The Evolution of Home Trim Styles

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The style of a home is often emphasized by the trim around the doors, windows, and cased openings.

Contemporary trim may feature a single step in the profile or none at all, opting instead for a sleek line that can be accented with color. In contrast, traditional homes often showcase Jefferson or colonial profiles, which were meticulously crafted by hand in earlier times. It's remarkable to consider how craftsmen would painstakingly draw hand-blades across long planks to create their trim. 

A visit to Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson introduced the architectural concepts of Andrea Palladio to America, offers a glimpse into the craftsmanship involved in creating such intricate mouldings. These included intricate shapes, profiles, and hand-carvings that were executed with perfect rhythm and cadence. Sadly, many of these skills have been lost to time, but we continue to emulate the vision set over two centuries ago.

The styles and patterns of exterior doors and windows we see today are still influenced by the evolution of building products.

A century ago, windows typically featured divisions due to the high cost of glass, which was only available in small sizes. Today, homes often have larger window divisions or none at all. Many of us still appreciate the architectural look of homes with divided glass, as it's what we've been accustomed to throughout our lives. Change often takes a long time to accept.

Interior trim follows a similar trajectory. For the past two centuries, most homes on the East Coast have featured interior doors, casing, and trim reminiscent of Williamsburg and Colonial styles. Even production builders commonly utilize DC98 or DC99, the most prevalent casing profiles that have been mass-produced off the shelf for decades. These profiles evolved from hand planes used over the centuries, eventually transitioning into knives used on molding cutters in mills and woodshops.

Traditional-style moulding, used very commonly

As much as I appreciate tradition, I also welcome innovation. A sanitary casing, for example, consisting of flat material with two soft corners, offers a refreshingly simple aesthetic. Pairing a pediment or head across a window or door with sanitary casing creates a straightforward backdrop for a home, allowing color to take center stage while the trim serves as a subtle framework.

Modern trim gives a simple, minimalist feel to a home.

In conclusion, the evolution of trim styles and patterns reflects not only the changing trends in architecture but also the ingenuity and craftsmanship of generations past.

While traditional designs continue to resonate, there's a growing appreciation for simplicity and innovation in contemporary trim. Whether inspired by historic precedents or embracing modern minimalism, the trim remains an essential element in defining the character and style of a home. As we continue to build and design, let us draw from both the rich heritage of the past and the possibilities of the present, creating spaces that honor tradition while embracing the beauty of change.