Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Primer on Trim

You've just moved and your new décor lacks that finishing touch that makes it feel like home. Or you're selling your property and want to lend its interior some of that "wow" factor that snaps buyers to attention. Whatever your reasons, adding trim to your décor is a great way to give it a facelift.
Relatively inexpensive and easily installed, trim encompasses all those decorative elements that adorn walls and ceilings, from baseboard to panel molding. Available in a seemingly limitless number of different profiles, trim adds elegance and visual interest to any room, and trim can be used to draw attention to choice features. But lest you think trim merely serves aesthetic purposes, here are brief descriptions of the most popular types used in homes, as well as their functions:

Baseboard molding. Probably the most commonly used type of trim, rooms just don't look complete without baseboard molding, which provides a finished look to that area where floors and walls meet. It serves to protect the bottom of your walls from damage done by things like vacuuming and moving furniture, and to conceal any gaps between the floor and wall.

Casing. This term refers to the trim found around doorways, archways and windows. As casing tends to be the most noticeable type of trim in a room, its impact on your décor can be significant, particularly if you choose something more ornate. Like baseboard molding, casing serves a practical purpose in that it hides gaps between the jamb and adjacent wall.

Chair-rail molding. Originally intended to protect walls from damage done by chair backs, this type of molding is installed horizontally around a room's perimeter, three feet or so from the floor. More often serving as decoration now, chair-rail molding unifies a room's architectural elements and is often used as a dividing line, between painted and wallpapered sections of walls, for instance.

Crown molding. Applied where walls meet ceilings, crown molding has traditionally been used to soften the transition from one to the other. In today's interiors, they're increasingly being used for decorative purposes, such as capping features like cabinetry, shelving, and fireplaces; creating "tray" (recessed) ceilings; and defining different "zones" in an openconcept floor plan.

Panel molding. As decorative as trim gets, panel molding is used to create frames on walls and ceilings. Such frames can be used to dress the walls above and/ or below a chair-rail divider (a look evocative of Colonial homes) or to emphasize accessories like large works of art or mirrors. On ceilings, panel molding is often used as a border around light fixtures.

Some parting words on selecting trim:
Choose a style consistent with your home's style. For example, if your décor is contemporary, opt for trim that's simple and streamlined in design, rather than ornate. When it comes to trim size, scale is key — big rooms call for proportionately big moldings, while smaller rooms are complemented by smaller trim.

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