This $20 DIY hack adds instant character to any room, creating timeless picture frames and paneling

This clever innovation of flexible molding allows for seamless shaping of trim and paneling, opening the door to new creative and DIY possibilities

A neutrally decorated living room with three arched wall panels framing picture frames and brass picture lights
(Image credit: Samantha Farmer (@oliveandoakhome))

Picture frame molding is everywhere right now. There's no easier (or cheaper) way of giving your walls a high-end look that's timelessly classic yet chic and contemporary. If you're on a budget, DIY molding is one of the simplest ways to dip your feet into the world of home reno, and it's now easier than ever thanks to this clever little innovation. 

Yep, flexible molding has entered the building. This nifty creation cuts all the fiddly work out of your standard decorating tasks and offers new creative possibilities, too. The bendable polyurethane material looks and feels like real wood but allows you to shape trim and paneling with seamless construction, just as Samantha Farmer (@oliveandoakhome) has done with her arched take on living room picture frame molding. 

Here, we take a look at how she did it, and why flexible molding is the must-have material for professional-looking DIY. 

A headshot of a woman with blonde hair smiling at the camera
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She regularly shares stories with readers to help them keep up-to-date with ever-changing trends in home renovation, alongside tips on how to decorate on a budget. Here, she takes a look at why flexible molding is the latest DIY must-have for high-end looking walls.

Wainscoting, dado rails, and picture frame molding are all making comebacks. While modern homes take a more minimalist approach to decorative features, many of us are looking for DIY-friendly ways to mimic traditional, period details like these to add character and charm to our spaces. Faced with a bare wall in her living room, that's exactly what Samantha decided to do. 

'I decided to add the arched molding to my living room because I wanted something eye-catching, yet unique,' she says. 'My home was built in 2020 and is very builder-grade with white walls and simple fixtures. I knew traditional picture frame molding is all the rage right now, so I wanted to take that idea and put a unique spin on it to upgrade my space.' 

That's where flexible molding comes in. Think of this material as fully moldable molding - it bends like a belt making it extremely versatile for your DIY projects, but it has the look and feel of wood. 'In essence, it's just a rubberized wood-like material,' Samantha explains. 'The color and texture are similar to wood, but it's bendable enough to create the arched shape.' It can also be cut, shaped, and sanded using standard woodworking equipment, perfect for all your wall-paneling ideas.


♬ original sound - oliveandoakhome

'I started the project by taping the wall with painter's tape to try and get a visual for the size and how many arches I would want,' notes Samantha. 'After some debate, I decided on three.' Each arch is 35 inches wide and 44 inches tall, and the arched curves peak at 6 inches from the crown molding at the top of the wall. 

Flexible molding can be applied to your wall using polyurethane construction adhesive, but pneumatic nailing is also recommended. For best results, we recommend using Loctite's Premium Polyurethane Construction Adhesive, available from Amazon

Samantha used a half-round shape for her living room DIY project, but you could also use quarter-round or chair rail molding for a more decorative look. You can buy an eight-foot length from Amazon for just under $20. 

'I cut the flexible molding with a miter saw and attached it to the wall using a brad nailer and 2-inch brad nails,' she explains. 'Where two ends of the flexible molding met, I mitered the corners (cut at a 45-degree angle) to ensure the transition from one piece to another was seamless.'

A neutrally decorated living room with molding on the walls framing pictures and brass picture lights

(Image credit: Samantha Farmer (@oliveandoakhome))

Once all three arches were attached, she used wood filler to fill any nail holes and mitered edges and then sanded until smooth once dry. As a stain grade material, there is a wood grain on the surface of the molding itself which will disappear if sanded, so best to avoid the rest of the molding during this part of the process.

Finally, it was time for the finishing touches. 'I used latex caulk to caulk the seams where the trim met the wall, and finished the job off by painting the arches the same color as the wall, which is Sherwin Williams "Pure White",' says Samatha. 'I then added large 24 x 30-inch picture frames and picture lights, both from amazon.' She filled the frames with artwork she found on Etsy and had printed them at a local print shop.

'I love how the arches add a focal point to my living room where there was none before,' says Samantha. 'They're bold yet simple which is exactly what I was looking to create to bring the unique factor to this space.'

We're in full agreement. It's the perfect weekend project for anyone looking to add new life to their living room on a budget and we can't wait to try it ourselves. To take it one step further, you could even try an IKEA wall-paneling hack using painted picture frames below your arches for a modern take on beautiful boiserie. Et voila!

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Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.