Trimming the Home: Selecting the Right Trim Package

Trimming the Home: How Selecting the Right Trim Package for Your Home Enhances Value

Posted by Bridget McMullin on December 30, 2015

My cousin just bought a new home last week.  It’s a typical 1980’s construction with dry wall and clamshell moulding on the windows, doors, and base.  It has flat non-descript ceilings, a dated chair rail, and a tiny crown detail in the “formal” dining room.  The house is wonderful- the rooms are spacious and the layout in conducive for a wonderful renovation when the time is right.  But the overall home is so vanilla that you wonder why the former home owner never bothered to update these small details before selling the home.  By my real estate estimate, the home could have been valued much higher with the addition of updated trim work throughout.  Lucky for my cousin that the former home owner had no vision!

Many of our clients overlook the trim details in their homes until we bring up the issue.  When we show our clients pictures of the trim work we propose for their project, they usually say that they were “expecting” that the contractor would just add this stuff in.  What most homeowners don’t realize is the “standard” or the “builders grade” is usually the cheapest trim in a supply store.  Sure, most builders may have gotten away from using clam shell trim, but they have only upgraded to a one piece that has a bit more detail to it.  This is not the scaled trim that most homeowners drool over in model homes or in shelter magazines such as Elle Décor.

A great trim package will add visual impact to your home and will help it feel more updated.  It should also enhance the space, not detract from it.  The best example of this mistake is when a client selects a trim out of scale (either too big or too small) for the room.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you along in your selection process:

  • You can never go wrong with a great crown and a large base. If you have an eight foot ceiling height, the standard 4.5” cove crown with a 5” baseboard will make your home feel updated and elevated.  If you can afford the 6-7” base, go for it!
  • Skip the chair rail. Unless you want your home to look like a Colonial Replica or a 1980’s Country Design either paint the existing chair rail the same color and finish as the walls or remove entirely.  Chair rails make spaces feel dated.
  • Picture frame boxes below a chair rail is so passé. Instead of doing what your neighbor did ten years ago, update your design to make your home unique. There are many other ways to add trim detail without repeating this tired look.
  • Skip the dentil moulding! Just because you like traditional doesn’t mean you should pick the most traditional mouldings. One huge mistake I see time and time again is the overuse of gingerbread moulding such a florets, dentils, etc. These mouldings pigeon hole your look and date your space. Unless you plan to live in a museum, owning a historical home does not mean every piece of trim has to be a replica. Keeping moulding simple allows you to decorate in any fashion you see fit. Your home already has a limited buyers’ market, so don’t narrow it even more by making it an Ode to Victoria! The over the top traditional elements can come to play with other aspects of the room such as fabrics and furnishings (the things you can take with you one day).  Just remember- too much of a good thing in design usually makes it a bad thing.
  • Mouldings can be modern. I have many clients who shy away from mouldings because they feel it will take away from the modern styling they like. Trim can be very simple and modern.  And the juxtaposition of detailed moulding with more modern lines helps elevate the modern styling of a space.

And don’t forget the ceiling. See next week’s blog!