Ask a Decorator: Do interior moldings have to be white?

Kittylrcorner_2Question: I’d like to make my living room more interesting (to me at least) by painting the walls a pale mauve and the crown molding and window frames a dark maroon, or even some kind of green. But I’ve noticed by looking in magazines that moldings and trims are almost always white. Does they have to be?

Answer: From Santa Monica decorator Kitty Bartholomew:

No, moldings and trim do not have to be white. I’m not a big fan of what color your trim “should” be. Your house should work for you and your family. But speaking in practical terms, the reason it makes sense to do the woodwork a neutral color is that it’s a pain in the neck to repaint when you change the color of your walls.

Think about it. It’s easy to slap a new paint color on your walls with a roller. But with trim, you’ve got to mask off the trim and moldings, and you have to be careful painting the details. But if you keep them a neutral color, you don’t have to paint the woodwork every time you paint a room. It also helps create a flow through the house. It can be jarring to have different colors of trim from room to room.

Now, there are exceptions, of course. You may have one room where you want an interesting color palette, maybe a powder room or a fun little room. In that case, go for it, because it’s not that big of a deal to repaint it. I saw a room recently that had soft green walls and a little bit darker green woodwork. And it was very, very colorful. It tends to draw attention to it. A lot of it depends on the architecture and the flow of the house.

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(Photo: Sharon Cavanagh)

1 Comment on Ask a Decorator: Do interior moldings have to be white?

  1. Michigan Homeowner

    Most people prefer unpainted trim over painted trim.