Trim- It’s All About the Size

June 20, 2017

I recently worked with a client who had questions regarding the trim in her home:

We are currently redoing the exterior of our house to have more craftsman look. So, now that we are at the point of putting trim around new windows and doors, we are starting to be forced to know what we will do with the interior. We currently love the wood floors and the style of the new front door, despite that it’s darker than we anticipated.

I’m hoping you are comfortable as one designer’s opinion of what would look best if we want to continue integrating craftsman style, yet contemporary mixed in, into the inside. Here is what we are debating:

1. White trim or stained trim (I think white will brighten and not make it so much brown as we currently have going on).

If we do wide white trim (craftsman look above doors), do we do white doors or attempt to re-stain our doors. Or, buy new doors – white or stained? “

new door

My first thought, before even considering the color of the new trim, was the size of the baseboard that currently exists. Looking at the photo, the molding looks a bit too small and out of proportion with the wall:

hallway trim

This is a case where I actually think stained trim gets a bad rap not because of it’s color, but because it is too tiny for the room. For a time, builders were using a smaller height for baseboard trim in the new builds which were only an average height of 2-3”. This smaller trim was not part of any historic molding:



Maybe it was just easier and less expensive to install for the builders? I’m not quite sure of the reason, but it’s a relatively easy update to make if you would like to make this change.

Updating your baseboard trim is a quick way to update any room in your home. When deciding which size baseboard to go with, my standard rule of thumb is to have at least a 5 1/4” baseboard, white or stained, for a standard 8 ft. high ceiling. If you do not want to go through the hassle or mess of ripping out the old molding to replace with a larger size, there is a new product called, Rapidfit, sold at Lowe’s.



The larger molding fits right over the old molding. Pretty good idea to check into if you are thinking of changing all of your trim.

Using a wider, heftier baseboard can really make a difference in your home design, as you can see below:

stained baseboard


In summary, my advice on baseboard size is to use larger, taller trim boards for the best look.

To answer the client’s question about the trim color – if she is going to use wide white trim above the doorways and is planning on changing the trim anyway, I would definitely go with the white for a fresher, new look. If she does decide to proceed with the white trim, my recommendation would be to either paint the doors white or purchase new white doors (whichever best fits her budget).

Don’t you think it makes a big visual difference?

wide trim


This rule applies to doorways also! The larger trim always looks beautiful.

Extra Tip: Baseboard is typically taller than casing is wide, and about as tall as the crown. The taller the crown, the taller the baseboard should be to maintain visual balance. A standard 8-foot wall typically has a baseboard 5 to 7 inches tall, while a 10-foot ceiling calls for 7 to 9 inches.



  1. Kelly, this is a wonderful blog post! Thanks for sharing all this information and especially the Rapidfit in one easy to read post!

  2. Excellent advice Kelly and excellent post as well. I’m keen on checking into Rapidfit too. You are a treasure trove of wonderful information. 🙂

  3. Great post and love the photo with the examples of historically accurate moldings! I pinned this one.

  4. Big trim makes the wall look smaller and the room too. Shorter trim makes the wall look taller. 3 (2.75) inch trim on a 8ft wall makes the wall look more elegant, whereas 5 inch trim makes the wall look like it is old colonial build with low ceilings and old school carpentry..

  5. Great blog. I have just the opposite issue. Mine is in regard to small rooms in rustic cabin with pine tongue groove ceilings. Everything is brown, (ceilings, old brown wood paneling, brown wood floors.) I must lighten it up. No floor or ceiling molding, 1/2 inches door trim and shoe molding in the corners; The bare basics. I’m trying to dress it up a bit on a shoestring budget. So I’m doing most of not all the work myself; Which is how I stumbled onto your blog, deciding the size and style of floor, ceiling and door trim for a multifunctional room living, dining and kitchen. The entire cabin is 820 square feet. By which the living room/dining/kitchen is approx. 12 feet wide x 20 feet long x 7 3/4 feet tall, 4 doorways 5 windows .
    I love the ceilings though a honey color due to being varnished and the weathered 8”planked flooring is pretty cool too. So painting light grey almost white walls doors and cabinetry.

    ***Question is size of trim crilinh, doorways and baseboards and do I paint high gloss crisp white or go chromatically? *** same color as walls?

    I wished I could post photos. I really need suggestions. I’m attempting to create contemporary with small hints of rustic (hint wood ceilings and floors)

    Can you and perhaps others help? Thanks much in advance. ?

  6. Hi Kelly,

    This blog is very helpful.
    We have an 8” ceiling with 3 1/2 in. ceiling trim. Which would look better – a 3 1/2 or 5 inch baseboard?


  7. Great Blog. Hi, Kelly. I have 12 ft. high walls and 8 ft. high doors. What should be the width of my door casings, the height of my baseboards? Should Crown moldings ever be smaller than the height of the baseboards?



    • Sorry Gideon- I was ill last week and still trying to catch up. I am not quite sure of the answer to your questions. I would google to get the best information. Thank you for writing!

  8. Hi Kelly,
    What about window trim? The house I’m remodeling has small windows, would you recommend making the door trim the same size as the window trim?

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