ANDY LEON HARNEY contributes regularly to The Magazine on design.
THE VICTORIANS raised the art of ornament to new heights -- decorative ceilings. The ceiling moldings and cornice trim that became so popular in commercial residences and kitchens was also used in a more restrained manner in public rooms -- front parlors, dining areas and other entertaining spaces. But the Victorians were a practical as well as a decorative bunch. Brass and tin cornice trim was also used on windows to obscure the rod beneath and add a gilding to the already elaborate decor.
The windows seen here, restored by Capitol Hill designer C. Dudley Brown, are decorated with the house's original brass cornice trim, which was made by the Gould-Mersereau Company in New York and restored by the designer. In the course of making this living room perfectly Victorian, Brown discovered that such elaborate and fanciful window toppings are still available, most made in the same press molds originated in the Victorian period.
Today, Gould-Mersereau manufactures cornices in ormolu gold, antique gold, brass and antique brass finishes, all in four-foot lengths. For those who want a more tailored look, Cullar/La Cuesta, a San Francisco firm, carries contemporary brass moldings, available through designers and architects at prices ranging from $14 to $75 a linear foot.