Most tradespeople will have a good understanding of what architrave is, but despite it being a key feature of most British homes many people are in the dark when it comes to this particular piece of home decoration.
In this guide, we will be answering the question ‘what is architrave?’, examining where the term comes from and looking at how best architrave can be used in your home design.
What Is Architrave?
Architrave is most often seen as a moulding between the doorway and wall and as such is commonly incorrectly referred to as a doorway surround, door casing or door frame. Architrave can be made from a variety of materials with various types of wood usually being used.
Found in most homes, architrave dates back to classical Greek architecture from the word ɑːkɪtreɪv meaning a ‘main beam resting across columns’ and can also be linked to the Greek word epistyle - which roughly translates as a door frame.
In its modern interpretation, architrave is seen as moulding that is used to frame rectangular openings in homes, these are most often used around doorways but can also be used around other kinds of rectangular openings found in the home such as windows.
Although the term architrave dates back over many centuries, it was the Tudor’s who utilised architrave in the way that we more commonly see it today – using wooden architrave around doorways and windows.
Since the Tudor era we have seen various styles of architrave and today you can buy architrave in almost any style you want and in a variety of materials and finishes too.
Why Use Architrave?
You may be thinking why is it necessary to use architrave? The simple answer is that is not a necessity but there are many reasons that you should consider using it as part of your interior design.
The main reason is for style and decoration. Architrave can be used to add style to a room and can be seen as more than just a finishing touch. It can really add to the character of a room and help set it in the style that you are looking for – from various traditional time periods such as Edwardian, Victorian or Elizabethan to more contemporary styles.
In addition to the decorative appeal of architrave there are also numerous practical advantages too.
The joins between the door frame and the wall can often be quite unsightly with small gaps that can increase in size as shrinkage occurs. Architrave can essentially be used to mask these types of gaps and can also perform the same job where the wall meets the ceiling around a doorway.
Any exterior corners are also likely to suffer knocks, bumps, kicks and scrapes and solid architrave is much better at withstanding these than bare plaster that can easily become chipped and scuffed.
What Is Architrave Made From?
Architrave is made from a variety of different materials but MDF, softwood and hardwood are most commonly used.
At Metres Direct we supply architrave in high quality MDF and solid oak and have over 55 styles of each.
Which Style Of Architrave Should I Choose?
The style of architrave you opt for will depend on the style of home you have or want to create.
Modern homes tend to use more square or rounded styles of skirting and architrave such as Bullnose or Chamfer styles. These modern styles can include steps to provide depth and style but these stepped styles will usually be squarer in nature.
More traditional architrave will tend to have more curves and cuts with Ogee and Ovolo being popular profiles. Again, at Metres Direct we stock over 50 different styles and there should be something for every taste.
How Best To Use Architrave In Your Home
As already highlighted, architrave is commonly used around doors, however there are a number of other uses for it.
We have already mentioned that architrave can be used around any rectangular openings or spaces in your home so anywhere these exist it can be used to frame and visually improve that space. It was once more common to find architrave around windows than it is today, however there is a growing trend around the use of architrave around windows in period properties once again.
Adding architrave to modern windows is also something we are seeing more of in interior design and it can be used to really good effect when trying to create a statement window or create an area of focus. If you have a room that has a particularly spectacular view then you may want to draw more attention to it by framing it with architrave. One design point that we have seen work really well with architrave is shutters on windows instead of curtains – although blinds work really well with this design tip too.
Loft hatches are another space where we will usually see some form of architrave and this type of hatch space should not be ignored. If you are updating the architrave around doorways in a landing or hallway space then you should also consider using the same style around your loft hatch.
Similarly to a loft hatch, built in cupboards or storage spaces built in to the eaves of a roof may benefit from being framed with architrave.
If you are looking for architrave for your home then take a look at our complete architrave collection here.