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To Trim or Not To Trim, That is the Question...

For years I have been recommending to my client who wants to upgrade their home to consider more trim by adding larger crown molding, larger more impressive casing around doorways and windows, taller baseboards etc. Always considering this to be an inexpensive method to create instant architectural interest. Last year I started getting away from trim appreciating the simple uncluttered look that going trim-less can offer.

Crown isn’t necessary if you have an interesting ceiling. Casing is hidden behind a drapery at a window, do we really need to spend that money? And baseboards - well even those have alternatives that create an interesting direction. So the question seems to be in 2018, for me “to trim or not to trim?”

The ideas we've gathered below are purposefully clean-lined and simple without being boring. In other words, they're meant to be the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself.


Crown molding

Intricate crown molding with scroll-work and dentils and multiple layers are all well and good in a traditional or restored historic home, But if you live in a modern house, or even just one where you want to go clean and uncluttered you could skip the crown molding—done right, it can be striking, instead think about using an interesting ceiling treatment



There are other ways to address doorways and windows some of which I will illustrate below.

Drywall Returns

If the goal is to call attention to the opening itself or the window frame, choosing a drywall return is a no-hassle way to trim your window. This can save on finish carpentry and takes the traditional place of the wood extension jamb and provides a clean, no-frills look.

Window Trim Reveal

More expensive to accomplish, requires accuracy and sheet rock expertise.

Jamb Extension and Thin Trim

Extending the jam of the window for a beautiful thickness allows you to have a thin wood trim around your windows, then you can use the same wood somewhere else in the room, to create consistency and follow thru.

No Trim

Fitting for this view, the window (and door) system is fully integrated into the structure of the room. Omitting trim altogether isn’t easy or cheap, but the results here make the effort worth it.



Baseboard protects a highly trafficked (and abused) part of the home and covers the messy joint between the finished wall and floor. The alternative is no base or recessed baseboards. No baseboard is for the minimalist and modern aesthetic; however, a recessed base can give you the function of a traditional base and the simplicity of no base. There are trade-offs, though. No wall base is more susceptible to damage from vacuums and foot traffic. And there is less tolerance for error in what can be one of the messiest jobs in construction: drywall finishing for both no base and recessed base.

No baseboards

Eliminating the base altogether creates an ultraclean, simple look. Details that eliminate the baseboard are easier to keep clean — there are fewer areas to collect dust and debris. They also reduce the material, installation and finishing costs of a traditional baseboard.

Recessed baseboards

Separating and expressing the joint between materials is a common technique used in contemporary architecture. The reveal, consists of a small piece of metal or plastic that sits between the base of the wall and the floor, creating a small shadow line between surfaces. It can be painted to match or contrast the wall color. Many times, the recessed base is made of wood and painted to match the walls. This helps to save the sheet rock from vacuum or dust mops abusing the drywall.


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