7 Contemporary Molding and Trim Ideas for Modern Living

Millwork items like crown molding, baseboard, paneling, and trim, tend to call to mind visions of traditional architecture, ornate detailing, and embellished formal spaces. After all, millwork detailing hit its peak during the era of Victorian design. However, that doesn’t mean that custom wood details are limited to old-world style. With the right application, millwork can be modern, sleek, and contemporary. 

At Amity Kett, our interior designers and architects believe that trim and molding can be added to any home style to create a sense of warmth and welcome. Even minimalist contemporary homes should offer inviting details that provide visual interest and set the tone for life inside the house. Without detail work, the home can feel cold and unwelcoming. Our designers are sharing seven contemporary molding and trim ideas that are fit for modern living and style. 

1. Install Simple Molding with Contemporary Lines 

Crown moldings, baseboards, window casings, and door casings are some of the most common millwork pieces seen in almost every home style. While these millwork items help frame the space and draw attention to architectural features, they also have the practical purpose of bridging the room’s seams for a finished look. Traditional moldings may include intricate carvings, like dentil or egg and dart patterns. However, modern baseboard and crown molding styles are available with flat profiles and simple lines that offer contemporary flair. To achieve a modern or minimalist look, opt for moldings with less intricate profiles that will serve their purpose without distracting from the clean look of the intended style. 

DK Studio

2. Paint Millwork and Walls the Same Color 

Sometimes modern interiors can live within traditional architecture. If your existing space contains intricate crown molding and you wish to establish a more contemporary look, don’t resort to tearing out the existing millwork. Instead, consider painting the trim, walls, and ceiling all the same color. A unifying color will help establish visual consistency and a modern feel while keeping a layer of texture and nod to the room’s past. Plus, the contrast of contemporary furnishings with ornate millwork will create visual interest in the space. 

3. Choose Modern Recessed Baseboards 

Recessed baseboards tuck into the wall instead of standing out from it. This unique design choice offers a contemporary look while still adding visual detail. If you’re looking to go ultra-modern, you could even choose to install tracks of downlighting from the recessed baseboard to illuminate the floor and showcase the architectural feature. Recessed baseboards need to be planned ahead of time because the nontraditional design requires a different drywall application not used in most builds. The success of this look relies on precise installation and attention to detail. The payoff is a sleek space with impressive craftsmanship.    


4. Select Stepped Crown Molding 

Modern looks can take inspiration from past styles. For example, an art deco-inspired stepped crown molding would feel at home in a 1920s mansion and a contemporary new build. Stepped crown molding moves up the wall and carries onto the ceiling in a series of small steps. The geometric lines of stepped modeling offer a modern feel even though they are inspired by an old design style. Use stepped molding in rooms with a high ceiling height, as they will help draw the eye up and accentuate the space.   

Inviting Home

5. Add Geometric Lines Using Simple Trims  

Trimwork doesn’t have to be limited to the traditional chair rails and picture rails seen in Colonial and Craftsman homes. Simple trims can be combined to create unique geometric patterns on a partial or full wall, adding distinct visual interest and a modern touch. When finishing the focal point, an accent color can be applied to the trim to make the pattern stand out, or a uniform color can be used to let the texture and shadow define the design. When using trim to create a pattern, precision is critical to pull off the look. Make sure the lines and cuts are precise. Otherwise, the feature may take on a rustic charm, not in line with the design intent.   

Apartment Therapy

6. Mimic Mid Century Post and Beam Ceilings 

Modern spaces don’t have to be cold, sterile, or void of natural elements. Mid Century Modern design is a perfect example. Primarily built with post and beam construction, Mid Century era homes feature exposed wood beams often paired with a naturally finished wood-paneled ceiling. The post and beam look simultaneously offers modern lines, incorporates natural elements, and often draws a connection with the outdoors. Adding beams or wooden features, like a paneled ceiling, can warm a modern design and make for a cozy contemporary space.  

Atomic Ranch

7. Warm a Room with Modern Deco-Inspired Paneling 

Wood paneling can be found in Tudur, Craftsman, Colonial, and rustic homes. However, the right application, design, and coating can make paneling the perfect finish for a contemporary house as well. Art Deco design often played with scale and geometric elements to create unique paneled walls that would feel right at home in modern design plans. Timber wall panels can feature shiny veneers, oversized boards, interesting geometric cuts, and even metal inlays. All of these elements give a modern feel while still supplying warmth to the room.    

Home to Love

Millwork Can Be Made and Applied to Any Style

Millwork is the one design element that a home cannot live without, no matter the style. Molding, trim, and paneling have been utilized in every design style, ranging from Victorian to Mid Century Modern. The cut, finish, and application of the material can be customized to fit any desired style and add that warm touch that makes a house a home. 

Ready to start on your home project? 

Contact Us for a Design Consultation Today

Don’t miss out on design history, trends, and knowledge. 

Stay Up to Date with Us

Recent Posts