Have you ever stepped into a home and been immediately charmed? Chances are it had something to do with the details of the space, including its architectural elements. Typically these elements are the final flourishes given to custom houses. While, realistically, few of us will have an opportunity to build from the ground up to our specifications, with a little vision and ingenuity, we can add the details that set such homes apart, and enjoy a similar sense of quality and character.
Although many of the elements shown here probably were incorporated during construction, they can be added later to up the personality and character quotient of your home.
Interior brackets. Here, brackets with a simple yet lovely curve decorate upper cabinets. You can install similar ones on existing cabinetry in kitchens and laundry rooms. Look for options from cabinet manufacturers and suppliers of decorative wood parts.
Brackets can also work under an island counter. Here, they probably aren’t necessary for support, but they make an attractive and distinctive detail that a talented homeowner or carpenter could cut and install.
Cabinetry panels. Installing detailed panels on end cabinets (that is, ones that don’t run into a wall) creates an elegant finished look. If the exposed end of your cabinet has a plain veneer panel, you can research more decorative options from the cabinet manufacturer, or employ a talented carpenter or cabinetmaker to make a panel that will fit over the cabinet end in your kitchen.
Posts and trim. Add posts and trim to the corners of an island or end cabinet, if the counter overhang allows. These areas more typically see a thin line of trim covering the corner where the sheets of veneer meet. Building up this trim can elevate stock cabinetry to a look with character. In addition, consider lining the seating side of an island with beadboard, as shown here.
Cabinet feet. Another place for trim in the kitchen is at the base of cabinet boxes, creating the look of built-in cabinetry with feet. This has become a popular detail in custom cabinets recently.
Tip: These projects are easier to complete in kitchens with painted cabinets than with wood ones (because it’s easier to match paint than wood stain), but both are possible.
Vanity feet. You can also add bun feet to make a bathroom vanity resemble a piece of furniture. If there’s space between the counter and doors, a band of trim will give it extra charm, as inspired by this vintage cabinet.
Mirror frames. One area that often gets overlooked where trim is concerned is the bathroom mirror. Simply wrapping the mirror with trim significantly improves the overall look of a bathroom. The trim can be white, a great color or a wood finish complementary to the design.
Radiator covers. If your home is older with radiators, consider having stylish boxes made to cover them for a finished and distinguished look. This design has a lid that lifts and brings in the benefit of a convenient surface to set items.
Doorway casing. Encasing a large opening with trim provides a great deal of character. Quite often, wide doorways are simply finished with rounded Sheetrock corners — a lost opportunity to add interest. One benefit of encasing them is how the trim provides a place to stop paint when switching colors from one room to the next.
Crown molding. Putting up crown molding almost always enhances a room, as does fully wrapping windows.
Window casing. Many builders of new homes stop before trimming windows, or simply put up sills or wrap windows on the first floor only. Adding window casing is a DIY project if you’re gifted with tools; otherwise, a good finish carpenter can work miracles to beautifully frame your views.
Picture molding. Using half-round or other narrow trim to create picture frame molding on walls can be a very sophisticated detailing.
Chair rails. Wrapping a room with a chair rail effectively lends character, particularly when it helps define the complementary color of the wall above.
Trim below ceiling: A line of trim a few inches below the ceiling is a clever alternative to crown molding, framing a fabulous paint color extending from above the trim and onto the ceiling.
A similar effect here uses a wider band of trim, with the top portion of the wall and ceiling painted a sophisticated gray.
Painting both the trim and the area above it white gives the effect of very wide crown molding.
Trim on a tall wall: A wide band of trim installed two-thirds of the way up a two-story room brings the space down to a more human scale.
Built-up baseboards. Additional lengths of trim above short baseboards can add a look of quality, especially if the original baseboard is particularly short in relation to the room height.
Exterior corbels. Look for areas outside where you can add decorative trim to increase your home’s charm.
Tell us: What’s the favorite architectural detail in your house? Are there more you’d like to add?