Cornice is a type of decorative architectural moulding used either externally, or internally to add design interest to a room in order to give it a ‘grand’ effect.
Decorative mouldings can make a huge difference to the visual look of a room. A room without cornice can appear empty and soulless to the eye, adding cornice is a subtle change that can make a big impact, transforming a space.
Traditional and modern cornice styles
There have been many design periods over the course of history and in Britain we have been particularly blessed to have had all sorts of styles from the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian eras to that of the art deco 30’s look. Modern and contemporary designs are now also being created for the many houses and flats that are currently being built for owners who are demanding more 21st century trend-setting style.
It is always very difficult to accurately state that one particular cornice is attributable to a certain age or era. Sometimes even different regions would have wildly different designs or profiles - it would just be on the whim of the architect and his influences (and that of the usually wealthy home owner) that would determine the plan of the house.
Differences between Georgian and Victorian cornice
You can usually say that the ‘egg and dart’ or fleur-de-lys patterns would be synonymous with the Victorians whereas the Georgians preferred detail with square patterns, often incorporating dentils (or ‘teeth’) in their designs. You can often see this in the external cornice where the square blocks are designed to reflect the uniform and rectangular windows and door surrounds of the facade.
Typically, cornice was manufactured in plaster and being large, heavy and ornate, only highly skilled craftsmen would have been able to install it. However modern materials and manufacturing methods have meant traditional designs are now easily replicated without any noticeable visual difference.
High pressure steel mouldings mean that cornice edges are sharp and detailed so lengths can be installed in such a way that no-one will be able to tell the difference between plaster and the modern hardened polyurethane based products.
Joints are invisible and will not separate (if the correct adhesives are used) - something that cannot always otherwise be guaranteed – and being lightweight, no screwing into the wall and ceiling is necessary, so specialist labour is not a pre-requisite.
Contemporary uplighting cornice and mood lighting
Two other types of cornice should also be mentioned. Firstly, uplighting cornice or uplighting troughs are open at the top and fitted to the wall approximately 15-20cm’s from the ceiling, with LED’s or tube lights fitted inside. This throws a lovely mood lighting effect onto and across the ceiling as an alternative light source and this is now extremely popular in all types of buildings, irrespective of age or style.
The second type is a more contemporary style which is only fitted onto the ceiling. With a shadow gap at the wall edge they have a wonderful floating effect and look very effective in modern flats or house conversions.
Advice on choosing cornice
If you need any further advice we are more than happy to discuss your requirements with you - please call us on 020 8660 2854.