kinds of interest to your room.

In my tiny guest bathroom makeover, the split face limestone tile behind the vanity adds some extra texture to the wall and helps to create a focal point.

Marble tile as window and door surround

In the latest makeover of my master bathroom, I replaced the bead board wainscoting with marble tile installed in a subway pattern.

It still acts like wainscot since it breaks up the large empty wall space, but has a less traditional feel than the bead board wainscoting did.

Create Ornamental Door Frames

Ornamental door frames. Photo via bhg.com

via bhg.com

In my builder-grade house, none of the doors have molding.

Adding some is an easy way to create some interest on the walls.

Marble door surround

I used marble tile to frame the doors and windows in my bathroom. It definitely doesn’t look builder grade any more!

Add Faux Columns

Eclectic dining room with faux columns

Eclectic Dining Room by Weston Interior Designs & Decorates, Katie Rosenfeld Design

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com restrictions.

This dining room uses faux columns at the corners of the room to add some extra formality to the room.

Faux columns add interest in the stairway

The stairwell in my house is a very, tall thin space that doesn’t have any windows.

As a blank wall, it seemed like it went on forever!

Break up a large wall with moldings

So I decided to add some interest by adding faux columns (made from moldings) in the corners and ledges going across that make it look like it’s paneled.

Stairway with faux columns and crown molding

Painting the whole thing white makes it look like true paneling and brightened up the whole space!

You can find the rest of the stairwell update, and more information on how to make the faux columns, HERE.

Hang Crown Moulding

Crown molding in the living room

via enchantedhome.com

This Georgian Revival sitting area from enchantedhome.com makes full use of moldings, including wall panels and crown molding.

Crown moldings are an easy way to add elegance to any room and aren’t that hard to install. They can also draw your eye up to the ceiling which makes the room seem taller.

Make crown moldings taller by adding extra moldings to it
Add extra moldings to make the crown molding look bigger

To make even more of any impact, add some additional moldings around the wall below the crown molding. If you paint the whole section the same color, it will look like one big crown molding.

Crown moldings painted black in a silver bathroom

And of course, no-one says your crown moldings have to be painted white.  I painted the ones in my bathroom black to make them stand out.

Find the step-by-step instructions for how to install crown molding HERE.

Build Built-ins

Built ins around a fireplace

Transitional Living Room by Denver Photographers Denver Image Photography

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com restrictions

Built-ins serve dual purpose. They add interest and give you more storage. They can be made of traditional wood like the built-ins around this fireplace.

DIY built in cabinets with frosted glass doors

These glam built-ins are made from less traditional materials — IKEA cabinets and aluminum flashing.

They definitely add interest to the room, as well as providing a ton of storage!

DIY Bonus room builtins

And adding a built-in window bench and shelves to the end wall of my home office really added a focal point to this boring room.

Add a Fireplace Mantel

DIY Fireplace surround with moldings

Building your own fireplace mantel is actually a fairly easy DIY project.

DIY fireplace mantel at Christmas

It makes sure that your fireplace is a focal point in your room. And you have a fireplace mantel to decorate for the holidays!.

Create an Upholstered Backdrop

Fabric panels on the walls in a living room

Modern Living Room by London Architects & Building Designers – Gregory Phillips Architects

Note: This image cannot be pinned due to houzz.com restrictions

Using fabric on the walls is a great way to add texture and pattern to a space. In this picture, panels were covered with fabric and then installed on the wall.

Dining room with large fabric panel on the wall

In my dining room makeover, I upholstered a backdrop similar to what you might use as a headboard…then installed it on the wall to add some flair.

Dining room with fabric panel on wall behind the buffet

I always get tons of compliments on this backdrop!  And it makes a great place to hang holiday decor.

Hopefully, you have found some inspiration for adding some interest to your own boring room! Now I’m off to see what I can do with my guest bedroom 🙂

Comments or questions on how to upgrade a boring room with architectural details? Tell us in the section below.

Pin It So You Don't Forget It!

10 Ways to Add Architectural Interest to a Boring Room


How to Add Architectural details

Add architectural details to create a custom look

How to upgrade a boring room by adding architectural details

10 easy ways to upgrade a builder grade home

10 DIY projects that will add architectural interest to your home

Sharing is caring!

You Might Also Like

4 Responses

  • I’m in the process of decorating my home & I want it to flow color wise. I have painted the master bedroom a charcoal black with a white stripe going all around the room. The room also has 2 windows with bright white custom 4 1/2” louvre shutters. & white double closet doors & white woodwork. White bedspread & white pillows. I love decorating with black & white. I also like very light shades of gray or very dark & white. Any advice for other 2 bedrooms, all 3 bedrooms are off a white hallway. I also love white. Any advice. Joan

    • Hi Joan…your bedroom sounds beautiful! I love black and white together, too. For your other rooms, you could try reversing what you have in the first bedroom, by going with white or light gray walls and black trim. Black and white buffalo check is another option…if you want to go bold, you could paint or wallpaper the wall behind the bed with it. Or if that’s too much, use it for your bedding. Or you could try adding a metal like gold or silver to change up the feel of one of the rooms. Not sure if you have already seen them, but you might get some ideas from these posts: bedrooms with black walls, my master bathroom design ideas (they are bathroom pictures, not bedrooms, but the color patterns could work) and my home office makeover. Hope that helps!
      .

  • I really want to add architectural details to our home and am a bit hesitant until I figure out exactly what I want to do. I had not considered tiles on the wall before, this post is a great resource for ideas.

    • Thanks, Leanna! I’m a big fan of architectural details, but since they are somewhat permanent, I agree that you need to figure out what will go with your home before jumping into it. Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *