Egads! My husband Won’t Let Me Change The Blue Trim Color!

Hello Everyone,

I recently received a real “dear laurel” letter.


Dear Laurel,

My problem isn’t dark stained trim… my problem is blue/gray trim color. Think colonial houses that have blue trim and white walls. Yuck. I hate it but my husband loves it. Maybe b/c we live in his parents former home and it reminds him of Mom. I don’t know. At any rate… I can’t paint the trim. The worst part is a fireplace alcove with shelves all painted this same color. What’s a girl to do?? I desperately want to lighten and brighten the room but I’m clueless as to how to move forward. Oh, and did I mention the adjoining dining room has gray/green trim?? HELP




Oh, Julie, I feel for you. And I feel for hubs too because obviously, he was very close to his mom. (I’m assuming that she’s not with us anymore.)


You are his wife and I take it that you are legally married. Therefore, he took a vow to forsake all others…

And that includes Mom.

Not that he can’t still honor her memory with special keepsakes. That’s beautiful and appropriate; but turning your home into a museum to honor her memory at the expense of his wife’s happiness is really kind of ick, IMO.

happy wife happy life the end


(or is that kind of ick too?)

There are many ways that he can honor his mom that are appropriate such as a 30 x 40 portrait of her over your bed.



However, I want to address the blue trim color


One of the hottest trends going, that I happen to love is painting the wall and trim the same color.

(I would paint the walls in a matte finish and the trim in semi-gloss most of the time)

But… This is actually not just a trend but is historically accurate.

It was very common to paint the walls and trim the same color back in the 1700 and 1800s!

Of course, the following rooms were all painted recently, but are in the style of 2 or 3 centuries ago.

These may not be the same shade as your blue trim color but the idea is that it’s an option.

If one has to deal with a yucky color, paint everything the yucky color and it will be less yucky.

Please enjoy the following examples of what I’m talking about.

trim walls the same color fireplace country livingCountry Living

library walls trim green blue

Of course, many of these images may not address your issue of wanting to make the room lighter and brighter. But if it’s not a light and bright room to begin with, it won’t be no matter what; so it’s better to go with what is and create lightness with furnishings and lighting.

www.farrow and ball blue gray wallsFarrow and Ball

Farrow-Ball-Green-Blue-English-Country-Dining-interiors by colorInteriors By Color

Featured in AtHome in Fairfield County Magazine. Lisa Hilderbrand – Welhil Interiors

Photos: Keith Scott


Fabulous traditional dining room where everything is painted out in the rich blue-gray. Of course, this room is an architectural gem.

That always helps.


erica-george-dines-photo_stanton_madison_egd_081Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles


Susana Simonpietri gray blue library via change.cophoto: Susan Simonpietri via: Chang and Co.


sheila-bridges-new-york-home-04Sheila Bridges


sheila-bridges-living-roomSheila Bridges


w140930_stanton_madison_egd_006Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles


traditional-office-library-hein-cozzi-new-york-new-york-201001-3_1000Architectural Digest

Hope that you found this to be helpful.

If not, I guess you could just set fire to the place and start over.




PS: For more great paint, trim and ceiling colors please check out the link below

The Laurel Home Essential Paint Color Collection.

56 Responses

  1. I would love to see the photos but they are not showing up for me, except for the very first one. Is anyone else having this issue?

  2. Growing up on Vancouver Island in the 50’s it was the norm to paint your walls with flat then paint trim and doors with enamel in same color. It wasn’t until moving to California in 1961 that we experienced stained (wood) trim.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      Yes, the stained wood trim was popular in Victorian times and then made an unfortunate appearance in the 70’s and early 80’s. It’s pretty much everywhere, not just Cali. And actually, our Indiana ranch home built in the late 50’s had stained wood trim!

  3. I don’t care WHO said, “It’s only paint.” My painter just dropped by with an estimate for painting a breakfast room that is only slightly larger than a modest closet, and my head is still whirring at the price. But paint is not worth a mom v wife battle: those “alternatives” are gorgeous and are a terrific look, worthy of a first choice.

  4. Excellent advice. Same color walls and trim is an elegant Parisian look — its a hard sell here in the South because we GRITS (girls raised in the south) love our white trim and moldings. If her MIL’s home is rustic country, and the trim is rough wood that isn’t even sanded well (don’t get me started), the look may not work. It’s tres chic in traditional and historic homes with sophisticated trims and moldings, but that blue trim is often seen in primitive country interiors, and truthfully, it’s right up there with Smerf regurgitation.

    Put your foot down, darlin’ and start serving your sugar pie all blue food. When he complains, sweetly tell that man his food is going to match the blue trim until the blue trim and the blue food go.

  5. Laurel I cannot believe your reply. Why not compromise with one room…..and as I have read a million times, it is just paint…..and you can paint OVER it. This is really a set back to marriage. Half the fun of marriage is finding an answer you both like. Do not understand your reply at all. Is it just me?

  6. Why did you not suggest compromising on just one room…..its like food, if you put it in front of them they take a bite and enjoy it. I cannot believe there is no compromise in this situation…..? Is it just me?

  7. It’s a tough situation. Our trim is dark stained oak right out of the 80’s. Yech! And of course my hubs loves it. I’m working on him though and maybe one day…
    Here’s a couple suggestions for Julie:
    1) If you really can’t stand the blue color, and he won’t go for white, see if you can meet in the middle with a pretty light gray or taupe.
    2) Tell him you are painting the trim to something you can live with and in exchange he can have one room left as is, to pay homage with the decor — like a den or office. You can close the door and you’ll both be happy.
    3) Have a professional designer come for something else like window blinds, and nonchalantly ask him/her what they would do with the room, in front of your hubby of course. If you’ve prepped him/her, they say what he needs to hear. Haha!
    4) Before and After example photos from Houzz, Pinterest, etc, work too. He will start to pick up on how much of an improvement it could be.
    Good luck!
    And I enjoyed this post!

    1. Great ideas Jennifer.

      Yeah… The guys love the wood trim. I did another post here about that. Often-times, they only THINK they prefer it. And when it’s painted, they come around and admit that it’s much better. I guess it’s that hunting instinct. lol

  8. The blues in these photos are gorgeous! The ones with the same color wall and ceiling is eye catching and attractive, giving depth, rich color and feel. I love the artwork too. My son just bought his first home (a condo) and he favors darker walls with blues and grays. He’s painting his first floor entryway Van Deusen Blue and his upper living master bedroom Narragansett Green. I am a bit scared for him but after seeing these beautiful pics,I have more confidence.

  9. Such sound advice Laurel and hopefully it will assist Julie. Favourite room of mine has to be by Welhil Interior with the amazing architectural details and fabulous elements. That said; the artwork of the deer (Sheila Bridges room image) almost appears to be a reflection in a mirror’ don’t you think? Okay perhaps it is just my imagination running away with me as doubtfully it is even a family portrait … ☺. In conclusion; IMHO the application of a non-glare glass would have been appropriate and I do love the charming ceiling fixture.

    1. Hold on Brenda, let me take a look at that. I don’t think it’s a reflection. I think that’s a painting. I’m also not seeing any glare from the glass. Maybe I’m not understanding something. Oh well. Love Sheila’s work and all of the many gorgeous details she adds to her interiors.

  10. Such beautiful rooms Laurel. To live in a house that would suit that sort of decorating is my dream but as I live in the tropics in Australia is really is just a dream. Our homes are open plan and airy plus these days it is all white, white and more white!

    1. Hi Alison,

      I hear you. And ahhh… I’m so sick of our harsh winters that I have fantasies of living some place warm all year round, or at least not so freezing in winter.

      And I LOVE white! I could easily live in an all-white home!

  11. Love this blue trim blog introduction picture with the white mantel. Looks fresh and different.

  12. Re: Julie. I feel for her, her husband and I love your response. Color and design are so personal and in my case most definitely linked emotionally. Thanks for your posts:)

    1. Hi Terry,

      Yes, our homes are often linked to us emotionally. I get attached to things which some say is not good, but oh well…

      I’m sure that Julie and her husband will work it out.

  13. Laurel–Just wanted to update you, just moved from a condo 2 1/2 hours from Mom to a condo 1/2 block from Mom. (Mon’s going to be 83) The condo was in move-in ready condition will all new tile, all new carpet and all new paint on the walls. And yes, just like my other condo, this condo has the no-nonsense color WHITE on the walls. Good thing because the bedrooms at the front of the building face southeast for morning light and the living room at the back of the building faces northwest for late day light. (we’ll get more light when the leaves are off the trees) Have a good summer–Susie

    1. Hi Susie,

      Great, you’re close to Mom now and can see her much more often. I bet she’s thrilled about that too! I would be!

      Please have a good summer as well!

  14. Gorgeous examples, great advice. Sometimes your best bet is to embrace whatever quirks are in your home, so your home will embrace you back.

    (Always so happy to find out you wrote a new post, Laurel.)

    1. Thanks Jenny. I love quirks too. And through the years have had to deal with lots of them with my clients. It’s fun to work out these challenges as long as they aren’t too wonky!

  15. Love this trend! I went white with my trim (painted over golden oak) but I am in process of painting the golden oak cabinets, built-in shelves, and vanities a multitude of wonderful colors and sometimes, the same color as the wall. I am using BM’s Advance formulation (recommended by Laurel as a substitute for oil). I love it! What I did learn, however, is that sometimes, for some reason, colors appear very different in the Advance formulation, while others look exactly the same as they do in Regal matte or eggshell. You cannot get sample of colors in Advance but you can buy a quart instead of a gallon, to start. If you are painting trim to match a wall, you could use Advance on the trim and matte on the walls, and possibly run into the same issue I had. I even checked with the store to make sure it was mixed correctly, but ultimately, some colors just look different in different formulations (per Ben Moore).

    1. Hi Eleanor,

      That’s good to know. And actually, the color can always appear a little different, but it’s usually a good thing. Maybe, in your situation it wasn’t, so something to look out for.

      BTW, I have never done a color wall with colored trim, except maybe once or twice in a library. I live in a very conservative area and it’s often difficult to get to try out the looks I think are cool.

      1. Totally understand. I’m fairly certain my family thinks I’m a little bonkers with my paint choices and choosing to paint built-ins anything but white. I’ll share my tale of woe as quickly as possible..BM Cranberry Cocktail looks terrible on the Bm website..terrible. But in person the chip and sample were great for me at least. I did the walls in matte. I then began to paint the built-ins the same color, with the Advance. It looked terrible. Pinky-mauve. I confirmed this w/multiple people to make sure I wasn’t crazy and it was a huge difference. My BM dealer tried to add more yellow and red pigment. Still yucky. I bought some Advance in the next color up on the chip strip, Raisin Torte, and it was a go. I like it. It’s fun. But I don’t love it. After reading your guide, I’m dreaming about re-painting the whole room in one your dark neutrals…in a few years….

  16. Shelia Bridges home has fireplace tile that I need for my historic 1909 home. Something very like Shelia’s tile was the original fireplace tile and it was removed and really ugly tile added. How could I find a source for that tile? I loves all the shades of blue in this edition of your newsletter and I am a fan of your informative and funny pieces. Thanks.

    1. Hi Beth,

      Well… I use the old google search box whenever I’m looking for something. Perhaps type in vintage or antique porcelain tile. I know that it exists. And sorry, some folks did that to the beautiful old fireplace. Hope you can revive it to its former glory!

  17. Laurel – was so STRUCK!!! by these rich, historical colors…Loved it! Fortunately for me, I have no man to dictate my trim colors or otherwise. In my vast experience, just do it and let them be surprised. 99% of the time they love it. And if not, maybe there are other issues. Love your blog.

  18. Pretty and elegant solution. The images you chose are wonderful.

    I agree with you that “Julie’s” input and desire to re-paint should supersede her husband’s desire to hold on to his mother’s paint scheme. Of course, we don’t know, but maybe the mother-in-law would have liked to do the very paint scheme you, Laurel, propose. Maybe the father-in-law nixed it, who knows? Or, maybe she want to redecorate and change it at some point and *her* husband said no. Likely the son-now husband – of “Julie” doesn’t know, either.

    1. Hi Libby,

      All good hypotheses. I was also thinking that Mom’s husband let her do what she wanted, so why not the son?

      I’m sure they’ll work it out. :]

  19. Stunning rooms! Any educated guesses as to the colors used in these rooms? Thinking the third image could be BM Jamestown Blue?? The arched alcoved windows in the library room so cool. You always find the best images Laurel. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Hi Betsy O.
      Gosh, I really don’t know. But I do know that at least two or three are Farrow and Ball colors. It’s so difficult to tell in photos and then there’s how our monitors are seeing the color.

  20. I couldn’t help but chuckle at Julie’s letter. I’ve noticed a trend lately of darker trim with lighter walls… and I kinda dig it… a LOT. And I LOVE the look of the walls and trim painted the same color! We’re in the middle of buying a house, and one of the things I’m chomping at the bit to do is to get rid of the peachy-pink beige walls (I know someone out there told these folks they needed neutral colors to sell this house- but Heavens to Betsy these colors are hideous.) and replacing with some lovely trim and …. and possibly the same sort of paint job you’ve featured here. Maybe. *squirms with excitement*

    I’ve really been inspired by Benjamin Moore’s Williamsburg collection and their inspiration pics. These pics remind me of those, a bit. (Particularly that Wythe Blue hallway pic with the Claret room peaking through the doorway? *le sigh!*)

    At any rate- perhaps Julie’s husband would consider letting her paint the trim a slightly lighter blue-grey? Something that is still darker than the walls (assuming they’re white), but maybe a prettier, lighter shade? Benjamin Moore’s Grey Owl might do the trick. Or Revere Pewter? Or Silver Chain? Obviously I don’t know what the light situation is in the house, so I don’t know what would look best, but it might be a nice compromise.

  21. BWAAHAHAHA!!! You wrote this post for ME!!! (I go by “Julie”.) I have the SAME situation. Lovely husband who hates change. And he loves that Jamestown Blue trim…

    I love your examples; truly classic design. He won’t go for it though – already tried. We live with large Black Labs so light furnishings are also out of the question. Oh well. I’ll find the right fabric. Thanks for this post! Julie

    1. Hi Julie,

      Black labs. How fab. You already have your black accents! lol I also love the look where it’s monochromatic and the furnishings and walls are of a similar tone. Steven Gambrel does that a lot.

  22. I love the images you picked for this post! There is something so luxurious and decadent ( in a good magical fairytale like way) in all of these rooms. They do look more historical and richer for some reason.

    1. Thanks Chris,

      I debated including other colors, but since we’re talking blue and green trim, I kept it to that family. I love the look of all one color.

      Martha Stewart’s compound in Katonah– the exteriors are all one color–this wonderful putty color. I used to live a few miles away and would drive by and drool.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
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