Q&A with Caroline Milns on Mouldings and Decorative Trims

Inspiration, Interiors, Trends — 19.04.23

Interior design trends come and go, but one timeless element remains a constant when elevating any space: mouldings and decorative trims.

With some new trends emerging in this area, Head of Interior Design Caroline Milns shares her views on the topic.

Sophie Dries. Photo: Stephan Julliard

Q: Historically mouldings used to serve only as functional and practical features but now are far more decorative. Where do you start deciding what to keep, and what to lose? 

In terms of deciding what to keep, we would start by looking at the architectural style of the building and what would originally have been the type of mouldings used in the property. We would then pull together a concept presentation based on the client’s design style preferences and what would work best to marry the two together.

E.g Typically traditional houses would use traditional mouldings, but a contemporary style might just nod to the style of building by designing a moulding which is much more paired back and a simpler solution.

Michael Sinclair. Somerset House

Q: Where are your go to places for inspiration when restoring period features in your client’s homes? 

A: We look towards beautiful historic buildings such as the John Soane Museum, Somerset House and other beautiful grade 1 or 2 listed buildings in the London area. Theatres are also another favourite inspiration for older London architecture. Our tried and trusted moulding suppliers are also very clever at suggesting new takes on old traditional styles.

James Merrell

Q – What mistakes do you often find people make when uncovering or indeed hiding existing mouldings and other period features?

A – Often people discover original mouldings within period properties which are too damaged to keep and instead of restoring them to their original beauty, they will often buy a cheaper off the shelf moulding that doesn’t look authentic. Trying to recreate on a budget can also have problems.

It’s underrated how important it is to select the supplier you choose to renovate your mouldings carefully, there’s lots of basic ones out there and the execution of how the moulding is fitted, is as important as the mould you choose. The joins are imperative and need to be fitted by a professional.

Q – Are there rooms you should avoid when restoring or introducing decorative features?

 A – Essentially you should avoid tiny rooms where cornicing will look cramped, or rooms which have very low ceilings. There’s really no need and the cornicing won’t have any impact. Additionally rooms into the eaves of a house or the uppermost rooms into attics are not recommended.


Q – Which mouldings would you recommend investing in as opposed to those that are on their way out? 

A – Currently we’re installing lots of very beautiful fluted cornicing as there is a trend towards the Art Deco look, fluted coffered ceilings and vaulted ceilings with cornicing underneath. We call the ceiling the ‘fifth wall’ and it can add a really lovely aesthetic to a room, however moulded Art Deco ceilings would only be in bigger, grander rooms.

We’d also recommend visually enhancing hallways to add point of difference as they’re generally long, thin and unassuming. As long as they’re a good height this will add a totally new dimension. To deliver a final touch of atmosphere, adding hidden LED lights to cornices will uplight the ceilings.

Q – There’s a growing trend with new materials being used for mouldings, trims and edging such as marble and stone. Do you think this is set to stay and which are your favourites? 

A – This is a definite trend and generally tends to be in stone clad arches or trompe l’oeil, I don’t know if it’s here to stay but it really is lovely and adds definition. Historically it was very popular but we are all still very much enjoying it!


Laura Hammett

Q – Where mouldings used to feel very traditional, luxurious and ornate, there’s a shift towards creating a more understated look with minimalistic and streamlined finishes. Can this look as effective?

A – To keep our mouldings luxurious and ornate but not too traditional and old fashioned, we paint everything in the same colour. So not necessarily a wall in one colour and the ceiling and mouldings in white, instead we use the same colour but pair it all back, giving a much more contemporary look.


Q – What are your thoughts on colour being used on feature mouldings?

A – Colour is very popular right now and adds drama to a room but it depends on the concept. The design theme can be very successful but it really depends on other areas of focus in the room balancing everything out.


Q – Designers are advising clients to invest in sculpture this year as part of the trend to layer up with textures, how do you see mouldings complimenting this? 

A – They definitely can compliment a design but it depends on the style of sculpture. Contemporary sculptures will work with minimal, paired back mouldings but equally mixing different styles can be really successful. Sculptures are underused and come in far too late in the design process.

Q – What’s your best piece of advice to someone trying to tackle projects without an expert? 

A – We understand not everyone has the budget to enlist the help of an Interior Designer or Architect. There are some very good basic courses out there on websites such as House and Garden which are worth investing in.

Interior design encompasses such a large gamut of areas from presentations and colour palettes to CAD design, technical details and specifications, it can be very complex. No-one should underestimate the scale and diversity of what’s involved.


Working with an interior designer is an immersive, collaborative experience and a strong bond and working relationship between designer and client is not only essential, but also one of our attributes of which we are most proud. Get in touch with us today to and let us bring your vision to life with our award-winning interior design services.