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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)

6. Decide whether Doors will be Painted or Stained

If you have a door between rooms, you’ll have to decide whether the door will be stained or painted to match the trim. Just like all trim doesn’t have to match, doors don’t always have to match the trim, either.

In general, you have 4 choices:

  • painted door with painted trim
  • stained door with painted trim
  • stained door with stained trim
  • stained door on one side, painted door on the other side

Typically, I don’t recommend the last option. In this post about How to Mix Wood Stained Doors with White Trim, I explain how to decide between the other 3 options.

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


Sunday 6th of August 2023

On section 5. Image 2. What were the paint colors used for thw wall and for thw white trim?

Lora Green

Friday 11th of August 2023

Hi Jess! The wall is SW Alabaster and the trim is SW Pure White.

Heather Price

Thursday 20th of July 2023

Hi there, We have similar trim in our house. We have oak everywhere. But it is the pretty oak. And my husband (who is handy) refuses to paint over ALL the trim. So, we have mixed oak with paint too. My colors are cream, tan and black (farm house decor). But my question is what to do in our bedroom? We have it painted green (and I love it), but want to lighten it up. We have black farmhouse furniture in there and I would love to paint the walls in Kilim beige (Shermin Williams). It is in other areas of the house too. But the problem is that the room has a chair rail (oak) and oak doors too. Do we paint the walls one color (Kilim) and then paint the trim (chair rail and trim on floor) a lighter shade then the KB? If so, what would you recommend? We are not sure what to do. I have been looking online and stumbled on your bedroom pic and it is similar to my bedroom. What is your advice? The room is a NW exposure. It does get a lot of light. Thank you so much, Heather

Lora Green

Thursday 27th of July 2023

Hi Heather! Great question about the chair rail. In our dining room, we have chair rail. I actually painted it to match the walls, rather than removing it or painting it a contrast color (see it here: They actually aren't technically the exact same color, because our white trim is SW Pure White while the walls are SW Alabaster, but to the eye they appear as if the walls, chair rail, and trim are all the same paint color. You could go that route with the SW Kilim Beige - paint everything in that color (walls, chair rail, AND base trim, etc). OR, you could only do walls and chair rail in Kilim Beige, then leave the rest of the trim stained (or paint it white, whatever your preference is). In that case you are essentially just disguising the chair rail and letting in fade into the background since it matches the wall. Here is a good example: (from this post: I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions or want to send any pics. My email is


Wednesday 10th of May 2023

We are redoing our thirty year old stairs. We have stained trim throughout the house in minwax cherry and a hardwood floor of ash honey color. What are your thoughts of ash stair treads in a darker stain (English chestnut?) with white risers and white trim on both sides of the stairs? Thanks.

Lora Green

Friday 2nd of June 2023

Yes, I think that sounds lovely! English chestnut will be a nice mid-tone between the honey ash floors and cherry trim. Then, the white trim around the stairs, and the risers, will make it clean and cohesive (i.e. not having cherry trim right up against the english chestnut stairs). It sounds lovely! Good luck with your reno!


Monday 17th of April 2023

I am updating my door trim in my house built in the 90’s. My doors are fir so I was going to keep stain on the door trim and around the windows and use painted white wood on the base. My wall colors are Sherwin Williams Snowbound. I feel like my laminate floors would look better with the white rather than stain. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Lora Green

Tuesday 9th of May 2023

I think that makes sense. If you want to make the transition between base trim to door trim clear, use a slightly thicker door trim. Here are a couple examples: 1. 2.


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

Can I use white chair rail in my grandson's bedroom that has stained walnut baseboard and one small window with same stain? LEN

Lora Green

Wednesday 5th of April 2023

If the wall is white, then white chair rail would definitely be fine. If the wall has color, then I'd ask the following: Will the chair rail meet the window trim? Or is the window trim all higher than the chair rail? If the window trim meets the chair rail, I'd be inclined to paint the window trim to match the chair rail (white) or stain the chair rail to match the windows. In other words, white chair rail will look just fine if it blends with other elements in the room and seems intentional. I hope that helps! Feel free to email me with more details or pictures. Thank you!