5 Easy Ways to Customize Your Builder-Grade Home: Part 5

Welcome back to the blog!

This is the final post on the series of how to give your bland, builder-grade home a makeover. Did you miss the first parts of the series? Catch them here:

Part 1: Lighting

Part 2: Cabinet Pulls

Part 3: Doors

Part 4: Plumbing Fixtures

Today we’re talking all things trim and mouldings. And it’s more than just bulking up your baseboards.

Before we get started, let me give my standard disclaimer. If you see a photo here that you LOVE but it doesn’t go with the style of your home, please appreciate it, admire it, and move on. Just because you like something doesn’t mean it belongs in your home. (It’s my personal opinion that installing rough-hewn ceiling beams in a Victorian home should be a crime punishable by jail time.) Don’t try to make something work if it doesn’t fit your house’s style. For example, I LOVE this crown moulding.

Swoon.

But it doesn’t belong in my home because my style is casual and comfortable.

Furthermore, please make sure any millwork you install is an appropriate scale. 12” baseboards will look enormous in an 8’ room, and the ceiling will shrink down on you. 3” crown moulding will look out of place in a 12’ room- the room will feel oversized and cold (see below).

Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, let’s talk about crown moulding. Crown can be difficult to install, so I recommend hiring a professional to do it (unless you’re a genius at geometry and angles).

Also remember that crown moulding is installed at an angle. So when you’re picking it out in the store, the moulding will be labeled the height of the material [the distance between ceiling and wall (4 ¼” in the photo below)], not how far down the wall your crown moulding is going to come (3 ¼” in the photo).

Pro tip: for short walls, you can install the longer part of your crown along the ceiling rather than on the wall, which is the traditional method. This will give the illusion of taller ceilings:

And for the love of all things holy, please don’t install rope lights behind your crown moulding. This will automatically make your brand spankin’ new moulding look like it was installed in 2005.

Also, it’s hideous.

Baseboards are the next place we can upgrade from tract-home style. There are gobs of tutorials on Pinterest on how to cheat taller baseboards.

To do this, you install a thin rail above your existing baseboard and paint the wall between the two the same color as your baseboard. Not the best method, in my opinion, since you’ll still be able to see the texture of your walls. If you want a professional look, you’ll need to hire a contractor to install new baseboards for you.

Styles range from contemporary and sleek to traditional and curvy:

Next up: chair rails & wainscoting. These additions work best in formal areas like dining rooms and libraries, but they can also give some character to smaller spaces like stairwells and hallways. Again, there are a lot of Pinterest tutorials on the subject, but this is not an area I would trust myself to DIY if I wanted it to look good.

Door frames may be an unexpected upgrade suggestion to you. I like updating door frames inside a special room like a library or master suite. It adds a bit more glamour and sophistication. This works for window frames too. The best part is that you don’t have to redo the entire house- just one room at a time. Just look at the before/after below for proof of the degree of transformation.

Similar to door frames, room transitions can give your home a big character boost. Most homes built since the 2000s have open floorplans, so installing trim around room transitions is a great way to customize your home without losing the open feeling.

Ceiling beams can look fabulous, provided you have the right style home for them. Ceiling beams typically go with rustic country, farmhouse, cabin, craftsman, industrial and cottage homes.

Be very careful when deciding whether to install these in your home, because they can overwhelm a room quickly. You don’t want it to look like this:

If you can’t tell what’s wrong with this image, the biggest problem is that the rustic style of the beams doesn’t match the ornate cabinetry. Also, the beams take attention away from the pendants and the beautiful detailing around the glass cabinets. With interior design, less is usually more.

Last, but certainly not least, is painting. This is the most cost-efficient method of updating your home’s millwork.

My favorite, of course, is black.

To. Die. For.

But something can also be said for these gorgeous colors!

So, what do you think? Does your home need upgraded baseboards? Maybe you want to install some crown moulding and wainscoting in your formal dining room. Would you dare to paint your door frame pink?

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