Good trim and woodwork tend to disappear to the untrained eye. When the decorative finish is properly balanced in proportion to the size and shape of windows and doors, as well as relative to ceiling height, the completed look tends to escape notice. Poor trim work (and in some cases, a lack of trim work), however, sticks out like, well, rather like a limb on a tree. We chatted with our friends at Central Woodwork and have trimmed down their tips for you today. We wood like to guarantee that you won’t be board reading this article, but we’ll keep today’s discussion trunk-ated, just in case. Okay, that’s it, we’re done with the puns, promise!
Cole Stant and his crew at Central Woodwork know what they are doing. Their team has a keen eye and intimate understanding of what will suit your home when it comes to trim styles in a way that their well-known national competitors (affectionately referred to by the Central Woodwork team as “Big Blue” and “Big Orange”) simply do not. Our biggest takeaway? Trim is a compelling feature in interior design, but balance is essential to aesthetic success. The following photos are computer-generated, but they give you an idea of how big a difference trim can make in a space.
This bathroom is spacious and gets plenty of outdoor light. While there are baseboards along the floor, the lack of ceiling trim makes the room feel shorter than it actually is. There is also very little visual interest in this space. The windows and mirrors are the only items that attract the eye, and they lead away from the actual room. Image: Metrie
The addition of trim and paneling makes this bathroom appear larger and lighter, as well as more sophisticated. Trim was added to the ceiling and shelving, as well as around the windows. Paneling between the mirrors and the addition of a chair rail with wainscoting (the white paneling on the lower half of the wall) breaks up the simple wall and adds depth to the room. The added rectangular elements in the paneling blend with the double mirrors and double windows, creating a much more cohesive look. Image: Metrie
In this kitchen, there is a feeling of incompletion to the design. Again, we can see baseboard is the only element of trim in the room. The eye is drawn up toward the light from the central windows, but there is no compelling design element to keep a gaze. Image: Metrie
Here again, trim generates much more visual interest and depth in the space. Dramatic ceiling paneling, as well as trim around the windows, creates a contrast between the lights and darks in the room. The added paneling and shelving units on either side of the room anchor the space, while also offering more places to stow household items. Image: Metrie
Trim does make a tremendous difference in the appearance of a home. But choosing the right trim for a space is not an easy decision. There is an element of being stuck with the style of your home in terms of selecting trim. In chatting with Cole and his team, they broke down Nashville homes into a few broad categories, citing their recommendations for trim within each space.
Exposed brick, visible pipes, concrete floors and the vintage feel of a warehouse space have all made their way into contemporary interior design. There is a level of sophistication in the openness of rooms and space in these types of homes. According to Cole et al (and we at SB most certainly agree), traditional casing and ornate crown molding are rarely a part of that look. Generally speaking, these homes will have very minimal trim.
Note the brick wall, open floor plan and abundance of iron and vintage wood in this home. These components are all cohesive in the overall aesthetic of this home, and trim along the ceiling would not work well with this design. Image: Home Designing
Another beautiful space, lit beautifully by ample windows. Modern industrial homes typically have very high ceilings. The Central Woodwork folks say that the ratio of ceiling height to window and door size makes a difference in the type of trim you choose. With such high ceilings and large windows, trim would need to be very thick to be proportional to the items it frames. Image: Contemporist
Okay, this is an exception to the before-stated generality. Here, you can see the exposed brick and rich dark floors that make it a part of the modern industrial style, but you’ll also see the thick white trim around the window. As Cole’s team mentioned before, ceiling height and window size are important to trim choice. Because the height of the ceiling and size of the window are in proportion to the trim, the whole look is balanced. Image: The Cordelle
These homes can be seen all over the country, and bungalows are especially popular in many Nashville neighborhoods. Known for their hinge roofs and tapered square columns supporting the roof in the front of the house, craftsman-style homes afford the opportunity for simpler trim. According to Cole, the more modern the home, the less trim you will see inside. Baseboards and shoe molds can be seen throughout these houses, but rarely will they have crown molding.
On the left: Here again, you can see evidence of trim around doors and windows, but fewer examples along the ceiling. Those that do grace the edges between wall and ceiling are simpler in form. Image: Decoist On the right: This craftsman interior displays the continuation of the tapered square columns as a structural and decorative support. As you can see, though the homeowners have decorative trim where the columns are, the ceiling trim is simple, and the rest of the home has baseboards with a shoe mold. Image: Arts & Crafts Homes
Ranch homes allow many different trim options. While we can all recognize the style from the exterior for its long, close-to-the-ground profile, the interior can vary drastically from homeowner to homeowner. Though these homes traditionally are more informal and have minimal interior and exterior decoration, the style itself is flexible enough to use almost any type of trim.
In this ranch home, the interior is clearly casual. There is no ceiling trim and only simple baseboards around the edge of the room. As the experts shared, ranch homes do allow for tremendous variation in interior style. Image: Stylish Eve
Neoclassical & Greek Revival
Neoclassical homes display a timeless architecture inspired by ancient Greek and Roman styles. The front porch, complete with two-story columns, and the symmetrical style exude grandeur. Interior design choices reflect that same style. There is a flexibility in what will work in such a home, and budgets and taste are obviously a deciding factor, but more ornate trim does seem to do well in this architectural style.
This door frame shows the various parts of ornate trim. The multiple layers around the frame could be used in many homes, but the additional pediment at the top is especially decorative. This works best in rooms with high ceilings, as the look can become heavy in a smaller space. Image: Zsa Zsa Bellagio
Crown molding is visible in this Neoclassical home. The decorative aspects of the molding combination all draw attention to the high ceilings. As we saw in the craftsman homes, ceiling height is key to adding trim to a room. Image: Belgian Pearls
To be fair, trim preference — as with most home design choices — varies from person to person and home to home. These examples, along with the expert advice Cole’s team offered, are meant to inspire ideas; it’s also important to be aware of what is already in your home. Trim types can be mixed and matched, but as with any design concept, there is an art to achieving an appealing aesthetic. Our SB Tip for today’s post? Don’t forget to see the forest through the trim. OK, that was really the last pun. Promise!