Ask most designers what color they usually paint interior trim — no matter the wall color — and they will tell you the same: white.
But lately somel designers are breaking the mold. They have gone bold and painted window casings, door frames, baseboards and crown moldings bright, saturated colors.
Most prolific in this gutsy movement is New York designer Steven Gambrel of S.R. Gambrel. Gambrel likes to choose a deep-toned accent color -- plucked from another element in the room, such as an accessory or a fabric -- for the room's trim. "Painting the trim a bold color better defines the scale of the room, and it gives the room's architectural elements -- windows and doors -- more prominence," Gambrel says. He thinks of a room's trim as he would a picture frame: A strong-colored frame focuses your eye and outlines that which is most important.
Of course, to paint trim a bold color, it needs to be in good condition and worthy of the attention color will draw.
When you decide to go bold with a trim color, wait until the room is finished before judging; only once the textiles, furniture and accessories are in does the room make sense. "Painting trim against a neutral wall in an unfinished room feels too strong," Gambrel says, "but when you start layering in carpet, trims, art and objects, it all becomes more balanced."
Some designers like to paint the trim a vibrant color in rooms that have lots of windows and doors because it unifies the space and makes the room feel less choppy. Walls don’t have to be neutral or textural; vibrant wallpapers can inform trim color selection, too.
And use vivid colors for the trim and cabinetry of butler's pantries and bars. These smaller spaces, particularly when adjacent to an all-white kitchen, turn into little jewel boxes.
Like bright color in smaller doses? Paint window mullions a bright color to add color to a room in open door plans, especially if you’re going to skip window treatments in rooms such as kitchens or living rooms.
Before you decide to paint your own white trim a bolder color, know one thing: Painting trim is time-consuming. All those edges and windowpanes need to be taped, and the paint must be brushed on by hand; you can't just roll it on as you do on the walls.
Source: Elizabeth Mayhew, The Washington Post