It’s ok to boast about the authentic millwork in your heritage home. After all, it’s one of the things that make such a house special. Trying to replace missing original millwork, however, has the power to make a grown person cry from the frustration of finding the proper profile, the appropriate wood, and finally, finding the money to pay for it. If you’ve been to a lumber yard lately, the cost of the wood per lineal foot may just convince you to try to restore or keep what you’ve got.
Millwork is the connecting thread between rooms. It the scale is wrong, it shows. Putting a 3 inch baseboard in a room with a 9-foot ceiling looks incorrect. The same goes for putting a 10 inch baseboard in a room with a 8-foot ceilings. The scale and proportions are off, and although the effect is subtle, it will show.
Door casings are important too. Unless the home was built pre-1905, bull’s eye blocks in the corners of the casing should not be used. They are a Victorian detail and inappropriate for most 20th century homes – unless the builder of the home was trying to save money by using materials that had gone out of style. (It happened even then 🙂 )
As in my last post, I recommended that the homeowner or restorer check out houses that have original details. It can be a challenge to combine stock mouldings to approximate the originals. Another option is to get custom – cut knives machined and have new millwork made to fit the original perfectly.
Matching the colour of new millwork to the original millwork may prove to be difficult too. Unless a person is skilled at matching stains and finishes, this might a job that is best left to professionals.
Some final tips:
– If a person can see the millwork in two rooms that are adjacent to each other at the same time, the wood should be given the same treatment. That means if one room’s millwork is painted, the second one should be as well.
– Use old wood against old, and new against new. Putting new and old wood next to each other is asking for trouble – and who needs more problems?.