Deck the Halls and Trim the House

5 Simple Home Improvement Projects

‘Tis the season to open our doors to family, friends, and guests. Even the most beautiful houses can benefit from a few simple changes to décor. Here are 5 easy ways to “trim” your home, improving its appearance and value at little cost:


Install Crown Molding and Chair Rails

Crown molding can transform a room’s overall look by providing a bridge between the ceilings and walls. It is especially elegant in formal settings, such as a dining room or home office. If you like the look of stained wood, spring for the solid wood option. However, if you, like many people, will paint the trim white to offset the wall color, you can use a less-expensive wood composite for the molding.

Similarly, chair rails, a panel running around the room at approximately the top of a chair’s height, are also a nice accent. Just remember that with both crown molding and chair rails, scale is key. If your ceilings are 9 feet, you don’t want enormously wide molding or chair rails set at 3 feet high. A contractor can help you select the right look and cut the panels to your specifications.

Frame Your Windows Inside…

Window treatments make a big difference for a room’s overall feel. By trimming the outside border with a valance or drapes, you draw attention to sources of natural light and frame outdoor views. Just remember that proportion matters – the bigger the window, the more dramatic a drapery you can get away with. Stationary panels should reach the floor but not puddle at the bottom and if using tie-backs, avoid placing them at the panel’s exact center.

You can also install blinds or shades that go beyond the standard flimsy white plastic. Wood and faux wood blinds are nice accent pieces that match a range of room styles. Mini blinds don’t have to be boring – you can get them in an array of colors. If you are concerned about energy efficiency, honeycomb shades are a fun look for rooms. Because they are cordless, they are also a smart choice for homes with kids and pets. Pull-down shades are an alternative to blinds that you can also use as a purposeful accent for windows.

…And Outside

Another way to trim your windows is by installing shutters. You can either buy them ready-made or do a custom order. Paint the shutters a contrasting but complementary color to your home’s exterior. If you want to take it a step further, you can add planter boxes beneath the window and add brightly colored flowers.

Add a Backsplash

A backsplash is attractive and functional  – it protects your kitchen’s walls from messes while cooking, while adding an interesting visual element to the room. Backsplashes are relatively simple projects, made easier by the array of options that include pre-cut panels. Before committing to a specific design, take into account your counter tops and cabinetry, as well your kitchen’s overall aesthetic. If your existing surfaces have a clean and neutral look, you can get a little more creative with the backsplash. Glass, tile, and even custom murals can serve as a focal point for your kitchen without overwhelming the room.

Install Track Lighting

Track lighting accents your ceiling as a fixture, while providing the additional decorative element of strategically-chosen ambient lighting. Because it runs overhead, track lighting saves space. You can also adjust the number of lights and direction they are facing to your preferences. And the panels themselves are often adjustable – you can opt for a curved, looping, or zig-zagging track.


Any of these projects to trim your house can be DIY – but they don’t have to be if you don’t have the time or interest. Check out Responsible Contractors for anonymous, free searching of qualified area contractors if you want to outsource your home improvement projects to the pros:

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