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How to decorate with wood trim??

afnhendrickxafnhendrickx Minnesota
edited December 2013 in Ideas Anyone?
My husband and I bought a home with lots of work to do. It's a 3000+sqft house filled with oak trim. Everywhere. My husband likes it, so I need to find a way to decorate around it. It feels so overwhelming. Every single space shown on Pinterest or on decorating blogs has white trim. I love white trim, I love classic, clean, simple design. I am at a loss at what to do with wall color, curtains, furniture and art to balance all of the wood. I like light and airy rooms and love color. I also like clean black frames and some antique pieces. Should I try to match all the furniture to the wood trim? Would mis-matching wood tones make it better or worse? Can I decorate with black or white furniture? The trim is almost on the yellow-er side, which I dislike, so I'd like to find a way to make it look less yellow.

I would love suggestions or links to blogs that have styled a home around wood trim.

Thanks for any help!

(I attached some pictures in a comment below!)


  • edited December 2013
    Congrats on your home!

    Perhaps you can post pictures of your different rooms to help visualize.

    Here's a post from @tiggerpu32 that might be a good place to start.

    @sjlkehl posted a link to the Handmade Home in that thread.

    @BonnieGrace shared in a comment that her house has lots of original trim; maybe she'll drop by and give some advice.
  • aforceinsideaforceinside Kansas or Europe, depending on the day
    This sounds like my house! Oak everywhere. And my husband is like oh, it's so nice. Shoot me now and bury me holding some white trim. I just tried out a (hilarious long story- not) green paint on a wall in my guest room. What a relief of how nice it looks against the oak. Finally something I can handle... And I'm considering doing an accent wall in my bedroom with BM Palladian blue. I think it'll look really good with the oak. Good luck!
  • Here are some pictures of the spaces I'm dealing with :-)
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  • The doors are beautiful! I would focus on replacing the ceiling lights, fan, kitchen lighting and window treatments and I would remove the scallops and railing from the kitchen cabinetry.

    I think I would consider making the baseboards larger.

    Is there wood under the carpet?

    The bedroom set, is that a keeper?

    Is that a dishwasher on the wall by the stove? If so, it would seem an ingenious use of space but how does it work for loading it up?

    Have you done a Google search? Here's a Google Image search using "decorate around wood trim":
  • I don't know why but I can't stop thinking about your post!

    I think if you could do wood floors - maybe even the kind that has a bunch of different colored woods like this (actually this house has wood trim as well and looks great!), it would look awesome:image

    Even if not, I would go with white furniture in whatever style floats your boat!

    You could also try some white beadboard or board and batten walls with the wood trim, like this from Blissfully Ever After.

  • I totally agree, I need to replace the lighting fixtures and get rid of that fan. Who needs a fan in Minnesota anyway?! And yes, removing that stuff on top of the kitchen cabinets is a must.

    I don't know how we would make the baseboards larger without replacing it all? That sounds like it might not be in our budget. :-/

    There isn't wood under the carpet, but our Phase 2 goal (to use YHL terms!) is to put in wood floors (or at least laminate). And it's funny you showed that floor, because we totally want to choose a floor that has LOTS of variation in color, almost like zebra wood.

    Unfortunately the bedroom set is a keeper, it's a long story - but it stays. Not the carpet in there though, we haven't figured out what to do with that floor yet. There's no wood under the carpet, it's a 1960s home so it's just sub-floor.

    The dishwasher is actually okay. It is definitely a bit weird. It was an after thought by a previous owner and they just stuck it in the wall there and the back of it actually sits in the front-entry closet. So that's a bit annoying. But Phase 2 we will be rebuilding the whole kitchen, so that will not be a problem forever. For now, it works okay.

    Any suggestions on paint colors? Keep it white? Paint it neutral? I'm not a huge fan of the one brown accent wall, that room is already somewhat dark and I'd like to lighten it up some. I was thinking either a really pale blue or a greige. But I'm open to any suggestions!
  • If you painted a neutral color a bit closer to that of the trim, the wood wouldn't stand out so starkly. And are you sure you want to dump the fan? I've been in MN when it was 102 degrees! Haha...
  • Well our house stays really cool, since it's got 3 feet of overhang (which also means it's darker - boo) and that fan is actually directly over our diningroom table. And anytime I imagine turning it on I imagine dust flying all over our food! Maybe I'm paranoid. We did put a fan above our bed and love it there.
  • WendyWendy Washington
    We just bought a house with wood trim in September, and like you, my hub loves it, so it's staying.

    For now we're keeping our inside renos fairly simple (the outside has been non stop). About all we've done inside has been putting up paint chips around the house, and we have come to mutual happiness on the following colors:

    *BM's misty gray for the bedroom (and possibly the hub's office)

    *BM's old fashioned peach for the kitchen-dining-living room open space (and a hallway)

    *Clark and Kensington's left in the rain for the kids room.

    Our open kitchen-living area has wood floors that will need to be replaced. Two bedrooms have carpet and one has wood floors. Eventually those will all go. Actually much of the inside will be redone in a simple, cozy manner. We're surrounded by giant pines and evergreens, so it's our hope to keep the interior simple and to allow the exterior to shine through. (You know, like the fuchsia outside of our bedroom window and the other outside of the dining room windows- one is bright pink and the other is white.)

    Best of Luck to you.
  • Hopefully some color gurus like @LibraDesignEye will drop by with some more color suggestions for you!
  • I got the message - thanks GreenInOC for calling me out by name. Antiques are going to be happy here - and I can see where this could go.

    I see potential here for heading in a dark cherry direction with the wood you have - you have some craftsman inspired mullion doors and cherry is a craftsman thing. You also have stained glass at your entry - another craftsman thing. Do you like some simple shaker elements? Can you see a cherry shaker cabinet in your house in the future kitchen? Black and cherry toned woods are very happy together, especially when paired with the right loden greens with touches of red.

    Paint is the cheapest thing and it will make a world of difference, however - you and dh may need to find a better compromise. Would you be happier if the trim and wood tone were a bit more cherry toned? Dark cherry is kind of the tone of the older wood doors behind the entry now? Dark cherry and new cherry wood are craftsman classics, stickley furniture, even mission style oak furniture works well with this and they all work well with black. Negotiate now - say, my vision for our home was a lot of white painted trim. You want to keep the wood, so I want your commitment that you will help me use polyshades over all of it to bring the color tone around to something closer to what feels beautiful to me. He will agree and then you can start your experimenting on the wood in the kitchen that will eventually get ripped out. If you can shift the tone of the wood towards a dark cherry, I think you will be much happier.You will be able to see your way towards a unified house style and colorway.

    I have to recommend against more blue or purple unless you do paint out - the blues and purples make the wood look a lot more gold which you want to avoid. Green on the walls in the bedroome for now will work for you for the purple bedding but long term . . . can you embrace cherry wood tones and red? If not, time to put down your foot and trade some favors.

    Since you are just starting from scratch and have miles to go before you have a color story or plan for your home, the neutral loden greens are going to be your best friend here. That shade is pretty modern and classic and has enough yellow to resonate with the gold tones in the oak. These will work with the lavender / purple tones I see in the bedroom too.

    I'm sorry to see you have white baseboard heaters to blend into the whole mix too - although I think you should just paint them with the wall if you go dark somewhere - treat them like any other grille in the space. I could see board and batten in the entry hall to the height of the tall cabinet all painted loden green, with a pretty warm white wall above for your white element - something like bm marscapone. You can see I started getting carried away . OK - imagine an entry with board and batten joining / hiding all the wood trim around the room - trim running just above the tall door - maybe 5' or so. Paint all this trim but leave the wood door so he doesn't lose it - paint all this trim and board and batten this green tone -
    use the left over paint to paint some secondhand / craigslist / ikea accent / storage piece for the dining room or living room. Paint white above and use white painted furniture here. Then in the kitchen, go for red since you don't have much wall. I like
    your white appliances will pop against this and you'll still get that feeling of white on color that you like. Again, use the leftover paint to paint some craft piece for the living room space. . .

    Now for the main public rooms - test bm spanish olive and bm camoflauge ..
    by going with color on the walls, the trim contrast falls away. You can use black, creamy off-white, wood, green painted wood, red painted wood - all - and can you see that combination makes for a classic, warm, immediately charming home?

    If you need a neutral that isn't the creamy white for hallways and your master bedroom, try bm limestone
    leave the camel painted bedroom as it is fine and works with this kind of traditional / historic color palette. I'm assuming since you are here you know about board and batten hallway trim - very craftsmen and something to trade your guy to do for you in the entry hall - he can probably even put hidden latches on the cubbies in there so they hide between battens - there are some neat ones with more crossing parts (double squares over larger squares on higher batten you can see at houzz)

    I know it is christmas so talking about green and red and white together is probably driving you mad but really, please see the green as a neutral. Going darker on the walls gives you white on color which you know you love. Imagine chocolate upholstery - You can do lots of green and white in the spring, and bring in some pink and rose tones for spring and summer. In fall, add pumpkin and russet in pillows and throws and then of course in the winter pump up the red. Green can be an amazing neutral that you don't even realize is green (see the olive and camoflauge wall color - very sophisticated but still warm)

    Do not paint the bathrooms green. I would basically do the entire house in 3 or 4 shades of green except for the bathrooms - you don't want light reflecting green onto your face when you look in the mirror there!! (tho i loves me some Elphalba, it isn't nice for us gals really). Bathrooms can be your creamy limestone or off-white and use linens that span the seasons - most prints have a bit of green in them.

    If you like this concept, show dh the inspiration picture for wood floors and show him the style of the trim at all the doors - your trim has been picture framed - that is not as historic or interesting as the old style shown above the door there. Picture framed trim is very 50's - so you may want enough in your kitchen budget for a finish carpenter to come through the whole house and cap all your doors with shaker trim / board and batten you can diy but that kind of trim really goes with the craftsman style I think would suit this house and you. Hope that helps - just painting all the walls will make a tremendous difference. If I'm just way off-track from what you might like, come back and ask again and I'll come up with something different. You can make these colors as funky / eclectic / fun as you like with your things - they are just colors . . .
  • Ok - i just found another fabric that I thought of to show you how the same base colors on the walls could have a totally different color scheme. This DOES NOT GO WITH THE COLOR SCHEME ABOVE - it DOES GO with the spanish olive and limestone and marscapone but then the accent colors (now red and loden/forest) would be totally different. . . . but it could be a "napkin color scheme inspiration" fabric for you like sherry and john used if you wanted something completely different - to show how flexible the neutrals I selected at base are -
    See how it has some of the tones of the wood in it? But it uses cocoa and aqua so it not overwhelmed by pale orange and gold. You might embrace the whole 50's vibe of the house and take this kind of approach - add aqua and cocoa instead of red and green. Your entry might have painted creamy board and batten with aqua above - the one room you can paint the woodwork in - why not? Then the kitchen might be painted a cocoa tone like the fabric background . . .

    I'm still loving the red and loden that i got inspired by your pictures with - and here is the inspiration (pillow fabric for the living room? Dining room chair slipcovers?) that is your little pop of red
  • LibraDesignEye, thank you for so many suggestions! I think quite a few of your thoughts came from the picture that GreenInOC posted, which is not my home :-) We don't have a grand entry, or any hardwood floors or any board & batten. I do love the front door that she shows though! I want to avoid painting or staining all of the trim, it's just too much of a project for me. And we do all our carpentry work ourselves, seriously low budget! I don't like decorating with red, but I loved how you put green in perspective. I usually hate green on walls, too, and don't decorate with either color, but a neutral enough green might work and I will definitely get a swatch of it to see how it looks. Unfortunately I really like all cool colors much better. I mostly like decorating with grey/black/white/blue and mostly avoid any cherry or yellow wood, I like rustic pure brown/black wood if I can get it.

    What is picture-framed trim? I haven't heard of that term before.

    I attached some color scheme mood boards that I just started playing with. The background color would be what the walls would be painted. Do brown and light blue clash? I'd love any comments or reactions based on this! I tried to take a bunch of advice from the posters and links to find something that might work for our space.
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  • No, I saw your house - you can then best get where you want to go by polyshading your wood down to a deeper walnut tone in the living spaces so you are repeating the brown - it doesn't have to be dark brown wood. No problem about red - I'm a blue gal myself. Looks like blue-greens are your thing - so the second / alternative inspiration fabric might be best for you. Blue green is just opposite orange so it really can bring out the orange starkly.

    Browns are great - oak can just be really orange, so you need a fabric inspiration that deals with that tone somehow and to stain it darker where you can. Worth getting that print fabric of only 1 yard if only to make sofa pillows that help your eye make sense of the color tones.

    Look at the trim around your windows, it looks like a picture frame - so you can do a more updated eclectic thing by darkening the main public room trim and use the neutrals. Could you see adding some tangerine / orange in one piece of art, or one piece of red-orange art glass to your palette? that would also tie back to the undertone of the wood . . . and your little entry is why I suggested just painting out just that one space like the simple board and batten with a color above - your color above there might be a deep mid-tone turquoise bright to welcome people to your space. This would be more like
    and the soft greens would then be more like spring green - test in your main spaces - Master bedroom would then go shifting towards something painted from craigslist in this darker shade of the spring green like bm dill weed - better match for purple too - try these on in your mood board and see how it flows . . test different blue-green shades in your space by picking up swatches / testing in the kitchen with all the wood and then buy a washcloth to direct your shade selection from there . . .train your eye to see blue with green in your shade.
  • Wow sounds like you're getting some great advice! I'm no expert at all but just like you I LOVE the white trim and lighter colors - blues are my thing. We've just recently replaced all the dinky pine trim in our house with larger trim painted ultra bright white and I'm loving it!!
    So anyway have you thought about asking your husband for a compromise? Men are so into their wood tones :) Maybe choose one room - the bedroom or dining room perhaps - where you paint the trim white and live with it for a while, do the cool colors you love, and let him see how happy it makes you:) It took my husband forever (like 10 years!!) to come around to my white trim!
    Now we've been to my parents' new home and they have beautiful wood trim throughout - it's the basic craftsman style simple boards - stained in a darker maple tone (I have not color experience for how to describe it) but it looks amazing and is the only way I'd go for wood trim now I think!
    But anyway, try your hubby out on one room - and see where it takes you :) Good luck!
  • @afnhendrickx, I have a very neutral light green on some of my walls and my vaulted ceiling and it works great with blues (well, in my opinion at least!). I'll try to take a picture and post it.
  • My whole house is also wood trim. I've lived with both white and wood trim and like both. Of course right now I'd like white trim as that is the trend but my hubby forbids me painting it as well, so I feel your pain. We are older that most on this blog (middle age) so he tends to be pretty conservative. Blue does not clash with brown at all. I initially used fall colors throughout the house, with the exception of the master bdrm and bath (blues). My dining room and living room have greens and I will eventually change my tomato red kitchen to a pale green. So I'm going to more blues and greens in the main living areas. I see green isn't on your mood board, but I have to say it does look awesome with wood trim. I have a repurposed dresser turned media console and have a gallery wall around the tv with black frames so I like that look, too. I know it's hard work, but it is only paint and if you don't like it, it can always be changed. I've atch'd one pic. (Those table lamps are no longer there, nor is that end table closest to the doorway. Do keep us posted and all the best!
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  • Here's how the blue and green paint works together in my house. All the pictures were taken today at the same time - you can see how light really affects color!

    The arrows all point to the same color of green (all the same tint, from the same can!). The color in the kitchen (the bottom picture, the part where the arrow on the left points further down) is also the same color green but in a sheen.

    The different numbers are the different shades of blue - you can see 6 in the top photo.

    The area circled above the TV on the 1st picture is evidence of my laziness! The doorbell chime was on that wall and I had it moved to the other side of the wall and had the drywall repaired. When was that you ask? Oh, maybe 5 years or so!!

    While my color choices are not for everyone it's an example of how you green can be neutral and play well with others, even blue!
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  • GreenInOC, I love how your green definitely looks neutral! Can you remember what color you used? And also what color #6 blue in is?

    And Spiceylg I love your green, too. I once painted a room green, but I went way too intense and so I'm scared of green now! It was in my first house, and the first room I ever painted. I hope I don't choose such an intense color in the future. I think I've heard if you like a color, go like 2 shades lighter and that's better for a wall. See what I mean?
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  • edited December 2013
    The green is Dunn Edwards Pale View (DE5525). I only know that by luck!

    It looks like you can get a free sample here.

    The rest of the colors I, like an idiot, was convinced that I would never forget the color names since the painting process was such a pain the derriere. Duh! I've pulled what I think might be the color for wall #6 (the one that I need to cover up that drywall patch), once it dries I'll let you know if it was a success or not!

    I will warn you that in my house when the sun is shining that the color is very chalky and I'm not a fan. I had a different color there and a friend convinced me that it was not the right color and needed to change. He told me that he would "fix" it and if I didn't like it he would change it back. Well, I didn't like and it was such a pain the behind he wouldn't change it back even though he agreed that it was a mistake!
  • Oh, I forgot...

    Here are some pics of my bedroom with different greens. Darker than the other part of my house and while I don't have wood trim, there is a lot of wood in my room and I think it works well together.
  • Wow! There has been some fantastic advice here! I think you can completely embrace the wood trim. I say the lighter and brighter the walls (light grays, bright whites) and the more color you can bring in for statement pieces the better the space will look! I also think you can combine white trim + wood throughout the house for an eclectic look that would be amazing! Good luck!
  • Don't let the wood trim get you down. My parents have wood trim in every room, and that hasn't stopped them from painting the living room red and yellow, the downstairs a cheery aqua and the bedrooms upstairs every shade of green from the faintest tinge to deep olive. Once you have everything in the room, the trim kind of fades from view and it doesn't look so very orange anymore.
  • @afnhendrickx, I could kiss you for this thread! Your question motivated me to figure out what color that was was and to cover up the 8.5 year old patch. If 8.5 years of looking at it wasn't going to motivate me nothing on my end was!

    It only took me two guesses and I figured it out (Dunn-Edwards Fly A Kite (5890) at 50%) and now all evidence of my monumental laziness has been erased!

    The bad news though is that I found out just now from Dunn-Edwards that the formulations have changed and while they can make the same color it won't be exact so any color that I no longer have will require the wall to be repainted because touch ups won't look good. Vaulted ceilings, angles galore and 12 different colors in my house - UGH!
  • jrobin19jrobin19 Boston, MA
    SO happy to see this thread! It's going to help so much as I redo my house that is covered in wood trim (which I love, but have no idea how to work with it, having never decorated a house before). I don't advise it for the whole house, but do feel free to go with some bold colors.

    We just painted the Master bedroom with Benjamin Moore's Laguna (2059-30). You can see it in action here on my blog. We need to darken up the trim & doors a bit, but we planned to do that anyway because of the oak floor, regardless of the wall color. Now to figure out window treatment colors and actually hang some of our other decor!
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