Such ostentation fell out of favor a couple of decades later, when builders in the Craftsman style hung simple molding as a display of the wood's inherent beauty. Still, without the frills, it was no less important. Craftsman-pioneer Gustav Stickley wrote that molding should "have each room so interesting in itself that it seems complete before a single piece of furniture is put into it." But after World War II, during the American housing boom, such decoration was scaled back or eliminated altogether with the minimalism of the Modern style. Molding was elective rather than essential.

With the passion for renovation of the past 30 years came a molding resurgence. From boxy to baroque, the options are endless, and homeowners clamor to add or restore decoration, bringing sophistication-and a higher resale value-to their homes. Hardware stores and home centers stock popular styles, and mills keep the different knives that cut historic profiles ready for the milling machines. Many will even grind new knives from a sketch or sample, the way American Cedar and Millwork in Millersville, Maryland, does. Their shop offers the profiles shown on these pages as well as thousands more. From their collection, or that of any custom mill, a homeowner looking to dress up a house can choose a set of pieces that give proportion and beauty to an otherwise naked set of walls.
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