Uncommon Ways To Add Detail

Details matter. Little details often make the biggest difference. Pairing the right wine with a great meal or picking the right tie for a shirt can transform an experience or aesthetic. Homes are no different. There are some uncommon details that really make a house pop. These details are often small, but they add shadow lines against a home or space, which create a more substantial feeling of depth. I’m going to let you in on some of my favorite ways to do just this.

The first area to focus on is the windows. Try this: color the sashes and the grills. Instead of opting for the standard white grills and sash frames, go with a color that complements the rest of the house. My favorite is a white house with black window sashes and grills, but this technique can be applied to virtually any style home and color with success. While you are thinking about those grills, if the budget allows, opt for a simulated divided light grill. Last, use real shutters with real hardware. Real shutters make a home feel functional and purposeful. Shutters, along with the simulated divided light, also create great shadows against the home, giving it that dimension we are looking for.

The outside gets people to stop and take notice of a home, but it’s the inside that sells it. Consider some inexpensive interior trim details. With great rooms and open floor plans in vogue, you can almost count on seeing a coffered ceiling treatment in a home. Depending on the style of home, add a quarter-round or cove molding to the corners of each coffer. This will give the edge a profile, thus creating more depth to the coffer. This is easy to implement and costs very little.

Next, examine your crown molding. Although a 10-in. crown detail may look nice, its cost is very prohibitive. At the same time, a 4 5/8-in. crown isn’t going to get anyone excited. So, fake it. Use the typical 4-in. crown, drop down 3 in. and install a 2 ½-in. chair rail. Then, paint the crown, space in between, and the chair rail the same color. The result is a detail that reads like 10 in. worth of crown molding, but costs much less.

The last area to focus on is your exterior porches, especially the front porch. The front porch is the first element you see or take notice of when approaching a home. This makes it a prime candidate for adding some uncommon detail. The specific areas to examine are the porch floor and ceiling. A great detail that will add to the home’s curb appeal is cantilevering the floor and ceiling past their header or beam. By cantilevering the floor and ceiling, we are adding a ledge that will give us space for another bit of crown or trim element. Start with a minimum of 1 ½ in. cantilever, but depending on the style of the home and the size of crown you want to add, feel free to extend it further. Sometimes 1 ½ in. does the trick. If you already have a dropped header or beam that your floor or ceiling is going to be bearing on, this detail makes a lot of sense. It is, however, the most expensive listed because of the extra trim needed and complexity, but you get the greatest effect from it. Do be sure to consult with a licensed engineer to size all of your structural components correctly.

The end result of all these details are more shadow lines being cast against the home, inside and out. Shadows create the feeling of depth (much like in a drawing or painting), rather than a flat object. By taking the extra time to implement little details like these, your projects will get noticed and stand out


Christopher Johnson