Should skirting boards and architraves match?
When it comes to interior design, there isn’t always a straightforward answer to questions like this, and in the end it will always come down to each person’s individual preferences and tastes. For a simple answer, it’s true that architraves and skirtings ‘should’ match, but matching is more relevant to proportional sizes and not design. You can very easily have different profile styles that work well together, and features that complement each other, even if they don’t necessarily match.
In the end, it’s all about the shape, style and design that you envision having for your home, whether this involves your architraves and skirtings matching, or having a combination of two profiles that don’t match, but still look great together regardless.
What is an architrave?
An architrave is an internal moulding that can be used and installed around windows, doors or other types of openings in your home to create the illusion of height and accentuate a certain feature. An ‘architrave’ describes a horizontal beam set upon two vertical columns, and can also be referred to as ‘trims’ or ‘casings’. Architraves serve both a decorative and practical function, as not only do they enhance the style, design and aesthetic of a space, but they also do a wonderful job of covering joints, seams and cracks caused by wood expansion.
Builders leave gaps between the frames of doors and windows to prevent the plasterboard cracking when subtle movements and shifts occur in the earth, causing your house to move. Architraves cover these gaps and make your home’s linings look neat and tidy.
What is a skirting board?
A skirting board, or baseboard as they are known in the United States, are timber or MDF boards, machined into a profile to create some decorative detailing, which are applied to the bottom of a wall to sit flush onto the floor. They come in a range of heights and thickness timber and can be painted or stained.
Although skirting boards can somewhat serve their original purpose of hiding a gap or join between the flooring and the wall, this is not as necessary as it once was. Providing protection to the lower part of walls from vacuums, mopping, childrens’ toys being pushed into them and general household traffic is a significant benefit to continuing to use them today.
While still serving a practical purpose, skirting boards add a decorative architectural feature to your home. They finish and frame a room and when painted certain colours or when using a large or ornate profile, provides contrast and texture. They also provide an effortless flow between rooms. Skirting boards are a relatively small expense during a new build or renovation but provide high impact and increase the value of a home for a larger return on investment.
How to choose the right style of mouldings
There are four considerations to take into account when trying to choose the right style of mouldings for your home: style, colour, dimensions and your lifestyle. There are many different types of mouldings, including architraves, skirting boards, chair rails, inlay moulds and skirting blocks.
Making these choices may seem insignificant in comparison to larger decisions like wall colour, window type, door placement and furniture, but the little details add up and can actually make a big impact on the final design result of your space.
How to choose the right architrave
If you’re wanting your skirting boards and architrave profiles to match, then you obviously have more of a chance of this happening if they are the same colour. A similar profile will match if you use a natural wood material like tulipwood, oak, sapele or pine, however leaving them untreated can highlight possible flaws. If you’re set on your skirting boards and architrave profiles matching, then use a primer and paint them in a colour that complements the aesthetic and style of the interior design you’re going for.
Once you’ve chosen your skirting boards, you have the decision to make for your architraves. Most people choose the same profile, in a smaller height, however you can also mix and match profiles to create a stunning and intricate final look.
You can choose the size of your architraves based on the height of your doors, or the height of your skirting boards:
Door Heights Architrave Widths
- 2.04m 66-90mm
- 2.34m 90-115mm
- 2.70m 115mm+
At Intrim, our most popular skirting board and architrave combinations that we sell together are:
- 135mm skirting with 90mm architrave
- 185mm skirting with 90mm architrave
How to choose the right skirting board
When it comes to choosing architraves and skirtings, it’s important to take into account the architectural and interior design style you’re trying to bring into your home. Here are some examples of popular interior design styles and what kind of skirting boards to choose for each.
- Hamptons: Traditional Hamptons styles use high, thick skirting boards with big rounded profile features. This not only creates a stand out look, but helps the skirting hold its own against elaborate features such as wall wainscoting.
- French Provincial: The French Provincial style is admired for its symmetrical design, classic proportions and decorative elements. Skirting boards are a key feature in French style homes, as they are an ornate and detailed decoration. Mouldings are used throughout these homes as wall panelling, fireplace features and big cornices.
- Victorian: The mantra of the Victorian era is ‘more is everything’. Highly detailed dado rail, wall panelling and highly decorated skirting board profiles which are balanced and elegant will help you to achieve this beautiful look.
- Modern: Interior mouldings in modern homes most often choose a minimal Shadowline skirting, or a smaller profile with sharp, hard lines. We have seen an emergence of the use of high yet thin skirting boards with simple designs as well as large flat space. Don’t be scared to experiment with size – if you’re going for a modern look then so long as you keep it simple, you can’t go wrong!
For skirting boards, choosing a board based on your ceiling height is a good rule of thumb to follow:
Ceiling Height Complimentary Skirting Sizes
- To 2.4m 90-135mm
- To 2.7m 115-185mm
- To 3.0m 135-230mm
- To 3.6m 185mm+
It is a myth that you should only use large skirting in large rooms with high ceilings, and smaller skirting in small rooms. However, it is true that large skirting can often be seen to ‘fill’ a room and make it feel smaller. If you’re wanting to create a cosy space, then the profile size of your timber architraves and skirtings is something you can experiment with. Using smaller mouldings on a high ceiling will create the illusion of height, and make the room feel taller and broader.
If your home is one filled with kids, animals and high-traffic areas, then you may wish to consider choosing a high skirting board that will provide a better level of protection to your walls. This is especially true when wallpaper has been used or where the walls are painted a bold colour, as chips and marks will become more and more visible as time wears on.
We consider a ‘high’ skirting to be 185mm and larger. 185mm suits most houses and spaces. A more busy profile will suit a room with more space available, and if you’re using that size in a smaller space, we would recommend a profile design that is less ‘busy’. This could include a skirting with detailing on the top portion, with 50% or more flat space on the profile.
Recommended profile combinations
Remember that you don’t HAVE to choose skirting boards and architrave profiles that match – in fact, creating a unique combination can lead to a really great design! If you do mix and match your skirting board and architrave profiles, there are a few things to remember:
- You will need to make sure that the skirting board and architrave you choose are both the same thickness.
- Make sure you still stick with complimentary height combinations as above, both for the mouldings and your room size.
- If the two profiles you have chosen are very different in look and design, you may need to use a skirting block so the area where the two meet is not messy or too busy.
- Try stick with profiles with similar features ie both with bold curves, or both with steps and sharp lines. Don’t try and mix profiles that are world’s apart in look.
Here are some of our recommended profile combinations if you’re looking to experiment.