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How to Design Picture Frame Moulding for Walls

Hello Friends,

Picture frame moulding for walls. It’s one of the hottest design trends going. And guess what? For Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, I’m installing over 300 linear feet in the dining room and foyer.

I know! What an adventure!

But just let me just say that it is already making a HUGE difference in the way the dining room looks. 


How to Design Picture Frame Moulding for Walls

Affiliate links are included for your convenience. See full disclosure for details.

When it comes to picture frame moulding, I’m not sure which is easier, design or installation. I do know that while writing this post, I came to realize that a tutorial such as this is basically only a concept. This is because every wall is different —like snowflakes. Thankfully, the cutting is basically the same and, for the most part, so is the installation. So I guess once the design is set, the rest of the process is a piece of cake.

With this, let’s take a look at how to come up with a plan.

Designing Wall #1

If you saw the first ORC post (Week 1 – The Dining Room Plan), then you recall that my dining room has only two walls. The other two walls flow open into the foyer and hallway to the kitchen. So I started on the wall adjacent to the kitchen. I chose this wall because it was a blank canvas. With my first try, the fewer obstacles I had to design around, the better.

Start with measurements:

  • Height is measured from the top of the baseboard to the bottom of the crown moulding.

  • Width is measured from the <— left where the wall ends to the right —> where the stairway begins.

BEFORE: Picture frame moulding is designed for Wall #1 | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

Then I played around with the numbers. I knew I wanted an odd number of boxes, but wanted a good balance on the wall, too. To me, picture frame mouldings that are too big look chincy and too little look busy.

The photo below shows the final set of measurements drawn out using masking tape.


  • The tops of the picture frame mouldings are lower than the moulding around the stairs. When I ran the boxes in a horizontal parallel, they lost so much visual impact. When the boxes are dropped a little, more architectural interest appeared. 

  • The bottoms of the boxes are the same distance from the baseboards as the tops of the boxes are from the crown moulding.

DURING: Picture frame moulding is designed for Wall #1 and taped off to provide a visual of the plan | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

When I thought I had the picture frame moulding sized right, I hung the artwork to make sure it was balanced over the woodwork. Yes, this photo was taken after the moulding was installed. This is because I forget to snap a photo during the masking tape phase. Sorry about that, but let’s just pretend this is artwork over masking tape because I truly did hang it for a test visual. OK?

AFTER: Picture frame moulding is balanced according to the space on the wall and the artwork layered on top | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

Installing Wall #1

Trust me when I say that I measured twice and cut once. The cuts may be super simple 45-degree angles, but it is amazing how easy cutting miters can go off the rails. If you’d like this information, I’ll write a second post and go in depth about how to cut the miters, but for now, here’s how Wall #1 was installed.

Wall #1 Installation:

  • The far left picture frame moulding was installed first.

  • Then the far right.

  • The last box installed was the middle. This is done so that if any measuring irregularities occurred, minor adjustments in the spacing could be made an equidistant from the left and right boxes.

DURING: Picture frame moulding is added to walls for design interest | Learn how to design with a few tips | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

Designing Wall #2

Wall #2 is interesting in that it is part dining room wall and part foyer wall. Oye. 

So here’s how I designed around that.

The picture frame moulding below the chair rail (wall in the dining room) was added several years ago. I was thrilled to find that the exact same moulding was still available. Thank you, Home Depot. 

Portion of wall above the chair rail (wall in the dining room):

  • The upper picture frame moulding (s) were designed the exact same width as the boxes under the chair rail.

  • Then the height was created by placing the vertical the exact distance from the crown moulding and chair rail as the lower boxes are from the baseboards and chair rail. It’s the same balanced effect described in Wall #1, there are just a couple of new variables to include.

Portion of wall in the foyer (behind the ladder):

  • The picture frame moulding by the front door (behind the ladder) is sized from top to bottom (height) like the rest of the foyer (based on Wall #1)

  • But the size of the frame (width) is set to scale based on the visual balance in this corner and the accessories that will be added later. With this, I still did my best to keep the box as consistent with Wall #1 as possible.

DURING: Picture frame moulding is added to the dining room and foyer | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

Designing Wall #3

When the same size frames that are in the corner of the dining room (above photo) are placed on a larger wall, they Look smaller. It’s truly an optical illusion, because they are the exact same size all the way around the room. This, I tell you, is why I measured and measured. The different look of the same size boxes on different walls totally messed with my head.

DURING: Picture fram moulding is added to the dining room during a full room refresh | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

But happily, this visual effect significantly lessens or even disappears when the walls and trim are painted the same color. So if your measurements are correct, just stay steady to the course and look again after the paint is on the wall, too.

AFTER: Picture frame moulding is added above and below the chair rail for more interest in the room | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

How to Design Around a Design Problem

If you are like me and have several broken walls, then design problems may be inevitable. Believe it or not, for this project, I was surprised that I only had one really tough one. 

You see, when the frames below the chair rail were added, I knew there would be one slightly smaller frame hidden behind the hutch. This was ok because who would ever see it? Well, nobody ever did —until the upper frames were being added. But if you remember the installation process for Wall #1, the exact same technique was used for this design problem on Wall #3. 

Installing Wall #3

  • In the photo below, the three frames on the left and the three frames on the right are the exact same size and spacing. These were installed first.

  • The one (the 7th box) behind the hutch in the very center is slightly smaller and the spacing from the left and right boxes is also slightly smaller.

  • When this kind of mismeasurement happens, just try to place the frame in a very inconspicuous place and balance the space the best you can.

When I took this photo, I was up on a ladder trying to maximize the size difference for the photo. But when standing on the floor, this frame is barely even visible. And quite frankly, it really doesn’t look smaller or off-center.

AFTER: Picture frame moulding is added during a dining room makeover | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

Wall #4

Compared to the others, designing and installing Wall #4 was a piece of cake. The side panels are the exact same size as the panels for Wall #2 and Wall #3. And the panels above the windows were simply drawn to fit the space. 

AFTER: Picture fram moulding is easily added to the inside of a square bay window | #ORC #oneroomchallenge | www.thechelseaproject.com

And that’s all there is to it. Designing picture frame moulding for walls is really just about finding good balance and using a whole lot of masking tape. Lol..

In the meantime, if you appreciate this DIY, please….

Picture frame moulding on the walls is one of the hot design trends | Learn some tips and tricks for designing moulding for your home | #orc #oneroomchallenge #pictureframemoulding | www.thechelseaproject.com

 Tools and products used for this post (affiliate links):


And as always, many thanks to our wonderful hosts.  

Linda from the blog, Calling It Home and House Beautiful magazine. 

Please click here to see Featured Designers and here for Guest Participants

We appreciate you so much!


The Dining Room Makeover Plan – Week 1

You are here – Week 2

Tips for Perfect Ceiling and Wall Paint – Week 3

How to Paint Dining Room Furniture – Week 4

How to Paint Faux Antique Brass Hardware – Week 5

How to Easily Paint Super Slick Surfaces – Week 6

Dining Room Reveal – Week 7

Outdated Bench Refresh – How to Paint the Fabric and Frame

Stationary Bar Cart Refresh – Using a Combo of Paint and Wax

Traditional Meets Trendy – Mahogany Console Table Makeover in Metallic Paint

Easily Add Gold Touches to Furniture and Accessories with Liquid Leaf

Spring 2017 ORC – Great Room Refresh






  • Reply Michelle October 10, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    This looks so nice. I love that you do this all yourself. You are quite amazing! I can’t wait to see more.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Michelle and thanks! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hit in the head during this project. LOL…

  • Reply Susanne October 11, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Girl I am so impressed!!! You are a total picture frame molding rockstar!!! You inspire me and I know I can install my board and batten all by myself…fingers crossed, lol!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Hi Susanne and thanks so much!! And yes!!! You can do it!! Go girl!

  • Reply northcountrynest21 October 11, 2017 at 10:12 am

    This looks great and such an in-depth and helpful tutorial!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Hi Kelly and thanks so much! Looking so forward to seeing your progress this week! It looks great!!!

  • Reply Jillian October 11, 2017 at 10:55 am

    You go girl! That looks amazing and like lots of work! Good job!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 11:57 am

      LOL…Jillian. You are correct. Indeed, it was lots of work! I had to take my time and just stay with it. Thanks so much for stopping by! I’ll be over to see you later tonight. XOXO

  • Reply Mary Hunnicutt October 11, 2017 at 11:26 am

    This looks great! I cannot believe you did it yourself! We just installed base molding in our basement, and I tried to help my hubby but got frustrated and let him do it! I do not have the patience for it!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Mary and thanks! Well, first of all, you are lucky to have a DIY hubby. Mine is great at shopping for miter saws, but actually doing this installation….not so much. So I had two options. Install it myself or do without. LOL… I guess I really do need to write a post about all of my little “rigs” that I dreamed up to give me an extra pair of hands.

      Oh….I’ll be over later when I can sit and take my time going through your post. Looking so forward.

  • Reply Sherry Cole October 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Great tutorial! This is so beautiful and it looks like it has added a lot of value to your home. I am so impressed that you did it all by yourself. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks so much, Sherry! I’m kind of surprised, too. LOL… But once Wall #1 was up, I felt like I had my footing. But I will say that I have a ton of little tidbits to help avoid. I’m trying to get those together soon.

  • Reply Marie October 11, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Look at you go! Wow, that’s a lot of miter cuts and nailing. It looks quite beautiful and elegant. Again, I can’t wait to see the big room reveal. I see some changes to your table. Pinned your awesome tutorial to my Woodworking Tips Board.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Hi Marie and thanks so much! You give me such hope and courage to carry on. LOL… I’m trying not to panic.

  • Reply Tina Bousu October 11, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Holy Mama!! This is amazing!! Bookmarking this for future reference! Well done!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      LOL…Thanks Tina! Awww. I’m so glad it can help you out. This kind of moulding would be beautiful in your amazing home! XO

  • Reply Tee October 11, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Boy, I wish you were around to help me with this in person! The moulding came out fabulous. What a difference it makes. Totally classes up any space. Looks so professionally done!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Oh my gosh, Tee! Thanks so much. Another blogger just asked for a post about how I handled the un-plumb walls, hung it by myself, etc. I’ll be starting the living room –hopefully by November 1. I promised to take more specific photos and share out some tricks I learned.

  • Reply Jen@jenron-designs October 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I love the picture frame molding!!! Your dining room is going to look so chic and elegant when it is all done. One of the best way to upgrade a room is millwork and moldings. Good job can’t wait to see your big reveal!!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Jen and thanks so much! I hope and pray every single word you say here is true and more. It would be so nice to finally have that room “chic and elegant.” Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a sweet ad encouraging comment. XOXO

  • Reply Michelle James October 11, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Wow! What a great job you did! It makes such a difference in the room & I love the wall color!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Hi Michelle and thanks a bushel! It was a ton of work, but also a labor of love. Appreciate your sweet and encouraging comment. XOXO

  • Reply Tim@DesignMaze October 12, 2017 at 12:37 am

    wow!! so much progress already and love how the new panels look like they have been there since day 1 once everything is painted white! can’t wait to see what you are up to next week!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 1:57 am

      Hi Tim and thanks so much. I was really lucky to find the same moulding for the top. IDK what I would have done otherwise. Appreciate the visit!

  • Reply Deb October 12, 2017 at 1:46 am

    Wow, the moulding really changes the room! Thank you for all the tips for design and measurement!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 1:58 am

      Thanks so much, Deb. Appreciate your visit and kind words.

  • Reply Emy October 12, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Your walls look gorgeous! I’ve been thinking about adding more picture molding to my dining room too.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 8:41 am

      Hi Emy and thanks! The difference is so amazing! I look forward to hearing all about what you decide. XOXO

  • Reply Jessica Vanderveen October 12, 2017 at 9:44 am

    It looks amazing! Trim can be difficult, but makes a huge impact!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Hi Jessica! Thanks so much. You bless me with confidence that I’m on the right track. Appreciate so much.

  • Reply Libbie October 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Susie, this is so elegant! I love the impact it brings to the room. I cannot wait to see the entire room put together.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 12, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Hi Libbie ~~ You’re so sweet. Thanks so much. We are in the home stretch with projects and trying not to panic. LOL..

  • Reply Toni | Small Home Soul October 13, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Oh my gosh the impact the molding has on your room is amazing! You did so much work to plan it right and it shows. The room is elevated by simple trim molding. And your one boo boo would not have been noticeable if you hadn’t pointed it out. But I love that you did because people need to know challenges happen and you can overcome them without ripping everything out and throwing in the towel. I can’t wait to see the rest of the room!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 13, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Oh Toni! Thanks so much. It’s hard to put your work –and especially the boo boos– out there. I am encouraged that you get me. I was totally trying share that —to a point– perfectly imperfect works just as well as perfectly perfect. Appreciate much, Sweet Friend.

  • Reply sweetparrishplace1970 October 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I would love to read more details about how you did this because it looks amazing! Great work!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 14, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Hi Nicki and thanks so much. I’ve started writing the post. I’ll get it out as quickly as possible and will let you know. Thanks again.

  • Reply Diane Rath October 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    Picture moulding completely elevates the look of a space! I love love love that you painted it all one color- so light, bright fresh and modern!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Hi Diane and thanks so much. I totally agree about the moulding. I can’t think of a single thing that would have done more for that space than the moulding. Appreciate the visit!

  • Reply Tips for Perfect Ceiling and Wall Paint - The Chelsea Project October 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding – Fall 2017 ORC Week 2 […]

  • Reply jessicadevlin October 17, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    awesome! thanks for the tips. I definitely have snowflake walls but I going to use your suggestions to help!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Hi Jessica and thanks! Good luck with your walls. Message me if you have any questions. XO

  • Reply IrisNacole.com October 17, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    It looks amazing with the new moulding! I can’t wait to see even more of this space!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Thanks so much Iris! I’m so excited to share.

  • Reply craftedpassion October 18, 2017 at 12:50 am

    I love how that moulding adds such an elegance to the space! Beautiful!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Thanks so much! I hope it all turns out ok. 🙂

  • Reply happilyorganizedchaos October 18, 2017 at 6:58 am

    This looks amazing!!! I can’t wait to see the finished space!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Thanks so much! Appreciate your sweet comment so much!

  • Reply Colette October 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    OMG amazing!!! I love picture frame molding so much! It adds such interest, detail, and character!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks Colette!! Appreciate so much!

  • Reply Dining Room Makeover Plans - The Chelsea Project October 18, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding for Walls – Fall 2017 Week 2 […]

  • Reply cristina October 19, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Oh girl, this is a project right down my alley! Love it! In fact, installing picture frame moldings was my very first diy project around the house, I gained so much confidence on my woodworking skills out of this! I can see lots more woodworking projects coming from you! 😉

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 19, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Hi Cristina and thanks so much! You are correct in that this project increased my confidence, but I can’t imagine doing anything more. But as I make plans for the living room, I’ll use your words as the encouragement I need to think bigger and try more woodworking things.

  • Reply How to Paint Dining Room Furniture - The Chelsea Project October 24, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding – Fall 2017 ORC Week 2 […]

  • Reply How to Paint Faux Antique Brass Hardware - The Chelsea Project October 31, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding – Fall 2017 ORC Week 2 […]

  • Reply How to Easily Paint Super Slick Surfaces - The Chelsea Project November 8, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding – Week 2 […]

  • Reply Dining Room Makeover Reveal - The Chelsea Project November 14, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    […] How to Design Picture Frame Moulding – Week 2 […]

  • Reply Gigi Fitzgerald October 3, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Looks amazing…how did you determine how many boxes you were going to have on the wall? How much is too big or too small?

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 31, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      Hi GiGi, I used cheap masking tape to put up the pretend moldings so I could get a visual of kinda how it would look. Then I moved it around until it looked the way I wanted. It wasn’t hard, you just have to eyeball it based on how you want the picture frames to lay out. Hope this helps.. Good luck.

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