Beauty is in the Details: Finish Work

One thing I’ve come to understand about design is that beauty is in the details. We often hear how they just don’t build houses like they used to. What’s the difference now? It’s the details! Unless you’re building a completely custom home and really know what you’re doing, most houses today lack detail. I grew up in a hundred year old home that had beautiful details. All of the windows and doorways were trimmed with dark wood, the bathroom floor had cute little hexagon tiles, the doors and cabinets were beautifully made, even the heater vents were gorgeously intricate with pattern. The details are what gave it character.

Fortunately, there are ways to add character and detail to your home. This is something I’m in the process of working on in my own home. And luckily I have a handy husband, but there are finish carpenters out there if you aren’t so lucky!

Here are some details you can add:

  • Install baseboards that are at least 4″. The standard, builder grade 2″ baseboards really don’t add much to a space. So if you’re building, or remodeling a home, this is a simple way to add a big dose of character.
  • Trim out your doorways and any entry ways to open rooms. This is a great way to frame and highlight elements of a space.
  • Case your windows. It’s a nice touch to have a window sill.
  • Add crown molding. This dresses up a room so much! It’s an elegant detail.
  • Add crown molding to the tops of your cabinets, and light rail around the bottoms. You would be surprised at how much this can take plain, old cabinets to the next level.
  • Install wainscoting or board and batten to your walls. Shiplap is an especially popular wall treatment right now.
  • Consider adding coffers to your ceiling. This is much easier to do if you already have a tray ceiling.
  • Install a backsplash. This can be a great way to infuse some color, texture, and pattern into your space.

If you already have some nice details in your home, and are looking for some even fancier ideas to really add character, these are some of my favorites:

  • Add columns


Buckhead Colonial Farmhouse



  • Transoms



  • Ceiling tracery


  • Built-ins


  • Banisters and newel posts (so much better than just a pony wall)


Elgin 2


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