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  • Ellen Mirro

Craftsman Trim

Recently we were asked to be guest bloggers for “Hammer Like a Girl” on the topic of Craftsman Trim. Since that is one of our numerous areas of expertise we put together a little post for them. You can link to it by clicking on the image above, or scroll down for the text and photos.

As architects specializing in stewardship and historic renovations, we at The Johnson Partnership see a lot of Craftsman trim. We have studied, repaired, and recreated all kinds of craftsman houses and their trim work.

Fig.1— A wainscoted dining room with tapered standing trim and a liner break between the standing and head trim Fig. 2—A wainscoted dining room with a vertical “ear” above the head trim at the openings and built-in cabinetry.

Craftsman window and door casing is always simple, using flat stock with butt joints. Craftsman trim is not usually mitered, and emphasizes either a horizontal or vertical aspect. In situations where two wood members meet, they are rarely the same thickness, creating shadow lines. If the head trim is not thicker than the standing trim, then a parting bead is used as a break. Sometimes the standing trim will taper at the outside, becoming thicker towards the floor, emphasizing the horizontality of the head trim and celebrating the wood material. Other times a vertical “ear” is added above the head trim, emphasizing the vertical trim, or the standing trim will be thicker than the head trim and extend past it.

Fig. 3— A wainscoted dining room with a built in hutch and dominant vertical trim. Fig. 4—A cased opening with tapered columns landing on glass fronted cabinets.

Openings are always cased, and in a stereotypical case, a tapered column in the opening will land on a bookcase or glass fronted cabinet, acting as a room divider. The trim often works its way into a wainscoting pattern or other built-in cabinetry, seating or inglenooks. The upper parts of the walls are usually flat but beamed ceilings are common. Embellishments will appear as brackets on mantelpieces, doors, plate rails, and even in some instances, on the door and window casings supporting a cap at the head trim.

Fig. 5—A wainscoted living room with subtle brackets at the mantelpiece. Fig. 6—Decorative brackets at the head trim. Notice how the brackets span the variation in thickness between the head and standing trim.

The beauty of craftsman trim is that, although it is simple, you can use a lot of it, and the simplicity of the style showcases quality wood materials and expert joinery.

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