Interior Millwork & Design

Interior Millwork & Design

What is millwork?

In architectural design, millwork is essentially any woodwork that’s produced in a wood mill that is visible in the home. It refers to the decorative interior finishes that can be installed nearly anywhere, giving character and distinction, and often an air of luxury, to the home – both interior and exterior. Think of millwork as the attention to detail and craftmanship where your walls meet each other at the “seams,” just as a haute couture fashion designer’s fashion collections feature perfectly constructed seams and details.

Millwork is different from lumber in the sense that lumber is generally unfinished wood used inside the walls. Generally, millwork is the wood you see, whereas lumber is the wood used for structural purposes that you don’t see.

Millwork includes:

  • Doorframes and casings
  • Door sills and window sills
  • Crown molding
  • Columns
  • Coffered ceilings
  • Base trim
  • Window casing
  • Chair rails
  • Doors
  • Wood paneling and paneled walls
  • Balustrades
  • Baseboards
  • Railings
  • Stairways
  • Built-in cabinetry
  • Ceiling trim
  • Custom Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinetry
  • Fireplace mantels
  • Stairways
  • Thresholds

Millwork does not include:

  • Wood flooring
  • Lumber used in structural building
  • Ready-made cabinetry

Note: thought custom built-in cabinetry is technically millwork, often, contractors will sperate it into its own category for specification purposes.

How do I choose the millwork for my home?

Millwork is classified by the type of architecture it represents, such as Victorian, Country, or Traditional. It can be purchased ready-made, which is more cost-effective for budget constraints, or custom-made, where millwork specialists will help you design these additions to your home that can completely upgrade your space at a lower cost than a full remodel.

How large should millwork be in proportion to my home?

Standard millwork is in every room of the home, from baseboards to door trims. Ultimately, the intricacy and detail of millwork in your home is up to you and your architectural designer (and depends on your budget).

When it comes to sizing, many millworkers will use the classical principles of the “male” ratio of 1:7, or the “female” ratio of 1:8 or 1:9 – meaning a column will be 7, 8, or 9 times as tall as it is wide; a baseboard will be 7, 8, or 9 times as long as it is tall.  Traditionally, all millwork in the home would be stained the same color, but however, a mixed approach is becoming more common throughout architectural design, where different stains and/or paint colors are user throughout the home.

As far as allocating budget to millwork, this will depend entirely on what you are having done. If you are custom-building cabinetry, trim, moldings, and more for an entire room, you can expect it to run anywhere from $15,000 – $35,000, whereas if you are going with ready-made, it would likely run you approximately $5,000 per room.

How can a millwork shop help?

Visiting a millwork shop can help you in your DIY process if you need guidance in designing and installing ready-made trimming but can also help you if you have no idea where to even start and would like someone to design all millwork for you.

Alternatives to millwork

Millwork doesn’t necessarily have to come from a wood mill anymore – manufacturers now offer second-or-third generation composite materials that may offer more benefits than traditional would, such as being longer lasting and more cost effective. Certain materials such as PVC and/or cast fiberglass are fire-resistant (whereas wood is not), while polyurethane is easier to carve and mold than regular wood.

How can an architect help with millwork in my home?

An architect designs the structure and layout of your home, while millwork enhances the design. An architect will advise, based on the style of the architecture, what moldings and other millwork will fit your aesthetic vision best in order to achieve the end design. Many architects partner with skilled millwork firms to work in unison to bring your visions to life, and often have access to a wider selection of millwork variations than if you were to enter a mill shop on your own.

An architect will advise of the cabinetry, finishes, door frames, door types, and more that will enhance the home. Often, when space is an issue (whether too small or too large for ready-made cabinetry), architects work with millwork to customize a solution for your home’s specifications. The architect’s role in the millwork component of building a home is to establish the basic design of the home and allow millworkers to fabricate their trimmings in accordance. Millworkers will provide detailed drawings where they are to construct their work, and the architect approves them to ensure they are in line with the proposed design.

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