One of the great things about living in the United States is the huge variety of choices you have in the marketplace. You have almost unlimited option when it comes to picking out cars, and clothes, and your choices say a lot about who you are, what your taste is, and how you spend your money. The one big purchase where your options are the most limited is in your home--unless you can afford a truly custom build, the details you get to choose in your home are in inverse proportion to the money you spend. It's a little unnerving when every house on the block is so similar you're not entirely sure which driveway is yours.
If only you could wave your magic hammer and give your home a facelift--change up some details and add some architectural interest to the facade and the interior--without raiding the kid's college funds.
Well, you can. Millwork and mouldings are the secret to taking a bland builder abode and making it uniquely yours.
Most people think of millwork in two categories--the basics you get at the big box stores, or the custom designs that come with a custom price tag. There is a huge gap in the millwork market that Worthington Millwork covers--an extensive inventory of styles and materials that turn your cookie cutter home into marzipan. Check out Pinterest or Houzz for inspiration, and keep this short primer handy so you'll know the design lingo.
Doors and Windows
Your front door is the portal to your home, so it deserves a little style upgrade. The architecture of your home informs the details you add, but here are some simple enhancements.
A cornice--basically a crown--above the door provides a classical element. If your style is traditional, a small dentil moulding is a nod to Federal design. If you're going for an Italianate or late Victorian look, a carved relief (sort of a group silhouette) on the cornice lends itself to that.
A pediment is similar to a cornice in that it rests atop the doorway, often stacked on a cornice. The pediment is flatter and is arched, and the arch maybe open or broken. A broken pediment usually has a graceful swoop to the center on either side, and a design element on the ends. A closed pediment could be ornate, with relief in the center, or a simple curved Shaker style.
Corbels are brackets that are attached to the exterior wall and theoretically support the cornice, although today's materials are so lightweight that it's all decorative. Your corbels will complement the cornice in spirit but not necessarily match.
Columns also add some punch to the entry. If you've already got supports for the porch roof, consider wrapping them with a column. Your choice of columns is only limited by the architecture of your home, although the bold homeowner isn't afraid to mix it up, putting an ornate Ionic column (think of the Jefferson Memorial) on a home with an otherwise simple design.
If you don't have a porch but want the look of columns, pilasters are the answer. A pilaster is a decorative element that mimics a column in appearance but is installed on the exterior wall, and doesn't pretend to support anything but your sense of elegance.
Most newer homes have wonderfully efficient double paned and sealed windows that sacrifice style for function. Muntins--narrow strips of trim placed on a grid--add a lot of oomph to the facade of your house. For a traditional look with double hung windows they are in a six over six pattern, for a single window it's a nine or twelve-pane grid. For a Tudor look, place the muntins in a diamond pattern. If you've got windows framing your entry, add muntins there, too.