Choosing a paint colour for your room can be tricky. It often involves paint chips and patches of colour on the wall observed under light at various times of the day. When you’ve finally chosen the perfect hue, you still have to pick the colour for the trim (mouldings, ceiling, baseboards, doors, windowsills, and other details). The right trim colour changes the look of the entire space and helps define the room’s style. Should you coordinate your trim colour with the overall scheme of the space? Should you emphasize certain features of the room or create a calming, cohesive look? Is white the only acceptable trim colour? Following are some tips to help you find the best colour to paint your trim.

  • Consider a contrasting colour for a bold style. Black trim with white walls makes an impact. Saturated colours (vivid and intense) look great against soft wall shades. Try the lightest hue on the walls, a darker shade for the window and door frames and a third medium tone for the sashes and skirting boards. Off-white or cream walls with a contrasting trim (gray-blue, muted green, mustard yellow, barn red) create colonial-style interiors. Window treatments, fabrics, furniture, area rugs and accessories are good sources for colour inspiration.
  • Try the consistent look: With this approach, aim to keep the same colour palette all throughout your home, creating a cohesive feel. Keep the trim consistent throughout the house and play with the wall colour in each room. Within a room, paint all the trim the same shade. 
  • Emphasize an element of the room. To play up wainscoting (a type of wall covering laid over the lower portion of a wall), paint the baseboards a similar colour but paint all window and door frames white. Emphasize windows, doors and/or other architectural features by painting them with a soft, contrasting hue. Highlight beams, pillars and stairs by using a different shade than the walls. 
  • White matches everything: White is timeless and classy. White trim won’t clash with walls, curtains, rugs or furniture. It creates an airy bright feel. Use it against dark wall colours for balance and contrast. Try a semi-gloss white trim against light-coloured walls and use white trim with white walls for a clean, modern, trendy look.

Other tips:

  • Look at lots of pictures: Search the internet for colour ideas using Google images, Pinterest and Houzz. Consider the features of your room and compare them to the features in the photos. Find pictures of rooms with similar aspects (light, flooring, size, openness, etc.). Make a collection of ideas you like.
  • Paint the trim first, then tape off the trim and move on to the walls. It’s easier and faster to tape off the trim than to tape off the walls and you don’t want to tape them both! When painting trim, you don’t have to be neat. Just concentrate on getting a smooth finish on the wood. It’s easy to fix imperfections when painting the walls.
  • Go with a semi-gloss finish, no matter what colour you decide upon. Semi-gloss paint is easy to clean, durable and reflects light creating a subtle contrast. It won’t highlight imperfections but subtly draws attention to your trim work.
  • Consult your professional residential painter: Reputable painters can help you with colour decisions. They have the experience and knowledge to simplify the process of picking wall and trim colours.

Trim is a finishing touch that often doesn’t get the thought it deserves. Consider the multitude of beautiful colour alternatives. Whether you want fresh white, a bold hue or something in between, put thought into choosing the perfect shade of trim for your space.

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