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Obsessed With: Em.el Decorative Architraves

Posted Sunday, May 17, 2015 in: Obsessed With DIY Guest Nerd

Every so often I come across a building or interior design product that is so clever I wonder why no-one has thought of it before. That was the case when I first came across em.el Decorative Architrave, a nifty product created by a very nice Perth-based husband and wife team, Mark and Lorna Spear. 

Do you know those standard metal bull-nosed door frames that seem to be in every second Australian house? They’re widespread and practical – but not all that pretty. We have them in our 1970s house. We once thought about knocking one out when we tossed up changing our ensuite door to a cavity slider to save space, but these metal door frames are SUPREMELY solid – knocking them out is not easy. In fact, I actually remember sitting in a uni lecture once and it being said if there is an earthquake or a tornado and you have those metal doorframes in your home, one of the safest places to hide out is under them. (I am not sure why I learned this in a Bachelor of Arts journalism degree).

An em.el decorative architrave on this standard bullnose doorframe takes it from plain to stunning. All photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography

Anyway – so while these door frames have their place in natural disasters, they are not very, well, attractive. So Mark and Lorna created a series of beautiful decorative architraves that you slip over the top of these metal bull-nose door frames and fix with an acrylic sealant – turning your average-looking door into a gorgeous one, like the above. “We realised that it was not possible to just replace the frames as it would cause a huge amount of damage to the door opening and the surrounding wall, so we came up with a design that could cover the metal frame and provide a beautiful frame with a stunning decorative architrave,” says Lorna. “All rooms look finished and complete with a beautiful frame!”

English-born husband-and-wife couple Lorna and Mark Spear saw a niche in the WA market and created their product to suit. Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Mark and Lorna came to Australia from the UK with their three kids almost four years ago . Mark is a general builder with 27 years of experience in the industry (I am always getting asked if I know a good builder, so you can contact him for building services through his business Bears Building Services) and has worked on a huge number of residential spaces. I ask them if coming from the UK means they have a fresh eye for the way they look at Australian interiors. Lorna says one of the first things they noticed was that there was a niche for an easy way to add more intricate interior detailing to a plain room.

“We both love the open-plan houses in Australia and the way the sunlight fills every space,” says Lorna. “Our favourite room - which you rarely see in the UK - is the large open-plan family area where you can cook, eat, chat and entertain. But because of our English upbringing we are partial to the visual finish of a room and for us that means the coving and cornices, skirtings and architraves throughout our home.”

An example in my own 1970s home of a plain bullnose door frame. Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Wanting to add detailing to their Perth coastal home, which was new and contemporary yet quite plain-lined, and seeing a niche in the Australian market for a DIY product that would do the trick, Mark and Lorna designed their product, got an Innovation Patent and Trademark and em.el Decorative Architraves began.

Mark says the aim of the architraves is to complete the look of a room. “You can have a stunning interior scheme but the bull-nosed door frames will always let down that finished look,” he said. “It’s like putting a picture frame around your door. A beautifully designed frame complements a picture in the way our architraves complement your doors and rooms.”

Mark and Lorna have five pre-designed moulds ranging from classic to modern. “But if none of these are what you are looking for we can sit down with you and help you to design your own,” says Mark. Prices start from $110 a side, and they can be done by the competent DIY-er or Mark and Lorna can offer a full installation service.

What I like personally about this product is that it adds character to an interior space - something I think a lot of newer (as well as 70s and 80s) Australian homes lack. While Mr Nerd and I have a 1970s house, our personal taste tends more towards the rustic and classic and detailed. So all of our improvements to this house have been along those lines; about enhancing and complementing the character in our home. Honestly if we weren’t just about to have a baby in two weeks and were still in the midst of a messy kitchen reno, these architraves are something I would be putting up in The Crap Shack this weekend! (But Mr Nerd has gently said I need to calm down on the nesting activities for a little while).

If you are interested in using em.el Decorative Architraves to add style to your home, the best way is to contact Mark or Lorna Spear is on 0416 480 784, or visit their website to use the contact form. You can follow them on Facebook here or on Instagram @em.elarchitrave.

To contact Mark through Bears Building Services, visit or call 0452 267 279. 

Have you come across a nifty building or interiors product lately? Please tell me about it in the comments. Maya x

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