Create a new look
for an old room by
blending various trim
styles and building a
The Madison Avenue advertising culture categorizes the magazine in your hands as a “shelter book.” Too many shelter books are packed with pretty pictures of homes and a few buzz words, but there’s often
not a syllable about how to actually make it happen. As a contractor and
homeowner with my own fixer-upper, I’ve been handed my share of pictures
cut out from shelter books and been asked: Can you make my dining room
look like this?
The answer is usually yes, but in figuring out how to pull it off there’s
been an unintended consequence: I’ve built a design vocabulary. And, now
that I have it, I use it more than I ever thought. Truthfully, the nuance of
design isn’t something I gave much bandwidth to as a young carpenter, but
lo and behold, it’s an essential tool. I use it in every client meeting—
especially those that involve my own home. More and more I’m called into an
empty room (a cube of drywall) and tasked with turning it into something
spectacular, and on a budget, naturally.
This is a labor of love because I adore houses, especially houses
imbued with the charm of an identifiable architectural style, which I find is
usually expressed in trim details. And it’s trim work that brings me to the
thrust of this piece: Bolding the Molding is “how-to” heavy, but its ulterior
motive is to blend design sensibility with steel-on-wood detail for uniquely
crafting new spaces.
While I welcome you to adopt the trim techniques shown here (all I ask is,
as Kevin Costner said in Bull Durham, “When you speak of me, speak well”),
I hope it fires some synapses to those more esoteric elements of design—
stuff like proportion, mass, shadow, light and subtlety. Those elements form
the outline of the drawings we “color in” with our miter saws and nail guns.