As architectural tastes and styles have changed over the last few centuries, so too have styles of moulding. American architecture has undergone several major shifts in style since the country was founded, giving us a beautiful array of diverse and interesting housing stock. Many older homes have original moulding in place, but if you have an older home that needs to be renovated, it’s important to understand the architectural style of
the period in which it was built. Renovating an older home using a moulding that
doesn’t coincide with the original may actually hamper the home’s value. Of course, new homes can always benefit from reviving architectural styles of the past, and the moulding that you use is the best way to emulate the styles of a particular period. Here is a quick run-down of some of the biggest periods in moulding history.
Classic Colonial (1725-1820)
The Classical Colonial style of moulding was typically used in the nicer homes of the time. The bold and sturdy design of the moulding was simple yet functional. The moulding was added to homes to add distinction and scale.
Greek Revival – (1820-1840)
As a wave of patriotism swept the U.S., American architects and builders moved away from traditional English style architecture. In its stead, Greek and Roman architectural styles were embraced in new American buildings. This style is characterized by symmetry, balance, ellipses, and large crowns and mantels, while not being overly ornate.
Gothic Revival – (1830-1860)
Quite the opposite of the Greek revival style of simplicity and symmetry, Gothic revival molding was much more ornate. Gothic revival molding and architecture is heavily inspired by medieval European architecture. This style is typified by large ornate gables, decorative crowns, and pointed arches.
Queen Anne/Victorian – (1880-1910)
This style is similar to Gothic revival, with ornate trim and tall baseboards. During this era of American architecture, machine-made housing materials and components were becoming more and more common, and were cheaper to transport since the expansion of rail in the country. The style takes elements of Gothic, Greek, Roman, Renaissance and other styles and combines them with new shapes and features.
American Craftsman – (1905-1930)
After a period where most building elements were machined, a shift towards handcrafted materials occurred. The American Craftsman period stressed the importance of man-made materials that shed the excess and intricacy of the Victorian and Gothic revival periods. Moulding was simple and geometric, and was often stained and varnished instead of painted to reveal the natural patters of the wood.
Art Deco and Art Moderne – (1930-1959)
Art Moderne architectural moulding came about during a time when American building design started to look forward instead of building off of or reviving old styles of architecture. Minimalism and simplicity were key components of the modern style. This style was inspired by the industrial design of ships, planes, cars, and railroad engines, and is characterized by simplicity, smooth lines and rounded corners. Art Deco was also popular during this period, and although it is similar to Art Moderne in that they were both forward looking and new styles, Art Deco was slightly more complex in its design. Art Deco can be characterized by geometric shapes and patterns, with an emphasis on symmetrical zigzags and radials.
This list only touches upon the most major periods of architectural styles, but there are many subcategories, offshoots and variations on these styles to explore when it comes to moulding. Today, you can find almost any kind of moulding style you can imagine. If you’re interested in finding moulding for your home and exploring the available options, take a look at our products on our website.