This Beautiful Trend Has Everything to Do With Doing Nothing

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

For years, well-intentioned renovators have been painting over wood trim of all kinds. White trim was good, or ever colored trim or even black. But wood trim, of the kind found in so many beautiful old houses, was deemed heavy, old-fashioned. Well, I’m happy to report that the pendulum seems to be swinging back in the other direction. So before you paint over that woodwork, take a look at these beautiful examples of wood trim done right.

Here’s an important note about wood trim: If the trim in your home is already stained, then you have a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with. If, however, your trim is painted and you’re imagining that you can strip the paint off to reveal a lovely woodgrain underneath, a word of caution. There are two different kinds of wood trim: stain grade and paint grade. Stain grade is made of higher quality wood, intended to be stained so that the woodgrain shows through. Paint grade trim is lower quality. So if your trim is painted, but you crave the natural look, it’s wise to strip the paint off of just a small portion of the trim to see what the woodgrain underneath looks like. If your trim is made of a low quality wood, you may want to leave it painted.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

I think the wood trim in this Boston home is a perfect complement to the decor’s earthy, Bohemian vibe. (Also, lead image above.)

(Image credit: Celeste Noche)

This entry hall from Domino has quite a bit of very dark wood trim, but painting the ceiling a bright white helps keep all that wood from feeling too heavy.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

In this room, wood trim adds a welcome bit of contrast and warmth to an all-white space.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

The light-colored wood trim extends throughout this house from Making It Lovely, but it looks especially nice against the living room’s black walls.

(Image credit: Sandra Rojo)

Many of these spaces feature incredibly intricate wood trim and/or incredibly tall ceilings, but this home from Design*Sponge is proof that wood trim can work in a humbler space as well. Here, the wood trim emphasizes the space’s architectural features (the windows and fireplace), and works nicely with the overall palette of warm neutrals.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

In a home from Martha Stewart, walnut trim pairs nicely with a warm grey. The more modern pieces (the barstools, the lamp, and the tulip table) add a little freshness and keep the look from feeling too fusty or antique.

(Image credit: Alysha Findley)

Wood trim adds a little warmth to a lofty space from Domino. Note how the window trim, the chest of drawers, and the base of the bed are almost exactly the same tone. That’s some serious attention to detail.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

In this lovely Craftsman home from Prospect Refuge Studio, the wood trim (and built-ins and ceiling beams) become a defining element of the space.

(Image credit: Tamara Gavin)

In this kitchen from Hemnet, wood frames draw attention to the tall ceilings and oversized windows and doors.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

All of the spaces above feature wood trim matched with white or neutral walls, but this space from Elle Netherlands takes it a step further, pairing wood trim in a reddish mahogany with walls in a pale green. The cool pastel tones of the walls are the perfect balance to the dark tones of the wood. It’s a match made in heaven.