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How to Mix Wood and White Trim, Beautifully!

Yes, you can mix wood and white trim in the same house (or, even, in the same room)! Mixing painted and stained trim is completely doable, as long as you keep these tips in mind.

Our modern cottage home has original solid wood trim, crown molding, panel molding, chair rails, and ceiling beams… but… it’s only like that in a few of the main rooms. The remaining spaces are filled with the same 3″ stained baseboards that fills most homes built in the 1980s.

So, what do you do when some of your home’s trim is high quality and the rest is builder grade? Does it all have to be upgraded ($$$)? Or, do you have to paint it all white (bye-bye beautifully stained original wood)?

Is it all or nothing?

how to mix wood and white trim

The answer is a resounding “no”.

Not only can you mix wood and white trim, you can also mix stained trim with painted trim of any color. Mixing trim is not as easy as “all or nothing”, but the results are well worth the extra effort (and, it might save you some money, too!).

How to Combine Stained and Painted Trim

1. Decide which Trim will be Stained

First, determine which trim, moldings, and casings will remain in a stained finish (i.e. will not be painted). To make this decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like this feature of my home in a stained finish?
  • Is this trim made with quality wood?
  • Does this trim make a statement in my home?
  • Is this trim in good condition?
  • Does this stained trim work with the “mood” I’d like to create in this room?
Dining Room with a Mix of Stained and Painted Trim (also a Homeschool Room)
Stained crown molding is highlighted by painting the rest of the trim to blend in with the walls.

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2. Decide which Trim will be Painted

Next, determine which trim, moldings, and casings will be painted. To make this decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which wood-stained features do I dislike?
  • Is this trim made with inexpensive wood?
  • Does this trim distract from other appealing features of my home?
  • Is this trim in poor condition?
Chair rail and wall painted white with vintage floral curtains
Chair rail is de-emphasized by painting it the same color as the walls.

3. Determine the Start and Endpoints

The trickiest part of mixing stained and painted trim is the start and endpoints. What do I mean by start and endpoints? Well, for example, this question:

“If I paint the baseboards white, should I also paint the stained door casing which opens to the next room?”

This isn’t always easy to solve. In fact, in several rooms, I have painted trim up to a certain point and then stopped to mull it over for a while. I’m a visual person, and seeing it in real life helps me make the final decision.

My general rule regarding where to start and to end is this: keep each type of trim consistent within a room (with the exception of window and door casing trim). For example:

  • all baseboard in a room is the same color,
  • all crown in a room the same color,
  • etc.

4. Decide whether each Window Casing will be Painted or Stained

So, do the window casings have to match the crown molding… or the baseboards… or the other windows in the room? Nope!

Rather, for window casing trim, choose stained or painted based on the following criteria:

  • if you want windows to feel bigger, choose a low contrast trim color (see image #1, below)
  • if you want to highlight windows, choose a high contrast trim color (see image #2, below)

5. Decide whether each Door Casing will be Painted or Stained

Like window casings, door casing trim can also vary within a room.

For door casing trim, choose stained or painted based on the look you want AND the impact on the adjoining room, for example:

  • if there is a door, you can finish it in one color to the stop in the door frame and another color past that point (see image #1, below)
  • if a cased opening does not contain a door (i.e. a pass-through), paint it all or stain it all based on which is most visually appealing (see images #2 and #3, below)

Examples of Mixing Wood and Painted Trim

Dining Room with Wood and White Trim

For the first example, let’s take a look at our homeschool room (also a dining room). I wanted the room to feel light and bright… after all light is imperative in a space for schoolwork.

When we moved in, the crown molding, window trim, chair rail, and baseboards were all stained wood. All that wood trim – combined with blue-gray walls – wasn’t adding up to the light and bright space I envisioned.

How to Brighten a Dark Dining Room - Before
Dining Room: Before

But, I hated to paint over that gorgeous, thick, stained wood crown molding. How could I lighten up the room without hiding a feature that I loved?

You might also like: How to Brighten a Dark Room

So, I decided to try mixing wood and white trim in the same room (prior to this, I’d only mixed it in the same house). We painted the walls in SW Alabaster and the trim in SW Pure White (to match the adjoining budget-friendly kitchen renovation).

dining room with a mix of wood and white trim
Dining Room: After

It turned out exactly as I’d hoped! The beautiful crown molding is highlighted because all of the smaller 3″ trim blends in with the walls.

Bedroom with Stained and Painted Trim

For the next example, let’s take a look at our master bedroom. We wanted this room to feel cozy, warm, and a bit rustic. It’s a big room that can handle a deep, dark, paint color and heavy trim.

Plus, the wood beams are the statement piece in this room and I definitely wouldn’t want them to fade away with white paint.

Master Bedroom: Before

However, I wasn’t interested in updating the inexpensive baseboards with similar trim to match the ceiling. It would be expensive and difficult to match the stains.

Instead, we chose to replace the 3″ baseboards with paintable 1″ x 6″ boards. I painted the boards with SW Rookwood Dark Green (at 50%) – to match the dark green bedroom walls – which keeps the base trim from competing visually with the ceiling beams and trim.

green baseboard painted trim with grasscloth wallpaper and green walls

Plus, I love how the dark green trim contrasts with the grasscloth-covered wall, while also complementing the green curtains (here are 9 more examples of rooms with painted green trim).

green baseboard painted trim with grasscloth wallpaper and green curtains

Tips & Tricks for Painting Stained Trim

  • Use a high-quality semigloss paint, preferably with primer built-in. I like Sherwin William’s Emerald Urethane Trim Paint for both trim and cabinetry.
  • If your home is older (pre-1978), there is a possibility that there could be lead in the stain, varnish, or original paint. You can buy a lead test kit to confirm the existence of lead. Then, use a lead encapsulating paint as a primer/barrier before painting the trim.

Mix Wood and Painted Trim

Now it’s your turn! Embrace the stained trim in your home by making creative choices with trim color.

Have questions? Feel stuck? Leave a comment, below. I’d love to help you figure out how to beautifully combine stained and painted trim in your home!

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How to Mix Wood, White, and Painted Trim


Monday 13th of March 2023

I have bamboo floors with oak baseboards. They look ok but I want to paint the baseboards white. I also have bamboo shoe trim that has not been put on yet. Can I paint the baseboards white and leave the bamboo shoe trim a stained color to match the floor?

Lora Green

Sunday 19th of March 2023

Yes, you can! The shoe trim should match either the baseboard or the floor. I generally prefer to match the shoe trim to the baseboard when it is 3" trim. When it is taller than 3" I think either is fine. Personally, I just don't like how short a 3" baseboard feels with a shoe trim that is a different color. If the baseboard is taller, the shoe trim in a different color doesn't make it feel so short.


Thursday 23rd of February 2023

We live in a 25 year old home with all brown wood trim. We are getting replacement windows, current windows are wood and match the trim. Replacement windows are white. My bedroom is painted White Dove by BM and the rest of the house is Feather Down by BM. I don't want to paint all the trim in the house but I think white windows will look very drastic with the brown wood trim (especially since we are used to them matching the trim). Can we paint the trim only around the windows the same color as the walls and leave the rest of the trim in the house stained brown?

Lora Green

Sunday 19th of March 2023

Yes, this is exactly what I did when we bought our replacement windows. The first trim I painted white in our house was around the windows to match the replacement windows.


Monday 6th of February 2023

Hi, I have stained pine window frames, stained pine baseboards and stained pine bedroom doors. The doors are right off the living room. I want to leave the window frames stained because I like them. The stained door frames are in rough shape so I want to paint them. My walls are BM Glacial Stream, very light gray with a hint of green at a certain times of the day. Oh and I want to mention that the doors are old brown hollow ones, bad shape. A large stained pine beam runs through the middle of the ceiling. I would like to know if it is doable to paint the door trims and leave the stained pine window frames. Wish I could paste a picture. Thanks Laura. Ps all the frames are wide.

Lora Green

Tuesday 21st of February 2023

Yes! You could definitely paint the doors and trim without painting the windows. If your walls are Glacial Stream, and you are comfortable going with a non-white trim paint, I would do Glacial Stream in a Semi-Gloss, or possibly, Glacial Stream darkened 25% in a Semi-Gloss.

I think that a monochromatic look on walls, doors, trim, would really let your pine window trim shine!


Saturday 7th of January 2023

I am currently renovating a 100 year old house with some beautiful, yet varied, oak trim. I will keep my beautiful fireplace and 5' oak windows and trim, but paint the baseboards and door casings. My question is what did you paint your door in bedroom that is seen through entryway? I have 3 doors in the room that need to be considered. Would you do wall color or trim color? Thanks!

Lora Green

Monday 9th of January 2023

I left my bedroom door stained wood because the entry has white trim and the bedroom has green trim. Both spaces still have some wood trim (crown molding in entry and ceiling beams in bedroom), so since stain is the common element in both the entry and bedroom, I left the door stained. However, in other areas of our home where I'm dealing with just two trim colors (stained wood and white), I typically paint the doors white to match the door casings. Let me know if you have any other questions!


Thursday 15th of December 2022

All of the bedrooms in our home have stained doors, windows and moldings. We are installing replacement windows (casement) and they only come in white. Can we use white windows and trim and leave the doors and rest of molding stained? The trim is not expensive but our doors are beautiful 6-panel solid wood. Thank you

Lora Green

Monday 26th of December 2022

Yes, white trim with white window casements while leaving doors and trim stained is one of the best wood/white trim combos. It is so easy to pull off because there aren't any points where the trim meets one another and you have to make the switch between stained and white.