The concept of modernism guides nearly everything about the planning and construction of your home to the elements of interior design, including the base trim details. It involves losing the complexities of design and allowing for greater architectural flexibility, with a focus on minimalist, functional, spare, and humble design, as expressed in flush and trimless baseboard detail.
Baseboards are designed to protect high traffic areas from abuse, in addition to concealing the messy drywall finishing and unsightly joint between the finished wall and floor.
The Baseless Approach
Eliminating the baseboard creates a simple, ultraclean look that reduces the areas for dust and debris to settle, which makes it easier to clean. The design also reduces material, installation, and finishing costs in new builds. It also causes people to focus on the people and things in the room rather than the design of the room.
Unfortunately, the lack of a baseboard exposes the wall base to damage from foot traffic and vacuums, and opens up the messy drywall finishing. So the drywall must be finished for a neat baseless look.
This is a variation of the most minimal design - discussed above - that uses a piece of metal or plastic to separate the drywall from the floor, usually with a ¾” shadow line or reveal or reglet. This is a common contemporary design that adds some complexity to the baseless design, but provides a crisp, clean edge that’s easy to finish.
The piece of metal can be painted to either match or contrast the color of the wall. Black color enhances the shadow effect and helps to conceals inconsistencies between surfaces. It is mostly found in commercial and industrial settings where there’s minimal foot traffic. Some homes also use it to separate different construction materials, like drywall and concrete floor, which gives the wall a floating look.
The flush base combines the aesthetic of a baseboard with the benefits of eliminating the baseboard. It minimizes dust and debris collection, solves the issue of wall protection, and fits perfectly with contemporary interiors. It usually features a different color to contrast the wall while integrating with the door trim. A flush base also draws the eye to the type of flooring, which is a contemporary, genuine approach to detailing.
For a simpler flush-base design, you should choose a wall material that can also serve well as the baseboard material.
Larger or Smaller Baseboards
Increasing the height of the baseboard emphasizes the aesthetic and function of the baseboard, while reducing the size provides a great balance between functional use and cost of material and finishing. Usually, the taller the base the thicker it should be, which increases the cost.
Baseboards can be made of any material, though most are made from medium density fiberboard (MDF) for painting or solid wood for a clear finish. To prevent the joint from cracking, both the base and finished wall surface should be fastened to the same underlying material / substrate.