Contemporary Interior Trim Design for Modern Interiors
Using contemporary interior trim and reveals to design modern traditional interiors was the topic of my last post. While I explored the notion at a global level, but my curiosity was not fully satisfied. In this post, I investigate the concept up close and personal, asking the questions, “What works for me? What doesn’t work for me?” And “Why?”
I am going to start simply, with a crown and base – with and without reveals. My objective is to see if reveal placement makes a difference or whether no reveal at all is a better solution. As I draw these details, they will become increasingly complex, reflecting the hierarchy of detail found in a classically inspired home.
Each sketch is broken into a left/right configuration. No reveal detail crown/base on the left. Reveal crown/base detail on the right. The crown/cornice trim details are drawn based on the Doric order proportions. Ceiling height: 9’ – 0”.
Contemporary INterior trim REVEAL STUDY #1: Crown and base
Shall we begin?A simple applied crown with a stepped base is on the left. Both easily fabricated with flat stock. I put a reveal where the bottom of the crown profile meets the wall on the right. The base is broken up by the reveal. Depending on the width and depth of the reveal in the base, the reveal can be made by scoring or routing out a piece of flat stock. Note: Reveals are highlighted in red.
I think the reveal works better in the base because it creates a strong shadow line. I’m not so sure about the reveal at the crown because it appears to get lost in the crown moulding’s shadow.
Where might one use this minimal contemporary interior trim?
1. Where the desired visual impact of the trim is minimal.
2. In terms of interior trim hierarchy, typically, this trim would appear in less important rooms ands hallways.
3. Something else to consider is the wall finish itself. For example, in this powder room design we proposed a beautiful hand blocked Schumacher wall paper.
REVEAL STUDY #2: Cornice and Base
In this sketch, we place more emphasis on the moulding at the ceiling, using the full weight of the cornice. What’s interesting to me is the clear visual difference between the two cornice profiles. The surface applied profiles on the left fully express the overall shape of the crown. The wall clearly comes to the cornice. The transition between wall and cornice is far more ambiguous when a portion of the cornice is set flush with the wall, as seen in the sketch below.
However, there’s a disconnect between the right hand cornice and it’s base. The base looks/feels heavy handed. At minimum, the top portion of the base needs to be recessed, mirroring the cornice.
REVEAL STUDY #3: Cornice, chair rail and base
To liven things up a bit, I added a chair rail to the third sketch. The cornice is stretched, extending further out on to the ceiling. On the left, the chair rail is an applied piece of moulding. On the right, I felt the applied chair rail would look very much out of place with reveals at the ceiling and base. It looks so much better framed with reveals above and below.
Both sides of the sketch look/feel balanced with consistent detail vocabulary. With an ornate cornice and a chair rail, we now have a design worthy of dressed up public space. Perhaps a foyer, living room or dining room.
REVEAL STUDY #4: Cornice, wainscot and Base
This is where it begins to get tricky… Adding a wainscot detail using applied trim is easy. We do it all the time. But the wainscot/reveal combo is a little harder. I’m not sure I like the results.
The wainscot sits heavy on the floor. Perhaps there’s another way to skin the cat.
REVEAL STUDY #5
In fact, there is! Eliminate the recessed flat panel. Make the entire assembly co-planer.
Reveals now express the wainscot “paneling”. Scale is much improved as is the visual weight the wainscot. As seen in the example below, we often will set the chair rail at window sill height. The overall composition of the elevation is more coherent.
REVEAL STUDY #6
The next step in trim hierarchy is carrying the trim up and around the wall above the wainscot.
The “infill” could be paint. Perhaps it’s fabric. Or possibly a mural! (Yes, this is traditional, but you get the idea…)
REVEAL STUDY #7
Of course, at the top of the contemporary interior trim pyramid is full height paneling. The key to good paneling design is to figure out how to use panel shape and detail to help the room express what it is you want the room to say. For example, to give a room more lift, one might make some panels quite narrow – mirroring/imitating a column’s width. If you squint at the elevation below, even with the break lines in the middle, you can see what I’m talking about.
We applied that principle in our Paris inspired bathroom proposal to DVX. Our intent was to explore the intersection of Modernism with Classicism. Can you find it?
Note the curved cove moulding used as the crown. Used in conjunction with other finishes and materials, this shape can completely change how you experience a room and it’s ceiling.
Let me know if you’d like to learn/see how…
CONTEMPORARY INTERIOR TRIM: WRAP UP
I could keep on going here, but the post would become like an unrolled roll of paper towels. Going on and on and on… Conversations about inset trim, outset trim, the ⅓ rule, etc. can all wait for other posts.
In conclusion, what did I/we learn thought this little exercise?
- Used thoughtfully, simple contemporary interior trim and details can significantly enhance the modern traditional interior.
- Reveals definitely have their place in a modern traditional interior.
- Reveals are best used where planes/materials are co-planer.
- I found a way to use vertical reveals. I wasn’t so sure about that in a recent post.
- Classically derived contemporary trim interior hierarchy can be achieved through the entire house.
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