Use Trim to Modernize a House — or Vice Versa

September 28, 2019

In the same manner a set of rings or the ideal watch may change the impression we give off with an outfit, a house’s trim can give a modern twist to a traditional home or add a cosy, traditional sense to a more modern area. The color, shapes and little details of window, door and baseboard trim can aid a room bridge eras and gain flexibility and appeal.

Carter Kay Interiors

The gorgeous trim-out within this modern kitchen addresses the question, “How do I help my house walk that fine line between past and present?”

The appearance subtly combines narrow black interior steel mullions and white hardwood picture frame molding to steer the identity of the kitchen successfully into a fresh yet traditional sense.

The particulars and color could be read just as traditional or modern. The mix does a bang-up task of invoking the past while hinting at a modern style of the current.

Wally Sears

Simple bordering picture-frame molding could create these windows feel completely modern, but ending the negative trim at a flat crown on top speaks to the traditional design elements and a modern aesthetic. Additional balancing traditional and modern are the French casement windows that are divided-light. Single large panes would have left a modern feel to this room.

AIA, dSPACE Studio Ltd

This fun baseboard contour includes the profile of a wonderful bordeaux, and is reminiscent of traditional Victorian baseboards, complementing the wainscot and traditional cabinet pulls above. However, this is anchored by the lack of frills and the groove at the top firmly.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC

The wood floors here link to the walls using quite simple trim. In reality, the whole home style here reveals a transitional mentality by surrounding the traditional four-panel doors with horizontal stock trim that dies easily into the baseboard — with no traditional plinth-block at the base.

The reductionist take on the traditional trim enables the owners to move this historic farmhouse in a more modern direction without creating the interior feel disconnected from the age of the first home.

Smith & Vansant Architects PC


Wendi Zampino, Home Systems

When expanding your thinking from window, door and baseboard trim to cabinets, you will often see Shaker-esque styles scattering the transitional landscape.

These kitchen cabinets are a terrific illustration of how the Shaker style can be translated through a modern lens — using full-overlay doors substituting for the traditional inset cabinet doors and the raised part of the doorways being much wider than usual — giving an unmistakable modern edge to a very classic style.

Venegas and Company

Here again, a wider-style Shaker doorway, flat-stock crown and also lack of a footed detail into the cabinets sets this kitchen into a much more modern space when leveraging a style rooted in the 19th century.

Arcanum Architecture

Flat-stock baseboard set at the depth of the wall board and nearly nonexistent window trimming nevertheless still permit a hint of heritage within this space.

Whitten Architects

On the exterior of the home, the designer effectively combines traditional style — a columned porch with wood railing and tongue-and-groove ceiling with a modern, clean-line aesthetic.

The railroad was reduced to its most simple rectangular elements, and also the columns to easy square-profile towers with easy baseboards. This provides them human scale and a start (at the porch) and an end (at the ceiling).

More: Can You Reside in a Minimalist Conventional House?

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