Dining Room Painting

Why I’m Painting the Wood Trim in My Home

Painting wood always draws up strong feelings on both sides. A lot of people are all for it. Some are hesitant in most cases, but willing to make exceptions. Then there is a school of people that thinks it is a sin to paint wood. Take this comment from Jess on my last post:

The natural wood trim is so fantastic and really adds to the value of the house. Painted wood trim, no matter how much you agonize over the color and paint it perfectly, is just never as special as the original wood. It’s really interesting to me that Nicole feels that the dining room set is too beautiful as natural wood to be painted, but doesn’t feel the same way about the delicious natural wood trim in the room.

Or Sara, who said “I would kill to have your hutch in that condition.” I know, Sara, but let me show you the truth. Is this the condition you thought it was in?

Wood Buffet in the Dining Room

I understand why people don’t like to paint wood. Let’s contrast the wood grain of the trim with that of my table, which I’ve said I’m not willing to paint or alter in any way. This is beautiful, quality wood.

Wood Dining Room Table

See the difference? The wood trim in my house is (in Clueless’ parlance) a total Monet.

Unpainted Wood Trim in the Dining Room

And that is why I’m OK with painting it. We painted all of the trim upstairs when we first moved in because the second floor trim was not special, and not original to the house. I thought that I didn’t want to be the one to paint the natural woodwork on the main floor because it has survived in that state since our home was built in 1910. But you know what? We’ve been here for three and a half years. This is where my family actually lives, not a historical time capsule. I’ve decorated around the wood and the more I look at it, the more I can’t get over the crazy grain and the stain that has seen better days. Painting the trim white will make me so much happier with the look of my home, and what good is preserving a home’s features if those features don’t actually make you happy?

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

You Might Also Like...

276 Comments

  • Reply
    Stacy @ Design Something Better
    September 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Coming from a girl who just finished painting the banister of her home – I agree with Nicole. I prefer the look of painted trim – it’s crisp clean and to quote Father of the Bride, it “just works”.

    However, what I think is most important is what Nicole shared that her family ‘lives’ there. It is not a time capsule. Besides, one of the benefits of living in any space is making it yours – and with home ownership comes many have-tos – so live it up when you come across a want-to?

    I think it’ll look great, Nicole! Can’t wait to see it!

  • Reply
    deanna
    September 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    And, worst-case scenario, paint can always be stripped off and wood can be refinished.

    I can’t wait to see it!

  • Reply
    Lyn W.
    September 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I think because the wood is so dark it gives it a dated feel not a necessarily a historical feel, if that makes sense. I think painting wood trim out especially in white makes it look refresh and timeless. Because of how the wood grain is all over the place, it doesn’t really give off the air that it was done on purpose as if it was thought out and crafted. Adding the paint will give it that look of a well crafted built in piece.

  • Reply
    Diane
    September 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Wow! So many people being so precious about this. That wood is common fir and is meant to be painted! It’s not like it’s shining mahogany or some other rare wood. And even if it was something gorgeous and rare – it’s still Nicole’s house and she can paint it if she wants to.

    And for all those saying that she is ruining the resale value of her home….well, I have to laugh at that. Buyers are subjective beings, and I can say for myself that I prefer older homes with painted trim. Painting that hutch is not going to take away the uniqueness or specialness of her house! How many cookie cutter new construction homes have built-in hutches!

    If painted trim in a historic home is good enough for Martha Stewart, than it’s good enough for me :)

  • Reply
    lauren
    September 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    we tried to strip the paint off the wood in our house to no avail, so coming from this side i wouldn’t paint the trim. but, the thing is, it’s your house and whomever buys it from you will do so knowing the wood is painted (like i did).

  • Reply
    Katie
    September 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Since I’m still somewhat of a youngin’ and have grown up around newer homes and renovations, I tend to want to cover up wood because it just makes it look cleaner and newer. However, I do think that if you have a home that you love and really want to keep the character and not just transform an older home into a newer one, you have to be careful. I think your explanation was a perfect one and the fact that the trim isn’t in perfect condition in the first place, gets my vote for go ahead and paint! The comment about the wood adding value to your home isn’t really true; it completely depends on the buyer and the market…but you don’t plan on selling soon anyway, so it’s a non-issue. I’m excited to see the “after” photos; I’m sure it will look fantastic!

  • Reply
    kristen
    September 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    PREACH IT, SISTER.

    i feel the same way when people bring up issues about preserving something just for future “resell.” who cares! if you don’t like it, what is the point of living in a home? people are weird.

  • Reply
    Kristin
    September 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    You are 100% right! I agree with everything you are saying and I can’t wait to see how your woodwork looks when you have it painted!

  • Reply
    justme
    September 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Your taste is impecable Nicole. I love crisp white trim in craftsman stle houses. Go for it!

  • Reply
    Jessica at Lavender and Lilies
    September 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    I agree. It’s your house and if you plan on being there do what it takes to make you happy in that space.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    September 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Maybe you should really piss people off and paint all of the trim in this room LIME GREEN?!! Just a thought…

  • Reply
    julie.
    September 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    our last house was a 1915 craftsman with all the original wood trim (including original kitchen cabinets!) and it was all the dark stain. It was nice to have the original, but it really made the house dark (esp. in the Winter – and we live in Michigan!) – the dark wood sucked up all the light. We moved 2 years ago to a mid-c ranch and the rooms that have trim have it painted white and it makes SUCH a difference. The whole house is brighter and airier and my mood is better in the Winter!

  • Reply
    Mara
    September 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    More power to you sister!

  • Reply
    Stacey
    September 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    well said!

  • Reply
    Clair
    September 1, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I say do what you wish. I love the look of painted trim and think it will look great! And if I felt differently I would refrain from comment!

  • Reply
    Aimee
    September 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Go for it, Nicole! I painted my trim white in the first week. And when I am admonished for it, I remind the admonisher that, being as I am the person who pays the mortgage, I can paint my trim purple if I so wish. :)

  • Reply
    Michelle
    September 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I say do what makes you happy, it’s a home not a museum. The white trim will make the wall paper pop (I think the trim is currently a distraction). Painting the table surely would make me cringe…and you’ve demonstrated the distinct differences in the quality of wood. Paint away and enjoy the refreshed look!

  • Reply
    Sana
    September 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    i agree with you, and i go beyond: if it’s yours and you don’t like it as it is and think it would look nice changed: do it! cut it, paint it, reuppholster it, do whatever you want no matter if it is antique piece. because, i strongly feel that things are here to serve US! so, off with the natural wood color on the dining set, i’d say! :)
    (but i totally understand that you fell it would be pity to change that nice table, too.)

  • Reply
    Jacinta @ modelmumma
    September 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Thankyou for making sense!
    My husband is all for wood… I like it too but the 70’s trim around our doors, skirting and window sills are just YUCK. Especially in our small little house. I want them painted but he says no. They aren’t quality timber so I’m thinking what’s the big deal?! It doesn’t make me happy and I’m a SAHM – I see them all day every day. I’m now going to approach the subject of painting them with him again! Thanks Nicole!!! :)

  • Reply
    Sarah
    September 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    The only thing I think is sad is that Nicole has to explain herself about why she wants to paint the wood trim in her own house!

    We recently renovated our first room in our 1930s house and we too-ed and fro-ed about whether to stain and varnish the wood or whether to go antique white semi-gloss. We ended up going the antique white semi-gloss route and painted the window frame, the base boards, the picture rails and the door frame, but left the doors in their original state (we plan to stain them with a dark stain later on).

    Now the doors really “pop” from the door frame and the trim looks so crisp and fresh.

    I have been waiting to hear more about Nicole’s trim painting project for ages and I’m happy to hear that it’s coming soon!

    • Reply
      Kris Mays
      September 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

      We did that when we built our last home. Our walls were butter yellow, our trim bright white, and our doors were gorgeous fir, stained a cherrywood color. Our floors were cherry. It was beautiful!

  • Reply
    Andi Young-Newton
    September 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Good call. I understand the issue of preserving historical significance…but it’s YOUR adventure. I’ll be over here waving a foam finger and cheering you on. :)

    People are still crapping themselves over the fact that I painted the exposed brick in my kitchen. It’s dark in there! It’s MY darned kitchen! *shakes head*

  • Reply
    Mélo
    September 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    It’s not like your gonna take them off the wall! The original trim are still gonna be there, so paint them if you want to! :)

  • Reply
    Janet
    September 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    We have really beautiful wood trim in three rooms of our 1920’s home (dining, living, and sunroom), and it was part of our decision to buy the house. It works for us and for our color palette/vintage modern style, and I’m happy that it was taken care of so well over the years.

    That said, I absolutely believe that you should do what makes you happy, and, looking at pictures of your house, I think the white trim would look amazing. It’s clear that your wood isn’t in fantastic shape, and your aesthetic favors clean white trim (which I have, and love, in my kitchen and bedrooms). I really look forward to seeing what you do!

  • Reply
    Janet
    September 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Oh, and there’s this: I know that we all have to think about resale value to some extent, but with the current housing collapse, it’s clear that we have to stop thinking about homes as just investments and start thinking about them as, well, homes. We live in them! We should make them the way we want them to be.

  • Reply
    kimma
    September 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    First let me say, I’m with you and everyone else who said it’s your house and you should do what you like. However, you did invite comment on the issue so I don’t think its a case of “haters gonna hate” if someone’s opinion is not what you wanted to hear.
    We just bought a new house and one of the first comments I received was “are you going to paint that trim?” with an implication that we should. We aren’t and at first I took offence, but then I calmed down and accepted that everyone is going to have a different approach to decorating.

  • Reply
    nikki
    September 1, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Our home was built in 1916. When we moved in, the bedrooms and bathroom had 8″ pine trim that we painted white (not high quality wood). The rest of our home has 8″ oak trim that was under several layers of paint…we chose to restore the wood, and it was a headache and a ton of work! It’s really gorgeous and while we’re glad we did it, we would never do it again. We would paint before restoring. I agree with the previous comment that said your wood looked like ‘paint grade’ wood. The grain is very similar to what we painted in our bedrooms. You’re probably better off painting.

  • Reply
    Katie
    September 1, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I recently painted a sewing table that was left to me by my grandparents. I was nearly disowned by the family. I suppose next time I’ll have to have a family meeting to discuss what I should do with my own furniture. : ) I say do what you want with your house & furniture.

  • Reply
    Clearly Composed
    September 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    paint it and enjoy every stroke. :)

  • Reply
    katrina
    September 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I hate to see the wood go, but its a personal choice.
    If it makes you feel karmically balanced, my FIL just spent the summer custom-making wood trim for our entire 2nd story to match our first floor – 1950s, but all wide dark wood trim w/ picture rails, etc. And I’ve spent the last month staining it all.
    So while you are taking away the natural wood, we’re adding it, so the universe reaches balance.

  • Reply
    Amy
    September 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Paint it!

    And speaking of sinfully painting wood, I remember you considering painting your kitchen floor… I’m assuming you decided against it since in the most recent pictures, it’s still unpainted. I painted our gross parquet wood kitchen floor, but I did a dark chocolate brown. I wish I had gone with my original choice of a light gray, every little speck of dust and dog hair shows up on my floor now!! I don’t regret painting it, just regret painting it so dark!!

  • Reply
    kelly
    September 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    i completely agree with you, nicole, paint that wood white! it’s your home, do with it what you want! plus you are an excellent painter, i can’t wait to see pictures when you’re done. i, too have been painting wood trim in my house, room by room, my husband freaked out about it at first, but saw how nice it turned out. mine is year 2000 builder grade oak, i would like to eradicate all of this icky orangy oak from my house someday!!

  • Reply
    Ann
    September 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I wouldn’t want to deal with touch-ups on the painted wood, because they will get nicked and scratched eventually. I love the character of wood in an older home, I think white makes it look like everyone else. But, it’s your home and I completely understand the annoyance of having wood that is less than perfect.

  • Reply
    Jaimie
    September 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Wow, this is a topic that really gets some people’s panties in a twist. I have always been partial to white trim. It looks clean, simple, and white goes with everything.

    The trim and doors in our house in an unfortunate shade of off-white that wants to be butter yellow. The exterior of our house is butter yellow. I think the previous owner had a bizarre fixation with buttery tones in general. Yellow makes me unhappy, but I didn’t realize just how unhappy until we bought a bucket of Arctic White paint and started to paint it all.

    I can appreciate wood trim, but it just looks so heavy, and if it’s not in good condition, why hold on to it? Even if it is “original”. Bottom line, either way, you do what makes you happy, and as aforementioned, haters gonna hate.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    September 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    haha, love the “Clueless” reference! I wonder how many people got that :)

    Painted trim is, IMHO, the best choice 99.9% of the time. Unless the wood trim is brand new, chances are it has seen better days. My mom has old, wood trim in her house and it is KILLING me not to attack it with a paintbrush every time I come home for a visit!

    So thanks for sharing your proof for painting, and for sticking to your guns no matter what nay-sayers have to say!

  • Reply
    Kris Mays
    September 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I don’t have any strong feelings either way when it comes to painting wood. I say whatever is most practical first and then whatever is best design second. I’m just a very practical person.

    I personally love white trim. I said I liked your trim the way it was before I saw the photo you posted today of it’s condition, and you were asking for feedback. It does look very pretty as is in the original photo, though.

    Anyway, you should definitely do what you want in your own house. I can no longer have white trim in my house, because I have five children and……it’s just not a good idea.

    I used something called Tawny Beige in this house, which goes beautifully with my Wood Lily walls (buttery yellow). But I think I would love to go with a medium gray next time, which might also look good in your dining room, too. Trim doesn’t have to be white. It can be any color of the rainbow.

    Judging from your other photos, whatever you choose will be lovely.

  • Reply
    Kris Mays
    September 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    I actually think a nice charcoal would be nice in that room.

  • Reply
    Kris Mays
    September 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Why do I keep thinking the ceiling would be nice in a green or blue? That was my first instinct when I saw it yesterday.

    Oh, well, I think I am just too peached out from canning all day. But I have to go back and do some more, now. I can’t wait to see what you do!

    And really, who cares what we all think?

  • Reply
    sara
    September 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    agreed! paint away!

  • Reply
    Christy
    September 1, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I like your thinking. If it’s not making you happy, why live with it? I hope you’ll post photos of the finished product.

  • Reply
    tim'spumpkinspice
    September 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    what about honoring the wood with the ceruse technique featured in the latest Martha Stewart Living? You stain the wood black, then rub with a white finish? It highlights the natural grain, but would match your wallpaper swimmingly!
    Here’s what Kevin Sharkey’s oak desk looks like after the technique:
    http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/tour-kevin-sharkeys-new-apartment#slide_19

    something to think about.

  • Reply
    Tonya
    September 1, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    My feeling is always that the person who pays the mortgage every month has the only opinion that matters. But more importantly, I also happen to agree with you. Paint it, paint it, paint it!

  • Reply
    Sheree
    September 2, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Hi Nicole … I think the trim would look fabulous painted … It is your home and you can’t please everyone!!! Good luck and I look forward to seeing the finished product! Sheree x

  • Reply
    Kylee
    September 2, 2010 at 4:14 am

    I’ve always said paint it! But just to add to the fun…there are houses from that time period with wood built-ins that were ALWAYS meant to be painted. So, the exposed wood combined with the history of the house shouldn’t necessarily evoke anxiety over painting…or sadness.

  • Reply
    Catherine
    September 2, 2010 at 5:05 am

    I definitely think painted trim will be beautiful. I really hate natural wood colour but one of my favourite things in the world is painted wood! That was my first thought ever when I saw your dining room. I think wood trim can make a place look dated and smaller as well and I think once the wood trim is painted everyone is going to be amazed by the results!

  • Reply
    Michelle Harrison
    September 2, 2010 at 5:53 am

    At first I thought the woodwork should be left natural but I had decided not to comment yesterday. I thought to myself, “She always makes interesting design choices that I’m not sure about and then they are remarkable when she is through. I’ll just wait and see on this one.”

    Then today, I saw the close up of the hutch. Where I would *maybe* sand and stain, I might give up and rip out the trim and have someone come in to retro-fit something more in line with the flow of the 1910 bones of the house or the modern feeling of the room.

    Perhaps with the trim painted the room will have an entirely different character. It can always be changed again if it doesn’t give you the result you were hoping to see. Good luck.

  • Reply
    Oonafey
    September 2, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Good for you! Your life should be about doing what’s right for you, not what makes every single other person in the world happy. You would go crazy.

  • Reply
    Jess (Where My Heart Is)
    September 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Well said!!!

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    September 2, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Amen!

  • Reply
    Stacy
    September 2, 2010 at 8:17 am

    It’s your house…go for it! I hope it looks fabulous and you guys are thrilled with the end result!

  • Reply
    Marie Pier
    September 2, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I have an old house too and i decided to paint the trim for the same reason. Go for it. It looks new, fresh, light. Even my friend who though I was crazy changed her mind when she saw the result! And for the value of the house? That’s a myth. People love «trims, details and such» IF it looks clean and in good condition. People tend to forget that it is STILL wood! It’s not plastic stuff beneath.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    September 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I agree with you have to be happy in your own home. I also can relate to things just driving you insane unless you change them. I get like that over things that other people don’t even notice. I think the woodwork painted white will look lovely, however, I still would prefer keeping the wood natural. Even in its distressed state which I think is charming. But, that’s just me. It will look nice either way.

  • Reply
    Noel
    September 2, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I’d paint that trim in a heart beat.

  • Reply
    Nat
    September 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Nicole, you are completely right. It is your home and you need to be happy with it. If others don’t agree, it is in bad taste to comment to that effect. You owe us no explanation and I feel very privilaged to see you work on your home. Whatever you choose to do with it.
    I’m sure your trim will turn out better then great.

    Nat

  • Reply
    Donna
    September 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Wow, I haven’t heard people this passionate since I was looking up information on breast feeding and newborn sleep schedules. Who knew?! I wanted to paint our old furniture white for our baby girl’s nursery but was talked out of it by several “Save The Wood” fanatics. I had to compromise everything around the color and now I’M the one who sits in the rocking chair day in and day out disappointed in the final product. If it makes you happy, do it! I understand you put your house on display for the world to see, but YOU’RE the one who lives there. Who knows…after the reveal, you’ll probably convert a few but no doubt inspire many!

  • Reply
    Stef
    September 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

    This post is so funny to me because after your previous post, I scanned the comments to see if anyone was concerned about your plans to paint. I figured there would be a big debate in the comments area, but I only saw support for the plans at the time I checked (maybe I missed some dissenters).

    I am not a die-hard fanatic about leaving woodwork unpainted. My own trim is painted, and I understand how it can make a room look crisp to have white trim instead of a wood color that reads as a brown or orange that may limit the design process.

    It’s just that in the pictures on your previous post, I quite liked the look of all the woodwork together with the gorgeous dining table and wallpaper. It’s an interesting and different look. So I wondered if anyone else thought it was a minor shame to depart from that look.

    Now that you’ve shown a close-up of the condition of the hutch, I totally see why it will look better painted. And you’re so right that your home should look a way that makes you happy to live there. Looking forward to seeing the “after” photos!

  • Reply
    Clair
    September 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    What color are you painting the ceiling? My husband and I painting our living room/eating area a la this Domino magazine pic.

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/chicago/domino072508.jpg

  • Reply
    Renanda
    September 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

    We have very high gloss poly on our trim and doors. I HATE it! I am ready to strip it and paint. Its the striping part that I agonize over. Will you be able to just sand and paint?

  • Reply
    Peaches
    September 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Pffffff! Drama much?
    People are too funny. Obviously, we are all looking at your blog and taking the time to comment because we think you have fabulous taste and want to see what you will do next. Comments are great, but baffles my mind to think anyone would come on by and try to tell YOU what to do with your own home. I know we are all entitled to our own opinions, but honestly, who goes to church to preach to the preacher?

    You go Nicole! I hope you paint the crap out of that trim and amaze us once again!

  • Reply
    Ryan Green
    September 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I just bought a home built in 1900 where all the original trim was painted white. It didn’t factor into my decision to buy at all. The house was/is in awesome shape and it looked bright, clean and modern for a 110 year old house with no-so-great natural light.

    Sometimes I wish at least some of the trim was unpainted, but whatever…now I don’t have to agonize if I want to try painting the trim a different color!

  • Reply
    Andrea Larsen
    September 2, 2010 at 11:16 am

    These comments make me laugh!

    Nicole, you have flawless taste and it is going to be better than ever! Painted wood is so nice and cheery!

  • Reply
    Fiona
    September 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I could kill the contractor who told my mother that “it would be a crime to paint those wood kitchen cabinets” and told her off, cowing her into thinking it would be a crime, when 1) she hated the way the cabinets looked and 2) it is not the contractor’s house.

    While I like beautiful wood, there is some wood that would look better painted, and I personally think that yours falls into that category. (At least with your decor.) But it is YOUR house. You should do what you like, other opinions be damned!

  • Reply
    Kay
    September 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

    PLEASE write INSTRUCTIONS or How to-DIY, wood trim painting. Thanks! :)

  • Reply
    Jaimie
    September 2, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    You already have a zillion comments on this topic, but here’s one more: when we bought our 1930 house, the original trim was all there and was mostly unpainted. The previous owners really liked the natural wood, so they would probably be horrified to know that we painted it ALL. Even the stairs. Our house is not very big, and having all that heavy dark wood, particularly around the doors, chopped up the space so much and made everything seem smaller and darker. I feel that painting our trim white actually draws your eyes more to appreciate the fine details, instead of the orangey stain colour.

    Although we are making this house our home and not decorating it for resale, I think any potential coming into our home now would say it feels bigger, fresher and brighter.

  • Reply
    Bonnie
    September 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I think it is and will be lovely no matter what you do with it. You have fabulous taste and should go with what you want. I have no issues with painting original wood in a home, my issue comes when people just tear everything out without even trying to make it work. I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!!! :)

    xoxo,
    Bonnie

  • Reply
    Sarah
    September 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    We finally made the decision to pain the dark woodwork in our kitchen white. Our home is a 1930s bungalow and the person before us pained all of the trim white throughout the whole house except the kitchen trim, wainscoting, and cabinets. The combination of super dark wood on half the wall and small brown and beige tiles creating a pattern that kind of looks like butterfiles on the floor was not inspiring to say the least. We agonized over painting the original wood because, “What would the next inhabitants think? Would they prefer wood?” And every guest we have says how “cool” the floor is. But it is like what everyone has said, it comes down to you, the current inhabitants and what makes you happy! So, we painted the wood white. The floor is still there, but hopefully not for much longer. I cannot wait to see how your trim comes out!

  • Reply
    Nicole S.
    September 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    As if you don’t have enough comments on this – but as an architect with historic home experience, I can tell you that this trim does NOT compare to the typical Chicago bungalow trim that was installed and left natural. This is paint-grade wood. The grain is poorly matched (if at all) in adjacent pieces, and it is really TOO grainy. I am usually for preserving the natural woodwork, but I think this was meant to be covered in a faux finish, not left natural.

  • Reply
    kathi
    September 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I own a 1913 foursquare, very similar in style to your bungalow. I have spent a small fortune having the wood stripped and refinished downstairs, and have an estimate for $18,000 to do the upstairs. I love the look of the various woods used throughout the house (oak in the dining room, a type of burled wood in the living room, birch upstairs). However, that said, I think the woodwork should complement the decor and style of furnishing. I have mostly Victorian, Arts & Crafts, and turn of the century furniture. Your bungalow is what I would call “modern cottage” style and painted woodwork would complement the lighter colors of the furniture and wallpaper. You should do what makes you happy, and what makes your house feel like “home” to you. And, even if you sell the house someday, the woodwork can be restored to a “natural” finish if that’s what the next owners want to do!

  • Reply
    pinksuedeshoe
    September 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Holy Comments Batman!

    I love that you quoted Clueless. Made me smile.

  • Reply
    Dawn
    September 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    It seems strange that so many respondents reference ‘haters’ who don’t seem to exist in this thread. I love this blog and read it regularly, but it drives me crazy when folks react so defensively to even a slight whiff of disagreement over design choices! Surely the point of blogging and sharing this kind of thing so publicly isn’t simply to have everyone congratulate you on your outstanding taste, but to actually invite open responses? (not referring to Nicole specifically, but rather the howls of protest that greet any dissent in the comments!) I’m interested to read the views both pro and con.

    Also as an aside– as a European it can be a little amusing to see so many getting worked up and overly precious over anything ‘original’ from the 1920s and 1950s, as if it were all ‘vintage’ and ‘historic’. After all, ‘heritage’ is such a relative concept, why treat it as an absolute?

  • Reply
    jbhat
    September 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I think it’s marvelous that your woodwork will be getting it’s makeover. Cannot wait to see the results (becauseiamnotafanofunpaintedwoodthathasseenbetterdays).

    jbhat

  • Reply
    Quinn
    September 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Just go for it!

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    September 2, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I’m sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments, and maybe someone pointed this out already….but the Victorians, who installed all that dark hardwood trim in the first place, quickly became bored with the dark color, and within a few years of installing it, started painting it white. Sooooooo, it may be more historically correct to paint the trim. It’s gonna look so beautiful when you are done, and it will still be wood! A win-win.

  • Reply
    Catherine
    September 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Totally agree with you! Although I would like to throttle the people who carpeted our gorgeous Craftsman wood floors. OMG, the glue is going to cost a mint to buff off. Wahhhhh! Our trim is all painted white. It looks fantastic this way. Fresh and bright.

  • Reply
    Claire
    September 2, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Go for it. I grew up in a house where my mom stripped THREE FLIGHTS of wood stair railings and spindles. Much of my childhood is memories of her scraping away on the steps, but even still you have to love your home… and as mom proved, if someone doesn’t like it they can just strip it off. Home ownership makes us servants to our homes in so many respects (fixing the leaks, staying home from work for a repairman when it’s not convenient) so it’s fair to take some of that ownership back.

  • Reply
    Melissa @ HOUSEography
    September 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    PAINT THE TRIM! You are going to be so happy you did. My brother and his wife agonized over painting the trim in their 1937 cape and after they did, the living room felt SO much bigger. When you have wood toned trimmed windows, the walls feel choppier and you spend more time focusing on the wood and not the view and the other decorating. It will be so worth it. The before and after will be stunning!

    AND, to all of those people staining their Home Depot 3-4″ window trim. DON’T. You are not adding any value to your house, just dating it. But, fi you

  • Reply
    Melissa @ HOUSEography
    September 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    PAINT THE TRIM! You are going to be so happy you did. My brother and his wife agonized over painting the trim in their 1937 cape and after they did, the living room felt SO much bigger. When you have wood toned trimmed windows, the walls feel choppier and you spend more time focusing on the wood and not the view and the other decorating. It will be so worth it. The before and after will be stunning!

    AND, to all of those people staining their Home Depot 3-4″ window trim. DON’T. You are not adding any value to your house, just dating it.

  • Reply
    Nichole
    September 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Your wood, your choice. Enjoy your white trim. Cannot wait to see the pictures!!

  • Reply
    Jessica
    September 2, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    That room is going to look GORGEOUS with white trim!

  • Reply
    Krystin
    September 2, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Deciding to paint old woodwork can be a difficult decision, mainly because you feel like you’re not supposed to… However, my parents lived in a house for years, struggling with whether to paint the original wood trim; finally, my brave mother took the plunge and painted it a creamy white. The house never looked newer, fresher, or more chic, and you know what….no one has ever said they wished we hadn’t painted it. Do your thing and don’t look back!

  • Reply
    Emma
    September 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Hi Nicole – long time reader, first time commenter :)
    We are moving in about six weeks, we went and had a look at our new house the other day and the first thing I noticed (amongst about a bazillion other ‘renovators delights’) was the dark wood trim around the doors, skirtings etc. and I went ‘Huh, just like Nicole from Making it Lovely’s house and she hasn’t painted hers…’ Because my first reaction was to grab my trusty white paintbrush! I guess I will see the state they are in, if they are good condition they might stay, if not they shall be white. Thanks for making me think I’m not horrible for wanting to paint them!

  • Reply
    Anja
    September 3, 2010 at 3:31 am

    i like, how you handle criticism.
    looking forward to see the result, so go for it!

  • Reply
    Sabrina
    September 3, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Yay! It makes me SO happy to know you’ve decided to paint the wood! It will look SO MUCH better when you’re done with it! I LOVE the way you’ve decorated your home so far. I don’t think you could possibly “ruin” the place! :)

  • Reply
    tawn
    September 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Our house is 80 years old and still has most of the original trim. The colour is ugly with a whole lotta red and too many spots where varnish of some sort was splattered on haphazardly. Thick, shiny, gross!!
    We decided to keep the wood, but we are in the process of removing, sanding, and re-staining all of it a dark brown. It is a loooong process. Not gonna lie, some days I want to pick up a can of white paint and be done with it.
    I am definitely not an old house purist because I painted out the original fireplace. Yellow and brown brick had to take a hike.

    Anyway, I am in the ‘do what you like’ camp. Your dining room looks nice from afar and I am looking forward to seeing how the white changes the room. I’m sure it’ll be gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Julie
    September 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I’m behind you Nicole – paint the trim. All the trim in our house is painted white. It allows the really nice antique wood pieces that we own to “pop.” Your nice wood pieces will look all that much better with a neutral background.

  • Reply
    Kyle
    September 3, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I’m just not sure about the dining room…it seems like it’s never come together. Maybe you should scrap it and start completely over.

  • Reply
    Nicole RJ
    September 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I say good for you, paint it! I’m having the same debate over a bedroom set that is in good condition, and is somewhat of an heirloom as it was my grama’s childhood set, but is not a high end set and would work for us so much more if we painted it… deciding to actually paint old wood is such a hard decision! Although we had no trouble painting the new-ish very country wood window trim in our home!

  • Reply
    christina winters
    September 3, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I have been reading your blog for a few years now, and the only room I haven’t loved in all that time is your dining room, expressly because of the awkwardly colored/room darkening trim and hutch! I think it takes away from the fantastic wallpaper (that I am super jealous of) and have always wanted you to either paint it or stain it darker. So excited to see you doing something to it! Don’t listen to naysayers. Haters gonna hate, and tacky people are always going to put the stamp of approval on rooms full of wildly contrasting wood. <3

  • Reply
    Viv
    September 3, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Nicole the room would look great with painted trim. Can’t wait to see the end result. I’m glad my home was already painted so as not to have to make this decision. I’m tossing up on whether to paint my floorboards white *gasp*

  • Reply
    Brandi
    September 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Do it! We have a 1920s bungalow and painted all the trim white. Looks fabulous! So much brighter and more open. Your house should make you happy. There are a few people out there who like natural wood. And if one of those few people happen to buy your house in the future, they can strip and refinish the wood. Stripping one layer of carefully applied paint is not going to ruin your wood. When people paint over layers and layers of chipped, icky paint, then you have problems getting back to the original. But yours will be fine. Don’t even worry about it!

  • Reply
    Christina
    September 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Wow strong opinions! I say you’re paying the mortgage, you do whatever the he!! YOU want.

  • Reply
    Andrea P
    September 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Nicole!
    I’m a big fan from Canada!
    I would love to know what paint type/color you are using?
    Are you sanding the trim 1st?
    Are you taping your walls?
    Thanks, I appreciate it!!

  • Reply
    Allison
    September 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Painted trim can be so pretty. I think it’s important to make your house liveable for you and your family, not worry about what some future owners might one day think of it. It’s silly to be hung up on the “value” of something if you don’t like it.

  • Reply
    YourDreamHouse
    September 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Oh. Im feeling a little envy to you. I just love how nature wood looks like and I cant force myself to do something with my old wooden furniture. Cant change muself. :)

  • Reply
    ann
    September 6, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Honor the past by loving it, therefore, paint it!

    My husband has a lovely game table that belonged to his Grandparents. Both of us love the lines and detail of the table, but I don’t care for oak. My solution, paint it black or eggplant, and honor it in our daily life rather than hiding it in the extra bedroom. Having a standoff….

  • Reply
    Jessie
    September 6, 2010 at 8:16 am

    It is very simple…. It is your home, you pay the mortgage, you have EVERY right to paint it. :) lol I understand both sides on this, but I will always just look for a home that has the trim already painted for me. lol It is all just what each person likes. I can’t live in a home full of dark wood trim.

  • Reply
    Lora
    September 6, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Love the Clueless reference “a total Monet”. Do what makes you happy and puts a smile on your face when you walk in the room. That’s what your home is for, smiles…not agony.

  • Reply
    Maria
    September 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I always hesitate to paint wood because I think wood is very pretty and have heard it adds value. However, I finally did in our 1904 home. It was scary at first but just so dark and beat-up. I am so glad I did! it is so much brighter and it makes me happy too. Why have your own home if you can’t make it yours?

  • Reply
    HeatherG
    September 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    This was exactly what I needed to hear! We’ve lived in our house for 5 years and haven’t painted the wood because everyone says “Don’t you dare paint that wood. It has been unpainted for 80 years don’t paint it now. Once you paint it you’ll never get it back”. But our wood is the same – not great quality to begin with and very damaged. Why keep it this way just to make other people happy when I don’t like it? And anyone who buys the house will never know it was unfinished when we moved in;-) Thank you so much for this post!!!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    September 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I feel sad when I look at my wood trim because I dislike it so….it just seems such an overwhelming task to paint it – it’s everywhere! You’ve given me motivation though to just get to it…so true about the wood trim – in the right setting and correctly done, it’s beautiful. In our 1960’s split level it’s dated.

  • Reply
    adamco
    September 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    a problem in many older homes is not that the trim is painted but that it has been painted SO MANY TIMES and so often the painter SUCKED at what they were doing. In my house the upstairs trim is all white – it looks okay at a distance but close up it is all brush marks and drips. It probably has ten layers of paint on it. I don’t want to strip it but I don’t want to add yet another layer of paint either. Any advice?

    • Reply
      evsays
      September 23, 2010 at 3:11 am

      Adamco I didn’t want to strip it either but because it was so thick with paint went ahead with it and it was worth the extra effort. Not something I’d like to do again mind you, but I’m glad I did it.

    1 2 3

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.