17 April 2014

Cabinet Decoration: Molding, Hardware, and Onlays

Famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was fond of saying “God is in the details.”

If you’ve read our previous posts on Door Styles and Cabinet Finishes, you know that there are almost limitless ways to design a cabinet. Beyond the shape of the door or paint color, however, there are many decorative pieces that can be added to enhance the visual impact even further. Moldings, hardware, ornamental routing, friezes, and onlays are just a few of the details custom cabinet makers can use to increase the beauty of your casegoods.

As we mentioned in our post on Door Styles, an important element in interior design is repetition. Some specific shape, color, material, etc. is used throughout the design to unify all of the different spaces and pieces. In cabinetry, this is most evident in the door style and finish, but hardware also plays a major role.

When discussing décor, hardware refers to the door and drawer pulls attached to your cabinets (and hinges if they’re visible), not to the screws holding them together, though in hand-crafted cabinetry, joinery such as dovetails or pegged construction (wooden pegs used instead of nails or screws) is often highlighted as an example of both function and décor. There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to hardware. It can be plastic, wood, metal, ceramic, etc., and any color or shape you can think of.

Another type of decorative addition is called an onlay. This is an extra piece – usually wood – that has been carved into an ornamental design, and is attached directly to the face or frame of a cabinet or other casegood, giving the whole piece a hand-carved look. Onlays are usually finished to match the cabinet, but can be a contrasting color. Examples of onlays include fleur-de-lis, rosettes, fluted columns, and long strips with rope, braid, or geometric patterns etched into them.

By far, the most popular type of decoration is molding, and crown molding is at the top of the list. Crown is attached to the frame of the cabinet and sticks out beyond the face. The profile of a crown can be straight, a simple arc or a complicated piece of scrollwork. Very similar to crown is cove molding, which tends to have a concave profile, rather than the convex profile of crown. Another popular molding is the plate rail. This molding resembles a fence in that there is usually a top and bottom rail, with small posts regularly spaced along their length. Plate rails were used – as you may have guessed – to hold plates and other serving pieces in place at the top of a cabinet. In addition, moldings can be stacked, with several different types blended together to create custom profiles and unique looks.

These examples just scratch the surface of the types of moldings that are available. When you add flat-face boards, ogee profiles, dentil onlays, and valences to the mix (to name a few more), it can get overwhelming. Custom cabinet makers, such as the professionals at the Artisan Cabinet Company in Chaska, Minnesota, will work with you to match the cabinet decorations to your design style, providing the right finishing touches to seamlessly connect your interior spaces and make your custom cabinetry even more stunning.

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