Making the Case for Millwork

If you think ornamental millwork is only for mega-mansions, you need to think again. Adding or upgrading woodwork to your Cape Cod home can be a surprisingly inexpensive way to bring the look of any room to the next level.

Beyond Basic

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If your home has basic, or “builder grade,” baseboard trim — a simple 1″ x 4″ board that wraps around a room — replacing it with something more ornate, such as in the photo above, is the perfect starting point to your trimwork transformation. In some cases, we can even modify what you already have by simply adding strips of trim above and below. A coat of paint finishes the look.

Corner blocks, an ornamental square of wood set at the corners of window trim (below) are another easy way to upgrade existing woodwork. Readily available in a variety of styles, corner blocks can be added to most windows.

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Wall Treatments

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Most wood wall treatments are some kind of tongue-and-groove paneling: pieces of wood that are milled to allow them to lock together. In the top left in the photo above, from one of our projects, we laid the paneling vertically and finished it at the top with trim. Beadboard, which adds a classic coastal look, is one of the most prevalent wall treatment choices on Cape Cod. Batten board works well in both historic and contemporary homes. Because it can be created by simply affixing strips of wood to any wall, and then painting everything with satin or high-gloss paint, batten board is often one of the least expensive wall treatment options. Shiplap, a humble wall treatment that was once used primarily in the South, has migrated north due to the “Chip & Joanna Factor.” In the bedroom pictured below, we painted classic knotty pine paneling white, a more modern approach for this Cape staple.

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Stunning Staircases

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If your home has a staircase that’s fairly visible, use woodwork to make it shine. In the home above, one of our custom-built homes in Osterville, we went with transitional-style elements — not too modern and not too vintage — to create a wow factor. Tongue-in-groove paneling lines the wall beneath the stairs, hand-turned balustrades add texture, and the banister is stained in a deep hue to add contrast. The newel post is simple yet eye-catching. With an open area at the top of the stairs, we opted to continue the railing and balustrades to the second level.

Below is a custom lighthouse newel post we had created for one of our remodeling projects.

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Support Columns

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Even with the steel-beam construction techniques used today, interior support columns can still be needed. When remodeling an older home, removing existing columns tends to be costly and time-consuming. Woodwork can transform a utilitarian support column from eyesore to statement maker.

There are many column “wraps” available today. These are essentially kits, of either wood or plaster elements, or a combination of the two, which wrap around a column (on left in above photo). They’re attractive and a great value. In the photo on the right, one of our historic renovation projects, we custom-made columns to replicate existing ones.

Rethinking the Fireplace

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If your fireplace is no longer the focal point of the room, it’s time for an upgrade. All of the above photos are from our historic renovation projects. We left the stonework surrounding the firebox (tile in the upper left) in place, and gave the surfaces a thorough cleaning. We then replaced the mantel and the fireplace surround — the vertical woodwork on either side — with new, custom-milled woodwork. The look is period appropriate, yet doesn’t look dated. In the upper left photo we also added an applique in the shape of a scallop.

The photo on the right was part of a larger remodeling project. In addition to updating the fireplace, we added a coffered ceiling: ornamental beams laid out in a grid pattern.

Built-In Cabinetry & Shelving

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The right-hand photo above is of a laundry room where we added custom cabinetry and drawers, and a mahogany countertop.

Ready to make some millwork upgrades? Please contact us to get started.