This week we are excited to feature a very special guest posting by two friends who specialize in the restoration and design of Craftsman homes. Ellen Mirro and Howard Miller are both associated with The Johnson Partnership, a local Seattle architectural firm noted for their architectural, historic renovation, and low impact “green” services. They have graciously written a short piece for us on Craftsman trim, a very distinct and traditional style of trim found in many Seattle homes of the early 1900 vintage. We hope you enjoy it!
As architects specializing in stewardship and historic renovations, we at The Johnson Partnership see a lot of Craftsman trim. We have studied, repaired, and recreated all kinds of Craftsman houses and their trim work. Craftsman window and door casing is always simple, using flat stock with butt joints. Craftsman trim is not usually mitered, and emphasizes either a horizontal or vertical aspect. In situations where two wood members meet, they are rarely the same thickness, creating shadow lines. If the head trim is not thicker than the standing trim, then a parting bead is used as a break. Sometimes the standing trim will taper at the outside, becoming wider towards the floor, emphasizing the horizontality of the head trim and celebrating the wood material.
Other times a vertical “ear” is added above the head trim, emphasizing the vertical trim, or the standing trim will be thicker than the head trim and extend past it. Openings are always cased, and in a stereotypical case, a tapered column in the opening will land on a bookcase or glass fronted cabinet, acting as a room divider.
The trim often works its way into a wainscoting pattern or other built-in cabinetry, seating, or inglenooks. The upper parts of the walls are usually flat but beamed ceilings are common. Embellishments will appear as brackets on mantelpieces, doors, plate rails, and even in some instances, on the door and window casings supporting a cap at the head trim. The beauty of Craftsman trim is that, although it is simple, you can use a lot of it, and the simplicity of the style showcases quality wood materials and expert joinery.
All photos used with permission of Ellen Mirro and Howard Miller
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