Crowning Glory: How Painting Crown Molding Can Transform a Room

empty room

Furniture aside, this room would come alive with the help of crown molding! Image:

You know how repainting the walls can totally transform a room? Little secret: Repainting just the crown molding can do (nearly) the same thing—and in a fraction of the time. No molding? No problem! These days, home centers stock pre-milled decorative molding in a variety of styles and materials. For molding that’s to be painted, wood grain isn’t a factor, so wood composite or urethane are worthy alternatives to the more traditional solid wood. Urethane offerings, in particular, are lighter weight, making them easier to cut and install (in most cases, requiring only construction adhesive)—and paint, for that matter.

Crown molding does more than just cover up the junction between wall and ceiling. Molding makes a room look finished and adds interest to those spaces that are character deprived. Painted crown molding contributes to a room’s décor-altering optical illusion: When painted the same color as the walls, it makes the room seem more expansive, while also providing a seamless backdrop for the decor; when painted the same color as the ceiling, molding helps cozy up a room or shrink down to size one with inordinately high ceilings; and when painted a contrasting color to both the wall and ceiling, the molding creates a visual focal point. All of which makes repainting crown molding just about the easiest way to update a room. To wit:

boys bedroom with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Anchor Gray 2126-30

Above: This little boy’s bedroom grows up with molding painted a cool—and thoroughly unexpected—color. Image: Photographer: Laurey W. Glenn

black and white bathroom with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Twilight Zone 2127-10

Above: Glossy black crown molding and millwork instantly bring this older and once all-white bath into the 21st Century. Image:

blue crown molding detail

Benjamin Moore color: Heaven on Earth 1661

Above: Treating classic molding to a rather hipster shade paints the whole room with a new painterly attitude. Image: Photographer: Justin Bernhaut

crown molding in restroom

Benjamin Moore colors: Ocean City Blue 718

Above: And if you got it, flaunt it! Conventional wisdom (and design) would suggest trying to visually expand this tiny low-ceilinged restroom by whitewashing as much of the walls as possible. But apparently, such a great piece of molding trumps all manner of convention every time. Image:

If you were organized enough to store the name and number of the paint color you used on the walls, you could be well on your way to treating that room to a new, more streamlined look. Your only decision: whether to go with a semi- or high-gloss finish for the crown.

blue room with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Delphinium CC-872

Above: In a room rife with architectural detailing, painting walls and trim in the same shade instantly modernizes the traditional. Image:

green dining room with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: City Shadow CSP-60

Above: In a similar vein, this traditional dining room is painted for dramatic reinvention. Image:

aqua guest room with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Waterfall 2050-50

Above: In a new home with low ceilings, a monochromatic wall definitely adds visual height. Image:

formal dining room with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Florida Keys Blue 2050-40

Above: Molding painted with a high-gloss finish of the wall color offers stylish contrast while still creating a unifying backdrop. Image:

Finally, there’s the break-out look of the more inventive tri-color palette in which the ceiling is truly the “fifth wall.” Consider this less of a weekend project (unless you’re able to use some stockpiled sick days), but enjoy the inspiration!

ceiling detail

Benjamin Moore colors: Ice Mist 2123-70; Grant Beige HC-83; Silver Pine AC-21

Above: From designer Kristie Barnett (, a pristine example of transitional style in which traditional dentil molding and matching medallion are flanked by a distinctive pair of new neutrals. Image:

pink room with crown molding

Benjamin Moore color: Rose Quartz 2002-30; Potpourri 1312

Above: With such exceptional architectural details in one room—a little girl’s bedroom, no less—painting an articulated crown in strong contrast to the singular shade on the ceiling and window trim takes all the edge off sweet. Image:

gray living room

Benjamin Moore colors: White Diamond OC-61; Sea Haze 2137-50; Satchel AF-240

Above: How exceptional is this! Particularly brilliant in rooms with ceilings 10 feet or higher, painting the ceiling in the darkest of the room’s three shades helps create a more intimate feel. Image:

detail of crown molding

Benjamin Moore colors: White Ice OC-58; Timber Wolf 1600; Gun Metal 1602

Above: Clearly in a Belgian Style of mind, this soothing scheme features a ceiling one shade darker than the wall color for cool subtlety with a standout crown that simply dresses up the look. Image:

White remains the predominant paint color for crowns, and while white can clearly wow, there is a vast array of other colors out there to consider. And making even a subtle shift in the paint color and/or finish of molding can have a remarkable effect on the look, feel and attitude of the room. And all, more or less, before the weekend ends! So, what do you think? What are your favorite shades for molding?

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2 thoughts on “Crowning Glory: How Painting Crown Molding Can Transform a Room

    • Thanks for the compliment, Kristie. And thank YOU for having a great eye with color schemes. Your style is lovely, cool and unexpected all at the same time! I love your rooms. And lucky for me that you use Benjamin Moore Paints, so we can show off your work! Keep it going, girl….

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