The Cross House

Painting Picture Rail

In 1894, almost every room in the Cross House had picture rail.

Curiously, all this trim was later removed but ghost outlines thankfully remain.

Without the rail, the rooms look, to me, unbalanced. The tall walls just visually morph into the ceilings. The tall windows and their trim are visually unconnected to each other.

Recently, a box of new picture rail arrived so I could re-install picture rail in the parlor and library.

Almost all the trim in the house retains its original faux wood finish, and each room has a unique finish. So, the new picture rails needs to be painted to look like the 123-year-old faux finish.

The thought of how daunting this would be has been terrifying.

I took a piece of parlor base molding to Sherwin-Williams so they could hopefully computer match the finish but the base would not fit into the scanner. So, I scoured their paint chips and selected two, one a bit darker than the other, which looked pretty good. The idea was to paint on the lighter color, and then drag the darker color on top with a cloth. This would create an obviously hand-done finish, something evident on the original trim.

Today I finished one piece of picture rail. Wanna see the results?


Looks pretty good, I think! That is Justin holding the rail up.


In a million years I never thought I would get a match on my first try. I imagined more like a dozen attempts, and all frustrating.

I will not install any trim until after the walls are painted, which I plan to begin very soon!



The wall stencil for the parlor arrived a few weeks ago.

I had the same stencil custom-sized for the frieze, which arrived yesterday.

The ceiling stencils are on order!




5 Responses to Painting Picture Rail

  1. Wow, that is an incredible match! I’ve yet to deal with faux-training, but I am intrigued to try it someday if we ever own and appropriate house.

    I am well-versed in the trials of marching stained wood, especially softwood. I often reach a “good enough” point after a number of trial batches, regardless of how perfect it matches.

  2. BTW, the shade of faux grain in that room is very similar to the small amount of “fancy” millwork in my parents 1895 Folk Victorian farmhouse. It must have been a popular shade at the time. It also appeared to have been grained in place after installation.

  3. Good to see you post after all the storms in the area I was kinda worried about you and the Cross House. I can’t wait to see the stencil on the walls, the curtains look fantastic in the previous posts.

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