The doorway from the entry to the living room used to be pretty boring: just drywall meeting drywall. I wanted to create something a little more significant and interesting so I created a decorative column on each side. Topped it with a pediment. It make such a big difference and adds interest and character to that wall. Now I’m going to show you how to build decorative columns.
How to build decorative columns
1. Build the base with 2×4 and 2×6
Secure a 2×4 on one side of your corner wall. Overlap that with a 2×6 on the adjoining wall. This will give you a 1/2″ discrepancy in width.
2. Cover the base with 1/2″ MDF
Cover the 2x framing with 1/2″ mdf on 3 sides. Leave the end of the 2×6 uncovered evening out the width of both sides of your column to 6″.
3. Create boxes with 1×2
I used prime pine but you can use any 1×2 material. Create boxes over the MDF. You can either miter the outside corners or trim one side by 3/4″. Use glue and nails to secure.
Place your horizontal pieces where ever you like. You might want one long box. You might want to break your column up into two sections…I created three sections in my columns.
If you are creating columns around a doorway like I did, you may or may not want to add a header. I built my header by installing a 2×6 and then covered that with MDF. I didn’t cover the header with 1x material like I did the columns. I wanted my columns to protrude passed my header because it looks really cool when you get to the part where you add the crown moulding!
Decide how tall you want to build your base. I wanted a huge, chunky base about 14″ tall. I placed my lower horizontal 1×2 piece at 14″ and started layering moulding pieces over it.
- Use scraps to block out the lower portion of the column with each additional moulding you add.
- Miter all your corners
- Get a helper if you need a second pair of hands. 🙂
- There is no rhyme or reason to my layering. I just grabbed a bunch of moulding and baseboards and placed them where they looked good to me.
- The bottom layer is 1/2″ mdf topped with a small cove moulding.
- Using painters tape is a great way to snug up mitered corners while glue dries!
6. Applied trim
I added a small decorative moulding to the inside of the “boxes” on my columns to give them more detail. You can skip this step if you want a simple design or don’t want to hassle with it. (It is a LOT of cuts.)
*Tip – Use a piece of scrap wood as backing when cutting small moulding to prevent tearout and give you cleaner cuts.
7. Fill and sand
Fill all your nail holes, cracks and seams with your favorite wood filler and sand, sand, sand everything smooth!
8. Add crown moulding and bottom trim to header
9. Caulk Prime and paint.
Or do those two in reverse order if you don’t have all the materials you need but you want to keep making progress so you just do what you can when you can! Use my Crown Moulding Templates to make that step easy as pie!
Now step back and enjoy your hard work!
(Obviously I’ve done more than just build decorative columns. If you’re new here, check out the progression of this living room space.)
bryan patterson says
wow what a major difference you do awesome work!!!!
Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos says
its so pretty!
ok so your work is awesome as always and always easy to follow. but I do have a question: how long did it take you to complete this project as I see at least 4 working outfits in the pics?
do you buy your supplies from a box store or do you get them at a discount from a wood supplier? as I see all the detailing in your home designs, they look very expensive, especially in the materials that you use.
Nellie I have no idea how long it took. I always have lots of project going on at once so I’m never twiddling my thumbs while glue sets or paint dries. I worked on it for about a week, off and on. I purchase most of my lumber at either my local lumber yard or the closest big box store.
Julie @ follow your heart woodworking says
It looks beautiful, Sandra!
Jake's a Girl says
It is beautiful. I’d love to see the face of the builders if they ever got the chance to see what this house could have been when they built it. 😀 I think they would have to pick their jaw up off the floor.
You have did an awesome job in making this house your home!
This transformation is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing!
Heather C says
Really, really like this idea, had noticed the finish before and I’m glad you showed how to make it. Have already beefed up windows from your earlier tutorial, I’m just a happy, happy girl.
Frank T says
How ’bout joining us on the Festoolownersgroup.com forum. Your latest blog was mentioned in the forum because of the Kapex and CT sighted in the piece. We’d all like to interact with you regarding your use of Festool tools!
what type of wood filler do you use/recommend?
Absolutely gorgeous! I’m a little late to the party, but I was wondering, with building up the columns with 2x lumber, doesn’t it stick out of the wall about 3 inches. I’m getting ready to start mine soon, so I was a bit curious. Love your projects!
Gloria Tucker says
You are amazing!! Wish I could do these things.
Brittany Pearson says
Shannon Pease says
Why am I just seeing this now! I love your work! You are an inspiration to me. Please keep plugging along!
Sandra, can you tell me how you are getting the outside corner of the column to be square using the 1 x’s? Are you having to miter the entire length of one side of the 1 x with a table saw?
Jay Hall says
Hello Sandra, what is the trim you used for the inside of your column boxes? I’ve been wanting to do this project for years and finally got around to it. My wife looked out countless photos of designs and ultimately selected yours. I’m almost ready to begin and have decided on all the other materials but I’m having a hard time with the trim inside the boxes. I’ve not liked the look of the picture frame/shadow box trims I’ve found so far. Best wishes and keep up the great work!
Thanks Jay. I used a traditional picture frame moulding. At the big box stores, check the area with the 8′ unfinished trim selections.
You’ve inspired me . I’m getting ready to start a long rebuild and remodel project of our home in Idaho, but for now we’re still in New Mexico working healthcare and trying to avoiding COVID . I want to see more of your work – you have a real talent I needed to see. Planning everything on paper for now . You really inspired and impressed me !
Norman Scherer says
I have the same question as Vaughn who wrote:
“Sandra, can you tell me how you are getting the outside corner of the column to be square using the 1 x’s? Are you having to miter the entire length of one side of the 1 x with a table saw?”
I am confused about that too. I don’t understand how you are using the 1 x 2s to get a square outside corner on the entire length by “mitering”. Please explain how you miter the entire length of the 1 x 2s for a seamless outside corner?
I did miter the outside corners by running them on my table saw. You can do that, or trim 3/4″ off one side of each box and use simply butt joints.
Rita Gillikin says
What kind of flooring did you use in this post?
That flooring is narrow, 3/4″ red oak, prefinished…generic big box store stuff.
This looks amazing! What did you use to secure the 2×6 and the other pieces? Was it all brad nails or were there wood screws involved?
3″ screws for the overhead 2×6 then nails for the rest.
Well done. As a guy who makes his living doing both framing and finish work, I applaud you. Beautiful. And smart use of materials to keep the price in check.
I often will go through a property that is being flipped or gutted, and know immediately that the work that I’m looking at is a homeowner’s do-it-yourself special. It takes experience, judgement, and finesse to get it right.
I wouldn’t know from looking at your work that it wasn’t that of a full time pro. In fact, the only giveaway as I think about it, might be it’s so good. That takes time and unless it is a million dollar home, it is probably going to be done with less effort and detail to save time.
Nicely done. Just lovely.