Decorative medallions recall homes from earlier eras, which often featured plaster ceilings.

How to Use Decorative Medallions

by Anya Deason

Decorative medallions are charming motifs typically paired with a chandelier. When used as a decorative accent, they bring a hint of formality to less formal rooms and connect with ornate detailing in the more formal areas. Making unexpected additions to kids' rooms, decorative medallions provide complex, colorful shapes to bolster your child's interest in geometrical design. Decorative medallions often feature color or antiquing glazes that enhance their intricate relief-work.

1. Princely Border

In a small nursery, a decorative medallion border -- or frieze -- incorporates alternating pastel or brightly colored decorative medallions that may help your child develop a love of architecture, while also providing a tool for learning colors. Centered between crown moulding and a line of picture moulding, alternating decorative medallions extend around mint-green walls. Medallions in green-blue and yellow provide a soothing combination of color wheel neighbors; and mint-green carpet blends with walls, while contrasting with a simple, white crib. A white dresser features drawer fronts that display small, centered medallions that restate the colors of the border's medallions.

2. Crowning Medallion

A formal dining room provides a natural setting for decorative medallions, and if your furniture has curvilinear shapes, such as chairs with curving cabriole legs, decorative medallions with ornate, scrolled detailing coordinate. Walls in honey-gold provide a warm-toned backdrop, offsetting a whitish, French table. A dark, orange-brown glaze on a grouping of medallions provides an antique look, but since the whiteness of plaster or polyurethane medallions shines through the transparent dark glaze, the medallions approximate the color of the French sideboard above which they are clustered. Crown moulding is also glazed, and the ceiling is capped by a gold chandelier that extends from a glazed medallion.

3. Octagonal Medallions

Color-glazed medallions add a bit of clustered formality to a less formal area, like a den, which has simpler, kid-friendly furniture and accessories. Georgian-style medallions feature simple beading and geometrical or acanthus leaf motifs that intermingle easily with modern, linear styles. Robin's egg blue walls contrast with a simple entertainment center in dark espresso, and a squared grouping of octagonal, robin's egg blue medallions extends the height of the entertainment center. The medallion's details are highlighted by a dark brown glaze that gathers in the crevices of relief-work, distinguishing the medallions from the wall's color.

4. Arc de Triomphe

Bedrooms provide another opportunity to use decorative medallions; the medallions' shape provides a solution to decorating above a curving headboard. In a bedroom with taupe walls, which contrast with whitewashed red oak flooring, a grouping of white decorative medallions echoes the curve of a simple, white headboard. The medallions' simple, beaded acanthus leaf motif corresponds with a taupe, oval-back, French accent chair, which features squared medallions at the top of its light-finished legs. Dangling from a taupe ceiling medallion, a crystal chandelier provides a finishing touch.

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