Picture rails are almost one of the misunderstood mouldings that are available in UK homes.
They were under serious threat in the 1970’s as thousand were destroyed or removed from numerous homes, decreasing their population considerably. But I feel this is where the comparison should end as they form not only an important part of our history but it would appear even some role in our future home design.
So where does the idea come from?
Part of the lower frieze originating in the 15th century, picture rails peaked in popularity in the late 19th century, when it was fashionable to have rooms full of hanging pictures or other memorabilia which when overloaded often obscured the picture rail.
Unfortunately a little like the replacement of Concorde I am not sure that the replacement is in the same league. The introduction and use of the picture hook although giving more freedom to the position of art is a feeble comparison to the picture rail. Yet thousands of householders buy their IKEA kits in the hope that these will support the family heirloom.
I cannot say that they do not do their job but certainly I feel the gravitas of the family heirloom loses something by not being hung from the picture rail. But again it comes down to personal choice.
But now a new lease of life has been given to the picture rail from a most unlikely source. Martha Stewart that stalwart of American society recently ran an article on her website that came up with a unique way to use picture rails in your home for a modern purpose. No longer is the families’ art been shown on the picture rails in the best house in Hollywood now it is your Jimmy Choo’s (designer shoes for those of us who are not in the know). As the picture below illustrates her unique approach to organisation could yet breathe life into the old dinosaur.
It is true that picture rails have declined and a few dedicated followers have chosen to replace them including those dedicated followers of fashion in the USA.
But perhaps on a more serious note we are seeing a change at Period Mouldings as our designer and architect clients are calling for more choice in terms of the possible range. So much so that later this year we will launch a new range to meet this growing demand.
Yet I do think it is fair to say that although they may be perceived as dinosaurs by some people they certainly will not become extinct. In fact maybe they will be the next feature to fashion a change in home style throughout the UK. But like most of these things only time will tell.