Weekly home rail, with items on different architectural details, how to spruce up a picture frame, the importance of functionality in home design, and more.

How To: Enhance a home's character

Walk into any older home and you'll always find a lot of hardwood details: wainscoting, crown moulding, fireplace surrounds, spindled staircases or chair rails.

Homeowners can enhance the character of a home by installing or upgrading its trim. Consider some of these cost-effective ways to add hardwood details to your home.

Wainscoting

Wainscoting is a type of paneling most often used to decorate the lower 3 feet of a wall. It comes in different styles, from simple flat panels to a raised design or beadboard. It is installed with nails, screws, glue or a combination of these and is usually topped with crown moulding or a chair rail.

In living and dining rooms, dens and libraries, it adds a formal look, especially when finished in a dark stain or paint. A white finished wainscoting in a living room suggests more of the country cottage look.

Chair rail

A chair rail is functional as well as decorative. It helps protect areas where chair backs might damage the wall. Various chair rail styles are available. They can be a single piece of wood, called a moulding profile, or two or more different mouldings can be combined to create a built-up profile.

Crown moulding

Any moulding or group of mouldings installed between the wall and a ceiling is called a cornice. It provides a decorative transition between the wall and ceiling, and can improve the appearance of almost any room.

Crown moulding is a thin length of wood installed diagonally to the corner of the wall and ceiling. Like chair rails, crown mouldings can be a single piece of wood, or can be built up of a number of different profiles. Some cornices include details such as dentil blocks and other intricate features.

-- ARA

Decorating Tip: Create a paint-chipped frame

Add color to any framed photograph by embellishing a picture frame.

Grab paint swatches in coordinating colors from your local hardware store. Cut off any text or white borders from the samples, leaving only the colored parts.

Use a picture frame that comes with a photo mat, and arrange the paint samples to fit on the mat. Adhere the swatches to the mat using craft glue.

Choose your photo, place it behind the mat, and insert into the frame.

-- Better Homes and Gardens, www.bhg.com

Home-Selling Tip: Emphasize home’s best features

When showing your home, keep blinds partially closed on windows that might show undesirable outdoor scenery such as an old fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.

-- Century 21

Home Improvements: Functionality a top priority

According to a new poll, 56 percent of homeowners cite functionality as their largest concern when it comes to their home.

Functionality of the home generally starts with good design. When planning a remodel, here are a couple details you may want to think about:

- Where you want electrical outlets, telephone jacks and cable hookups.

- What type of lighting is required.

- Blending the design of new living space into existing living space.

- Your current and future storage needs.

- Universal features to accommodate the needs of a broader range of people throughout their lifetimes.

-- National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Did You Know …

Granite is the biggest seller for kitchen countertops, accounting for 56 percent of sales in the past year, according to NPD Group.

Garden Guide: Pick the perfect shade tree

The success of any shade tree planting process begins by choosing the proper shade tree for the conditions in each individual site.

- Consider the following growing conditions: soil drainage, soil type, available sunlight, space available, existing plants and trees, and above- and below-ground utilities.

- Choose a shade tree that will perform well in the local climate and one that meets zone requirements.

- Select a shade tree that fits into the space available. You don’t want the tree to affect sidewalks, driveways, foundations or septic systems.

- Remember that shade trees are typically the largest elements in the landscape. They may complement large homes but overwhelm smaller houses.

-- Nature Hill Nursery, www.naturehills.com

Backyard Buddies: Take a bird photo quiz

Are getting more adept at identifying wild birds in your yard?

If you’re interested in testing your knowledge of birds, visit the American Birding Association’s website at www.aba.org/photoquiz to participate in a quiz.

Check out the photo of a wild bird, read the contest rules, then fill in a form if you think you can identify the pictured bird. You could win a prize.

GateHouse News Service