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Cornicing or picture rail (or both)

16 replies

ASauvignonADay · 14/10/2018 10:05

Are there any rules of thumb as to what to have where and in which room?

House is late Victorian/ early Edwardian, medium sized rooms and ceilings aren't particularly high (2.6m) but it feels like they're missing something.

It's the bedroom and living room that I'm thinking of. Any advice? I'm wanting to use a darker colour in one of the rooms and think a picture rail might work well so I can paint white above it and keep it balanced.

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Wendygoesfar · 14/10/2018 10:23

I would either do both or just cornicing but not picture rail on its own...

Wendygoesfar · 14/10/2018 10:25

Pinterest has a lot of examples of this ^

Mynamesjohnnyutah · 14/10/2018 10:35

My home is Edwardian (1906) and has moulded skirting, dado rail, picture rail, ornate cornicing and moulded ceilings. It works because the ceilings are very high. Painting white above the picture rail could help lift the room and make the ceilings appear higher than they are.

user1484830599 · 14/10/2018 10:55

If your ceilings aren't that high, I'd go for one or the other.

SorryNotSorry · 14/10/2018 10:58

I have about the same 1880 house with similar ceilings.
Can't find pictures of houses like mine online and the original ceiling fixtures were replaced with polystyrene by the last owners.
We have told our builder to put in cornicing and picture rails but still not sure. Would be great to see pictures of yours if you end up doing both.

ASauvignonADay · 14/10/2018 11:02

Interesting about not having just picture rail - I've seen it on lots of Rightmove ads and on Instagram/Pinterest. Want to keep it traditional though!

One of the rooms is quite busy (chimney breast, bay window, two doors) so not sure if both is too much.

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PigletJohn · 14/10/2018 11:04

what size of house, and how high are the ceilings?

ASauvignonADay · 14/10/2018 11:06

Medium sized terrace. Ceilings are 2.6m

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ASauvignonADay · 14/10/2018 11:06

Original cornicing still in the downstairs hallway and dining room

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senua · 14/10/2018 11:19

We have a 1930s house, with not particularly high ceilings. We have coving, picture rail and skirting boards. Nice wallpaper, with magnolia-background, below the PR and magnolia-painted woodchip above.

Our coving (as opposed to cornicing) is fairly plain, to minismise the difference between upper-wall and ceiling. PR has some detail. SB are quite deep (6").

I suppose it comes down to personal taste. We like it, obvs, and think that it works. A picture rail means that we can easily move artwork around if we fancy a bit of a change, without worrying about leaving nail-holes in the walls. And they are great for hanging Christmas decorations off, too!

0rlaith · 14/10/2018 11:23

Put up Cornice first and see how that alters the proportions of the room.

We have just done this in one room, with polystyrene coving and MDF primed picture rail on either side, one strip on the wall and one on the ceiling .

We looked at ready made coving but it was phenomenally expensive and a lot of it was too small.

senua · 14/10/2018 11:27

As well as being in keeping with the period feel of the house, we found that the 'one treatment below the PR, another above' had another advantage - you do plain above but fancy below so it means that your fancy wallpaper/paint is only covering 75% of the wall (instead of all of it) and it reduces costs. Win/win.

PigletJohn · 14/10/2018 11:54

Thinking of original style, the fancy stuff was provided to impress, so the entrance hall and main reception room would have had the most ornamental plasterwork and picture rails.

Formerly I had an Edwardian house where these rooms had cornice, coving, ornamented ceiling, and medallions. The main bedroom had coving, ceiling and picture rails, the secondary bedrooms just picture rails. The Housekeeper's sitting room had just a picture rail; the housekeeper's and maid's bedrooms had neither. The size and complexity of the skirtings and architraves varied in the same way.

I'd go for picture rails where you can. In a medium-sized house these may have been fixed at the same height as the tops of the doorframes. If the ceilings were higher they might have been a couple of feet down from the ceiling, with the drop painted white.

Once you become accustomed to picture rails, you will find them very useful for not just your ancestral portraits, but also for calendars, cards, and posters of scratching tennis girls. No need for blu-tak or drawing pins. If you want to de-emphasise them you can paint to match the walls.

ASauvignonADay · 14/10/2018 17:33

Thank you - very useful advice. Just worked out a couple of quotes and it looks about £250 per room for the cornice alone, then plus fitting (don't think I could DIY it!)

The ceiling roses look beautiful too, but how do they work with pendant lights? Only seem to have a tiny hole in the middle.

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PigletJohn · 14/10/2018 18:10


Pendant lights usually have an electrical rose screwed through the ceiling to a joist, and quite a small hole for the wires pass through. Maybe 25mm if you used around holesaw, though they are usually cut rather ragged with a plasterboard padsaw. A padsaw is not suitable for a lath-and-plaster ceiling.

If you have a heavy thing like a chandelier, it will be supported by chains on hooks or other fastenings screwed through the ceiling into a joist. The electrician's rose is sufficient for a typical lampshade hanging off the flex.

If you have a fancy ceiling and chandelier it is worth considering plug-in roses for ease of removal and cleaning. They cost little extra.

MissCherryCakeyBun · 14/10/2018 20:55

Edwardian house with original plaster coving and picture rail it also has original deep skirting boards but a replacement ceiling roses. I think it depends on how you want to decorate tbh

Cornicing or picture rail (or both)
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