Comfort Addict

0 Comments Friday, September 19, 2014 | @ 10:11 PM
Our new home had chair rail throughout the first floor. Chair also known as dado rail was traditionally used in older homes to protect plaster walls from chair backs and other furniture contact. Over the years the need for chair rail has become obsolete with the use of dry wall and washable paints.
Many people still use chair rail for decorative purposes to add interest to rooms or to keep their homes historically accurate. When I saw our new home for the first time, I knew right away that I would remove the chair rail throughout our house. Our chair rail was was placed quite low on the walls. The horizontal lines running through my 9 foot ceiling rooms made the interior of the home look squatty. Once the chair rail was removed, the rooms looked more elongated and elegant.
{our walls just after the chair rail was removed}
I don't always recommend removing chair rail. There are many interiors in which the chair rail adds, rather than detracts from it's surroundings. When wide, classically shaped chair mold is used in a light colored room, it looks timeless.
In this Michael Smith entry hall, the horizontal line of the chair rail is used to diminish the feeling of height of the 20' high room. When rooms are two stories tall, a grandiose effect is achieved but the space often feels cold and uninviting. Chair rail is a perfect antidote in spaces like these.
I love the use of wainscot, paneling applied between the baseboard and chair rail, to add interest to a bathroom or hallway. Wainscoting was historically used to cover the lower part of the walls to keep dampness out. Today it is used for decorative purposes to add interest and texture to a room.


If you have chair rail in your home that you don't particularly care for but don't want to remove, there are many creative ways to improve it's appearance. To start with, unless you have very tall ceilings, you should avoid painting a room with chair rail a dark color as this will make the ceiling heights look even lower. When ceilings are standard height, try painting the walls and the trim in lighter shades. Sheila Bridges paints her walls, chair rail and wainscot all the same color. This elongates the appearance of the walls and creates a sense of uniformity in the room without losing the interest of the moldings.


The owners of this dining room, stepped outside the box and hung works of art over and under the chair-rail. What a creative way to work around what is can be a limiting decorative element!

Charlotte Moss does a lovely job accentuating chair-rail as well.
In her former Townhouse, she used the chair rail to frame a collection of chinoiserie panels.
In this New York apartment, Moss created unique fabric paneling to create a textured look above the chair rail.
Chair rail when accentuated well can add a lot to a room. When used incorrectly it can detract greatly from a space's appearance. Are you a fan of chair rail? If you have chair rail in your home, I would love to know how how you have decorated around it.
{images: 1- via gil shafer; 2- via sarah bartholomew; 3- via gil schafer; 4- via michael smith; 5- via gil schafer; 6- via kate spade; 7- via sheila bridges; 8- via sheila bridges; 9- via stylecourt; 10- via charlotte moss; 11- charlotte moss via habitually chic; 12- charlotte moss via veranda}

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