5 Tips for Decorating with Wood Trim

*This is one of my most popular posts so I’ve updated with  more examples of beautifully decorated homes that have wood vs. white trim.  I hope it inspires you!  Please be sure to follow me over on Instagram for more decor ideas!

Let’s chat about how to decorate when your home has WOOD TRIM.  Lots of older home’s around the Boston area have it and the first instinct people have is to paint it white.  Now I get that, I’m a huge fan of white trim, it’s crisp and clean.  Plus looks great with just about any decorating style.  Dark wood trim has a reputation of looking older or dated- however I don’t believe that to be true.  When you choose the right pieces for your style a home with original wood trim can be transformed into an elegant-classic vibe to an eclectic-boho vibe depending on your style.

I’m so excited for my sister and her Fiance just bought their first home which is what inspired this post!  It’s a charming little bungalow that reminds me of the first home Ben and I bought together.  AND it has… WOOD TRIM.  Everyone asked them the BIG question “Will you paint the trim white?”.  The wood trim in their home, as you can see in the photos below, is the kind that’s rich and buttery with details that tell a story of the way homes were once built.   NOT, the kind of detail you want to smack some white latex paint over and call it a day.  If you do- hey its your home totally do what makes you happy!  I was very happy they decided to live with the trim as is for awhile.  You can always decide down the road to paint it if you change your mind.

The Before:

Living area looking into dining area. Look at the beautiful built ins!

Wood trim dining before picture

All wallpaper is coming down and paint is going up! She decided to do the whole kitchen/dining and living room in Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore.  I’ll be sure to update with photos soon!

Wood trim living room before picture

Dining area looking into living area. I love the columns.  The wood is also not this orange-y in person its just the quality of the listing photos.  Notice how beautiful the light flows in, which leads me to believe that lighter or even darker colors would work in either of these rooms.

Wood trim before pictures

With the beautiful old trim detail also came a TON of very old wallpaper. Old wallpaper + wood can REALLY skew ones perception and vision of how to achieve an updated aesthetic with wood trim.  It’s been weeks of wallpaper removal and while I helped a little with that- I thought my time (and manicure 😉 ) might be better spent on helping them come up with a plan/vision for their new place.  Below I did  two e-desisn’s, one for their living room and one for their dining room.  First I’m going to share some tips on how to decorate when your home has wood trim.

5 Tips for Decorating your home when it has original wood trim:

TIP #1:  PAINT IT COOL

To make wood trim look more current and fresh, I suggest staying FAR AWAY from any very warm tone on the wall.  Nothing is going to make your dark wood trim look more orangey or “dated” than choosing a warm color tone on your walls (yellow, tan, orange, red etc..).  I prefer neutrals, off whites, light or dark grays (depending on how much light the home gets) or jewel tones in the blue/green or even purple family.  See below.

Via The Edit

TIP #2: MODERN FURNITURE

Stay away from furniture that also has the same wood tone as your trim.  I’d prefer to see metals, lacquered pieces, black, distressed woods, etc… CLEAN LINES- keep your furniture mostly modern in shape- a few sleek pieces mixed with some antiques or distressed pieces will give you that mix which will give the feel of an eclectic home.

Via Martha Stewart

TIP #3: COLOR IS FUN

Have fun with COLOR!  I’m all about bringing some color into spaces with wood trim, I love jewel tones either in the pillows, or rug or artwork.  I also love the cool tones like blues/greens or really subdued washed out tones in pink or peach.

Via OakOliveStuido

I love the pops of color in this rug and in the island of the kitchen as well!

TIP 4: KEEP IT NEUTRAL

If adding color isn’t your thing it’s totally fine to keep it all NEUTRAL just be sure to add interest with texture, greenery and patterns or a graphic pop of interest.  Below is the perfect example via Evolution of Style Blog

TIP 5:  SPARK SOME INTEREST

Be BOLD with LIGHTING take some risks with shape and the scale of your lights and the finishes, too!  Like this example it is unexpected and adds a focal point to the space.

Via Jean Stoffer Design

The E-Design:

Now to implement some of these tips into two e-designs one for their living room and one for their dining room. Here I would say for the walls keep it neutral with Classic Gray walls or go a bit more rich with Smoke.

I love green/blue undertones with the warmth of the wood.  The sofa is something my sister already owns so I was working with that as a base- putting furniture in that has clean simple lines and then some more pops of blue.

SHOP THIS SPACE:

Diningroom-

I love when dining rooms are a bit bold- it can be a room that’s great for entertaining or sitting and enjoying a morning cup of coffee.  I love these chairs and how they tie in with the wood trim tones but that the table is a bit more of a modern clean look.  This light fixture is a bit of a statement but I think something with edge and personality would really liven up the space and make for a great focal point.  Bringing in those cool colors again with the rug (CLICK HERE FOR RUG) and wall art and I always love a great bar cart or side table for nice spirits and bar accessories.

SHOP THIS SPACE:

I hope you liked this post on decorating with warm tone wood trim.  How many of you have trim like this in your home? Did you find decorating with it a challenge?  Do you have any more questions about a design dilemma? Email me jordecor1@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jordan

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  1. Andrea says:

    Yes! I have original wood work and ended up repainting my living room four times before I found a color that looked good🤦‍♀️I’m so glad I didn’t paint the trim! I absolutely love it…now!

    • Web says:

      That’s so great you were able to find something that brought out the beauty in your wood trim! I bet it is stunning. Trust me I’ve had me share of re-painted rooms too 😉

  2. Jenny Boles says:

    I have the exact same built ins in my house! I have decide to keep the original color even though I was told many times to paint it white. My kitchen and dining room are sage green which I love but can’t seem to get the living room right, any suggestions on a color that compliment the green? I’ve painted it twice but can’t get it right!

  3. Shandra Stillion says:

    We have an old farmhouse that has unfinished dark wood floors and dark wood trim. We don’t have the money to refinish our floors right now but we want to brighten the place up at least with paint! We recently got a medium grey couch with chaise and now we’re in the process of repainting. It does get pretty dark in our living room space as we have vines along one side of the house and our porches help hide the sun, any ideas of what paint color we should choose? We have a big bay window with a bench underneath and currently the colors are a tan on top, with wood trim in the center and a dark purply brown on bottom.

    • Jordan says:

      I’d do a nice white like Sherwin Williams Pure White or White Dove by Ben Moore ! It will bring that brightness and freshness to your space!

  4. Warm paint colors of any intensity work well with warm wood trim and vice versa. The facts that have been discussed here are really important. Thank you so much for sharing a great post.

  5. Purlin AI says:

    Thanks for sharing this informative post. Those designs were unique, combining several design trends is not a bad idea. I like it
    You also Visit modern homes los angeles

  6. Kristen says:

    We recently bought a house with dark wood doors, baseboards and crown molding built in 2010. Dark wood floors and cabinets and high ceilings. I love the look of wood trim, but I’m not sure what to do with the painted trim. Thinking white walls and keep the trim to save on cost for now, but I’m worried it will look cheap. I would love any thoughts/resources you might have!

    • Jordan says:

      Hi! So some of the house is wood trim and some is painted trim? Just trying to understand better. Thanks!

      • Kristen says:

        It’s all painted a dark brown, and most doors are dark brown. However the front door and side office doors are stained wood. Thank you 🙂

  7. Eileen mcardle says:

    I find that modern artwork and fun patterned rugs or chairs can add freshness to space. I have learned the hard way that anything brown really dated the space.

  8. Jennifer B says:

    Our new house has darl trim and built-ins! Our kitchen however, is the 1990’s s southwest pink beige counter, Corian, with pale maple cupboards and pale pinkish beige tile. Wall paper everywhere will come off. What color paint for kitchen??? Doing dark wood table and switching brass knobs for dark bronze. Good idea? Paint color?

  9. Cindy Mills says:

    I’m in an early 1900’s Craftmans home and have walls painted close to the Black Pepper color you’ve posted and original wood trim. I want to show the wood trim detail and prefer a minimalist look. Live in the midwest with extreme temperatures so need insulated window treatment. Will a white or off white roman blind look OK with the trim and dark walls? All of my windows are at least 70″ long. Thank you

    • Jordan says:

      I think a neutral for a window treatment is a good idea… you can change and update things around out and not need to worry about the colors of the shade. It will be classic.

  10. Great article for beginners. Thank you

  11. Ana says:

    Hi Jordan! I just found this post via Pinterest while looking for inspiration for a home we’re purchasing. It’s full of wood trim and we haven’t the time or money to paint it. Your post was super helpful! I’m excited to paint the walls and decorate without feeling pressured to change the trim! Do you have an blog post or pictures of your sisters house with the updates in place? Would love to see how it turned out! Thanks!!

  12. Grace says:

    Thank you for this post. It is so helpful. We have a traditional home that we want to update. It is a mountain home on a lake and we like the light (white oak) floors, but want to keep the wood doors and trim. We will also put in some faux wood beams. I LOVE the light floor look with white walls, and wanted to ask your thoughts on baseboard trim and door trim. Would you paint baseboards white and keep door trim and doors wood? Our kitchen will have wood bottoms, white quartz top, and no uppers. We will just have a few wood shelves. Thank you!

  13. Hannah says:

    What about dark walnut, 2005 trim? My thinking seems stuck with this feature of our new house. Do I go color walls + neutral sofa, or neutral walls + color/dark sofa?

    • Jordan says:

      I think that depends on the look you want… do you want it to feel airy with a little contrast (neutral walls and a dark sofa) or a bit more moody with a color or rich wall and a lighter sofa. I think either approach would work. If you went with a color on thew alls be sure it is muted/grayed enough that the trim still can be an accent.

  14. Heather says:

    Hey Jordan,

    Thanks for the article. Buying an established home that has already put the money into the beautiful wood trim makes it hard to rip down and replace with a more modern, but pressed carboard, trim. So, given we want a more contemporary look, other than white, what could I do for the kitchen cabinets to update them? What colour? Then we are also replacing the flooring with hardwood, but 3 different wood colours sounds a little too wild. I’m stuck here.

    Thanks in advance!
    Heather

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