Improve the makeup of any room with beautiful, eye-catching details. Learn how to identify, plan, and use trim and molding in your home with this style guide.
Elevate your home's beauty and character with decorative, functional flourishes. See how to plan and use trim and molding—whether it's wainscoting or crown molding—in your home.
Originally functional as well as decorative, wainscoting covers only part of a wall. High wainscoting covers two-thirds and low wainscoting goes about halfway up the wall or lower, often to chair rail height.
Typically integrated with baseboard trim, wainscoting can have multiple profiles depending on the style of the house—beaded for a traditional Colonial or flat stock with little flourish for a farmhouse, for example. Here, classically styled wainscoting flanking a doorway blends seamlessly with both baseboard and door trim.
A soaring space comes down to earth with trimwork known as box beams. Intricate combinations of wood pieces, box beams can stretch across a ceiling in a parallel manner or create a pattern overhead, such as a series of squares.
While some box beams are stained, many are painted, either to match the rest of the ceiling or add contrast. Avoid using a hardwood for box beams that are going to be painted; instead, choose a paint-grade wood, such as pine or poplar. In this kitchen, a single box beam provides a visual transition between the work zone and eating zone.
Baseboards are perhaps the most common trimwork. They cover gaps and give crisp, clean lines to uneven transitions between walls and floors. But beyond function, baseboards—whether created from a combination of wood pieces or a simple base piece—add warmth and beauty to rooms. Wood, which can be buffed out to eliminate the occasional ding or dent, is a more practical choice for baseboards than medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
The profile of a base trim should, to some degree, reflect the style of a house: simple and stripped down for a farmhouse and more elaborate for a Georgian Revival home, for example. The finish of baseboards can be painted or stained. The dark hue here grounds the wallpaper.
Used as decorative caps, crown moldings typically slant from ceiling to wall and can be painted or stained. The composition of crown molding can also be inspiration for other details, such as a fireplace mantel. Sleekly styled rooms will generally have a crown molding with few pieces, while molding in traditional spaces might be more ornate.
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