The tastes and expectations of international clients can sometimes produce challenges for American carpenters. As we can see from local architecture, every region produces its own style. Over time, we at S + H have discovered that national styles also produce their own building methods. An example of this occurred with some clients from Iceland, who wanted a clean, modern, “Icelandic” look. This meant no trim. Simple, right? Just leave off the trim and save a few bucks.

Not at all, first because it meant that our plasterers had to learn to produce finished work right up to the breaks at the wall perimeter (floor, door or window) as these transitions are normally covered by trim. And the framers had to compensate for the lack of trim at the door jambs, as trim contributes to the structural capacity of the jamb.

Door systems were a particular issue as they are critical to the look and feel of the style. An exterior sliding door system was imported from Iceland and installed by a qualified Icelandic carpenter. The interior doors were produced locally and adapted from a suitable commercial design to fit the specs.

Another defining element of Icelandic style is the fireplace. An imported Icelandic gas burner system would have been a code violation in a wood framed building such as this. To achieve the minimalist aesthetic expected, we first installed a conventional wood burning fireplace and then installed a gas burner approved for that use. The installed gas burner was then modified to look like the minimalist fireplace.