Picture rails, also known as chair rails, date back to the early 19th century. Originally, they were used to protect walls from pushing chairs and other furniture against them. Today, picture rails have become a timeless design element that can add character and depth to any room. Picture rails come in various styles and finishes, and can be used in homes with traditional or modern styles. This article will explore the aesthetics of picture rail and how they can be used to give a modern twist to classic design.

Installing picture rails can add a unique and elegant feel to a room. The rails themselves can be simple or decorative, with differing widths and patterns. They can be used to divide a wall into sections or to create an accent wall. Paintings, photographs, and artwork can be hung from picture rails, and the rails can be used for plates, mugs, or other decorative items. The possibilities are endless.

While picture rails are typically associated with traditional homes, they can also bring a modern twist to a room. One way to accomplish this is to use simple, sleek picture rails and hang modern artwork or photographs. Another option is to use picture rails as a modern accent on a minimalist wall. Picture rails can be painted the same color as the wall, or can be painted a contrasting color for a bold statement.

For a more eclectic look, picture rails can be mixed with other design elements. Create a gallery wall using both picture rails and traditional frames in varying sizes and finishes, or mix vintage and new artwork for a unique and dynamic display. Picture rails can also be used as a backdrop for other decor elements, such as a collection of hats or a series of plants.

Installing picture rails does not have to be a difficult task. They can be purchased and installed as pre-made systems, or you can customize your own using wood or molding. Picture rails should be installed horizontally, using level lines to ensure accuracy. It’s best to consult with a professional if you are unsure or inexperienced with installing picture rails.

One final consideration when using picture rails is lighting. Picture rails have the unique benefit of being able to cast shadows and highlight artwork, but this can also make it challenging to install lighting. Consider using LED strips or other low profile lighting options that can be attached directly to the picture rail. This will provide both visual interest and functional light for the space.


Picture rails may have originated as practical wall protectors, but they have evolved into a timeless decorative element that can be used to add interest and depth to any room. Whether a handcrafted antique or a modern system, picture rails can be a versatile accent that can suit any style. With a little creativity, picture rails can be used to showcase treasured artwork and belongings in innovative and stylish ways.            Adding picture rails to a room can be done in both traditional and modern ways, and can breathe new life into any space.

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