Trim, it’s all in the details
Photography, Gillian Jackson
If renovating or building, the massive task of the actual ‘build’ can feel (somewhat) complete when you’re able to live in the dwelling. We want to settle in as soon as possible, and we tell ourselves that we’ll get to the trim work later – and often later never comes. However, it’s one of the most important design elements, so that your house looks like a finished home.
Trim work enhances the proportions of a room, provides visual appeal, and complements the home’s style and character – Jane Lockhart
Trim is necessary when there’s a transition from one material to another – where doorjambs meet walls, walls meet floors and ceilings meet walls. Trim can also hide slight imperfections, shims and blemished joints. Frames around doors and windows, as well as baseboards, crown moulding, ceiling medallions, and the like, do much more than unify a room. They also enhance its proportions, provide visual appeal, and complement the home’s style and character.
Architectural details were decorative features, even before the Renaissance. Classical rules of design and proportion were used by the Greeks and Romans with columns and cornices. It was a sign of wealth to finish a room to perfection. By the 18th century, Italian stuccadores (those who work with stucco) specialized in creating heraldic, or nature-inspired, plaster ceiling details – on site and by hand. Today, plaster finishes are replicated in a controlled environment for ease of installation.
Elegant details that are built into a property add beauty and value. A series of sunken panels is referred to as a coffer, and they add layers of interest. Any type of architectural dimension, can be as grand, and as artistic, as you want it to be.
During the building or renovating process, work with your designer to come up with intricate ceiling patterns to complement your lighting plans. You may want to draw attention to a statement chandelier, or balance the overall space.
Start at the bottom
Baseboards cover the space where the floor meets the wall. The height, and profiles, have changed dramatically over time, and styles also vary by culture. Houses built in the early part of the last century had higher, more ornate, baseboards. During the early part of the 20th century, trim became more simplified and geometric, and by the 1930s, builders were installing thin casings and baseboards, without patterns.
There are so many options and profiles available. The current trend height for a baseboard is seven inches, with many opting for higher. It’s a return to elegance and craftsmanship, and homeowners are demanding that more attention be paid to these details.
From the top
Crown moulding is making a comeback. It not only adds a heightened feel to a room, but it also provides a visual break by separating the flat surface of the ceiling from the vertical wall. Again, we’re seeing a trend to beefier profiles. As a rule of thumb, five- to six-inch moulding works well with eight-foot ceilings. Increase the size of the crown moulding, for higher ceilings.
Mouldex Mouldings, a Canadian manufacturing company, fabricates synthetic versions of architectural moulding from eight-foot blocks of expanded polystyrene. Hot wire slices through the foam, as per programmed machinery. Precise measurements, and intricate designs, can be reproduced in the creation of arches, columns and delicate ceiling details.
Once the piece is extruded from the block of foam, it’s coated in fibreglass mesh in order to prevent cracking, and then finished with two layers of concrete. Visually, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a plaster original, but it’s much more practical and light-weight – making it easier to work with.
Decorative mouldings and trim work, not only add an elegant finish to every room, but they also add significant value.
Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality.