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Contrasting trim, is it right for you?

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

White is by far the most popular choice for interior doors, trim and baseboards. It’s classic and goes with any wall colour. However, with the white wall trend continuing, many homeowners are looking for other ways to add warmth and interest to their spaces. As a painter and colour consultant, I’ve loved seeing walls go white. It can open up a space and allows accent colours and wood tones to shine. With this trend, painting cabinets and furniture different colours has also grown in popularity. This allows you to incorporate the colours you love without overwhelming the space. Bring on those pastels, deeper hues or jewel tones, whatever makes YOU happiest!

Now we’re seeing the darker contrasting doors, trim and baseboards gaining momentum. This trend won’t be for everyone so it’s important to paint and design your home to fit your personality and comfort zone. But if you love white walls and want to add more character, this can be the way to do it.

Most white paints have a light reflective value in the 80’s, so for contrasting trim I would choose a colour with a LRV in and around the 60’s to ensure you can see the contrast you want. You can also choose a darker colour such as black or navy blue. You can usually find the LRV (light reflectance value) on the paint companies websites. Simply just search the colour and it should be located under the details.

Below I have put together a few wall and trim combinations that I love. You’ll notice they’re all fairly neutral (grey, beige and greiges), but Sherwin Williams, Create (9646) has a sage green undertone and Sherwin Williams, Windchill (9636) has a slight blue undertone. If you have blue, green or another colour as an accent throughout your space, choosing a neutral with the colour you desire in the undertone can enhance the colour palette without overpowering it.

An important thing to consider when deciding on a trim colour is lighting (natural and artificial). Lighting varies in every room and can impact how we perceive colour. I wouldn’t choose a colour for this job from a small paint chip. I always recommend getting a sample can of the paint you like, paint a large portion on a piece of white Bristol board (apply 2 coats for best results) and tape it up. Then you can move it around to observe the undertones during different times of the day. This can save you time, money and the frustration of starting over. If you're lucky, you can have a little helper make the sample boards with you! I usually use a sponge brush or small roller. You can usually find packages of them at local dollar stores. If you want to reuse them, be sure to give them a good rinse. Otherwise they will dry hard and need to be discarded.

If you want to paint the door casing and interior door a contrasting colour, do you need to paint the window trim, baseboards and crown moulding the same colour? Absolutely not! Just like an accent wall works as a focal point, you can choose where you want to draw the eye and how much of the colour you want to incorporate.

Final Thoughts

Interior design trends are fun to follow but they're not right for everyone. If you are living in a sea of white walls and are looking for ways to warm it up or add variety this could be for you. It can be a tedious task but if you love painting and taking risks, this can be a fun way to update your home. I'm already looking forward to trying this out in my home!

If this feels out of your comfort zone, no worries, changing pillows, rugs, artwork and other textiles can be the easier way to achieve your desired atmosphere. Always do what feels right for you in your home!

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