Molding color!

atlantic123June 17, 2010


We purchased our first home less than a year ago. I have yet to paint anywhere in the house, because I am not sure what to do with the molding.

Currently the trim is dark brown. We were told that it was feather painted to look more like quarter sawn oak. Most people believe it really is a fancy hardwood and compliment our molding! There is no telling how long ago this was painted, but IÂm guess a LONG time ago. Our home is nearly 100 years old. The trim isnÂt in the best of shape. It needs touched up regardless.

I have been deeply considering painting all the trim white (aside from the fireplace mantels). I would paint the transom trim and doors too. I feel the white would brighten the rooms. We previously had an apartment in an old Victorian mansion and the trim was all painted a light color. I loved it!

However, my husband wants to preserve the trim in dark brown. And I know, once it is painted there is no going back.

What are your preferences? Advice? Photos?

Here are a bunch of photos throughout our house:

The pine floors are lighter than they appear in the photos.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or opinions!!!

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GREAT house! It looks like a real old charmer!
OK, you asked for opinions. I would not paint the trim white. That's my opinion. Sometimes woodwork in old houses was faux painted (even originally) to make lesser woods (like pine) mimic expensive woods (like mahogany, or perhaps, in your case quarter sawn oak). It could be difficult to restore the faux finish, but I'd sure try to either develop the technique or find a pro to do it. I don't think dark woodwork necessarily makes a house dark. It does somewhat depend on the house's orientation (to the sun, trees, etc.). Our 1913 has dark pine woodwork and white walls much like yours and we have nice southern exposures, so the light bounces around and even lights up the highest corners. In our office, which is a repurposed north side bedroom, we painted the walls a much darker bottle green. While it looks rich with the dark woodwork, that paint with only one north window really did darken the room. I'm just not a fan of painting woodwork that has never been painted. I know it looks nice in some homes, I just couldn't do it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 5:25PM
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I love painted woodwork because of the freedom you have with wall color and the lightness it brings into the space. However, I just finished stripping the paint off of the trim in all the public rooms of our house. Now it sports beautiful stained moldings as it did originally. The doors are painted cream; we had no original doors except for the front door. For our house, stripping the paint and restoring the wood trim was the right thing to do. I don't think our house is dark, and everyone remarks on the beautiful trim. For resale, it will adds lots of $$s in our area.

You'll have to make your own decision about whether or not you want to keep the faux-painted trim, which is a unique feature of your home.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 5:56PM
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I think you have a very wise husband! Let him have this 'win' - save yours for later!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 7:30PM
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I would not have thought it was faux; I recall seeing some of those pics on a flooring thread.
You know, if the varnish was shellac, you could very easily clean and the graining with denatured alcohol and repolish it with some new shellac. The graining layer will not be affected by the alcohol, as it was a different composition. I studied folk graining for several years and worked on my own technique; this is my own light-colored quartersawn oak graining:

I do my "rays" with a pink eraser!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 11:36PM
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Wow! I love your home atlantic123,it's stunning. Casey, I've only seen your kitchen and the other photos of your home are just as amazing.

The fact that the faux painting is still there is amazing, if you can salvage it, you will thank yourself later. Even if you can't salvage it, I'd caution against painting the woodwork. There is a majesty to unpainted woodwork that painted can never achieve. All of the woodwork in our home is painted white, except in the kitchen, where my husband did his best to echo the woodwork in the home that was taken out years ago. When people come into our kitchen, they always comment on the beauty of our molding. My husband did a nice job, but it doesn't hold a candle to the rest of the house. I think the reason why is that painted molding just fades into the background instead of being an object to be admired like unpainted woodwork. Some might want this, but I always caution against it.

Good luck, and great home!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:02AM
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Thanks for your opinions! I'm so glad I posted on this forum. I wasn't aware of faux painted wood until we bought our house! I am going to keep the trim brown as I wasn't completely aware that the faux wood effect was relatively common in older homes. Now, I definitely want to preserve it and keep the historical integrity.

It doesn't show well in the photos, but the molding is terribly banged up. I doubt we can afford to have a professional touch them up. I think I will try to make the wear and tear of the trim less noticeable. I'll test a small area in the next few weeks and see how it works.

sombreuil_mongrel - Your faux quarter sawn oak effect looks great! It looks quite a bit like ours (aside from the shade, of course). Thanks for the restoration info! I'm going to look into it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 4:29PM
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