Putting on Eyeliner: DIY Window Trim

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Aren't these windows lovely? So clean and finished. 

 You know what they all have in common?

White, crisp, clean frames.

But in Arizona we don't have windows like this (sigh). No, we live in the land of drywall frames 

 ...and plain, rounded drywall corners. Seriously, I don't know a single person in Phoenix who lives in a house with trimmed windows, except the lucky few who live in custom homes. (FYI- Arizona is also the land of beige tract homes, so custom homes are REALLY something special)

Well I have some small, lonely windows on either side of my bed that I didn't know what to do with. They were really too small for curtains, but were in dire need for some detail. I decided one day to take some leftover 1x and cheap window casing (which coincidentally in AZ builders constantly mistake and use for baseboard) and trim out my windows. They turned out thus-ly

I've always loved them. They are the first thing I see when I walk into my bedroom and the clean, white moulding makes me happy. If I had it my way, every edge and opening in my house would be trimmed out in moulding... one day. Well I have this bank of windows, above my bay window seat that felt left out. I made up my mind, they were getting trim too! 

(my crappy "before" shot)
Sorry for the lack of "before" photos. Also, I have to address the photo quality. Admittedly, I have a LOT of  learning to do about photography but to my credit, I was shooting at open windows during the day- pretty much the hardest shot ever. I tried my best to brighten up everything without losing too much detail. 

Start by measuring your windows. I discovered that the depth of my windows was almost exactly 3.5 inches.   The very same width as a 1 x 4! How lucky is that? My exterior walls are constructed with 2 x 4 studs, so I'm assuming that explains the perfect depth. Make sure you measure before you cut anything, But I would be willing to bet if your walls were built with 2 x 6 studs, your windows would be 5.5 inches deep. 

The first part is the hardest. First, you need to cut your "window stool", often mistakenly called the "sill". The stool is the horizontal part of the trim that extends past the window frame.

You should figure your stool measurments using the width and depth of your window sill, and taking in account your moulding. For example, the casing I planned on using was only 5/8 in thick, so I wanted my stool to extend past the wall only about 1 in. Since they don't sell 1 x 5, that meant I had to rip down my 1 x 6 down to 4.5 in widths. My casing was also 2.5 in wide, so I wanted my stool to extend 4 in on either side of the window to have somewhere for the trim to meet up with, and having a little extend past.

I did the first two windows before I had my table saw. You can use a circular saw, or even a jigsaw if you scribe your line and have a steady hand. It doesn't have to be perfect.

*A quick table saw tip. After you set the width on your fence, double check the distance between the fence and the inside of the blade, just to make sure everything is square.

Once your board is ripped to the correct width and cut to length, it's time to mark your inside corners.
I started by marking where the edge of the window will be, 1 inch in from the edge.

I then marked 4 inches from either edge.

Now, I got really scientific for this part. I needed to scribe the radius's of my dumb, rounded drywall corners. I simply looked in my tupperware cabinet for something small and round, comparing it to the corners until I found a close match. Line the circular object up with the lines, on the back and outside edges and trace the curve between the lines. If your drywall edges aren't rounded, you can skip this step. 

Use your handy-dandy notebook jigsaw to cut out the area marked.

Now test fit your stool before you do anything else. Mine took a little adjusting to get the corners to sit right, but it wasn't anything too challenging. 

If you like craftsman style and want to keep things simple, you could leave your stool like that and nail it in. I like a little more detail, and wanted to match the previous two windows, so I needed to rout the outside edges of my stool. I just used a 1/4 in round over bit, sunk slightly to create an additional edge.

Make sure to go all the way around the outside edges.

 Lay your stool in place and attach with a few finish nails. The rest of the trim is simple.I just cut 1 x 4 boards square and ran them along the inside of the window frame. I nailed my top piece in first, then the sides.

Don't freak if it isn't perfect. Lets say you have a ridculously inaccurate miter saw like me and your "square" cuts look like this. It's okay, that's what caulk is for.

I wish I had taken more detailed pictures of the next step, but it's kinda basic. I just cut my casing to go around, mitering it at the top and running it square at the bottom. Remember to not bring the moulding all the way to edge of the 1 x 4 frame. Leave about 1/8 in "reveal". 

The next step is where you can get creative, deciding on an "apron". Google "window apron" for inspiration ideas. I went with something simple. I took a wider piece of casing, measured the length of my stool, and cut in at a 45 degree angle, creating a trapezoid. I chose not to do a "return", or wrap the moulding back on the outside edges for two reasons. A) The mouding is very thin, and with my crappy miter saw, cutting that small of a little wedge would not only be hazardous, but also inaccurate  B) With the stool being so close to the window seat, I decided it wouldn't be very noticeable. Small crown moulding is gorgeous as an apron! If you chose to build your apron out with crown moulding, you would definitely want to "return" the moulding back to the wall and you would need your stool to extend out from the window further.

*Make sure to document the spots where your 3-year old grabbed a pair of pliars and decided to "help" you.

 Two coats of semi-gloss, white paint and there she be! I now have beautifully trimmed, anti-Arizona windows. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE AZ! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. It's a fantastic place to live. I'm just going to do my best to add a little detail to the place. DON'T BE INTIMIDATED! This project was actually very easy! You can do it and you could do it with very few tools if necessary. Warning: there is a good chance that when you start this project you'll take down your dark, heavy valance and decide you need a different window treatment.

P.S. I am SOOO sorry you had to look at my trashy back yard! It quite embarrassing honestly. That's a BIG project for down the road.

Linking at:

My Romantic Home
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Somewhat Simple
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
My Uncommon Slice of SuburbiaHouse on the WayThe Shabby Nest


  1. You window mouldings look AMAZING! You did a great job and I'm glad you posted this because I am new to woodworking and power tools and I always wondered how they were made. I am pinning this to my Pinterst DIY board.

    Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos

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  3. I love them! My husband has been wanting to do this to some of our windows (which happen to be like yours), I think I may give him the go ahead now! It just sounds like so much work! But yours look so lovely and it adds so much character!
    Selene @ restorationbeauty.com

  4. Great work! The windows look so different now. It also makes the room brighter and elegant. :)

  5. Thanks! I'm pinning this! I got a miter saw for my birthday (I'm such a nerd), and this is the perfect inaugural project!

  6. Thanks for posting this - I am in CA and have the same issue with my drywall window frames. I definitely want to do this!

  7. It was truly an enlightening moment for me when I realized that a window trim actually works like an eyeliner. XD Both are meticulously done. Only that when it comes to trims, I think white is more preferred than black. How long did it take you to finish all the windows again? Also, how about adding a cornice to complement the trapezoid frame? :]

  8. Looks very professionally done. Thanks for the tutorial.

  9. The first several months of my site there were no comments; just give it time; now they come in like crazy every day! Thanks.
    Robert C. Daniels

  10. Thanks for the tutorial. We are buildng an AZ home with the drywall windows. Upgrading with window "sills" was too expensive. Love the fully frames window anyways.

  11. Nice tips. I don't know how to decorate my new window but now I have some idea. Your windows are more beautiful and your room look brighter. I think I can do that. Thanks for your helpful post.

  12. I just started reading your blog and have found it very helpful? What made you choose latex paint over chalk paint for your vanity? Durability? I was just thinking that if I redid my own vanity that chalk paint might be faster because I wouldn't have to sand beforehand.

  13. Unbelievable. Do you do all this? I really admire you

  14. Great post. I am repairing my window. Your post really help me. Thanks !

  15. Haven't been to Arizona so I was intrigued when you said that this is the "norm" when it comes to windows over there. Even the new houses are like that?


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