Trim Color Survey

old_house_j_i_mSeptember 20, 2011

I'll admit it ... I am color obsessive. I had primer remixed 3 times to get it right. I am pretty competent with late Victorian color combos - I work as an artist so Im really in tune to very subtle color nuance.

Here's my trouble, and I am really hoping some of you can help me out: The Parlor, which admittedly wont be painted for about a year or more, is going to be blue and gold. Well, not just any blue and gold, but rich cobalt and peacock blue, like Lord Leightons stair hall blue, glossy multi-layered blue paint on Anaglypta for the dado and dead flat thin washes of gold over gold over gold for the rest of the wall. The ceiling is cofferred and will probably end up some shade of pale olive with gold leaf in there somewhere.

The woodwork is typical late 19th early 20th century greek revival interior (no corner blocks) and is oak that was originally shellacked but has been painted in at least 7 layers. I would prefer to repaint rather than strip.

I was planning to paint the trim a deep walnut brown, but secretly wanted the trim black, again, like Leightons stair hall. then I thought of a deeper shade of peacock blue to reconnect the dado to the trim and really ground the room. then deep green (for a similar reason). now im stuck. I dont care for the brown, the black is kind of overwhelming (I could live with it just fine, but not the rest of the family) and White is absolutely forbidden here.

So ... any thought ? (sorry, no pics since this is still in the planning stages, but check out this amazing 3-d tour of Leighton House - the room im so into is the stair hall/hall of narcisus:

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Another option - Sometimes people faux painted the wood to look like a more expensive wood. If you have those kind of artistic skills, you might try that on a spare trim piece and see how it looks.

Personally, I would like the black, but you are the one who needs to live with it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 8:43AM
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Thanks billl - I love the black, my family, however ... probably not so much. and potential resale, heck, Ill have to repaint everything beige if we ever sell. HA HA

I thought about graining. I never have done it, but the trim is mostly flat so it could be pretty straight-forward (nothing, as we all know, is easy in an old house)

Last night I was reading Winkler and Moss's Victorian Interior Design book and there were alot of recommendations for black painted woodwork from 1870-90. mostly darker colors, or stained wood.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 10:15AM
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Have you considered using the gold on the trim and other colours on the walls? Or your light olive on the trim and something different on the ceiling - say, black, as someone on the home dec forum did a few years back?

I do see the attraction of the black for trim. But alternatively, there are also other very dark shades of amazing colours - purple or maroon for instance. Even a real red? I have to admit I don't care for blue and brown together, although I love the deep chocolate browns. And if green, the really deep forest greens? Farrow and Ball has an amazing one, though I don't know if they do glossy. But that shade of blue is maybe not what I'd choose with green.

Karin L

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 1:14PM
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I'm also a fan of black & can't see walnut brown as a trim color having the same effect. I have to admit that I've never seen a black staircase but can't imagine much else with that many colors.

This is slightly off topic but it was the first thing that popped in my mind when I read your post. You said that the woodwork was shellacked with numerous coats of paint. Unless woodwork has been meticulously stripped & prepped, a glossy paint, especially in a standout color, is going to show every flaw, old paint chip & never have clean lines, regardless of the painter's skill. I've seen many Victorian houses where the 'newly' colorfully painted trim stood out like a drag Queen who hasn't learned to properly apply makeup. It would be a shame to spoil your inspired walls by a less than perfect trim treatment.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 2:14PM
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Here's an idea. Paint the trim black, then go over it with a dark metallic blue glaze. They sell those acrylic metallics now that are very translucent, and are better as glazes than paints. It may be worth a try.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 6:44PM
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First, Sombreuil, every time i see your name I picture that beautiful antique white rose of the same name.

OK, now on to the room. Thanks for the suggestions. Since the inspiration is Leightons house, and the rest of the "decor" (I hate that word, to me its just my stuff) is aesthetic era (you know, black lacquer, japanese crap, peacocks and bamboo and stuff) I'm leaning toward black (so much more dramatic) and the others living here can just deal. The finish on the paint is pretty smooth, actually, except for the hastily applied WHITE that the POs slapped on, which peals off in rubbery sheets. I love the idea of a shimmery metallic wash, in fact, in some of the photos of Leightons rooms the black trim shows up a bright blue in the highlights. I'm digging that suggestion.

On the flip side, I had a meeting last night about landmarking this house (another topic I need opinions on) at a local house museum (1868 Italianate, i drooled all over the carpets ...) and the trim there was, get this, grained (yeah, never painted over in 150 years.) I may have to try the graining thing ... ugh. Thankfully im not up against the clock on this. I still have a bedroom and third floor hall to restore, first.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 4:28PM
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This is a very interesting thread, and I have nothing to offer, except that I feel your pain of having to deal with hastily applied inappropriate latex paint peel off in rubbery sheets! ARGGGHHHHHH !!

I look forward to hearing what you finally decide.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 10:53AM
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I like the idea of the black with a metallic blue glaze suggested by PP. Or a darker, almost black, shade of either of the two blues. It would tie the room together well.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 11:43AM
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can't help almost colorblind, but love Antiquesilvers post!!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 2:40PM
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I think Ive lost workhours thinking about this ... the blue black really has me intrigued. The room gets lots of sunlight so dar wouldnt be a problem, BUT, should I carry the color up the stairs (the stairs are in the parlor, like an old "living hall") ? The staircase is pretty dark (Northern windows).

Im really thankful for your suggestions and glad that I have a while to ponder this one.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:36PM
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j i m, from what I can picture of your plan, it sounds like a heavy oriental influence--and black woodwork should fit in nicely with that! Perhaps even punch up the black with a thin line of red outline? Not sure about the olive ceiling though....:)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 9:53PM
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J i m, regarding light vs dark in the stairway, you might find some information of interest in Marie Killam's blog. I found the entry I've linked below quite illuminating (hah!) and you may find other entries of interest if you surf around the site.

Karin L

Here is a link that might be useful: Light colours, dark rooms

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 6:36PM
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karini, youre a peach - I love deep historic colors. And since were really trying to make this house a restoration, we have only used colors that would have been used (more than likely) at the turn of the 20th century.

Thanks for the link, now I have visual proof of what I have been thinking all along. Im doing black trim - power to the, er, uh, dark colors, um, I guess, HA HA.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 10:26PM
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