Maximise Your Wall Space: The Versatility of Picture Rails

Picture rails, also known as chair rails, have been a staple in interior design for centuries. These horizontal moldings were originally designed to protect walls from chairs, but they soon became decorative elements in their own right. Picture rails are an excellent example of classic design that has stood the test of time and are still used today. In modern times, picture rails serve a dual purpose; they protect walls from damages but also act as a design statement. In this article, we will explore the aesthetics of picture rail mouldingand how to add a contemporary twist to this classic design.

Understanding Picture Rails

Picture rails are horizontal moldings that are installed along the upper third of a wall, usually at a height of around 30 inches from the floor. Picture rails have deep historical roots, dating back to ancient Greece, where they were used as crown moldings. Later on, during the Renaissance period, picture rails were used to hang tapestries and paintings. The design element of picture rails has survived till today, although they’re no longer used for their initial purpose.

Benefits of Picture Rails

Apart from enhancing the aesthetic value of a room, picture rails also have a functional use. They protect the walls from damages caused by chairs, bookshelves, and other objects. Picture rails also act as a barrier for moisture and humidity, which can cause the walls to crack or rot. Picture rails offer multiple opportunities to highlight cherished artwork or photographs without drilling unwanted holes straight through the wall, making them more versatile than a typical gallery wall. Additionally, picture rails are easier and cheaper to install than other forms of wall hanging systems.

Current Design Trends with Picture Rails

Picture rails are vastly underrated design elements that can easily incorporate into any space. The best part is the several new ways to incorporate picture rails into modern designs. For example, instead of using standard picture hooks, which can be unsightly, use tension wire suspensions or trendy, sleek wall rails. Picture rails are now seen with numerous metals, including black, gold, silver, and brass, which add to the elegance of your room. When planning your design, decide which metals will complement your existing materials and decor the best.

Practical Tips for DIY Installation

Before starting any installation activities, assess your walls to guarantee they’re stable enough to withstand the installation of picture rails—you don’t want any nasty surprises like falling artwork weeks later. Research additional support that could be required for the installation and keep all the items you’ll need in reach, so you don’t have to spend time searching for tools or supplies. Even with the small size of picture rails, measuring correctly and being accurate is crucial, so a level is invaluable for this project.

Finding the Right Balance

When working with your picture rails, you want to find the right balance. Make sure not to overcrowd the rails and keep in mind how the size of the painting or photograph can affect the overall aesthetics of the design. The picture rail is just one element of your decor, so it’s always important to keep the whole room’s design in mind. Be creative and arrange pieces to add interest and depth to the display.


Picture rails are feature pieces in any home, office, or living space. Picture rails’ design pays homage to traditional design while remaining modern and applicable. With tips on installation and current design trends, incorporating picture rails into your workspace or home has never been more effortless. Picture rails’ understated elegance and functionality may quickly establish them as your favorite household design element.

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