If you can first identify your home style, it will give you the clues you need to find the correct moulding for your interiors.

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Q: Old Seattle homes have such cool moulding. Can you give us a fly-by guide to the types of mouldings most commonly seen on our area’s historic homes so we can figure out what to do in our own house?

A: Seattle is a young city with a rich architectural history, and understanding that history is an important starting point when identifying the correct mouldings for your home.

Founded on the shores of Elliott Bay in 1853, the new residents of our city used the abundant supply of Douglas fir to build their homes and businesses. In our historic neighborhoods, there’s still a lot of moulding made of Douglas fir, and depending on the specific area you’re in and the point in history when its homes were built, you’ll see a variety of moulding styles.

Right around the turn of the past century, Seattle became an attractive place to escape the rest of the country. What resulted is a mix of architectural styles represented across Seattle — some brought with people as they migrated west to remind them of home, and some influenced by backlash against the uniformity of the places they came from. Many of these houses have since received interior remodels, but their exterior still alludes to their historical roots.

These are the six most-common moulding styles we picked that best represent the variety of Seattle’s historic homes and the characteristics of each.

Tudor. Following World War I, Americans enthusiastically embraced two new trends: the romance of European architectural styles, and the expansion of towns and cities into the new automobile suburbs. Part of the Romantic revival era, much of this style is inspired by Bavarian qualities, almost resembling gingerbread houses. You can find examples of these red brick houses throughout neighborhoods in Montlake, Ballard, Green Lake and north Capitol Hill.

Bungalow. The small size of bungalows was necessitated by early Seattle city planning but resulted in a quaint, charming and simple style intended to create basic housing. Today, Seattle’s personality — the type of house many people imagine when they think of the city — is largely a blend between bungalow and Craftsman.

Craftsman. Warm, quaint and approachable, the Craftsman style started as a reaction to the wealth and grandeur of the Victorian era as a celebration of handcrafted work. Wallingford is a quintessential example of a Craftsman neighborhood. You also see these old classic patterns in Capitol Hill, Magnolia and Madrona.

Colonial. Based on architectural trends from America’s founding, the powerful presence of this romantic style embraces Greek and Roman architecture from centuries past. In Seattle, we can see several iterations of it surfacing in styles over decades and decades. In areas of town like the Mount Baker neighborhood, Madrona, north Capitol Hill and the U District, where most everything is constructed of brick — a reaction to the devastating 1889 fire — you’ll see a Colonial and know its owners wanted to stand out.

Midcentury modern. Conceived from the desire to celebrate and embrace materials as they truly are, the midcentury-modern style is symbolized by the idea of reducing and refining to the simplest materials. As we move across the water onto the Eastside and areas such as Bellevue and Kirkland, many of these homes were built in the 1960s and display a lot of the modernist movement in their features.

Victorian. The Victorian style was nationally prevalent during Seattle’s developmental years. Inspired by Queen Victoria of England, the Victorian style embraces high ceilings, extensive millwork and handcarved details. This style was used in early homes in Queen Anne, Denny Hill and First Hill, but those were all either torn down or destroyed in the 1889 fire. Nowadays, you’ll find simplistic versions of Victorian homes tucked away all over Seattle.

If you can first identify your home style, it will give you the clues you need to find the correct moulding for your home.


Mike Dunn is the president and CEO of Dunn Lumber and Keith Miller is a certified interior designer and principal of Miller Interior Design. Both are members of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.