Adding architectural details to your living room is an excellent way to boost visual interest and give your space a unique personality. From moldings and built-ins to accent walls and statement lighting, even small details can make a big impact. Here are some ideas for integrating architectural elements into your living room design.

Choose Moldings for Character

Moldings are a classic architectural detail that never go out of style. Consider crown molding, wainscoting, baseboards, or chair rail moldings to add dimension and sophistication.

  • Crown molding extends across the junction of the ceiling and walls. Opt for simple, clean lines or ornate, carved details depending on your style preferences. Paint it the same color as the ceiling for an uninterrupted look or in a contrasting hue.
  • Wainscoting refers to paneling on the lower portion of walls. Beadboard and other patterns bring visual texture. Wainscoting can be painted or stained.
  • Baseboard molding borders the junction of walls and flooring. Wide, substantial baseboards ground the space. Decorative baseboard styles feature ogee, s-curve, or stepped profiles.
  • Chair rail molding installs horizontally at chair back height. It protects walls from dings and can double as an accent stripe.

Build Architectural Interest with Bookcases

Incorporate custom built-in shelving or bookcases to add striking architectural elements. Built-ins maximize available space and create useful display areas for books, collectibles, media components, and more.

  • Focus on extending storage from floor to ceiling. Adding height draws the eye up and imparts a sense of grandeur.
  • Include cabinetry with doors below to conceal clutter while open shelves above provide display space.
  • Size built-ins to fill an entire wall or a portion of it. Multiple tall bookcases create a library aesthetic.
  • Add architectural detailing like crown molding, columns, arched tops or other accents. Monochrome colors keep the look streamlined.

Contrast with an Accent Wall

Paint one wall a different color than the others to create a focal point. Opt for a rich shade that complements your overall color scheme. Consider textures like faux brick, shiplap wood, or embossed wallpaper for extra dimension.

  • Anchor the accent wall behind the sofa or television. This highlights the seating area.
  • Use the accent color sparingly throughout the rest of the space for a cohesive look. Add accent pillows, drapery, accessories, or artwork in the chosen shade.
  • For open floor plans, an accent wall defines the living room within the larger space. Make it a bold color to delineate the area.
  • In a small living room, an accent wall avoids overwhelming and makes the space feel larger by drawing the eye.

Introduce Architectural Columns

Columns provide both style and functionality in living rooms. Place them at room borders to suggest segmentation or use pairs to frame focal points like the television.

  • Opt for plaster, metal, or wood columns depending on your decor. Paint them or add surface treatments like rubbed bronze or antique white finishes.
  • Use columns to define sitting and conversation areas. Position them to help zone spaces within an open floor plan.
  • Fluted, smooth, square or circular column styles set different moods. Research classical architectural column types like Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
  • Add sconces or décor atop columns to embellish them. If space allows, incorporate slender columns to avoid a bulky feel.

Install Statement Lighting

Chandeliers, pendant lights and sconces impart elegance. Choose fixtures with architectural presence to elevate your living room aesthetic.

  • Look for wrought iron, glass, crystal or other ornate materials that command attention. Go for grand, oversized chandeliers.
  • Position a pendant light over a coffee or side table to put a focus on functionality. Opt for an artsy forged metal or fabric shade.
  • Place matching sconces flanking a sofa, above built-ins or by entryways. Cohesive lighting establishes balance.
  • Install dimmer switches to create lighting ambiance for different occasions. Bright illumination keeps the room lively for gatherings.

Final Thoughts

A living room with architectural details stands out from cookie cutter spaces. Evaluate your existing architecture then supplement with crown moldings, built-ins, accent walls or lighting fixtures. Layer in fabrics, furnishings and accessories that complement your new architectural elements. Soon you’ll be loving your living room’s customized style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some easy architectural details to add?

Some easy options include installing crown molding, painting an accent wall, adding wainscoting panels, or updating lighting fixtures like chandeliers and sconces. These simple changes make a noticeable difference.

What should I consider before installing built-ins?

Measure carefully to ensure the built-ins will fit the intended space and allow adequate room for navigation. Determine your storage needs and select adjustable shelves and other functional elements. Also plan for design cohesion in terms of wood, finish, hardware and molding details.

How much does it cost to add architectural details?

Costs vary widely depending on the details selected, from a few hundred dollars for a statement light fixture to thousands for extensive custom built-ins. Have a budget in mind and prioritize the one or two elements that will make the biggest impact. DIY options can also reduce costs.

Should I match my new architectural details to my home’s existing features?

It depends on the look you prefer. Matching architectural style and color keeps things cohesive. But contrasting details can help older homes feel updated. Mix old and new by maintaining original moldings then painting walls or adding fittings in modern colors and finishes.

What should I avoid when adding architectural details?

Steer clear of anything that feels visually heavy or overwhelming in a small space. Oversized moldings can dwarf a room. Also avoid highly ornate additions that conflict with your home’s architecture. Seek balance and refrain from going overboard with too many accoutrements. Focus on quality over quantity.