tips and tricks4 min read

6 modern dado and picture rail ideas

WordsMegan Lambert


 If you're looking for a way to make your period property stand out or if you want to add detailing to an otherwise boxy room: look no further. The ongoing popularity of dado and picture rails proves that decorating's latest trend is here to stay. That's why we're sharing with you six modern dado and picture rail ideas so that you can bring these 18th-century fittings firmly into today.

First thing's first, for those of you wondering if a dado rail has something to do with an extinct bird or since when pictures came on rails, and what on earth is the difference between the two? Let us explain.

The dado rail

A rail that runs roughly along the middle of a room, above the 'dado' – a panel made from wood – often painted a different colour to the rest of the room. Although today their use is aesthetic, they were designed to protect walls and wallpaper from damage caused by furniture being propped against it.

The picture rail

A rail that runs close to the top of the room, around the height of the door frame or just below the ceiling. Similarly to the dado rail, picture rails were designed to prevent damage to your walls when hanging artwork. Unlike the dado rail, they are sometimes still used for practical purposes and make for a very elegant way to hang a picture. They're also a gorgeous feature in any room and a great way to break up colours.

Coving v cornicing 

Oh, and in an attempt to avoid any/create more confusion, during your interiors inspo search, you may have come across the terms coving and cornicing. So what exactly is cornicing, and how does it differ from coving? In short, cornicing is the generic term applied to describe moulding designed to conceal the join between the wall and the ceiling. They're often highly ornate and decorative. The term coving may be used to describe a plain, non-decorative version, more common today.