This Old Journal: Part three - Replacing original trim in an Oak Park office building

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By Graham Johnston

Work continues on our community room renovation. The painting is well underway and our interior designer Kellie Scott is working on a floor plan and furniture selection for the space.

One of the challenges of this space is that it's part of a 91-year-old office building, and over those years there have been lots of changes, some more careful than others. originally in this space there was a wall running down the center dividing the room, that was removed over 20 years ago. But when that wall came down, we end up with some missing pieces of the trim work around the room. We've also got this little bump out, it was originally a partial wall that enclosed some desk and eventually the wall was carried all the way to the ceiling. Here we see spots where the trim work of the room gets interrupted, we're missing the chair rail and some of the picture molding.

There are any number of options when it comes to matching or replicating original trim work. We could look online and try to match the exact profile, or shape, of the molding. We could visit a local lumberyard or millwork shop and see if they able to cut the right shape and if they couldn't we could send off a sample of the trim sent off to have custom cutting knives made up to cut the exact shape. But all those options take time and more importantly they don't come cheap. And since we only need small amounts of the trim we went with a different approach.

I took a trip over to my favorite building reuse warehouse, Rebuilding Exchange. They're a Chicago non-profit focused on collecting and reselling salvaged building materials. Lumber, doors, windows, cabinets, plumbing and lighting fixtures, all in their 24,000 square foot warehouse.

I headed over to their trim section with a tracing of the picture rail we were trying to match. We found two 12-for sections that were dead on for the same shape as the original work.

They even had several layers of paint on them so when they go up on the wall they'll look like they've been there the whole time. I also picked two 12-foot pine boards that I'll mill into the chair rail.

Later this week we'll get our first look at Kellie's ideas for the space and I'll show you a sample of an accent wall unlike anything you've ever seen before.

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