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Pilasters, Columns, and Capitals Add a Classic Look!

Pilasters and capitals on kitchen island and cabinets give a luxurious look.

  • Historical architectural elements – including columns pilasters, and columns – add a classic look to any home.
  • Pilasters look like columns but are ornamental and not meant to support weight.
  • The Greeks and Romans perfected the classic column styles we see today on the U.S. Capital, Lincoln Memorial, and other buildings.

Pilasters and capitals add a luxurious look to this bookcase.

Want to give your home a classic Greek or Roman vibe. Maybe a Middle Eastern or Asian look is your style. Try adding decorative columns, pilasters and capitals.

Pilasters are flat, rectangular architectural pieces that protrude slightly from a wall. Common projection is 1/3 or 1/2 the width of the pilaster. The column-like pieces are decorative and are not load-bearing.

The word pilaster comes from the Latin word pila meaning pillar. Dating back to ancient Roman architecture, the use of pilasters today is considered Classic Revival or neoclassical style.

Like a column. Pilasters have a base, shaft, and most often a top capital or decorative corbel. Pilasters are used around interior or exterior doors, windows, around fireplaces, and as decorative elements for other applications. It is not uncommon to see a pilaster used with a column.

The architectural Capital (from the Latin caput, head) is a decorative piece used to top a column or pilaster.

A classic example of fluted columns at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece .

Columns are structural elements that date back thousands of years. Carved, stone columns were used in Egypt in early 2600 BC.

The Persians also erected massive columns on structures and are considered some of the most beautiful columns ever constructed.

The Greeks and Romans are credited with perfecting the design of columns. Greco-Roman columns are seen on many ancient buildings including the Pantheon, Colosseum, and many temples and palaces.

Classic orders of columns include Doric, Corinthian, Ionic, Tuscan, and Composite. Other styles include Egyptian, Caryatid, and Solomonic.

Doric, Ionic and Corinthian are part of the Roman Order of columns

The Doric column has fluted sides and smooth top with no capital and no separate base. It is slightly flared with a wider bottom.

Ionic columns are distinguished by their scroll-like ornamentation at the capital that resembles a ram’s horn. The column has a round base.

Pilasters add a decorative accent around a beautiful fireplace in a stylish den.

The Corinthian column is  the most ornate column of the classic Roman columns and features acanthus and laurel leaves in an inverted bell shape.

Other popular columns styles

Tuscan columns resemble Doric columns with a smooth shaft. They ae popular on old Antebellum mansions and a favorite on new homes today.

Composite columns combine Ionic and Corinthian features.

Where to buy columns, capitals, and capitals

Van Dyke’s Restorers offers hand-carved wood columns, capitals, and pilasters in a variety of woods including Alder, Aspen, Cherry, Oak, Rubberwood, and Maple.




About Larry Padgett

Larry is an award-winning journalist and photo journalist with over 35 years of experience. He has written for a number of industries including healthcare, die casting, construction, home restoration, sports, education, and religion. He is a copywriter and blogger for Van Dyke's Restorers.

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