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Trim Picking

The entryway (and all the way up to the second floor landing) has been painted. The studio has been painted. The living room and the nook room have been painted! Even still, they’re all missing the last piece – sort of like a frame for your photograph, you know? Trim!

I’ve mentioned time and time again (and for sounding like a broken record, I’m sorry!) that the lack of baseboards in our home have been driving us nuts; it doesn’t make sense to move in furniture and records, paint the stairs or start the studio planning without it. You know now that we’ve been pulling up the builder-grade baseboards as we tackle each room (with the exception of the outside walls, purely to help lower the old-house drafts we have), and there have been a handful of trim-window-shopping dates to get an idea of what’s out there.

This, as unassuming of a task as this is, has not been easy.

There has been at least one break down – one that I’ll admit to, anyway – in the baseboard aisle at the hardware store. (That particular incident forced us to drywall the gaps above our stairs.) There are many, many options, and on the one hand, that’s amazing! We can pick whatever we like. We get to decide. This decision is ours! On the flip side, however, it can feel overwhelming. We’re deciding. We can pick whatever we like! The doors need trim, our windows could use it too, and how tall should we go with our baseboards?

A good, healthy sort of overwhelming. But overwhelming, nonetheless.

I think that after a month of agonizing over every detail of this task – a task that now, when I think about it, was pretty fun in the end (go figure) – we realized that we needed to start making decisions. Any decision. So Sunday night, we went to Home Depot and started pulling baseboards from the shelf – big ones, little ones and everything in between. We cut off 1′ samples to bring home, and we started laying them against our walls, stairs and doors. And now? Now, we cannot wait to frame our photos, so to speak. Here’s what we’ve got:

FOR THE STAIRS: This was, by far, the hardest puzzle to solve. In the end, we chose modest-sized trim for the stairs themselves, which will run into a plinth (the raw wood in the middle, which will ultimately extend down to the floor). From there, our baseboards will begin, and the plinth acts as a transition. And believe us, this was a whole new world of understanding the intricacies of trim moulding; after spending countless hours researching online and scanning the aisles, the general rule is this: have fun with it! Do what you like. If it makes you happy? You win.

FOR THE DOORS: We love how big and chunky this trim is. In the store, we worried it might be too thick or stick out too far, but once we placed it along our big navy door, we were sold.

FOR THE WINDOWS: The windows will all be framed out using the same trim that’ll be running up our stairs. You can see in the photo below that the drywall directly around the window casing isn’t in the best shape, and we honestly didn’t worry too much about that when we were patching, sanding and painting. We knew it would get covered up eventually! Question! We’re still on the fence about adding window ledges/sills. Currently, none of our windows have a ledge, and while I’m totally okay with that, Scott is on the fence. Thoughts?

FOR THE FLOORS: Yes! This! This is what we’ve been missing in all these rooms. These baseboards are 6″ tall, and while I thought I wanted to go taller, Scott pointed out that anything much taller may dwarf our door and window trim. (And to be honest, our door and window trim can’t get much larger, since some of them are placed close to a corner and/or electrical outlet.) These baseboards are pretty meaty though, and we are swooning over them.

You’ll notice that all of our choices lean slightly decorative. They’re not over the top, but they definitely have a distinct flair. While we love clean and modern trim, it didn’t feel right for our home. Going into this old house of ours, we agreed that we’d spend our time here nursing back in the details that have since been tossed aside. And our current barely-3-inch trim? (Trim that was installed before the floors, leaving them at just over 2-inches tall?) It’s all about to go, room by room.

Our final choices haven’t been purchased yet (we still need to take out final measurements and tallies and decide on quarter round or shoe moulding that we can agree on), but we’ll be doing that in the coming week. We have a borrowed nail gun coming our way (courtesy of Scott’s parents – thank you!), and while we have other plans for this upcoming weekend (media wall, we’re looking at you!), we cannot wait to jump in. It’ll certainly take longer than a couple of days – weeks, even – with the amount of rooms on our plate (although a girl can dream), and that’s okay.

After a month of noodling on our thoughts, we’re just thrilled to be moving forward. That’s always important, isn’t it?

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  • angela1.31.14 - 6:40 AM

    Love what you picked, especially the baseboards! I’m sure it will be a huge relief to finish that project!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-ThreeReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square1.31.14 - 6:57 AM

    I really like those tall baseboards! We have those in several of our rooms, and they lend a strong grounding feeling to the walls. As for the windowsills… do your cats like to sit in the windows and watch the world (or birds) go by? Our cat does, so that’s why I like our ledges. There’s something about a cat in the window that is so cute. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode1.31.14 - 7:03 AM

    I have never looked at the trim in my home with such detail before. Now I’m sizing it up and all that. :) I love the tall trim for the floor, and really appreciate that you aren’t forcing too many modern structural details on this older house. I think getting back to its roots in a way is a great plan. And then bring on the modern decor.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY1.31.14 - 7:28 AM

    LOVE your choices! BTW, that last photo is ace…ReplyCancel

  • Brittany1.31.14 - 8:03 AM

    I think windowsills (at least in the kitchen) are SO homey… you can stick an aloe vera plant up there (perfect for kitchen burns) or a pot of herbs.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley1.31.14 - 8:35 AM

    I say a big fat yes to window ledges and sills! I think it makes a huge difference in the perceived quality of a house. Just plain framing tends to look cheap, in my opinion.

    But then again, I really really really like old houses and they tend to typically have ledges and sills. So I’m biased a wee bit. :)ReplyCancel

  • Lucas1.31.14 - 8:36 AM

    I would definitely do for window sills. It will be more accurate to the age of home you have and will ultimately looks less “builder”. The only places I’ve seen in Chicago without sills are new builds and the rare Greek revival properties. I would definitely suggest holding your casings 1/4″ off of the jamb of the windows and doors. This will allow for clean application of caulk.ReplyCancel

  • Love Love Love LOVE the 6″ baseboards. Future. Home. Must. Have.ReplyCancel

  • Molly1.31.14 - 8:53 AM

    I love the baseboard trim! I can’t wait to see it all done. You guys have come such a long way since construction began.

    As for the windowsills- after living in homes with and without (our current home boasts massive 5 inch deep windowsills which we can’t get enough of) – I say go for the sills! We have two cats and the sills are the perfect width for them to sit on and stare longingly outside, plus windowsills make our house look really ‘polished’ and less ‘builder’s grade.’ What if during the holidays you want to decorate your windowsills? I think long-term you’d regret not having at least some sort of window ledge.

    I’ve only seen ‘no windowsills’ work on really fancy modern windows, but in an old house like yours I think windowsills would fit into its personality.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.31.14 - 8:55 AM

      Great input on the windowsills, guys! Thank you, thank you. Lots of good things to think about.ReplyCancel

  • Heather MacFeather1.31.14 - 9:08 AM

    I like the look of windowsills too though they look like a lot of work. I have one to replace and am not looking forward to it. My favourite trim tip is to paint the trim first. It is so much easier to paint that way. Once installed a litte patching, then some caulking followed by a single (SINGLE!!! How awesome is that!) coat of paint.

    Good luck with the installation.ReplyCancel

  • Jennie1.31.14 - 9:10 AM

    I agree with all of the above on sills, for appearance and character, for decorating, and above all for kitties. Nothing makes our cats happier that sitting on the window sills in the spring. And if you are thinking about it, you might regret if it you don’t go for it.ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.31.14 - 9:16 AM

    You all are so right about the windowsills! Our girls will absolutely love it (they loved it in the condo, they’ll LOVE it here). I knew you’d provide some clarity.

    Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • I think the windowsill decision comes down to how large of a windowsill. Our windowsills annoy me due to the fact that they aren’t deep enough to place pretty plants on but are out far enough to make any furniture placed near or under them seem awkward – since we live in a small home, I can’t avoid placing furniture under them. On the flip side of the coin, a window may look bare without windowsills.

    I applaud you for all the decisions you two have to make and I’m swooning over those baseboards as well!ReplyCancel

  • andee1.31.14 - 9:52 AM

    I’m the odd man out. I don’t like our window ledges – more dusting. They collect dust and dog hair like crazy! I like the clean lines of not having them yet I’ve never lived in a house without them.

    I LOVE your base trim! It feels really true to the house.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly1.31.14 - 12:23 PM

    Love your choices! Yes, windowsills! Do it! Love them in my kitchen for plants, herbs, kitty butts, etc.!ReplyCancel

  • Laura1.31.14 - 1:50 PM

    Have you considered trimming out your windows and doors with the same size trim? It just is a lot more consistent especially if you have windows and doors near each other. Just a thought. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.31.14 - 1:59 PM

      Hi Laura, we did – and we still might. The reason we’re leaning towards the less chunky trim for the windows is because it felt like too much (just a tidge too heavy) – like there was too much weight. We could still change our minds though!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny D1.31.14 - 7:32 PM

    Love your choices! My husband decided we should route our own moulding. That was a fun project!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - Old Town Home1.31.14 - 11:27 PM

    I love this phase of projects. It feels so generally fulfilling to know you’re going to be putting something up that you’ll see as a finish detail each and every day.

    Don’t be afraid to go with a bigger window casing. I know the tendency these days is to have a smaller window casing than door casing, but back when your house was built a 4″ or larger window and door casing was common. We have 5″ mouldings on most of our first floor doorways and windows, but then 4″ upstairs, and even 3″ towards the back of the house.

    Also, if you want something chunkier you can always stack mouldings to make something more substantial.

    Before you pull the trigger, check out some of the items available in the catalog from Mad River Woodworks. I’ve bought all of our casings from them once they cut knives to match our original moulding. They have a great selection of Victorian era mouldings available.ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.1.14 - 12:40 PM

      Jenny, impressive!

      Alex, thanks for the link :)ReplyCancel

  • Jannike2.1.14 - 6:23 PM

    We live in a 1925 rowhouse in Montreal and have done extensive renos. We know moldings. We wish I could attach a pic or three. I think you should go for window ledges, especially on the big windows. We have nice chunky ledges and all our doors and windows have square top corner pieces, so no bevels! On the baseboards we added a 1in. x 1/4 door stop piece to give a bit more umph. I discovered your blog just as you moved into this house and I love watching the renos unfold. Great job so far!ReplyCancel

  • Trim is so, so important. I love the trim we picked for our basement, but it took me a long time to find the right profile. And then longer still to find a store that had enough of it in stock. I cannot wait until we replace the rinky-dink flat trim we have in the rest of the house. I like the trim that you chose. I think it’s a good choice for your house. My vote is for the window sills. I think it would be appropriate for your house as well.ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.2.14 - 12:48 PM

      Jannike, if you have a moment, feel free to email us photos. We love to see some great inspiration!

      Julia, thanks! We are definitely pro window sill now. You guys are such awesome cheerleaders!ReplyCancel

  • Jimmy2.4.14 - 6:41 AM

    Trim – how timely! We’re in the middle of picking our trim as well and I feel you on the overwhelming nature of it all. We still haven’t made a decision yet, but we may be finally narrowing it down.

    My in-laws just gave us the number to a mennonite lumber mill that sources local hardwood trim at a fraction of the price we would find in the national stores. I don’t know if there is something similar out your way, but we were really happy to find a cheaper option. Every little bit helps with these big projects.ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.4.14 - 8:26 AM

    Jimmy, that’s awesome! Good luck to you – we know the feeling. Sadly, nothing local (or specialized) in Chicago would be less expensive…ReplyCancel

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