We just bought our first house, and in order to save money opted for a newly built home when we really had our hearts set on one that was more historic and traditional. How do we add some historical characteristics to our plain white box?
Buying a home that was built ages ago has its pluses and minuses. Older homes maintain the personality and charm of the era in which they were crafted, but newer homes offer far better energy efficiency, an important cost-saving consideration today. Fortunately, with a bit of trim work using decorative molding, you can have it both ways.
Installing crown molding around your ceiling is a great place to start and offers you the biggest bang for your buck. It can range in price from under $1 per linear foot to hundreds of dollars per foot depending on how ornate the molding is and the type of wood used.
Chair rail molding is probably the easiest to install and is great for a kitchen, home office or den. It adds a nice accent and gives you the opportunity to choose a darker paint for the lower section of the wall and a brighter shade for the top, giving the room a much larger feeling.
Molding is available in several formats, at varying price points:
Clear: This is the most expensive as it has no visible joints and is designed to be stained and finished with a clear polyurethane or varnish.
Finger-joint: This wood trim is less expensive than clear and is designed to be painted. It's made up of several smaller pieces of molding attached together with a wood joint.
Primed: Typically this is finger-joint wood trim that is already primed. It's very handy to start with this as it's easier than having to prime it yourself.
Synthetic: Various types of synthetic molding are available. This molding can be urethane, PVC or even a composite mixture of wood and is available to be painted, stained or left in its manufactured color. Unlike wood, synthetic will have no defects to cause it to twist or turn.
When working with decorative molding, it's usually best to attach everything with an air compressor and brad nailer. These tools make the job simple and will have you tackling projects like a pro. There's a great compressor available from Tom Boy Tools; its compact one-gallon size makes it very manageable but it still packs a real punch when you need it.
Just because your house is from a more modern time doesn't mean that you can't make it look wise beyond its years with a little help from decorative molding.