This Design Technique Will Make Any Home Look More Expensive

Custom details can make the simplest of rooms more elegant. One especially easy and wallet-friendly custom upgrade is applied molding, sometimes called "picture boxing." This technique involves measuring and mounting molding directly to the walls, often in square or rectangular forms. The end result is at once simple and luxurious.

Applied molding is a go-to trick for Scott McGillivray, host of Income Property on HGTV and real estate expert. He frequently uses the technique both on his show and in his own investment properties.

"It's a perception of higher class," Scott says. Contemporary applied molding is, "a play off of traditional Victorian ideas, of grand chateaus that have expensive molding. That was a lot of work; the boards were hand-hewn or routered to fit the exact spaces." Thanks to developments with mass-produced fiberboard molding, that same historically classy look can be replicated for a reasonable price.

Scott recommends getting adventurous with applied molding, as there really are no rules when it comes to customizing. Consider using molding above your bed, where a headboard might go, or paint molding a contrasting color from the wall to make certain spaces pop.

Whatever you decide, the best part about applied molding is that most people can do it. Anyone with "basic carpentry skills" can perfect the technique when they follow Scott's six steps below.

01
Plan Ahead
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Plan Ahead

Decide where you want to install the applied molding first. Take note of where electrical outlets and switches are on the wall, and adjust your plans so you don't have to make any awkward cuts.

02
Decide on the Height
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Decide on the Height

Where you hang the molding is up to you. If looking to enhance ceiling height, Scott recommends selecting molding that is 2/3 the height of the room. Many also choose to base the molding around hip height, where a chair rail would be, around 32 to 36 inches above the floor.

03
Keep a Standard Distance
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Keep a Standard Distance

Leave six to eight inches between individual moldings, as well between the molding and the celling or baseboard.

04
Have the Right Tools
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Have the Right Tools

Make sure to have a handsaw and miter box on hand.

05
Know Your Best Angle
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Know Your Best Angle

After measuring length and width of each molding section, cut each piece at 45 degree angles so the joints fit evenly together.

06
Finish With Paint
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Finish With Paint

When you’re done, paint. Either match the molding to the walls beneath or try a different hue to make the new details pop.