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Does your fireplace need a face-lift? Are your walls looking drab? If so, there are plenty of simple ways to create your very own look with solid hardwood moulding. Here are a few:

Can I "stack" stock mouldings for a custom look?

Absolutely. Custom-built hardwood mouldings can be expensive, but chances are you can get the custom look you want on a modest budget. The standard width of trim is five inches. By combining some of the more than 350 moulding profiles and shapes that are available off the shelf in stores, it's easy to build up or "stack" standard profiles to create the effect of a single piece of wood several inches wider in virtually any style.

How can I combine stock pieces of wood to create a baseboard?

Many baseboards, especially those in new homes, can use some sprucing up. Visit your local home center or lumber supply house to find at least two pieces of stock hardwood that, together, can create the look you want. For a traditional baseboard, start from the floor with a relatively flat trim board that is four to six inches high. Add a piece of trim moulding with a convex or rounded shape (such as a basic quarter-round) at the bottom of the flat trim board. Then top off the flat board with a recessed profile. The finished product should measure six to eight inches high.

What type of wood moulding should I choose?

Nothing stands up to wear and tear better than naturally beautiful American hardwood. That's why woods like oak and maple are the best choice for window and door casings and anything else likely to be bumped, such as baseboards, paneling and chair rails. To make sure the trim you choose is solid, check to see if the grain pattern on the face of the product continues over the ends and sides. When budget is an issue, it's possible to get the look of a more expensive hardwood, cherry for instance, by using a cherry stain on a less expensive hardwood such as poplar or basswood. This technique works especially well in decorative applications above eye-level - crown mouldings and recessed ceiling patterns, for instance.

How much of the wall should wainscoting cover?

Wainscoting traditionally is made of individual tongue-and-groove solid hardwood boards. It typically is either the height of a chair rail (running along the bottom third of the wall) or the height of a plate rail (covering the bottom two-thirds of the wall.) In a room with eight- to nine-foot-high ceilings, wainscoting at chair-rail height typically falls 32 to 36 inches up the wall. For higher wainscoting, at least 60 inches is usually best. To pick your spot, consider dividing the height of your room by three and drawing a line at the point you find most visually appealing.

How can I dress up my fireplace mantel?

The fireplace tends to be the focal point of a room so enhancing it with hardwood mouldings, wainscoting or paneling is well worth the effort. If your mantel features decorative details, choose wall mouldings to complement that look. Moulding strips will create the look of raised paneling. Use decorative hardwood medallions and other ornamental period-style mouldings to add visual interest to a plain mantel face. Stain trim the same color as the mantel or gild or paint it as an accent. Consider extending the design elements to include built-in seating, bookcases or cabinets. When budget is a concern, transform a drab fireplace wall with a simple wood plank mantel, supported by antique-looking wood brackets.

Can I install my own trim?

Maybe. A handy homeowner with basic carpentry skills typically can tackle a simple moulding installation project. The job requires the ability to use a miter box and a coping saw. When possible, try to buy several short pieces of moulding rather than one big piece for a long stretch of wall. When stacking mouldings, completely install the first piece for the whole project. Then add the second piece before the third, and so on.

Want to learn how to install a crown moulding?

Install Crown Mouldings