Designing Interiors with a Full Palette of Choices

Consider all the options for creative results
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Sponsored by ASI Group, Bradley Corporation, Cultured Stone, Inpro, Tamlyn, and Vectorworks
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
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The profiles of aluminum trim are varied but seamless across its full length. Complex shapes can be realized in one-piece extruded aluminum sections without having to employ mechanical joining methods. The resultant profile typically is stronger than a comparable assemblage and less likely to loosen over time. Manufacturers offer numerous standard and custom trim profiles that allow architects to create cohesive wall designs using a product that offers greater durability and protection of the surface materials.

There is even the ability to create custom profile details specific to a particular project or group of projects where desired. Manufacturers can offer design assistance and continuing education to help designers understand the capabilities and possibilities of such custom trim work. Though most have a catalog offering diverse options, they also understand that sometimes the need for a small change to an existing profile or an idea “from scratch” would make all the difference for a project. It is possible that they can support high volumes or short lead times and still work within project budget constraints. Options can be created for profiles, colors, and finishes which can assist designers in meeting the client's demands. There are also opportunities for installer training to ensure the finished project matches the design intent.

Of course, the color and finish of the trim is an important design consideration, regardless of the location. Fortunately, there are many different finish options available, including mill-finish aluminum, anodized aluminum, standard prefinished color palettes, ready-to- paint finishes, or custom finishing. Extruded aluminum trim can be specified in anodized aluminum in standard colors such as clear, champagne, bronzes, and black. Factory prefinished trim can include liquid paint (i.e., acrylics, alkyds, polyesters, and others) or powder coatings─any of which reduces onsite labor needs. At least one manufacturer can provide custom pattern matching on the aluminum to include logos, match wood panels, match stone walls, or even create a wood grain look. Alternatively, the trim can be specified simply with a paint primer ready to receive final finish coats in the field of virtually any color. With this variety of choices, the trim can appear to blend in with the adjacent wall panels or it can be used to highlight all or some of the visual lines it creates. This flexibility using familiar and long-lasting finish options means that both the design and the performance level can be controlled.


When using manufactured stone veneer (MSV) as part of an interior design, there are several attributes to keep in mind:

Aesthetics Manufactured stone veneer is an inspirational design material, born from innovative technology and creative solutions that replicate natural stone with superior color consistency. There are at least 20 different textures and over 100 color options available. In addition to the stone used for the field of a wall covering, there are also accent products available, such as capstones and hearthstones, to create a unified and coordinated look.

Ease of Installation Unlike full bed-depth natural stone, manufactured stone veneer is lightweight and easy to install in a variety of locations. The lightweight material reduces structural requirements and allows for easier handling. There are no wall ties or footings required for support. Instead, it adheres directly to any structurally sound surface. The straightforward installation process consists of installing a wire lath, covering it with a scratch coat, then using conventional mortar and grout to hold the stone or brick veneer pieces in place. For even quicker installations, panelized systems are available from some manufacturers. This process creates less waste compared to natural stone in a range of residential, commercial, and multifamily installations.

LongevityCost Effectiveness Just as any quality material can help with a positive life cycle cost, MSV can do the same. It is more versatile than natural stone but is just as visually striking, often for a fraction of the cost. This means designers can create beautiful, lasting structures while still meeting demanding time and cost constraints.

Manufacturers also provide technical resources and training programs for architects, designers, builders, installers, and other specifiers. This means design and construction professionals can have the right information make the best choices that align with a particular vision.


Building interiors are made up of many different materials, products, colors, textures, and components. Picking from the wide array of choices, including those described here, allows designers to create balanced, fun, appealing, and innovative interiors that meet or exceed client expectations.

Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP is a nationally known architect and a prolific author advancing positive acoustical experiences through better building design.,


ASI Group
Bradley Corp.
Cultured Stone
Vectorworks, Inc.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in October 2022


Designing Interiors with a Full Palette of Choices
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