The Decorologist’s Ultimate Crown Molding Hack


the ultimate crown molding hack

Who doesn’t love a good hack? Today I’ve got the best crown molding hack you didn’t even know you needed!

I always say that color placement is as important as the color you choose. The wrong color placement can make a room look smaller, the ceiling lower, and date a room unnecessarily, while the RIGHT color placement can make a space appear larger, the ceiling higher, and make a room appear updated and more expensive.

In this before/after I posted last week, the homeowner didn’t want to change his existing paint colors. I told him that was fine, but would he be willing to paint out the area between the crown molding and the additional piece of trim several inches below it? This is how it looked originally:

You’ve probably seen this paint treatment in many homes – the application of a paint color different than the wall color in between this kind of trim. Let me illustrate how many stripes and transitions this treatment creates:

Can you see how this actually creates 4 horizontal stripes in an area of about 2 feet? And that’s even before you hit the television. This paint color placement actually makes the room appear shorter and the trim molding less expensive.

So here’s the crown molding hack: by applying the white trim color in the same finish (semigloss or satin) on the small amount of wall area between the trim pieces, the room appears taller. At the same time, it visually bulks up the trim and make it look more expensive. Check out the difference:

dark painted bookcase and fireplace with white mantelThe Decorologist

See what I mean? Let me show you a section of the striping effect in the dining room. In this room, the ceiling is the same color as the walls. On the wall with the cased opening, there are essentially 3 stripes of gray + 3 stripes of white. This kind of paint application distracts from the rest of the room’s design and really doesn’t add anything special.


The “after” results in a sophisticated architectural element that complements the room’s new decor and doesn’t detract from it.

masculine interior design with farmhouse dining table and benchesThe Decorologist

In the earlier post of this space, did you notice the change in paint here? Back in the living room, here’s another “before:”

Obviously, the decor of the room is nicer now, but don’t you think the color placement change makes a difference, too? It’s like we installed larger, more expensive crown molding (except we didn’t).

pottery barn sectional sofa and kilim rug in masculine living room interior design by the decorologist

This is a great crown molding hack that adds class to any room.  I truly believe it’s part of why this space looks next-level. One last “before” shot:

ban the white stripes by the decorologist



Are you convinced we need to ban the white stripes? They are also a pet peeve of mine on tray ceilings, ack!

And just to be clear, I’d NEVER ban the rock band, The White Stripes. I love Jack White! He happens to live five minutes from me and I pass his house on most days.

Howdy, Neighbor!

Hey Jack, let me know if you ever need help with paint colors, ok? Historic homes are my favorite to work on!

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23 thoughts on “The Decorologist’s Ultimate Crown Molding Hack

  1. Sheri Bruneau says:

    Great images to truly show how magical paint can be to fix an unsightly mess. BTW – love the light fixture in the living room. I just had one like that installed in a kitchen over a peninsula!

  2. Debra Poppy says:

    In an effort to make my low ceiling appear higher, would it help to paint the crown molding the same color( Edgecomb gray) as the walls? Walls in flat and molding /trim in satin or semi gloss. Thinking of BM cotton balls for ceiling and doors. I purchsed your color boards and love them!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      You could – but if you do, you might want to continue the Edgecomb onto the ceiling in a flat finish, rather than doing white on the ceiling. A low ceiling painted white can actually pull the ceiling down visually. I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying the Paint Color Toolkit!!!

  3. Sasha says:

    That looks much better! Thank you for the tip. If we want to install bottom trim of the crown molding, do you think picture molding would be doable with such treatment (installed few inches below the actual crown molding and painted the wall in between the trim color) to enlarge the crown molding or should it be just usual molding like the ones in this page?

  4. Phyllis E says:

    Hi Kristie,
    Yes, the room does appear taller, but I wonder why? It seems counter-intuitive to think that coming down lower on the wall with a very large “crown molding” would make that wall seem taller. Is it simply because it draws your eye up? Just wondering . I do agree that it looks so much better painted one color!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      I’m not sure WHY, but I remember years ago that I had a friend that installed super-deep crown molding on her 8-ft ceilings and it actually made her ceilings appear taller. Maybe it’s just that it draws the eye up?

  5. Raegon Barnes says:

    Kristie–can you elaborate on your comment about tray ceilings? We just bought a new house and it has a double tray, each with its own set of crown molding on top as well as a wall and underneath side wrapping trim as well and then crown at the top of the normal 8ft wall. It literally makes 5 sets of white stripes! I was thinking of doing the traditional board and batten on the walls up about 6ft of the 8ft then painting the wall above and the other sections between all the ceiling sections/trays the same wall color. But I will still have 5 white ‘stripes’… Should I add the trim you talked about in this post to the 8ft wall to make the normal wall look taller, then paint the trim color in between the two trays two sets of trim so that the tray ‘walls’ are entirely the trim color thus cutting down from 5 to 3 stripes? Or other suggestion?

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