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Baseboard Trim: To Paint or Not to Paint

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Hello my friends, and welcome to one of the most controversial topics in design. 😉 In my years of blogging, the number one design topic that people have come out swinging over is the topic of wood trim. So today I’m sharing what I’m doing with my wood baseboard trim and why.

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Should I Paint My Baseboard Trim?

We all have our preferences on wood trim. Some absolutely love the warmth it brings. Some consider it dated and distracting. Others view it from a natural standpoint. (i.e.: How could you paint over that beautiful wood grain????? Said in disbelief and disgust.)

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Our Current Living Room (See the Before Here) 
(See how it looks with painted trim here)

My previous home had cherry red window and baseboard trim which I did not enjoy. You can see the before and afters from our first home remodel {here}. So, after our house fire I did not hesitate for a second to paint the trim and transform it from red and dingy to white and classic.

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Our Previous Home

However, when we moved into our current home I didn’t have the same strong feelings about the oak baseboard trim as I did about the cherry stain of our previous home. It was not exactly my taste, but I didn’t hate it either. So I’ve lived with our honey oak trim for 8 months and was content.

Until I wasn’t.

(Inspirational Photos Credited Under Each Image)

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Desiree Ashworth of Decor De Provence, Photo by Eliesa Findeis

Painted Baseboard Trim Has My Heart

In my book, Designing a Life: From House to Haven, I have broken down 10 steps to take to become a haven maker. It has become sooooo important to me to create a haven for my family in our home. A big part of that, for me, is the design and decor of my haven. Some may not have a preference what their home looks like aesthetically, and that is just fine, but for me it matters. So I knew that I needed to start taking my own advice.

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Liz Marie Blog

As I wrote my book, I walked through all 10 steps myself and realized that I’ve been neglecting certain areas of my home design because I was unsure what others may think of my decisions.

Friends! What would I tell you about that?! I’d tell you not to worry about what others think as long as you are creating a haven that works for you and your family! So I’ve decided to do just that.

Stop and Stare Test

One of the steps in my book (you’re getting a little sneak peek here!) is to create design boards that pass the “stop and stare” test. These are inspirational photos that you literally stop and stare at because they inspire you! Do you know the percentage of photos in my “stop and stare” design boards that have wood trim?


Do you think 1% is a good indicator that wood baseboard trim has my heart? I don’t! On the other hand, painted baseboard trim makes me stop and stare. It doesn’t even have to be the standard white. I love the richness that a grey or taupe painted trim offers. I also enjoy the drama a black painted trim can bring. But no matter the color, I crave painted trim in my inspirational photos.

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

House Seven Design

I’m Painting my Baseboard Trim

You guessed it. That means I’m painting my baseboard and window trim. You see it all started with our upcoming basement renovation. {Updated: You can see the basement renovation series here.}

We are installing a lighter oak floor which clashed with our honey oak trim. So I decided to paint all of our baseboard trim in the basement. Which then extended to the door frames and window trim. Which then helped me realize how much I would LOVE to eradicate the wood trim from our upstairs.

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Studio McGee

You know those books, When You Give a Mouse a Cookie…. Well one small change leads to 10 more small changes, which quickly becomes a huge project. That’s what our basement project has become. But I am so excited for it!

I’m excited to continue to update our home and transform it into a haven where I am at peace with the design and enjoy the home we are in. I’m excited to keep certain elements of our home in stained wood to retain some of that warm and texture. I’m excited to see it all come together! And I’m excited to take you on the journey with me!

Do you paint baseboards or walls first?

Now that I’ve made my decision, it’s time to plan out the process. One of the biggest questions I get is the order in which to paint. Do you paint walls first or trim? Well, the answer is simple. It really doesn’t matter. Either way, you are going to need to take care to avoid overpainting either the wall or the baseboard trim.

Personally, I find it easier to paint trim and baseboards first. This way, I can get away with not taping the walls and any over paint is easily covered once the wall paint goes up. I think this option is easier because cutting in on a wall is easier than painting the top of a baseboard without tape.

Painted trim before walls are painted.

However, if you are new to painting, then you will most likely want to use painter’s tape for each part of the process! You can find the 5 steps to painting a room detailed in this tutorial along with all the materials needed.

What Color Should Baseboards Be?

The next question I receive is, “What color should baseboards be?” The answer is, there is no wrong answer for your trim and baseboard color.

Of course, the largest majority of homes have white painted trim and baseboards because it is classic and goes with any wall color. However, as you saw in the photos above, trim and baseboards can make a beautiful statement in a more saturated color.

Grey and taupe are two of my favorite colors for trim work because, like white, they will coordinate with many wall colors. Conversely, light walls dark trim offers a beautiful and interesting painted trim option! Black is a very popular modern option if you are looking for high contrast as well.

In my guest house remodel, I painted the door trim a green-blue and love how it turned out! It is a nice pop of color in a lighter room.

Guest house painted trim.

More than anything, you should consider painted trim that will flow from room to room.

Can Trim Color Change by Room?

As you consider the flow of your trim colors, keep in mind that trim color can change by room. If you want to create a different look in a specific space, painted trim is a fun way to accomplish that goal. While I wouldn’t recommend a different color trim in every room, it is a fun design element to switch it up in certain spaces. Or, like I did in the guest house, simply painting a door and door trim a contrasting color is enough to create detail with paint.

If you decide to change your interior trim colors by room, you’ll want to find that perfect transition point to switch colors. A lot of times that is a doorway, but with open concept houses becoming the norm in new builds, it can be difficult to find that transition point. So keep that in mind as you paint your paint colors!

How to Paint Trim

If you’re ready to take the step in your own home, you can see how I painted my wood trim in the basement in this tutorial. It is a very simple process, but will take time. So if you’re tackling an entire house, I recommend breaking it down into manageable chunks.

I like to start in main living areas that get the most traffic. Then, I head into bedrooms and bathrooms. This way, you can have easy start and stopping points when you need a break!

What’s Next

The month of November I’ll be bringing you along on our basement renovation. I am painting all of the baseboard trim downstairs myself.

I’ve quickly discovered this project to be extremely tedious, time consuming and back breaking; therefore, we are hiring a painter to do the upstairs later in November. Sometimes you just gotta know your limits. 😉 (Also something I talk about in my book!)

{UPDATE} Have you seen how our basement renovation turned out since writing this post?

Do you have stained wood trim? The common question is, "To paint or not to paint wood trim." Click to see what I did with my baseboard trim, and why.

Design Loves Detail

Until then I hope that you continue to enjoy the inspiration our wood trim brings. I know that there are MANY of you who started following along with me because I was embracing the wood trim. I hope that you continue to be inspired as I make a switch to continue to create my own haven. And I hope that I inspire you to love the home you’re in.

If you have wood trim and love it, then don’t for a second let my decision influence your contentedness in your own home. You are creating your haven. If your haven involves wood trim then I hope you continue to enjoy it for years to come.

On the other hand, I’ve had many of you also come to me saying that you have wood trim and are just trying to figure out how to make it work. To you I say, read my book 😉 and figure out how to incorporate changing your wood trim into your design plans. It is definitely back breaking work, but oh so worth it if wood trim doesn’t pass your stop and stare test.

So there you have it. Are we still friends?

Sarah Signature

{Your house is intended to be more than just a home. – Sarah Symonds, Designing a Life: From House to Haven}

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Should I paint my wood trim.


  1. I really love the look of white baseboards with dark hardwood floors. My question: All my windows, door frames matched the hardwood floor before (45 yr. old house), do I have to replace the window frames? I just can’t afford (plus my husband wouldn’t want to spend the money) to replace our entire house just because we are putting in more hardwood flooring. We had it in our family room and are putting in our kitchen (updating our kitchen) and living room and dining room.

    1. I don’t think so! You could either paint the windows, or just choose a floor color that coordinates. Lots of wood tones go well together!

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