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Little Extras For An Elegant House

There are ways to give a home the look of a mansion with some low-cost elegant extra features.

Danny Lipford, the host of "Today's Homeowner," stopped by The Early Show to demonstrate how crown molding, chair rails and wainscoting can transform even the most modest home.

Crown Molding

The ceiling of a home may often be overlooked when it comes to decorating. Lipford says crown moldings, which are designed to soften and decorate an otherwise stark corner where the wall meets the ceiling, can change that. The molding can create a visually stunning focal point and a wide variety of styles and materials are available.

Lipford suggests choosing the right size molding for your room because it's important to maintain the right proportion. Before buying molding, bring some pieces home to see how it will look in the room. He also says to prime and paint the molding completely before you install it and touch up the nail holes afterwards.

Crown moldings are primarily made of wood or urethane.

  • Wood: This molding is available in a variety of wood species such as pine, spruce, poplar and oak, as well as medium density fiberboard, and comes in various styles from plain to decorative. When installing wood molding, you may opt for a simple, single piece of crown molding or create a custom design by combining lengths of various styles of molding.

    Installing wood molding is fairly straightforward as long as you take accurate measurements, plan carefully and are fairly comfortable using a miter and coping saw. Coping and mitering refer to the two types of cuts necessary effectively join strips of molding together at the corners.

    Lipford suggests selecting a style of molding based on the overall architectural style of your home as well as the decor in your room. Also, take care of all painting or staining prior to installation, as this is much easier and will provide better results.

  • Urethane: As with many other home-related products, synthetic materials such as urethane now provide additional decorative choices in molding and due to its light weight, make the job of installation much easier. Urethane crown molding resists splitting, cracking and peeling due to age and changes in temperature and humidity. In addition, various manufacturers now make available ready-made corner pieces that virtually eliminate the need for much of the cutting wood requires.

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Chair Rail

Traditionally installed to protect the wall from chairs as they were moved away from the table, chair rails also provide both a decorative finish and a means to separate two different colors or finishes on a wall. Generally installed at around 36 inches high, chair rail is very simple to install and can easily be handled by most homeowners.

They can either nail it or glue it to the wall. The material used to make a chair rail is a strip of molding available at any home center. Simply match the style with that of either your crown molding or the overall style of your room.


Wainscoting refers to the application of wood panels around the lower portion of a wall, providing both protection to the wall as well as a rich finishing touch. There are many styles of wainscoting, ranging from traditional to modern, and your selection would be based, of course, on individual preference, as well as the overall style of your home.

In the past, wainscoting required custom millwork, a sizeable investment and was quite a luxury item. A wainscoting kit that is now available, however, makes the project an affordable option for many homeowners, costing a fraction of traditional wainscoting with an installation process that is as simple as putting together a child's puzzle. The kit of parts includes pre-machined stiles, rails and panels that fit together by a tongue-and-groove joining system.

Cost: The cost of wainscoting varies depending on the type of material you are using and how much you need. It would cost approximately $1,200 to put the type of wainscoting Lipford installed in a room that is 12 ft. x 15 ft. — the size of many living rooms.

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