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Moldings

Origins --- --- Classical versus Organic/Gothic

Exterior - Fascias, Soffits, Brackets and Modillions------Roof Trim Diagram ___Coffered Soffits -----_Modillions--- Brackets--- Paired brackets _Scalloping

Exterior - Door --- Exterior - Window

Interior - Cove or Crown Molding--- Vine and Florette--- ThunderBay--- Galt-

Chair Rails and Wainscotting--- Dundas--- ThunderBay--- Galt-

Fireplace Mantels---

Making Moldings work by matching the style--- - Flavel House- - Colonial Prince Edward County

Molding Designs ----- Greek key - ---- Hamilton- --- Toronto Apartment --- Burlington---- Ottawa

Interior - Baseboards--- St. Catherines--- Sault St Marie---

Origins

Moldings can be in many styles and can be found on many parts of a building. Generally they are in two categories: Classical/Ancient and Gothic/Medieval. Moldings are both interior and exterior. They can be stone, wood, plaster or new manufactured materials.

Both interior and exterior moldings should match the style of the building. If you are restoring a historic property, there are many shops where historic moldings can be found, these can be found on the 'Resources' page.

If you are looking for trim and moldings that match, there are also companies that reproduce these details. If you know you need 'something' but you are not sure what it is, or if you are just wanting to be able to read buildings better, this page is for you.

Below you will find examples of various types of moldings with, in many cases, the European originals.

 

Classical versus Organic/Gothic

Western inspired architecture began to be built in Ontario when the 'battle of the styles' was taking place in Britain and continental Europe. The 18th and 19th century buildings found in Ontario generally follow either the classical influence of Greece, Rome, the Renaissance and Palladian architecture. The organic style, starting with half-timbering, medieval, Gothic and later Arts and Crafts styles, have very different roots.

The massing of a building and the roof shape are the first indications of style, the moldings complete the picture.

Classical moldings will be taken either directly or indirectly from Greece and Rome. Acanthus leaves, acroterions, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders including the capital, frieze and cornice details are, even now, still copies of the Greek originals.

The vernacular tradition in the early and medieval years in Europe found inspiration from the more local flora and fauna as well as the local traditions and beleifs.

Exterior Roof Trim: Fascias, Soffits, Brackets, Modillions

The style of a roof is perhaps the biggest indicator of its style. A Second Empire will have a Mansard roof. A Georgian will have a low hip or low side gable. A Chateau Revival will have a very steep pitch with small dormers.

At the bottom edge of the roof there is detailing that is also, usually, indicative of the style.

The roof trim consists of a fascia, soffits, brackets, or modillions. In newer roofs sometimes the rafters extend to the edge of the roof and there is no fascia or soffit. An projection beyond the edge of the roof is referred to as an eave.

Click Hotpoints for descriptions of terms in both text and images.

Roof Trim

Depending on the style of the roof, there can be a soffit, there can be brackets, and their can be a fascia that is either plain or ornamented.

The soffit closes off the area under the eave. The overhand of the roof is the eave. Along the edge of the roof there may be an eavestrough to carry water away from the edge of the roof and to a vertical pipe that will redirect the rain water.

Georgian House 12 over 12 Sash Windows Chimney Sash Window Dormer Pediment

Roof Detail

Coffered Soffits

This is a Regency Cottage with coffered soffits and lamb's tongue brackets. The trim in the coffers in the soffits matches the trim on the dado panels under the windows inside.

The Regecny period is the tail end of the Georgian. Overall the style is elegant and uncluttered. The brackets are relatively understated.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Prince Edward County

Paired Cornice Brackets

Cornice brackets are found in Victorian architecture, particularly the Italianate and Italian Villa. Cornice brackets are often paired for extra effect.

A cornice bracket differs from a modillion in that it is generally longer in height than in depth. As well, it doesn't have the detailing of the modillion with the acanthus leaves, honey suckle and volutes.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Woodstock

Lamb's Tongue Langdon Hall

Lamb's tongue brackets can be found on Georgian and Regency as well as Colonial Revival and Queen Anne Revival. Compared to the intricate design of the capitals, this is a simpler soffit from Langdon Hall.

In some cases the lamb's tongue is almost the same size as the much more ornate modillion.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Langdon Hall Cambridge

Modillions

This is an library in Galt done in Edwardian Classicism. The entablature is similar to that of the Corinthian Order. Along the bottom of the roof there are modillions. These are similar to acanthus leaf consoles rotated 90 degrees. A modillion is always longer horizontally than vertically.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Galt

Modillions

Part of the Corinthian Order, the modillion is made up of a variety of classical elements. The acanthus is used extensively in Corinthian. The volutes are known in Ionic capitals as are rosettes. Honeysuckle is also a popular decoration.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Modillion Toronto

Modillions are certainly a classical motif. Here they are used as a band underneath a guilloche pattern on a commercial building in Toronto.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Young St Toronto

Brackets

Modillions were probably used for continuous support along a soffit or cornice. Brackets are used to offer much more substantial support.

This bracket in Langdon Hall holds up the balcony above the front door.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Langdon Hall Cambridge

Roof Brackets

Galt train station has roof brackets that help support the overhand in the eave. They are decorative and well maintained.

There is no soffit on this roof, and the supporting rafters are visible.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Galt

Cornice Brackets

Cornice brackets are found on residential buildings as well as commercial buildings like this one in Cobourg. The main streets of late 19th century towns were often filled with dichromatic brick and many decorative moldings along the roofline.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Cobourg

Cornice Brackets

This cornice is found at the edge of a Mansard roof on a Second epire building in Belleville. The brackets are painted to match the slate on the roof.

These brackets were probably painted with milk paint around 1890. Milk paint never peels or cracks, so there has never been any need to repaint it.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Woodstock

Paired Cornice Brackets

Cornice brackets are found in Victorian architecture, particularly the Italianate and Italian Villa. Cornice brackets are often paired for extra effect.

A cornice bracket differs from a modillion in that it is generally longer in height than in depth. As well, it doesn't have the detailing of the modillion with the acanthus leaves, honey suckle and volutes.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Woodstock

Cornice Brackets

Although still Victorian, this set of paired cornice brackets has a very contemporary feel, they are smooth and elegant, serving their intended functional purpose, but provide a lovely decorative accent.

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Woodstock

Lozenges and Scalloping

This is a detail from a Georgian house in Grimsby. The fascia is not along the roof ridge but against the wall itself where it meets the roof. The detailing on it is a frieze of scalloping with a row of lozenges underneath. You would find the same type of detailing on ships and ferries of the same period.

 

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Grimsby

Fascia

Along the edges of roofs or ledges on large buildings you can often find bands of trim. These often consist of a mixture of elements. In this case we have a guilloche pattern filled with rosettes, under a band of palm leaves, which is surmounted by egg and dart and then acanthus leaves, all in the classical tradition.

 

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Toronto

Scalloping

This is a Gothic Revival Cottage in Simcoe that has a scallop pattern along the roof edge. It is taken from the machicolations of the middle ages.

 

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Simcoe

Fascia

Along the edges of roofs or ledges on large buildings you can often find bands of trim. These often consist of a mixture of elements. In this case we have a guilloche pattern filled with rosettes, under a band of palm leaves, which is surmounted by egg and dart and then acanthus leaves, all in the classical tradition.

 

Coffered Soffits with Lamb's Tongue Brackets,

Toronto

Acroterion

On the same library in Galt shown above are three magnificent acroterions. This ornament can be found in ancient greece onthe Acropolis as well as other buildings. These are in the palmette style. There are similar details above the front door.

An acroterion can be this palmette or it can be a griffon, an urn or some other classical object. Acroterions are at the apex and both sides of the pediment.

 

Georgian House

Galt Ontario

Cove and Crown Molding

Crown molding and cove molding are found at the top of a wall where the ceiling meets the walls. This is an adorning element that was probably used as much to stop draughts as to provide a decroative 'top' to the wall. I used an infrared light meter to check the thermal efficiency of my house in Prince Edward County and was surprised to see that the top of my walls were a huge source of heat loss.

Cove and crown molding can be in the classical tradition or in the Art Deco, Gothis or medieval traditions. In classical, the acanthus, egg and dart and dentils figure prominently.

 

Hamilton

This is a new cove molding painted on the left (by Arthur Bulter) and plain on the right. It is a late Renaissance pattern.

Georgian Stone House

Painted and unpainted

Cove 'cobra' pattern

This is called the cobra pattern because of the curved top.

Moldings like these can be found in Ontario at


Contemporary Mouldings,
Palladio Mouldings,
Petra Mouldings,
Prive Mouldings,

Arthur Butler can paint them for you.

http://www.apbpainting.net/

photo3_2.html

Georgian House

New painted cove molding

Late Renaissance/Baroque molding

This is the kind of sumptuous cove molding that Jacque Garcia would use. This is the first step in making your room a jewel.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

New painted cove molding

Hamilton

This is a black and gold pattern that has a Elizabethan pattern with vines and leaves.

Georgian House Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Hamilton

Centerpiece

This type of centerpiece is found in 19th century Ontario architecture, generally in the Victorian era. Italianate, Italian Villa, Second Empire, Queen Anne and Victorian Gable and Bay would all have had centerpieces.

MacCaulay House Door Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Painted Centerpiece

Cove with Modillions, Egg and Dart, and Acanthus

MacCaulay House Door Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Hamilton

Cove with Scalloping

Here is some cove molding from an Italianate house that has a scallop pattern. This is not surprising in that there is scalloping along the edges of many of the palazzo roofs in Florence.

MacCaulay House Door Gable Voussoirs Shutters Fanlight

Hamilton

 

Chair Rails and Wainscotting

Priodr to the introduction ofgypsum wall boards or drywall, stud walls were covered in lathe and plaster. To protect the bottom half of the wall, and also for visual effect, wainscotting was introduced. Wainscotting can be painted or can be a way to exhibit some beautiful wood and wood finishes. People complained when central heating was introduced because their wainscotting and other moldingsa were drying out.

Chair rails were introduced for similar reasons. In a large farm kitchen, there may be ten or even twenty hired men sitting down to lunch. A practical alternative to yearly painting was a strip of wood placed along the wall at the point where the top of the chair would make contact with the wall if pulled back too heartily.

Flavell House Toronto

This

Georgian House

Toronto Ontario

Chair Rail Demorestville

This chair rail is from a Colonial style house in Prince Edward County.

Georgian House

Flavell House Toronto Ontario

Matching molding with painted or stone/brick flooring

Making moldings work is no simple matter. Colonial moldings simply don't work with Second Empire any more than bowling shoes work with a smart business suit.

Here are a few examples of how floor, ceiling, and wall moldings work together to make a masterpiece.

Edwardian Mantel - Toronto

This house is gorgeous any time of year but really spectacular in autumn.

 

A five bay Georgian with traditional shutters and door, the windows were replaced later in the 19th century.

Georgian House

Flavell House Ontario

French Door - Toronto

French doors were carried over in elegant houses from the Renaissance through the Baroque, into the Regency period and up to the Edwardian.

Georgian House

Flavell House Toronto Ontario

Frescoe - Toronto

The Edwardian era had Art Deco influences mixed with Arts and Crafts.

Georgian House

Toronto Ontario

Wood Panel - Toronto

The sitting room is paneled throughout. The ceiling has Arts and Crafts frescoes. The mantel is probably the best Edwardian mantel in the country.

Georgian House

Flavell House Toronto Ontario

Brisley House

Demorestville

This is one of a very few fully intact Colonial Houses left in Ontario. It was taken apart in Cobourg and put back together - brilliantly - in Demorestville Prince Edward County.

Georgian House

Brisely House Demorestville

Brisley House

Demorestville

Here is the inside view of one of the sash windows with all the dado panels, and all the glass original.

Georgian House

Brisely House Demorestville

Brisley House

Demorestville

here is the exterior view of the same thing.

Georgian House

Brisely House Demorestville

 

Molding Designs

The

The

Greek Key

This is a Greek design found in mosaic floors and moldings since the fifth century BC. It is often found in Classical Revival and Art Deco designs.

 

Georgian House

Toronto Ontario

Hamilton

This is molding for around a door or to define an interior space. It is palm leaves and seeds.

Georgian Urban Building

Hamilton Ontario

Toronto

This is an early twentieth century Arts and Crafts wooden panel with special molding for the light switch.

Georgian House

Hamilton

Notice how this cornice along the top of the doors extends across the whole landing. Brilliant.

 

Hamilton Window Surround

Simple window with frame in the Arts and Crafts style.

 

Belleville

This is only one of the fabulous doors destroyed in a fire. It had a Baroque Revivaldoor surround with a festooned keystone and a broken pediment.

Consoles adorned the sides of the lugged door casing.

 

This is what we are losing.

 

 

Georgian House

Belleville Ontario

BLDG10043

Edwardian Extra Reading and Films

Books

 

Blumenson, John. Ontario Architecture A Guide to Styles and Terms. 1978.

Gradidge, Roderick, Dream Houses: The Edwardian Ideal ,London, Constable, 1980.

Long, Helen C., The Edwardian House,Manchester: Manchester University press, 1993.

Priestley, J.B.. The Edwardians London: Heinemann, 1970.

Service, Alastair. Edwardian Architecture London: Thames and Hudson, 1977.

For information on Edwardian architecture in specific areas within Ontario there are some very good books listed under the About page.

Films and TV

Downton Abbey

Corontation Street

Howard's End

Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter

The Golden Bowl

Pride and Prejudice, (1995) (2005)

Sense and Sensability, (1995) (2008)

 

 

Shutter railing Chimney Keystone Transom Balcony Pediment Sash Shutter Veranda Chimney Sash Windows Voussoirs Band Flat Arch Door Surround Shutters Chimney Stairs Sash Window Shutters Georgian Style fence Sash Quoins Roof