How the interior of a house gets trimmed out contributes greatly to the overall character of that house. In many ways, a well thought-out trim design can turn a drab and plain vanilla interior into something rich and complex, as well as architecturally dynamic.
One of the most interesting ways to use trim is as a connective element to tie together the elements within a space and to reinforce the space’s architecture. So when laying out trim, some architects and other designers will often look for ways to use trim to connect windows, doors, soffits etc. and to use trim to establish datum points or spring lines on which other features appear. The trim becomes a kind of ribbon that holds the wrapping paper in place.
In these instances, the trim, whether stained or painted, is often flat and simple. The profile of the trim is much less important than how the trim travels around the room making connections and framing elements.Trim installed like this creates the illusion that the wall is nothing more than a screen that can be moved. It’s not surprising that this type of trim installation gained awareness and popularity in the late 19th century, when Japanese buildings started to become known in the West.
The doorway to the left and the windows on the right are connected and held in place with the ribbon of trim. There’s something to be said for intellectual rigor used to establish all of the dimensions so that every element is connected and uses the same reference points.
Taking one location, say the top of the windows, and then drawing a line from there all around the room, gives a logic and rationale to the placing of other features above and below this line. Now the upper cabinets and vent hood have a logical place to be.
And soffits become intentional rather than afterthoughts because we need to hide the pipes and the ducts.
Private CommentUsing trim to connect and bind elements works just as well in a large space as in smaller, more intimate rooms. By establishing a reference point and then placing windows, more trim, railings etc. below this, the enormity of the space is reduced.
Private CommentCertainly these ribbons of trim can connect the first floor to the second floor, so elements are connected horizontally as well as vertically.
As mentioned earlier, this use of trim has a distinctly Japanese quality. Walls are made to feel less structural and load bearing and more light and movable. However, the American approach was characteristically less rigorous than required by the Japanese tatami.
Certainly it was this approach to trim that Frank Lloyd Wright reveled in. And in Wright’s work it was the complexity of the trim that made for an architecturally rich interior. So rather than just a continuous ribbon, the trim line would disappear into a stone mass, popping out the other side as it turned a corner.