Post war, when the country was in the grip of a determined spate of modernisation, it became de rigueur to strip period homes of their original architectural features. Down came the wedding cake ceiling roses and decorative friezes, the stucco work and relief panels, in favour of rooms without ornament. It was a trend that lasted well in to the Nineties, and sadly many homes were badly augmented, leaving rooms lacking their original character.

Finding a house that survived the latter portion of the century with its original architectural details intact is a prize indeed. For those of us that weren't so lucky, restoration is often in order to breathe life back in to the interior architecture. But it is worth treading carefully. Rather than choosing mouldings in isolation, it is important to consider them in relation to the whole interior, and to make sure you choose the style a style that suits the age of your house. We consider the options below.

Address book

  • Geoffrey Preston: Devon-based restorer and conservator,who specialises in highly sculptural walls and ceilings, such as the one pictured above.
  • Classic Cornice Company: Having restored plasterwork for the past 30 years, this south-west-London-based company works on projects across Britain and counts interior designer Rabih Hage among its clients
  • Stevensons of Norwich: Conservators and restorers of plasterwork, including historical lime plasterwork.
  • Locker & Riley: Specialists in the restoration of plasterwork in Grade I- and Grade II-listed buildings, working closely with English Heritage to create authentic mouldings.
  • William Wilson: Architectural Mouldings This Lancashire-based company has restored plasterwork in everything from churches and town halls to castles and country houses for the past 20 years. The team was responsible for the ornate plasterwork at Burrow Hall, which won an award from the Georgian Group in 2015.
  • Cliveden Conservation: Conservator that specialises in ceilings and stucco and freehand modelling. It has workshops in Berkshire, Somerset and Norfolk.
  • Hayles & Howe: Bristol-based restorer that manufactures plasterwork to match existing damaged designs.
  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    'Wedding Cake' Stucco

    Elaborate 'wedding cake' stucco work with a chevron pattern creates a striking effect in this hall. The plasterwork was designed in the Twenties, but something similar could be created by ornamental plasterwork specialists Hayles and Howe.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Victorian Cornices

    The cornices in this Victorian house are typical of the period, in which various styles and motifs were combined. Here an egg and dart motif is bordered by an intricately moulded floral design. The cornice and ceiling were in a state of disrepair, so the designer took an imprint of them and had them rebuilt by the Classic Cornice Company. Specialist painting and surface-finish company Croxford and Saunders highlighted the mouldings using a marble powder to give them a matte finish. Designer Rabih Hage.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Spider's Web Plasterwork

    The design of this coved plasterwork ceiling is centred around a spider's web. It was original to the house, and is a good illustration of how a narrative can be created within ceiling plasterwork. Designer Keech Green.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Dentil Cornice

    In the early nineteenth century, when wall heights were lower, cornices started to creep onto the ceiling. This dentil cornice is a copy of the original that was found in this house - a cast was taken and it was reinstated. Designer Max Rollitt.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Beaded Cornice

    This small beaded cornice is a typical Soanian motif. It creates a jewel-like trim at the top of the wall, without being too fussy or distracting. Stevensons of Norwich's 'Medium Beaded Panel Mould', £28.80 for 150cm, is similar. Designer Max Rollitt.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Swag and Drop

    Here bookshelves are bedecked with plaster swag and drop motifs. Locker & Riley could create similar plasterwork or you could choose some of its off-the-peg options. It also stocks a range of plaster frames, which are ideal for paintings. Architect Quinlan Terry.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Stucco Work

    Layers of paint were removed from this staircase to reveal the quality of this elaborate mid-eighteenth-century stucco work. The painting is incorporated within the plasterwork scheme. To create something similar, commission Geoffrey Preston (, who specialises in fine decorative plasterwork. Architect Ptolemy Dean.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Decorative Frieze

    If you want more than just a standard cornice and have sufficient wall height, consider installing a decorative frieze, which can also prevent the ceilings feeling too high. The one in this hall is based on the ancient Greek Bassae Frieze, which is in the British Museum. Architect Craig Hamilton.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details


    The festoon above the chimneypiece in this sitting room shows how simply sculpted panels can look modern when used in the right context. The designer had this one made in wood, but the plaque could be cast in plaster. Designer George Carter.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Relief Panels

    Get your plaster fix by hanging relief panels, brackets or corbels as you would artwork. This Victorian room has been decorated with Peter Hone's cast plasters; the arrangement is a nod to Sir John Soane, the Regency architect renowned for his plaster collection. Peter's work is available to buy from Sir John Soane's Museum.

  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Choosing architectural mouldings

    'The age of the building is of critical importance when choosing mouldings,' says architect Francis Terry. 'If you have an early Georgian house, you should have an early Georgian cornice, which is Palladian in style and quite chunky. Mid-Georgian cornices are smaller and more refined and by the Regency period they are creeping onto the ceiling and incorporating Greek elements. Choose mouldings that are consistent with the scale of the room. The dado rail and cornice should read as a set and the level of enrichment depends on where the room is in the house. For example, you may have a decorated egg and dart cornice in a room on the raised ground floor, but bedrooms deserve less elaborate cornices.


    • 'GEO114', £30 for 100cm, from Butcher Plasterworks.
    • 'Small Greek Key Cornice', £26 for 300cm, from Stevensons of Norwich.
    • 'LR353', £75.60 for 300cm, from Locker & Riley.
    • 'Tynmouth', £76 for 280cm, from George Jackson.
    • 'CP80', £27.60 for 300cm, from Classic Cornice Company.
  • How to choose derative mouldings & architectural details

    Ceiling roses


    • 'CC17', 53.3cm diameter, from £59. Locker & Riley.
    • 'Finsbury', 37.5cm diameter, £72. George Jackson.
    • 'Georgian Fan Ceiling Rose', 51cm diameter, £54. Hayles and Howe.
    • 'Small Ornate Ceiling Rose', 30.5cm diameter. Stevensons of Norwich.