The Stained Wood Trim Stays – 16 Wall Colors To Make It Sing


Dear Laurel,

I just found you on Pinterest. Great boards. I was googling best neutral wall color with stained wood trim and found you again.

I am desperate. The contractors are coming Monday to repair all of the damage from many hellish winters in Massachusetts. The wood is largely a medium oak stain in a 1905 Victorian in Boston.

My husband and I are getting a divorce, but I’m staying here and want to make the place my own. Finally!


And no, it isn’t because we had a fight over whether to paint the stained wood trim or leave it stained.


I read this other post you wrote about stained wood and laughed so hard because this does sound a lot like my husband, soon to be, what do you call yours? Wasband?  haha! Too much, Laurel!

Actually, I’ve come to like the wood trim in this old lady and I’ve been told by a lot of people that painting it would be a mistake. But, I want to make this place wow. And BTW, I feel so inspired by some of your recent posts, particularly the one from the other day about Laura who painted her music room, Jack Pine.


The other thing is that when the contractor gave me the quote to paint all of the stained wood trim, I nearly passed out. It made the entire job more than double the price. No can do!


It’s just that the walls are this kind of weird yellow and it’s not really me and it’s not looking so great with all of that wood trim. But I want to feel uplifted here.

So I have my Benjamin Moore fan decks out and if you could, maybe just point out some of the best colors that will make my stained wood trim sing!

Thank you,

Jackie Woods 


Hey Everyone,

Well, as said yesterday, we had a storm today and I’ve been slaving away at this post. It is actually a re-working of a very old post and this time it’s new and improved. And no, you won’t find the old post. It’s gone.

The note is partly made up and partly not. But over-all, it is based on a real situations.


In this post, we are going to go through a few things regarding stained wood trim and talk about a few colors and then I’ve made a chart for you of 16 of my favorite colors that look beautiful with wood trim.


And then, I actually put a little sample of wood next to the chip on the chart so you can see how they look together. More about that later on.

The first question many people have is:


How do you know if you should keep the stained wood trim, or paint the stained wood trim?


That’s a very good question and here’s how I feel about it. Much of the time, it’s simply a matter of preference.

But, there are some times when you shouldn’t paint the wood trim because the architect meant for it to be stained. Plus, he’s a legend, like Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance who’s famous and deceased. And if you paint his lovely oak, he will be forced to abandon his grave and give you a big thwack across the knuckles with his architect’s scale!

If you are living in a home-built by Frank Lloyd Wright, painting over the wood trim would be like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. (Leonardo probably would’ve liked that.) ;] The same goes for a lot of architectural styles such as Arts and Crafts, AKA Craftsman Style and sometimes Shingle Style.  Although some Craftsman Style homes were painted and still are.

Here are some other reasons you might want or need to keep your stained wood trim



  • Like the stained wood trim.
  • Don’t like it but can’t be bothered to change it.
  • Hate it but don’t want to spend the money to fix it.
  • Your mother likes it.
  • Your husband likes it and you enjoy making him happy.
  • Or, your normally sweet husband turns into a raving lunatic at the very mention of painting the stained wood trim!


Some things just aren’t worth fighting over.


And, truth be told, I’ve softened my stance (a little) about stained wood trim vs. painted wood trim and this is why.


Although, I invariably prefer most things to be painted, stained wood trim CAN be beautiful.


Now, let’s look at some examples of stained wood trim vs. painted wood trim.


First of all, trim, if you don’t already know, is anything made out of wood, including window and door casings, crown moulding, baseboards, stair railings, panel mouldings, wainscoting and cabinetry. Oh, and sometimes either coffers or beams in the ceiling.

Below is a New York City Brownstone. Lucky Dogs! I’ve seen these homes with stained wood trim and painted as it is below. In this case, I do prefer it painted, but I’ve seen some beautiful rooms like this with stained wood trim that look lovely.



via New York Times

The one below is very heavy, however. I mean, I wouldn’t refuse to live here, haha.


source unknown



Above is a painted Craftsman style home. Sorry, original source unknown.

Aesthetic-Interior-Columns-home-interior-design-Traditional-Entry-Burlington-Smith-and-Vansant-ArchitectsSmith and Vansant Architects

This is another Craftsman by an architectural firm that I’ve long admired. There is no wood trim except for a door. And, that is a legitimate design decision. Usually, in the 19th and 18th century, doors were stained a rich chestnut color and not painted.


However, below is a more typical Craftsman style home that we often associate as having stained wood trim.



and this.

Two above images via

Well, okay. You’re right. These are vintage craftsman homes. While I appreciate them, it wouldn’t be my preference.

If you have any one of these and you’d like to paint it, I don’t have a problem with that. If you need to keep the stained wood trim that’s cool too.

But, What If Your home looks like this?





Or This?


This is true. If you live in a home that was built post War and it has wood trim, you can probably paint it unless it’s an ultra modern house. And you’ll probably need to add more mouldings for interest, unless the home is strictly in the modern style.


Getting the bones of the home right is crucial.

I promise you, that you will get the money back on the home sale.


home-talk-painting-wood-trimvia Hometalk

The first one feels sad to me. But, it’s also important to remember that any relatively plain, painted room won’t fully come alive until the furnishings are back in.


Below is a great example of an old home with beautiful stained wood trim and a becoming paint color.


Atelier-Chesterfield-2Anthropologie (1)Frederick + Frederick

A gorgeous kitchen with a combination of stained wood trim and painted cabinetry.

james-thomas-fabulous-library-stained-wood-trimJames Thomas

This home with fine custom millwork would be one that I would not paint. Alterations

Interesting, above one room has stained wood and the one across is painted trim.

house-of-ruby-interior-design-portfolio-interiors-contemporary-craftsman-traditional-living-room-family-roomMelodie Rubin

The beautiful colors and furnishings look great with this stained wood trim.


David Giral Photography - stained wood trim - Benjamin Moore Racing Orange red

A color you may not have considered but looks great with stained wood trim is a warm, rich red, like Benjamin Moore RACING ORANGE – 2169-10

In fact, lots of colors in the orange family look amazing with wood trim. Here’s a post full of great orange colors.


Can you paint walls white with stained wood trim?



Kitchen Lab Design


Yes, I think so. Although, I prefer a more classic moulding like the one Gil Schafer has in his amazing brownstone.

Or, the amazing Greek Revival home of Gerald Bland in Duchess County, NY.


Well, Laurel, what if my trim color is yucky, and I don’t want to paint it.


You should probably consult with a professional, but they may be able to go over the trim to deepen it. You can’t lighten stained wood trim, but it is sometimes possible to make it a deeper, richer color.

There is a product by Minwax called Polyshades. It is stain and poly in one. You might need two or three coats, but it might be worth it to get the wood looking lovely again. If you can’t afford a pro, I would experiment first, however.


staircase-before-centsational-girl-wood-trimCentsational Girl took her staircase from this…


To this!

She didn’t use polyshades, but some other techniques that didn’t require a full refinishing. You can read more about that in the link under the first image.


Let’s look at more colors that look great with stained wood trim


Actually, most colors are fine. Cool colors with gray in them, always look good. Most of the colors in the Laurel Home Paint Collection are terrific with stained wood trim.


This is a bad photo, but with the right wall color, this could be a very pretty room.


kitchen-lab-design-dark-wood-trim-staircaseKitchen Lab Design

I love that they painted the spindles white which adds quite a refreshing note to this home.

The first color is…




There are so many wonderful greens. You can see some of them here and here.


kitchen3blog-dark-wood-trimThe cabinets in this amazing kitchen by Frederick + Frederick Architects look to be Benjamin Moore

NANTUCKET GRAY HC 111 – which is really a warm, very muted green.

Impressive-Wrought-Iron-Chandeliers-decorating-ideas-for-Dining-Room-Rustic-Smith-and-Vansanat-Architects-Shingle-style-Craftsman-Style-painted-trimSmith and Vansant Architects

Gold is another wonderful color with wood trim. Some of my favorites by Benjamin More are:



allison-apartment-therapy-dark-wood-trim750_s.fit_via Apartment Therapy

STRATTON BLUE HC 142 is a nice gray-teal

It is a bit bluer than JACK PINE that Laura did in her music room.


Another wonderful color with wood trim is a warm deepish brownish purpleish color. But not PURPLE! One of my favorites is ELEPHANT GRAY 2109-50. This is such a sophisticated color and a shade that provides less contrast looks elegant with the mid-tone stained wood trim.

making-it-lovely-brown-wood-trimMaking It Lovely

FYI, the paint color is Benjamin Moore BLACK BEAUTY 2128-10

BLACK?! LAUREL? With wood trim?

Sure. Why not? It’s really cool. If you don’t know the blog above, please check it out. Her home is filled with wood trim and every room like the one above is cooler than cool!


Photo By Bieke Claessens

A brown-black with a black ceiling! I’m pretty sure that if I only had one home, that I would never do this, but if I had 2 or 3 homes–definitely!

breakfast+room.4.bp.blogspot-dark-wood-trimFrederick + Frederick Architects

The pale blue-gray is a refreshing change with this rich mahogany stained trim. Love it with the wicker which knocks back the formality in a refreshing way.

This color looks a lot like Benjamin Moore SHORELINE 1471 that I have in my bathroom


Below are five favorite and/or common wood stains from Minwax.


Please note that these are approximations of the color as it’s stain and depending on the color of the individual pieces, it may change the color a fair amount.


Minwax Gold OakGolden Oak


Special WalnutSpecial Walnut


Minwax Cherry Stain



Minwax English Chestnut StainEnglish Chestnut (my favorite)


Jacobean or dark walnut wood stainJacobean or dark walnut.


And below is a graphic to save to your Pinterest boards for reference. These are 16 of the 144 beautiful colors in the curated Laurel Home Paint/Palette Collection that comes together in two volumes sold together.


16 Gorgeous Benjamin Moore Colors that will make you fall in love with your stained wood trim


Some of these wood colors, of course, are interchangeable. But, some of the combinations, I think are particularly nice.


As for how this all translates into one’s home?


Ahhh… there’s the rub. And I say this because it’s not just wall and trim color that one has to consider.

This is why one needs to create a plan and there needs to be a jumping off point.

For Laura, her jumping off point was wood trim and a pipe organ. She instinctively knew that to make it all work together, that she needed a hunky color.

If you can’t work with a design professional and you don’t already have my two-part paint guide of 144 paint colors and 40 paint palette boards and a lot more, you might find it helpful.

Donna just commented yesterday about the paint and palette guide and how it saved her time and money:


Speaking of saving money…. I bought the rug that was recommended for my color palette from Overstock and it was about $400 less than you said it would be in your Ultimate Paint Palette and Home Furnishings Collection guide, Laurel. Overstock is having a sale on Safavieh rugs! I can’t wait for it to arrive! If you don’t have the Ultimate Paint Palette and Home Furnishings Collection guide, buy it people! Heck, I just saved enough money on this one purchase to pay for the guide twice!


Thank you Donna!


Okay. I promised you some big news and some of you may know already.


While I did make the “short list” of five bloggers in my category, I did NOT win the Amara blogging contest.


No biggie. Although, I do know that so many of you voted for me, so thank you for trying. Part of the vote was from three young judges from London who have no idea who I am.

However, the woman who won is a supremely talented interior designer and very deserving.


But, there’s another chance for redemption–


because remember last year I was nominated for the Modenus Designhounds Contest and came in FIRST PLACE! I was shocked. But, that one is strictly because of all of you who voted. Sorry to trouble you, but they are doing it again and someone nominated me, so no backing out now.


You can vote as much as you like– That is, once a day through November 2, ending at 10:00PM ET. Just a few days and it’ll be over.

modenus design hounds influencer of the year 2019

The first place prize is A trip to Las Vegas for the kitchen and bath show (KBIS) and only one person gets this honor.  I so appreciate your help because I’d love to go!


Please click this link to vote.


And then look for my logo and blurb. (hopefully, I’ll move up ahead of 26th place very soon)


vote for me for design hound of the year 2019
Just click the thumbs up and you’re done! Until the next day, if you so choose. :]

Thanks so much guys! I very much appreciate your support!



  • Brooke - December 26, 2018 - 3:51 PM

    Hi Laurel! I just stumbled across your blog while searching for good paint colors for stained wood trim. Our trim is the color of the Interior Alterations and Melodie Rubin pictures on this page. I fall in the ‘your normally sweet husband turns into a raving lunatic at the very mention of painting the stained wood trim!’category. I painted our daughter’s room in Elephant Gray last year, and I love it! It’s perfect for her room because it’s a little purple, and it definitely made me love the wood trim in her room. Now we’re looking for a good color for our entire downstairs. All of our kitchen cabinets are the same color as the trim. We would like something a little lighter and neutral. I was thinking a greige color, but love some of the choices you presented with trim colors. Do you have any suggestions? Would Silver Lake or Shoreline look good with stained wood trim? Looking forward to hearing from you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 26, 2018 - 4:01 PM

      Hi Brooke,

      That sounds terrific. I adore Elephant Gray. It’s one of the 144 colors in my curated paint collection.

      Unfortunately, it’s not possible to offer individual help on the blog unless it’s in the form of a blog post. Hope that you’ll understand. It would be highly irresponsible and unprofessional to be recommending colors site unseen and I wouldn’t know where to begin. It would be like a doctor operating blind-folded.ReplyCancel

  • Shelby - December 18, 2018 - 6:10 PM

    *Finally* catching up on your blog and so glad to see this post!
    I’ve got those craftsman golden oak floors, though white trim, and one of the first things I did when we moved in was paint the living room Duxbury Grey because I loved the green undertone. I think my husband could have killed me right then.

    The room is finally starting to come together (cobbler’s children and all..), but the anxiety and second-guessing of paint colors in an unfinished room gave me a whole new level of empathy for clients! All that rambling to say, I’m glad to be reassured by what you’ve put together! Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 18, 2018 - 9:54 PM

      So glad it was helpful for you. It is difficult! And the most difficult to do for ourselves!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Livingston - November 11, 2018 - 8:30 PM

    Thanks, Laurel! I’m trying to decide what to do with my stained wood panel and trim in my 1917 apartment, and this post helped tremendously! I’m so inspired!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - November 7, 2018 - 9:35 AM

    Laurel, thanks to you I’m primarily using Cleveland Green, Richmond Gray and Henderson Buff with fir and mahogany wood in our whole-house remodel. The warm green undertones look wonderful with these reddish woods & the interior stonework we have. Thank you so much for the books on color! P.S. I’m probably going to throw in a good dash of Racing Orange, too, to liven things up a bit. PPS Glad to see you love English Chestnut. That’s what I asked the contractor to put on the new fir trim.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - October 30, 2018 - 10:05 AM

    I voted. Great blog post. It hits home with so many people.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - October 29, 2018 - 9:57 PM

    My husband loves wood trim so reading this I’m thinking ok maybe I can get some inspiration for making it work. I’ve just learned though that I really just don’t like wood trim for myself. Just no. But Laura from my soulful home painted her whole house in simply white and it is stunning! But I don’t think I would like that either haha! Still a lovely post and I wouldn’t miss it!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 29, 2018 - 11:05 PM

      Hi Rachel,

      It helps me to think of spaces as compositions and not focus too much on individual details but more how they work together as a whole. I don’t know if that helps you or not, but for me instead of fighting something, I try to figure out how to make it work. It’s become a metaphor for life in general. I’m not saying that it’s always easy. It’s definitely not!ReplyCancel

  • Dolores Pap - October 29, 2018 - 4:02 PM

    “Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance who’s famous and deceased. And if you paint his lovely oak, he will be forced to abandon his grave and give you a big thwack across the knuckles with his architect’s scale!”
    Oh Laurel- your great good humor and wit always make me laugh and even better, when I laugh, I forget all of the misery out there.
    Your warm and engaging company was just what I needed.
    As for stained trim, my entire house was trimmed out in a cheap pine wood, stained, and then varnished to a high gloss to mimic a dark Jacobean look, in a Cape Cod, no less! Barf, barf.. I think we painted the trims the day after we moved in, and I’ve never regretted it once in 38 years..
    Of course I’ll be happy to vote for you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 29, 2018 - 9:21 PM

      Hi Dolores,

      Paint the trim in a Cape Cod– Indeed!

      I’m so glad that you’re laughing! It really is the best medicine. Although, I’m so excited. I’m going to the Balanchine Festival on Thursday at City Center. That is also the best medicine– for me! Will you be there, per chance? I’m asking, because the last time I was at City Center, you were there too, which I only found out after the fact. It would be so much fun to meet, for real.

      I’m going to get to see the beautiful, Maria Khoreva aka: @marachok on instagram and her equally fabulous colleagues dance Apollo, one of my favorite ballets. I saw in her IG stories, that they’ve just arrived in NYC and are taking in the sites of our crazy city.There are also other dancers that I’m very much looking forward to seeing.

      And thanks so much for your vote! xoxoReplyCancel

      • Dolores Pap - October 31, 2018 - 2:35 PM

        Oh- you are so lucky to be able to see the beautiful Maria Khoreva! If I didn’t live all the way out in NJ I would certainly come in to se her, but the evening performances would get us back to my town too late at night..

        We were in NY on Saturday!!! Wow, that was the worst storm ever-it was so bad that at one point we had to huddle against a building because we couldn’t walk against the wind. We walked the ten blocks from City Center where we bought our tickets for Alvin Ailey, down to 46th we saw a wonderful play ‘Usual Girls’, at the Roundabout. It should be mandatory viewing for every one, esp men 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - October 31, 2018 - 7:18 PM

          Hi Dolores,

          Oh dang. Well, you’ll just have to get a pied a terre. haha

          But,I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I’ve been following #teamapollo on insta stories and they are all just too cute! It is so refreshing to see these young girls genuinely drinking in everything new. And it is ALL new. Except, for ballet.

          Sorry about the storm.

  • julie - October 29, 2018 - 1:51 PM

    I feel for Jackie! My husband doesn’t mind painted trim anymore but it used to be a thing for him. His issue is painting brick – HUGE SIN in his book…all brick is GORGEOUS! But it isn’t really. We have some mauvy, pinky icky brick circa 1983 on a fireplace in our family room…all the way up the wall! And he had a fit when I wanted to paint it out. But I am over it, life is too short to win this fight.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 29, 2018 - 2:16 PM

      Hi Julie,

      What about a Lime wash? In some parts of the country and world, it is immensely popular. You would need one with a big of green in it, to neutralize the pink tone, otherwise, it would just look more pink. And you can also vary the transparency of the wash.

      Here is a source that a friend sent me recently

      Plus, it says that it can be removed in the first five days, but then it becomes permanent.

      If he’s still adamant, if you paint the walls, a similar color and a shade less pink, it will blend in and make the brick look a lot better.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - October 29, 2018 - 12:14 AM

    If a solid wood door is stained and trim painted white everywhere else, is it always assumed the door casing is painted, not stained with the door? I meant to ask in my first comment, but forgot…ReplyCancel

  • Laura - October 28, 2018 - 10:21 PM

    Just voted and you are currently #1!
    Love this graphic of the wood+colors. I’d bet it’s an instant pin sensation. Seriously, i think so many will find it so useful, it may actually break Pinterest. I had a color very similar to Blair Gold in my old house and loved it with the wood mantle and our stained doors. It was very uplifting on Ohio’s many many gray winter days. After living 10 years with it, my husband and I were thinking maybe it seemed dated and wanted to push ourselves towards cooler colors, but geez, you make everything look so fresh!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 11:46 PM

      Hi Laura,

      I have Tailwind which is an app that schedules pins for me. I have to put the pins in, but then I don’t have to think about it for a few days. But, they have great analytics and show the most recent pins too.It looks like it’s getting some traction, but the more it’s shared, the more pinterest shows it. Sometimes it takes a while.ReplyCancel

  • Diane - October 28, 2018 - 8:27 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I enjoy your blog sooooo much! I really look forward to each and every one. I have a 1936 Tudor cottage that we are constantly working on. It does not have crown molding but it has beautiful window casing, doors, trim and baseboards that would cost a fortune to replace. In regard to stripping paint, I have used a heat gun with good results. The thicker the layers of paint, the better they come off. Let the heat do the work and the paint will come right off. The trick is to keep the gun nozzle moving so you do not scorch the wood. It comes down to a two handed process where you are waving the gun in one hand while sliding the scraper under the bubbled up paint with the other. Don’t let the hot paint land on top of your bare feet either! Yes, you needs masks and you need to be aware of the lead factor as well. Test for lead with an easy kit from home improvement store. The only time I heat strip is when the paint is rough or when it is so thick that I am actually losing detail on the trim. It sounds tedious but when you get the hang of it, it can go fairly quickly.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 11:04 PM

      Hi Diane,

      I admire all of that a lot. Heat gun, huh? I did have a hot glue gun when I was in design school. That’s probably like comparing a sewing pin to a dagger, right?ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - October 28, 2018 - 4:26 PM

    VOTED! And I had to try three times before the vote registered. Evidently, you have to click it very slowly and deliberately.ReplyCancel

    • Lorri - October 28, 2018 - 8:42 PM

      Nope! The first two times I clicked, the number didn’t budge. It took three times. Maybe it’s my stupid mouse. 😉ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 11:22 PM

        Oh, I see. Glad it finally worked. My internet was down for six hours today. I imagine it was related to the storm we had yesterday.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:25 PM

      Oops sorry Lorri. No Internet and I must have spazzed out. If you hit the thumb twice, It undoes your vote and so when you clicked a third time it registered. Maybe that’s what happened? In any case thank you so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:23 PM

      Hi Lorri, Thank U so much exclamationReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann Bunyan - October 28, 2018 - 3:45 PM

    I bought a 1920’s house that suffered a house fire and then sat empty for five years. It had tons of oak woodwork that had been stained and later painted. Due to the fire all the stain and paint material had to be removed down to the bare wood. What to do with all of that bare wood was overwhelming. I wrestled with the decision to paint the wood because of all the work that goes into the paint removal. The final verdict was to stain all the doors a rich mahogany and to paint the crown moldings, bookcases and casing.The paint job is crisp and sharp because the job began on raw wood. The result is now the wood plays a nice supporting role in the rooms instead of demanding attention. The sunroom in the house was the last room to be remodeled and I used a mixture of half paint and half glaze on the bare wood and that combination showcased the wood grain. My experience is wood demands the eye’s attention and painting calms those tendencies but showcases its natural beauty. Painted woodwork also has the luxury of allowing touch ups.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:21 PM

      Hi Mary Ann! That sounds gorgeous. I love that look up the old homes with white painted trim and richly stained doors. I would go and look for a post with an example to link to. you may have seen that my Internet is down, so I’m limping along On my phone. ReplyCancel

  • Runningonempty - October 28, 2018 - 2:53 PM

    You’re so right Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Alexa - October 28, 2018 - 2:19 PM

    What a great post! And so helpful to have the wood stain next to each color. Our 1900-something house has stained original trim in the foyer and hallways but previous owners painted the trim in all the other rooms. Adams Gold, HC-18(?) looks great with the stained trim and we liked it so much in the foyer that we used it in our kids’ room where the trim is white. It looks like a totally different color there! Great in both, but against the reddish-orange stain it looks very gray compared to a truer gold next to the white.

    We painted our kitchen cabinets Gray Mirage, another Laurel paint palette color, and it looks great next to the original stained butlers pantry cabinets. What would we do without you???


    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:18 PM

      Thanks so much Alexa. Are used Adams called nanny years ago in an antique home with the HC 22 Blair gold. Please forgive me. I am talking into my phone like a robot because my Internet is downReplyCancel

  • Mary - October 28, 2018 - 1:53 PM

    I got my vote in! Now I just have to remember to go back & do it again every morning.
    I’m so glad you showed Nichole’s (Making It Lovely) home. I have loved her black walls since I first saw them.
    I always seem to be drawn to dark rooms. They just feel so dramatic & cozy.
    We live in a townhouse development that was built in the late 90’s. And we are one of the few that paid for the upgrade to have white trim/doors. Whenever we see a neighbor’s home, we always say that we made the right choice.
    I’m fortunate that my husband prefers painted trim as much as I do.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:15 PM

      Hi Mary, yes you are very lucky. I am doing talk to text on my phone because I have no Internet. So, I’m cracking myself up. Thanks so much for your vote!ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - October 28, 2018 - 1:16 PM

    Another fantastic post Laurel! (Voted for you as well and do hope you’ll be heading to Las Vegas.)
    P.S.: Re you weather, hope it has cleared. We got our first snow fall yesterday with more dustings of it expected next week … arrrrgh!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:12 PM

      Thank You so much Brenda! my Internet is down so I’m using my phone app which is very weird For meReplyCancel

  • Émilie - October 28, 2018 - 1:04 PM

    I always vote for you when you mention it, you deserve it! You’ve helped countless of us on our journey, and you deserve to be rewarded!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 1:11 PM

      That is so sweet Émilie! Of course, it’s a two-way street for which I’m immensely grateful.ReplyCancel

  • Genie Harris - October 28, 2018 - 10:19 AM

    Just voted Laurel! Good luck and hope you get to go to Vegas and send us pics.
    You are the BEST blogger in my humble opinion….XOXO enjoy your SundayReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:53 AM

      Thank you so much Genie. If it was strictly a public vote, I very well might’ve won. It’s really not a big deal. Sure, it’s nice to get the recognition, but I get the kind that matters from you guys every day. The KBIS Modenus one means more to me, because these are my esteemed colleagues. It’s an honor to even be in the running! These guys are all rock stars and I always have a fabulous time in their company.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen MacDonald - October 28, 2018 - 10:00 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    The wall colours you have shown for stained wood trims are rich and beautiful.

    Is there a white you would particularly recommend with wood trims? My sister has a house, built in the ’70s with a vaulted wood ceiling with wood beams in the living room. She is betwixt and between about painting the ceiling, or the beams, or both.

    The living room has large windows with white painted trim and, frankly, an ugly large stone fireplace.

    Thank you Laurel,
    Maureen, her sister.ReplyCancel

  • Gina Donza - October 28, 2018 - 9:59 AM

    Oh Laurel, please forgive me for not mentioning how much I enjoy this article and the many others I’ve read. It must have been the morning pre-coffee brain fog. Anyway, I voted for you and wish you good luck! Have a great day!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:43 AM

      Oh no worries whatsoever and thank you so much for your vote! I presume if someone is commenting that they enjoyed the article. That is unless, they’ve written to sh*t all over me. It doesn’t happen often and I don’t publish them, but it does happen. Every time it confounds me and makes me fearful to read new comments for a few days. I’m sure that they think that they’re being “helpful.” That must be it.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Vant Erve - October 28, 2018 - 9:14 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    It is wonderful that you got into the final round of the Amara contest. I will be sure to vote for you in the KBIS.

    Adding to your comments on painting wood trim and why the price is more than double: I paint a lot of old houses, some with wood trim that remains stained and others where I have painted the wood trim. Usually in the latter, one of the big reasons for painting it is the type of wood used.

    If a house has beautiful oak trim, we usually leave it unless the room just simply looks too dark and heavy with it, but many houses have nice styling of trim, as in 8 to 12″ high baseboards with multiple paneled doors but the wood is fir or spruce with a dark stain and those woods simply are not attractive and need to be painted out.

    The reason the cost is more than double is because, that trim has to be thoroughly sanded (very dirty and hard work), holes filled, caulked, primed and then two coats of paint. It is way more work than painting the walls, unless of course the walls have hideous wallpaper or lots of damage.

    Trust me, I’ve seen lots of that too. Painting out trim can truly transform a place though. Some day, when I get some good pictures, I’ll send you some of the great transformations I’ve done. Love your blog. Btw, did you know that you have a lot of BM colours in the US that we do not have in Canada. I don’t know why but there is probably about 20 to 25% of the colours that you talk about, that are not in my fan decks. Weird.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:36 AM

      Great comment Margaret. I would love to see some of your work!

      Everything you say is true and I know that renovating an old home can be a nightmare that is not for the faint of heart.

      As for Benjamin Moore’s US division vs their Canadian division. I do know that some of the names are different. So, that could be part of it. OR, it could be that we have more colors. We do have five fan decks. The two big ones (ala Coke and Coke Classic – lol) and then Affinity, Color Stories and Williamsburg. It makes life more difficult for us, for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte - October 28, 2018 - 9:07 AM

    Hello Laurel,

    Great post as always. We have faux-finished wood trim everywhere in our house (think early 90s faux Tuscan look), and we are slowly but surely changing it over. Just had the heavily faux finished dark brown and gold crackled and very glazed kitchen cabinets torn out, which helps that room a lot, and new cream ones put in. Now the room is not like a cave anymore, hurray!

    I just voted for you and you are in first place! Viva Las Vegas!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:28 AM

      Oh, sounds like a huge improvement. And thank you so much for your vote!ReplyCancel

  • Gina Donza - October 28, 2018 - 9:00 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    I was so happy to read this article this morning because I thought it would solve a 3 yr standoff between my daughter and her husband, but their paint situation regarding moulding and door paint wasn’t addressed.

    See, his parents have an old home with lots of gorgeous wood trim that’s stained and naturally, he feels comfortable with that style. However, they bought a very small ranch in Oceanside, NY and the solid wood doors they have remain unpainted. There’s no architectural molding. Just your standard colonial ceiling and baseboard moulding.

    So here’s the dilemma. He painted the walls BM Classic Gray and the baseboard, door and ceiling moulding white, but left the doors unpainted because he said he’s not painting solid wood doors white and wants to stain them. My daughter, who’s is having their second child on Thursday, says no to staining them and now it’s a battle of the wills. They have modern furnishings from Ikea at this stage of their life. I’ve told him to paint them white and that I’m sick of looking at unpainted doors. The house resembles the aqua painted room in your post. Please solve this ongoing battle of the wills. Thank you in advance,ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:25 AM

      Hi Gina,

      Oh, that’s too bad that they are fighting over this. Perhaps the husband does not subscribe to the old adage, “Happy Wife; Happy Life.” Unfortunately, before he started painting, this should’ve been worked out, but alas it wasn’t.

      If this was a 19th century home or older with gorgeous tall panel doors, no-brainer. STAIN them. That is authentic and appropriate. As it is a 50s-60s (I’m presuming) small ranch in Long Island, NY, and the walls are Classic Gray, if you had asked me three years ago, I would’ve said definitely PAINT. I’m assuming that there’s a hard-wood floor which is a medium oak? That color stain on the doors would make me not-too happy. It’s difficult to say from here. But, it is not wrong to stain the doors, but I would stain them a deep, rich mahogany color. Yes, you can have two different stains. And then I would put on some gorgeous polished nickel or antique brass (the authentic kind) door-knobs.

      But, not all of the doors need to be stained. They could stain the exterior doors to the rooms and paint the interior closet doors.

      Maybe we need to do another post! This is a very good question.ReplyCancel

      • Gina Donza - October 28, 2018 - 8:40 PM

        Dear Laurel,

        I’ve finally had a chance to read your response. Again, thank you so much for the info. I have never seen an image where the door moulding is white and the door itself is stained and that’s why I can’t wrap my head around it. I do think a post addressing this issue is a wonderful idea. Additionally, the floors are a very light oak, not the stand medium oak. It looks fine with the white accent furniture and Classic Gray walls. They have brushed nickel hardware on the doors.

        I love reading your posts and quite enjoy your sense of humor, especially when you refer to your ”wasband.” Now, why didn’t I think of that?!ReplyCancel

  • Monica - October 28, 2018 - 8:49 AM

    You are now in first place! Excellent post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 10:03 AM

      Yahoo! Thanks to all of you. Very grateful for the support.ReplyCancel

  • Anna - October 28, 2018 - 7:53 AM

    Congratulations on making the short list of five bloggers, Laurel!
    I just voted for you in the Modenus Designhounds Contest – good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Kimball Cookie - October 28, 2018 - 7:03 AM


    In my previous Garrison Colonial, I used BM Audubon Russet in the entryway and lower half of the stairwell. It complimented the stained woodwork and our cherry furniture nicely. The new owners loved it. I have seen this color used in many historic homes in New England.


    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 9:55 AM

      Hi Kimball,

      I’ve often said, “if you want to minimize a trim or tile color, paint the walls to match.” That color is in the same family as Spiced Pumpkin 034. That’s another one that looks great with wood trim. A funny story is that when I was doing consultations about three years ago, I did one with a woman who has a gorgeous old home and I’m thinking that it might be this one.

      Actually, it was less than three years ago. She had won a give-away. But anyway, somehow in translation, Spiced Pumpkin turned into Pumpkin Spice 126! BM has done this with numerous colors which I have no doubt has created thousands of mix-ups.

      So, the room was painted the “wrong.” What’s funny is that Pumpkin Spice is a terrific color and looks gorgeous in her living room! In fact, if it had been on my radar, I very well would’ve put it in my paint collection. As it is, there’s a similar color in my collection, however from the Affinity (Aura) collection called Buttered Yam AF-240. Both are like a burnt yellow-y orange and absolutely gorgeous when up.

      Oh dear. I need more coffee. lol Buttered Yam is in my chart! ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - October 28, 2018 - 5:19 AM

    HI Laurel: A great post, very practical for those of us who have had the experience of buying a great house with 80’s stained trim. I would to pass on one thing though that a very talented painting contractor shared with me-that paint applied over previously stained trim will have a greater tendency to chip. Even after every piece of stained trim was thoroughly sanded, had 2 coats of primer and two finish coats, I found this to be true. It wasn’t a huge issue with two adults in the house, but those with small children need to be prepared for doing touch up periodically.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 9:34 AM

      Hi Rosemary,

      That’s an excellent point and one major case for not painting historical trim. (unless it’s painted black which I’ve seen and can be gorgeous.) If it’s a 60s-80s bare-bones kind of place, sometimes it’s easier and better, just to replace the trim. The same goes for trim with a ton of gloppy paint on it. However, if the home is very old and those mouldings don’t exist except in a custom shop, replacing would be very expensive. Paint removal is a disgusting messy exercise, however.

      Anyone have experience with this while renovating an old home and would like to share, that would be interesting. I have read that there are paint removers that are less noxious than the old ones. And of course, there’s the whole issue of lead which has to be dealt with in old homes.ReplyCancel

      • Janet - October 28, 2018 - 6:22 PM

        My house was built circa 1913. (Its predecessor, a high Italianate Victorian, mostly burned down that year and theyrebuilt on the same footprint, although in a simpler style.)

        Anyway, the house HAD beautiful stained oak woodwork. Unfortunately, a prior owner decided to paint it all white. (She was a lovely lady who I met years after her crime, otherwise I would have hated her! 🙂 ) Then a subsequent owner committed other atrocities, such as painting some of it turquoise–high gloss oil-based paint, naturally–and lopping off the mitred corners of the window trim to accommodate box cornices to hide window quilts.

        I’m taking a moment to do some deep breathing.

        A couple years ago, I decide to try to strip one of the 90″x34″ solid oak, heavily molded, 5-panel doors to see if it could possibly be refinished. A couple months and probably $70 worth of supplies later, I gave up.

        Remember, when you paint historic stained wood, YOU ARE DESTROYING IT FOREVER. I would suggest that if you don’t like an historic or architecturally significant house with stained wood, that you do the universe a favor and MOVE ON to another house that suits your tastes.

        Now, after holding off for longer than I should have, I have to repaint all of the trim and doors in my house. Since I cannot strip all of it, I will have to add more layers of paint. Over the years, these layers of paint will gradually obscure the once-sharp details. Remember, before you paint that historic trim, this is an endless cycle that you are starting. If you do nothing, the trim will remain beautifully clear and original forever, with minimal maintenance.


        • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 7:38 PM

          Hi Janet. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion. And sorry my Internet is down so I am talking into my phone like an idiot. However if a home is early 19th century, it is his stork Lee (lol) historically accurate for it to be either painted or stained wood. It really depends on the house. It is true that turn of the century homes in the Italianate style are always stained wood. My philosophy is to not make sweeping generalizations, in this regard. Plus, I don’t feel quite the same as you in every case. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion.

      • mrsben - October 28, 2018 - 12:57 PM

        Never really have had to strip paint for restoration purposes, however did have a girlfriend of mine whom a number of years ago restored her 100+ year old farmhouse single staircase that had many, many, many layers of paint!

        If I recall correctly, she used an arsenal of supplies combined with patience and lots of ‘elbow grease’. i.e.: Main supplies being a variable temp heat gun, lead paint respirator mask, goggles, protective gloves of some sort and a multitude of secondary supplies to tackle the intricate carvings and crevices. (Gel stripper/brushes/sandpaper etc.)

        As it so turned out; since a few of the balusters/spindles were previously damaged she did have them professionally duplicated and installed by a finishing-carpenter which she felt was worth the extra expense.

        Footnote: Restoration involved — Its newel turning and base, cap, hand and base rail plus fillets, apron and balusters/spindles which consisted of at least three per stair for (I think) fourteen to sixteen stairs. Also note I know that she experimented first on the damaged spindles to ensure she wouldn’t damage the wood etc. and did the project during the summer months when she could throw open all her windows for ventilation purposes as a precautionary measure. Her brother was an auto body technician (restoration vehicle painter) suggested her to do so. -Brenda-ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 1:09 PM

          Thanks so much Brenda. Very interesting. I admire folks who have the patience and talent to do all of that. I’m sure that it’s a labor of love and must be gratifying knowing that the creation is yours. Well, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

  • Runningonempty - October 28, 2018 - 4:48 AM

    Voted. Enjoyed this post, good advice.

    Everybody vote!


    • Laurel Bern - October 28, 2018 - 9:28 AM

      Hi Cath,

      I so appreciate your support – and the song. I’m listening right now and smiling! But then, I quickly realized in my morning pre-coffee stupor that you didn’t post the song for me, and what it’s really about, I stopped smiling. There has to be a special hell waiting for those depraved sickos who would hurt those Angels. xoxoReplyCancel