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Are White and Neutrals the Best Options for Interior Trim Painting?

calander Nov 2 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

Every interior is unique, but you’ll find certain similarities among many different properties. Most homes, for instance, feature white or neutral trim, regardless of the color of their walls or the style of their decor. If you’ve never given much thought to this matter, you wouldn’t be alone. We tend to take trim for granted. These features accentuate an interior without making themselves overly conspicuous. As such, colorful trim would naturally draw attention to itself and perhaps look out of place. Does this mean that white and neutral tones are the best options for interior trim painting? To answer that question, we must examine why these clinical colors are so common in the first place, and how other colors can better suit interior trim in certain cases.

Why Trim is Typically White

Certain trends are a product of tradition and momentum while others are rooted in practicality. When it comes to the popularity of white trim, both forces seem to be at play. One could argue that white trim is so prevalent because it’s been a staple of home painting for centuries (and they wouldn’t be wrong). On the other hand, one could argue that people go with white trim because it simply makes sense aesthetically (they would be right, too). This argument is a bit like the proverbial chicken-egg dilemma -- ultimately, it doesn’t matter which came first, or which side carries more weight. In other words, the established practice of painting trim white is directly tied to the practical reasons for doing so.

Regardless of norms, people continue to paint their trim white because it provides a balanced contrast to virtually any other color surrounding it. Whether the adjacent walls are beige, grey, red, green, purple, black, etc., white trim will look excellent and create some visual separation. Additionally, the introduction of white (even if it’s only present on trim) makes a room look brighter and feel larger, enhancing your interior’s atmosphere. And, if nothing else, white trim offers classic appeal that most homeowners or prospective buyers appreciate -- as such, well-maintained white trim can bump up a home’s market value.

Staying Neutral

While white remains the dominant choice for trim painting, plenty of homeowners go with other neutral tones as well. These options include off-white, black, grey, beige, and brown, and numerous variations in between. There are several reasons one might choose a neutral color other than white for their trim. If their walls are white or some other extremely light shade, for instance, they might want their trim to provide a darker contrast rather than blend in or recede into the background. One might also prefer non-white trim for more practical reasons -- white surfaces reveal dirt, scuffs, and other imperfections more than darker surfaces. So, non-white neutral trim won’t get as visibly dirty or worn down as white trim. Non-white neutral trim (like white trim) also works well with most other colors, so there will be little conflict between various home interior painting colors and neutral trim choices.

Does Trim Need to Be Neutral?

Trim color is not dictated by some law of nature like gravity -- nothing is forcing you to paint your trim a certain way. If you were so inclined, you could go ahead and paint your trim hot pink, though few interior house painters or designers would condone such a choice. The point is, no, trim doesn’t have to be white or any other neutral shade. Most people simply stick with white and neutrals for their trim because, as we’ve established, these are tried-and-true decisions that provide practical and visual value.

Out-of-the-Box Color Options for Trim Painting

If you would rather stray from the path and try something different with your trim, it’s important to approach this project strategically. The most important thing to remember is that context and contrast are key when choosing interior trim paint colors (and all paint colors, for that matter). This means you must take your entire interior design into consideration before committing to a particular trim color.

Just as white trim works well with any wall color, white walls can work well with just about any trim color. However, keep in mind that if you go this route, the trim color will end up being the room’s most prominent feature, at least until you fill it out with furniture and other decor. For this reason, it’s useful to figure out how you want a given room to look when all is said and done, and make your trim color and decor choices accordingly. If your walls aren’t white, though, you’ll be more limited in your trim color choices. After all, dark blue trim won’t complement dark green walls very well. On the other hand, dark blue trim can look stunning against walls that are painted yellow or light grey. Again, context is everything. Understanding how colors interact and how that can have an impact on the atmosphere of a room will empower you to take some risks and reap the rewards.

The Verdict

So, are white and neutrals the best options for interior trim painting? There is no objectively correct answer to this question because the definition of “best” is fluid depending on who you ask -- white trim might be best for one individual but not for another. Ultimately, going with white or some other neutral tone is a safe choice for your interior trim, but other colors might be worth pursuing if your preferences lean another way. Some rules are meant to be broken, especially in the realm of interior painting. Of course, knowing said rules will allow you to break them more easily and with better outcomes. If you need help navigating color choices for your interior trim, then, reach out to reliable, knowledgeable local painters.

At Nash Painting, we’ve transformed all kinds of spaces for our customers in Nashville, TN, Brentwood, TN, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!