All in the details

There is so much charm to be found in the homes of last century, which is why they continue to be popular with homeowners. This charm is often due to all those little touches that mark the homes of yesteryear; decorative details that add character and a sense of place.

It’s important to honour this appeal if you are renovating an older building. Elements such as fireplaces, skirting boards, architraves and cornices add just the right amount of ornamentation to rooms especially if you want to honour the style of the original building.

Renovators can also leverage these smaller architectural details to bridge the gap between original and new; contemporary and historic.

How cornices make a difference

Often overlooked, cornices can add so much to a room. This decorative element connects the walls with the ceiling by drawing the eye upwards, making rooms appear more spacious.

In many older houses, cornices provide a level of embellishment to rooms, with multiple layers of plaster for added interest. Victorian-era homes often included botanic designs in cornices, such as fleur-de-lis and roses. Later styles such as Art Deco relied on geometric shapes on cornices to complement those seen in doors and windows. Even mid-century modern homes included sleek cornices to echo the sharp lines of the architecture.

Cornices add character to rooms – and at a minimal cost. Upgrading to decorative cornices as part of a renovation is a small cost in the scheme of things, but is just the sort of touch that helps to personalise an new addition and make a build look complete.

Different cornice profiles

Gyprock has three ranges of cornices to choose from, allowing homeowners the opportunity to best select the style that suits their home’s aesthetic. The Inspiration, Contemporary and Standard ranges offer homeowners a wide array of designs to choose from, depending on the aesthetic of their home.

Designer Greg Natale is known for his decorative style and says there are no hard and fast design rules to follow when choosing a suitable cornice.

“A cornice with clean geometric lines offsets a contemporary room, while a cornice with formal curves looks right at home among period or Art Deco-inspired interiors,” he says.

For classically styled homes we would recommend Symphony or Concerto cornices; mid-century modern homes might suit Alto or Trio for a more contemporary profile. The Cove cornice is ideal for bathrooms where you might use floor-to-ceiling tiles as a feature item.

How to match a cornice profile

Depending on the age of your house, you should be able to choose a cornice from the Gyprock range to complement the look of the original.

Some older homes may have discontinued styles, so it may make sense to replace the cornicing throughout the building if you want to ensure continuity. This is also a good idea if the existing cornices are damaged or incomplete.

Alternatively, many older houses had different cornices in each room, usually opting for more ornate styles in living spaces and more restrained designs in bedrooms and wet areas. Most renovations focus on kitchens and bathrooms, so it’s worth sticking to a simpler look such as the Cove cornice from Standard range or Presto from our Contemporary collection in these hard-working spaces.

One way to ascertain the right cornice for your renovated home is to take cues from the skirting boards. Softer curves on the skirting boards should be echoed in the cornices – same with crisp edges. Matching these two elements can result in a seamless design flow.

Painting your cornice

The general trend is to paint cornices in a lighter shade, which helps to frame the wall nicely, with most homeowners choosing a neutral such as white for cornices and skirting boards.

Neutral shades are recommended if you don’t have the same cornices in all rooms as it allows rooms to flow more naturally and have the details to relate better between rooms.

Popular whites include Dulux Lexicon (full, half or quarter strength) for a cool white, or Natural White for more warmth.

If you want a touch of drama, you can also opt for a strong feature colour, which works best if you relate it back to another feature in the room, such as door frames, picture rails or skirting.

About Gyprock Cornices

The perfect accent to the aesthetic harmony of a home, Gyprock’s collection of eight cornice designs will complement and balance interior design features and help bring the whole space together by adding detail and personality. Gyprock is available at all major hardware retailers.

Learn how to take your home from Simple to Stunning with Australia’s top interior designers.