Living Happily with Wood Trim (& paint colours that play well with wood)

Yes, it is possible to be happy with the wood trim in your home.

And yes, I'm still the paint-everything-white-freak. If you have bad 60's or 70's hollow-core plain wood doors and trim in your home, paint them

However, I do appreciate the richness of wood trim in both heritage homes and modern dwellings a-la Frank Lloyd Wright style. The craftsmanship in the wood doors and trim in these homes are art in and of themselves, and I would never suggest painting them if they're in good shape. 

My heritage home apartment with beautiful wood doors and trim: Sherwin Williams Ice Cube on walls

My heritage home apartment with beautiful wood doors and trim: Sherwin Williams Ice Cube on walls

One of the things that got me to this point was recently moving into a beautiful old home in downtown Fredericton where the orginal wood trim, staircase and doors were kept in great shape. They're so rich and show off the quality of care put into their making. It's wonderful to mix them with modern colours and furnishings to create a comfortable home that's both past and present. 

But deep, dark wood trim can be hard to work with, as it often means that your rooms are dark and can feel drab. Choosing a colour to work with the wood trim is also no easy task.

Well take heart my wood loving friends! There are some simple options that work in most every home, and if you trust these and don't overcomplicate your colour decisions, you can achieve a beautiful home with wood trim intact. 

My favourite colour choice with wood trim, as you may guess, is white. Using white with rooms heavy with wood trim will keep things light and modern. It will be high contrast, but that's a modern look that can work with dark wood trim. And you can soften the contrast with layers like curtains, rugs, pillows and artwork.  I tend to go with a neutral true white like Sherwin Williams Extra White. A slightly warmer option that works well with wood is Sherwin Williams Westhighland White. However, there are some other options that work really well with wood as well. Soft cool greys are beautiful, as are muted blues and greens. 

P.S. - I like Sherwin William's colours and paint quality, so I've shown them here. But if you prefer another brand, simply have them colour match for you.

living with wood trim: paint colours that play nice with wood trim

Take a look at some examples of beautiful white, offwhite and rich colours can work with wood trim. Click photos for sources.

click all photos for sources

click all photos for sources

Another of my favourite options with wood trim is gray. Neutral and coo grays and greiges work really well with wood trim to neutralize their warmth- which can be a lot when you have a lot in a space. Grays and greiges will make the space feel much more modern, and if you stay on the light side it will still brighten your space. Good options are Sherwin Williams Ice Cube and Sherwin Williams Reflection. 

But if you're not digging light walls go for dark and dramatic with black or dark slate or midnight blue. They are stunning with dark wood trim, and will create a cozy moodiness. Get some light bouncing into the room in other ways by using light curtains and decor, and hanging a mirror opposite the window.  Nice options include Sherwin Williams Inkwell, Charcoal Blue, or In the Navy. 

PS - For a full guide on colour you can download my FREE colour workbook that will help you choose the right colours for your home, even if you have wood trim! 

Finally, if you feel a little more bold and like some colour in your life, choose something that will contrast with the wood, but stick to a natural vibe. Muted tones found in nature like mossy green, sage, and seafoam green work well. To keep it simple, I'd stay away from yellows and beiges and reds - these are hard to pull off with all of the warm tones already in the wood. 

Look, we all want updated homes that are peaceful, comfortable, and inviting, without being too dark and heavy. Having wood trim just means pairing the right colour to achieve this. I hope this simple guide has helped convince you not to paint out all of that beautiful wood trim just yet! 

Want help choosing colour for your home? My free colour workbook will walk you through the steps to choose the perfect colour(s) for your home that blends with your existing fixed elements like wood trim, kitchen cabinets and countertops. 

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Kelly Anderson

Refreshed Designs

A re-designer focused on natural, sustainable and holistic design.