Skip to Content

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.

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 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 baseboard contrasts with the grasscloth-covered wall, while also complementing the green curtains.

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!

Like this interior decor idea? Pin it to save it!

How to Mix Wood, White, and Painted Trim

Natasha Mazza

Friday 19th of November 2021

I have ALOT of good quality natural woodwork but painting ALL of it would be expensive and my husband likes the natural color. We need to replace the original wood windows with vinyl but I think the white color will stick out and look cheap. Any suggestions? Do we paint only window trim white (to match vinyl) so that only doors, baseboards and door frames are wood?

Lora Green

Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

Yes, that is what I would do (and is in fact what I have done in several rooms after we replaced our windows). I also like that the combo of the white trim and white vinyl seems to make the window feel visually larger. Whereas, white vinyl & wood trim seems to make the windows feel more choppy/small. The only room in which I did not paint the window frames is a room that has grasscloth wallpaper, which blends with the wood trim. So rather than blending trim with vinyl, the trim blends with the wall - if that makes sense? Hope that helps!

Rosina

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

We're building a simple ranch-style house, and I want to use stained, knotty wood for baseboards and door casings, then white trim around the windows. My husband isn't sure if that would look right. Do you have ideas or suggestions? The floor plan is very open and we have a lot of big windows.

Lora Green

Monday 8th of November 2021

I think that is a great idea! Especially if you have lots of windows - you want the focal point to be the view, not the window trim. White window trim will allow the view to be the highlight. Since window trim is not connected to base/door trim, it won't matter at all that they are different. Hope that helps!

Krystal

Monday 25th of October 2021

I would like to paint my kitchen cabinets which are currently stained oak. My countertops are travertine with the same stained wood trim. I cannot find any examples online of trim that has been painted to match the cabinets. Do you have any advice here? Seems like most people just replace their countertops but we are not wanting to spend a lot.

Lora Green

Monday 1st of November 2021

Sure! Here is an example of a kitchen with warm-gray cabinets and matching warm-gray trim: https://i0.wp.com/roomfortuesday.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Contrast-Greige-Trim.jpg?w=750&ssl=1 Hope that helps!

Rachel

Friday 15th of October 2021

Can you tell me where you found your dining room curtains?

Lora Green

Friday 15th of October 2021

Hi, Rachel! Yes, but unfortunately, they are vintage curtains that I found at a consignment store nearly a decade ago. The print on the curtains kind of reminds me of vintage bedsheets... maybe if you could track down a similar print, you could have custom curtains made with the fabric? Just a thought.

Debbie

Friday 8th of October 2021

We are doing a remodel in a bathroom, looking to possibly changing to white vanity and grayish marble, however all of our trim and doors are a golden oak. I’m worried about how this will look. Can we paint the trim white but leave the doors stained? There are two pocket doors and a regular door in this area. Or leave all trim and doors stained . Or nix the white and go with nutmeg cabinet and white marble? Ugh

Lora Green

Friday 15th of October 2021

I think a white vanity and grayish marble can definitely be combined with oak trim. Here are a couple examples of rooms with a dark wall color (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/300474606394911406/ & https://www.pinterest.com/pin/520799144418928332) and here is one with white walls (https://emilyaclark.com/2020/06/your-rapid-fire-decorating-questions-round-2.html/oak-trim#foobox-1/0/oak-trim.png the cabinets are dark, but they could definitely be white and look great, too). Do you have a specific wall color selected, yet? All that being said, if you are not crazy about the oak, then paint the trim white to match the cabinet! The doors will look fine not being painted. Tie in the oak color somewhere else in the room (such as oak wall shelves or picture frames) and it will feel cohesive and intentional.