Changing paint/trim color from room to room?

mushcreekMarch 23, 2014

The back of our new house is a very open plan- Living room, dining room, and kitchen. There are large cased openings to define the rooms a bit. We would like to further separate the rooms with paint colors, but how do you change the trim color?

We saw a red that we liked, with cream trim and wainscoting. That will work well in the living room, but the kitchen, on the other end, will be a more pure white (cabinets) with light gray walls, and dark gray or black countertops. In the middle is the dining room, which could be the same colors as the kitchen, or a third color altogether.

The question I have is how to change to change the trim color from room to room? Can it even be done? If a cased opening is cream on one side, is there any way to have it be white on the other without looking odd somewhere?

The cream trim wouldn't look right in the kitchen; the pure white trim would be too cold for the living room. Thoughts?

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Stick to a single color trim and use wall color ... it's easier to paint and you don't have all the decisions about where to transition.

When there is a door it's a lot easier.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 2:31PM
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If there is no actual door you kind of have to make a decision about which room is primary and which is secondary.

For example if there is a hallway with rooms leading from it, it makes sense to paint the jambs the hallway color and to start the room trim color on the casing Inside the room.

If you want white in the kitchen and that is the "last" room in the sequence it may make sense to start the white inside the kitchen on the trim, sometimes it is trial and error.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 3:54PM
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We have a different trim color in our library, which opens onto its own hall five steps down from the rest of the house. And we are using a slightly different color trim in our basement, so yes--- it can be done, if there is enough distance between those areas. What you are proposing though, to paint both sides of a cased opening two different colors, would look odd and make the house look sort of choppy, How big is your house? I suppose if it is very large, it's possible you could bring off more than one trim color on the same floor, but definitely not two.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:38PM
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Whoa, ineffable, those photos.... cannot imagine doing that in a house, especially the first photo. As strange as those are, they still only change once. Op is talking about three different trim colors.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:12PM
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The openings are very large- about 12' wide, and it is a small house. The back of the house is 16' X 40', roughly divided into thirds.

If I did pure white in the kitchen, and it wasn't visible from the other rooms, it would probably work OK, as the kitchen trim facing the rest of the house isn't very noticeable, especially to guests. You would be looking at cream trim in the dining room, through to pure white in the kitchen, though.

I wouldn't mind cream trim in the kitchen, but I'm not sure how that would work with the tin ceiling, gray walls, and black(ish) counters. Going the other way, I don't think I would want a pure white trim with the red in the living room, though.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I would probably keep all paint and trim the same in all rooms. Maybe an red accent wall in living room or bring in the red with decorations or wall art.

I think the only way it works is if you have really strong room dividers such as bulkheads and columns as in the photos above. You talk about cased openings, is that what you have? Do you have a floor plan to share with us? :)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:27PM
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This used to be done a Lot in traditional period interiors where the trim and wall were the same color or variations of the same color. These rooms usually had doors, but if the door was open the color that did not match the room sat inside the room. (If the door was open most of the time it was sometimes painted the "wrong" color for when it was closed.

And currently a lot of designers do it too, especially if they are doing a lacquered room. You would hardly want to paint all the trim in either of these rooms all over the whole house, nor would these rooms look right with white trim. Miles Redd:

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:43PM
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There is a HUGE range of "color" between CREAM and PURE WHITE. I like my trim all the same and should you decide to go that route, I'm sure you can find a "white" that could work in the entire house.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:11PM
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If you really want to use an off-white trim in the living room areas, could you use the same trim color in the kitchen but paint the walls a lighter white to complement the brighter white cabinets? Maybe have an ivory and white theme in the kitchen and avoid using a third color?

I've seen pictures of a creamy white trim with lighter white walls and really like it, although I'm not sure how it might look in a kitchen. I'm considering doing this in a bathroom remodel, because although I would like to continue the Antique White trim from the rest of the house, I'd like the room to have a brighter, clean look overall. I thought using a lighter white on the walls might coordinate with the white shower tile, toilet, and sink, while the off-white trim would coordinate with the travertine floors and the trim in the adjoining room.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 3:34AM
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I would only use two trim colors, not three. I would like to have three different wall colors, however.

Here is the floor plan, and a pic from the LR through the DR to the kitchen. In the plan, there are two columns between the LR and DR. This would have a low half-wall connecting them to the sides of the opening. Between the DR and kitchen, there is currently nothing below the bulkhead on the left, but I will be putting about a 6" cased 'beam' there down to the surface of the peninsula to break the two rooms, however slightly.

Our old house in FL was very open, and we like that, but it was frustrating to have to have the same color throughout. That's what the cased openings are for- to give a place to change colors in a sensible manner.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 9:43AM
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You may also want to do a "progression" of wall color so that it increases in saturation as well as changes in hue from one room to the next.

I don't think that all one approach when it comes to trim is superior to the other, either all matching or different in differing rooms, they are just different approaches. Particularly when you are using wallpaper, the white that works in most rooms may be too bright or too yellow or something for the ground of the paper.

Using different trim colors is trickier and takes more thought and experimentation to make it work, one color throughout is definitely easier. Right now my house is all white, all straight out of the can because it was the easiest approach prior to moving in.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:37AM
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I think switching trim color works better where the difference is greater. Like the white and black pictured above or the brightly colored trim painted to match the room. I think cream and white may look like a swing and a miss rather than a deliberate choice.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:38AM
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Sorry, mush, I did not read carefully enough and thought you were using three trim colors, not two trim colors with three wall paints. I still wouldn't do what you're proposing if only because the trim in a house is often the only thing that is consistent from room to room. Good luck with your project, I think paint color is the most difficult to get just right.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:10PM
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"because the trim in a house is often the only thing that is consistent from room to room."

This is a true statement for sure, but I am going to argue that that condition is, perhaps, not as it should be.

I think there are better and stronger ways to achieve design consistency throughout a house than making sure that the trim is all painted the same color. If anything, I think one trim color is most important when you are trying to camouflage a lack of consistency.

So often I see in the Building a Home forum an incredible mix of styles that aren't even that compatible not only in the same house, but in the same room -- and then later on in the discussion they are looking for the "perfect white" because everybody knows that consistency is achieved when all the trim is painted the same color.

I don't think it necessarily needs to be painted all the same color in the same room. There are reasons not to, and all you have to do is set some sort of parameters or hierarchy to make it look purposeful (and to achieve a different sort of consistency).

At MushCreek's point in the process I think there are much stronger ways to achieve design consistency from room to room than sticking with a single paint color. I am not against using all one trim color (or all one color for everything), but to put it forth that anything else is a mistake because of its inconsistency is dogmatic.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 1:59PM
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After looking at your plan and photo, I think you can use a different color in your living room and have it look great. Very nice layout BTW. :)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:11PM
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I have to agree w/pal to a point if the paints colors were either a deep or light hue. For instance, a teal blue room, w/ teal blue trim and a brown room w/brown trim. The opposite extreme, a pale green room w/green trim and a lavender room w/ lavender trim. Doors and trim would need to be gloss and walls eggshell/satin. The door/door casing facing into the room would be the same as the walls.

To answer the question re:the red kitchen I would have to make an exception since reds are used quite frequently used in traditional interiors and cream OR white trim is usually standard. If you make a decision to do all the trim light, it would be best to do ALL white, cream, or ivory, IMO.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 3:48AM
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I picked up some paint chips yesterday. The 'cream' is Valspar Eddie Bauer 'Craftsman White', and I guess 'cream' isn't the right term, but it is a very warm white.

The color we like for the living room is the same line 'Calico', kind of a brick red. We plan to do the typical tall Craftsman wainscoting, more than halfway up the wall, in the living room only. This would be the Craftsman White.

On the other end of the house, in the kitchen, we would like a soft gray. The Craftsman White seems to go better with cooler grays as opposed to warmer grays, at least to my deficient eyes. It certainly is doable for the kitchen cabs.

That leaves the DR in the middle. Is there any way to transition from the red LR to the gray kitchen? What kind of tones should I be looking for? The colors grouped with the Calico sample went to a brownish gold, and then a lighter gold, but that's not where we want to go in the kitchen. BTW- we are not married to the red LR- it was just a thought. We could work backwards from the kitchen, starting with the gray, and going to??

Another question- If we go with the very warm Craftsman White for trim, what color would we use on the ceiling? Try to match, or go with a typical flat white? There will be a fairly large crown molding.

I really appreciate the help. Both my wife and I are pretty color-challenged. At the paint store, they all seem to be 'yes-men', agreeing with whatever we are looking at, rather than offering useful criticism. It's no wonder our old house was just white throughout! One thing that gives us fits is how much the colors change depending upon time of day, weather, and the seasons. We are out in the woods, and the colors look quite different on a cloudless winter day than they do on a rainy, green summer day.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:47AM
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MushCreek- on the valspar site it shows the color as "craft white" not "craftsman white". On my monitor it almost looks peachy which would be okay with the calico but probably not with a soft gray. Maybe pick a slightly cooler off white that wouldn't clash with the gray.
And what do you think about a shade of tan for the dining room?
If you did a greigy gray instead of a cool gray that might work.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 12:49PM
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I don't know if wallpaper is out of the question, but there are many 'Craftsman' style papers that might provide a transition that brings together colors from both the Kitchen and the Living room into the Dining room.

Just a few examples are shown in the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Craftsman wallpaper images

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 3:29PM
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I have a similar situation in my house. My kitchen has mayonnaise cabinets and trim.

The great room, DR, my bath, the laundry room and the bath there all have a taupish white.

The other rooms have a real true buttery/ivory trim. I stopped just as ineffable's pictures show. The reason I did not do the kitchen cabinets in the very same is that Benjamin Moore had lost the information on my color mixes when their computers crashed, so instead of "getting close" enough for government work, we intentionally made it different so it did not look like a mistake.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Another thought~rather than painting every room a different color, why not use draperies, pillows, rugs, tile flooring, and other elements that will give the profuse color you seem to want. Just my 2 cents, but from an aesthetic standpoint, looking at so much color on walls from room to room isn't always the most attractive or appealing, and may even look rather cheap, if I may be totally honest. Not to say it *can't* work, but it depends on the color pallet and how it all comes together. In Hispanic/Italian cultures, you see bright yellow, orange, red, teal, green, etc. used, but the environment has much to do with it also, not to say it isn't something you can't do wherever you live since color is personal taste.

You' 've gone thru the trials and tribulations of building a house, not to mention the expense, and there's a possibility you may be terribly disappointed. There's a lot to think about and consider.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:13PM
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You're right; it is 'Craft White'. Sorry about the confusion.

Floors will be wood, although we will probably have area rugs. We may not use any draperies, as this is across the back of the house, on a very secluded piece of land. We like all of the light we're getting right now. The only direct sunlight across the back is early morning, and that will cut down a lot when the leaves are on the trees. The kitchen windows facing SE will be sunnier, but even those will be shaded a lot in the summer.

I love wallpaper, but my wife is under the impression that it is a major chore to change it when you get tired of it.

It's not so much that I want to be colorful, but I don't want to be 'tract home off-white' like our old house was.

The good news is that i will be doing the painting, so if we really hate it, it's just a matter of buying more paint.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:34PM
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Well, I disagree that it makes the house disjointed unless there is an intentionally jarring color change from room to room.

Mine looks more like Ineffable's first picture gallery. However, my colors harmonize and are near the same colors as the trim in each room.

The only room in my house that is colorful is the powder room which is a soft blue color with blue pearl granite and blue slate flooring. I feel that room needs to be a little jewel box and we have used the sparkliest chandy, albeit small and the most jarring and sparkling countertop which is the blue pearl granite, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

My colors are, throughout my house, pastel camel, pastel green and the one blue pastel in the powder room.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:34PM
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MushCreek, you have a good attitude re:the possibility of re painting, unlike myself. I would be brought to tears if I painted a room, hated it, and had to go back to choosing another color. I hope things work out for you and will be watching for your decision. Good luck. ;)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Don't count out wallpaper if you love it. If it is installed on properly prepped walls, it is not difficult to take down later. There are many hits when you do a Google search on how to prep walls for wallpaper and later removal. I've linked one below.

You could also wallpaper just a feature wall, with coordinating paint on the others. It may open up a whole new way to make your DR blend beautifully with the kitchen and LR.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why You Should Prime Walls Before Hanging Wallcovering

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 11:50AM
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I know wallpaper isn't a big deal, but haven't convinced my wife of that.

The dining room actually has very little wall area. The french doors use up a big chunk of the outside wall. About half of the the opposite wall will have a built in hutch/pantry. The other two walls are mostly openings. It certainly wouldn't take much paper to do the room.

I can't even imagine trying to pick a wallpaper, though! I guess you find one you like, and then use it to select paint colors of adjacent rooms. It seems like you could bridge very different colors by wallpapering the room in the middle.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:22PM
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