Making something out of nothing: How simple trim work makes a big impact

Who would have thought that a couple of 1 x4’s would give me all the weak-in-the-knees, full-on-goosebumps, misty-eyed kind of feels. I have to say this this is the hands-down biggest bang-for-the buck project in this whole reno. Yes, I know, I just admitted that woodwork get’s me weepy… I’m a nerd for this stuff. But honestly, once the trim went up around the first doorway, this house suddenly turned the corner for me. I could finally see the hints of “forever dream home” starting to peek out from the mess.


Originally, I wanted to rip out the wall between the living room and the kitchen and open everything up. This was actually a major sticking point for me the night we spent deciding if we really wanted to buy this place. I had my heart set on a wide open floor plan, and I just couldn’t imagine this place as my dream home if I had a wall closing off the kitchen. Hubby thought I was crazy. “You really want to walk away from this house because of one wall?” And the answer, or so I thought, was yes. Even after we decided to buy it and started the crazy process of trying to do so, we were still negotiating taking that wall out. It just wasn’t in the budget, so we compromised with the agreement that we would stick it on the “someday” project list and take it out down the road. But as soon as he cased out the two living room openings for me, I couldn’t imagine anything else but this.


I am so glad I lost this battle…. just don’t tell the hubs. Creating these cased openings takes a plain ol’ doorway that you never would have looked at twice before, and turns it into a beautiful design element. It’s the first thing your eye sees now when you walk in, and it makes our little home look and feel a lot more “custom” (a.k.a. expensive). It adds so much character, and really they just come down to a couple of 1x4s, a piece of half-round, and crown molding.

We also trimmed out the bay windows in the kitchen breakfast nook.


Our original plan was to have the same crown molding at the top of all three windows, but once we got the first one done we realized the angles just wouldn’t work. There was not enough space in between each window to accommodate molding that size on all of them. We improvised and decided that the center window would get the fancy stuff up top, and the windows on either side would be a little simpler. I am loving how it is coming along.


The dining room is getting the most trim work of all. There is a huge window on one wall and doorways on two others. So three out of the four walls are getting tricked out. This room is starting to turn into my favorite room in the house.


The project itself is fairly simple. It just takes some attention to detail with your cuts and measurements. To start out, you cut two 1×4’s to the height of your window or door and nail them to the wall. Cut another 1×4 to the width of your opening plus the width of your two boards; that one goes up top. We added a piece of half-round molding to cover the seam where the top board meets the two side boards. Nail scrap wood into the wall just above your top piece because you will need something to nail your crown molding to. Then it’s crown molding time.

The final cut should be done by someone who is not prone to cutting themselves anytime they even look at something sharp (aka… someone other than me). Cut a tiny piece of crown molding to wrap around and close the gap between the crown molding and the wall.

Here’s a close-up before caulking and touch-up paint.

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For your doorways, you’ll want to decide how you want to finish the bottom where your 1×4’s meet the baseboards. We cut the base boards away and built a square box around the doorway.


Quick detour from the project at hand… while we were working on the trim, two very exciting things happened.

One: our kitchen got demo-ed.

Two: the disgusting carpet and grime-city linoleum were pulled out too!



Despite their grunginess, we actually did not get rid of the cabinets completely. I’ll show you their new home coming up. But having the kitchen down to bare walls means we are one step closer to putting it all back together, so I am a happy girl. Mini-me looks pretty stoked too.

Speaking of stoked, by this time the years of dust and gunk in the nasty old carpet was starting to mess with all of our sinuses. So working in a space where we can breathe easy is so very nice!

But back to the trim. You guys, check out this dining room!


Can you see why I’m falling in love?


Once all these babies get painted white, and we get a new light fixture in here… can you picture it too? This room has some serious drama to it. I sometimes just stand in the middle of the dining room and stare at it all. Is that weird? First this room got my favorite paint color in the house, now it is getting all the trim work love, and the chandelier I have ordered for in here is an absolute stunner. I hope the other rooms don’t get jealous, because right now the dining room is getting all mama’s attention.

And yes that is a new light fixture in the living room. This fan is bad to the bone! I have a post coming soon all about our new light fixtures throughout the house. I can’t wait to show you what’s coming for the dining room too. Stay tuned my friends!

We took the trim work train to the hall bathroom as well. It’s just a small window, but this one is another one of my favs.

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I still can’t get over how a relatively simple thing can just have so much impact. We decided that the bathrooms were just getting cosmetic updates, but what a difference some paint and trim can make! (Head back to the before tour for a reminder of what this looked like before). The windows that we did in the other rooms were lower and came down relatively close the baseboards. Since this window is the middle of the wall we added another 1×4 to the bottom to make it feel more finished. The final step is to caulk the heck out of all the seams and paint it all. And just like that… boom! You just took all your rooms to the next level!


My favorite thing about the trim is I feel it actually saves money on decorating. When the walls have the visual interest of this beautiful molding, you don’t need to add as much to make them feel “full,” or to bring personality into the space. It might be small, and it might seem silly, but the little detail of these cased openings really makes this place home for me.  It’s something I’ve swooned over for ages on Pinterest and on all my favorite renovation shows. And now it’s something we made ourselves with our own hands. For most people it’s just painted wood on the wall. But for me, it says “this place is ours.”

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Up next: it’s the floors! They are here and I can hardly contain myself!

What do you guys think of the trim? Is there a specific element that screams “home” to you too?



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2 thoughts on “Making something out of nothing: How simple trim work makes a big impact

  1. I am loving this! But now I have to wait another whole week 😦 I need to see the floors that triumphed over the flooring store mental breakdown!

    Liked by 1 person

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