Utah Style and Design

Inside the Box

January 15, 2019

Why suffer blank boring walls? As a team of pros proves, easy-to-make molding frames can dd style and architecture to rooms of most any style.
Photos by Meagan Larsen.

Wall frames probably bring to mind the paneled entries and living rooms of stuffy traditional homes. But as the team at Ezra Lee Design + Build recently proved in a new Lehi house, these easy-to-make features suit most any style, even those that lean modern. “We created a modern house and added farmhouse adaptations that included wall frames,” says Senior Interior Designer Landon Taylor, describing the panels he and his colleagues Ezra Lee and Megan Schaer created.

(From left): Ezra Lee Design + Build’s Landon Taylor, senior interior designer; Megan Schaer, interior designer; Ezra Lee, principal and owner.

They fashioned them from applied molding and integrated them into the entry, living and dining areas of the home’s open floor plan.

The entry’s large panel unifies a console table, sconces and mirror into a single focal point. The top of the panel aligns with the nearby window and door frames, fostering a modern, uncluttered look.

“The frames transformed empty wall space and helped us connect the home’s modern and farmhouse styles,” Taylor explains. The panels also expand the visual impact of framed art pieces and anchor vignettes that serve as head-turning focal points. The good news is that applied molding frames are simple to create. Getting them right, however, takes a heavy dose of design know-how. Fortunately, Taylor was happy to share some of his with us.


The high placement of the two prints within their white matting inspired the similar raised position of the black-framed art within their wall panels. ARt by Emily Jeffords.

“We positioned all of the frames similarly on the walls to make them look more modern than the mismatched versions you’d see in farmhouses,” Taylor says. To accomplish this, he and his team located the bottoms of all of the frames 18 inches from the floor and aligned their tops with nearby window and door frames. “Rather than adding more lines to the space, this accentuated those that already exist, making the design more streamlined,” he says.

WHY IT WORKS: The large wall between the dining and kitchen areas required a big focal point. The wall panel provides this by increasing the size and importance of the framed art piece. A swing-arm wall sconce illuminates the feature. “Choose the art first and build the molding around it,” Taylor suggests.

Because many of the frames are visible from the center of the great room, this consistent placement also helped foster a unified, uncluttered décor. The team determined the widths by allowing 12 to 15 inches of empty wall space outside of the frames’ sides to give them breathing room, Taylor explains. “We made them as large as can be without letting them look cramped.”


TIP: Fancy a frame more decorative than the stock molding at your local home-improvement store? Consider stylish picture-frame molding available at your local framing shop.

“We chose stock molding that was beefy enough to create shadows and suit the large scale of the frames,” says Taylor. The selected molding measures 1 1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch deep. “Because we wanted them to look like true picture frames, we chose molding with a profile that’s deep on one edge and shallower on the other, rather than a symmetrical profile on both edges.” The team attached the molding with carpentry nails and finished them with wood filler and caulk.


“I credit much of the frames’ impact to the contrasting colors that we chose,” Taylor says. The team selected a warm, light-toned gray for the insides of the frames. “We pulled the gray tone from the color of the kitchen’s perimeter countertops,” he explains. This decision helps establish the great room’s cohesive color palette. The gray tone contrasts with great room’s white walls as well as the brighter white, semi-gloss paint used on the frames’ molding. 

How to apply molding frames in 6 simple steps.

  1. Decide on the size of your panel to help determine the length of molding pieces needed. Consider the size of the items you’ll position inside of the frame as well as the amount of empty wall space you would like to surround them.

  2. Select and purchase stock molding from a lumber or home-improvement store. Consider your décor when selecting the style of molding. Have pieces cut to your finished measurements.

  3. Using a pencil and level, draw an outline on your wall where you want the frame positioned.

  4. Give the molding pieces a couple of coats of paint before applying them to the wall.

  5. Beginning with a side piece, apply the molding strips to the wall with small amounts of adhesive. Secure them with small nails (in the thickest part of the wood pieces to prevent splitting.

  6. Fill the nail holes with wood filler or spackle. Sand them for a smooth finish and caulk along edges to eliminate gaps, if needed. Touch up with paint, as necessary.


Fill ‘er Up

Sure, molding panels add instant architecture to your room. But they also offer on opportunity to add the punch and pattern of wallpaper without having to cover an entire wall.

What’s Your Style?






Brad Mee



Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Get the latest local design trends delivered straight to your inbox.
We respect your privacy.